Cannes Lions 2023: Here's all you need to know about the ad industry's most momentous event

By bringing home the coveted “Agency of the Year” accolade, along with 47 metal hauls across 20 categories at the Cannes Lions 2022, Indian ad agencies had upped the ante in 2022, and this year everyone's hoping for a repeat of last year's performance

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Cannes Lions 2023: Here's all you need to know about the ad industry's most momentous event

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2023 has begun at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France, and will continue till June 23. Indian agencies are hopeful of raking in big honours this time too, just like the unprecedented performance by them last year.

This time Indian agencies have secured a total of 45 shortlists so far, with shortlists for multiple categories yet to be announced.

India has sent 809 entries for Cannes Lions this year, down 12.2% YoY from last year’s 921 entries. 

From India, Leo Burnett’s tally stands the strongest with 14 shortlists; followed by dentsu Creative at 8; Talented.Agency at 7; FCB Groupe India at 6; Ogilvy at 3; DDB Mudra Group and Mindshare India at 2 each; and Wondrlab India, BBDO India and EssenceMediacom at 1 each.

In 2022, an Indian agency, Dentsu Creative, won the coveted “Agency of the Year” and the country’s final tally stood at 47 metal hauls across 20 categories and securing 210 points in terms of 5 Grand Prix, 2 Titanium, 8 Gold, 18 Silver and 14 Bronze Lions, second to USA which earned 365 points. 

Moreover, the previous year was the first time that two agencies crossed the 100 points mark at the Cannes Lions- dentsu Creative Bengaluru with 184 points and FCB India with 121 points. Not to forget Vice Media’s ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ ad campaign conceptualised by dentsu Creative - which became the only campaign to be awarded three Grand Prix and a Titanium Lion, globally, last year. Following dentsu and FCB were Ogilvy Mumbai and VMLY&R with 84 and 80 points, respectively.

There were many firsts in-store for India at the awards gala last year, including Indian agencies winning Grand Prix in ‘Sustainable Development’ and ‘Social & Influencer’ categories and winning four Lions including a Grand Prix for the first time in ‘Radio & Audio’ category.

This time around, Indian agencies are looking forward to continuing the winning streak once again with a slew of campaigns including Airtel 175 Replayed, Oreo #BringBack2011, Why Is This A Swiggy Ad, ortraveloncleartrip QR code Print ad, Vim Black for Men, TVS’ The Responsible Manhole, MTV Hustle 2.0’s Bothard, Asahi India Glass’ Silence is a Luxury that you Deserve,  HDFC Bank’s V for Vigil Aunty, Navneet’s Tr. for Teacher, Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad, etc. 

It is also to be noted that the two creative stalwarts who were believed to be responsible for dentsu’s massive win at Cannes Lions 2023, had parted ways from the agency last year to open their own creative agency- Talented.Agency, have entered the awards as an independent agency in 2023, already garnering multiple shortlists. 

Having said that, a highly-debatable ad controversy happened to take place in the days leading up to Cannes in India this year, when two of the prominent agencies- dentsu Creative and VMLY&R sent two analogously indistinguishable campaigns- for two different clients yet on similar lines. These campaigns are Mortein’s ‘Suraksha ka Kaala Teeka’ by dentsu and Maxx Flash’s ‘Arogya Bindu’, an extension of VMLY&R’s The Killer Pack campaign. It is to be noted that Suraksha ka Kaala Teeka has already fetched multiple shortlists and VMLY&R’s Arogya Bindu is yet to see the light of the day.

Interestingly, both the agencies’ campaigns feature ‘kala teeka’ as a repellant which aims to protect young kids from mosquitos and the threat of Malaria and banks on the consumer behaviours which are rooted deep in culture.

On another note, the International Festival of Creativity, this year, will also see three of the ad industry stalwarts from India- PG Aditiya, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Talented.Agency; Gautam Reghunath, Co-Founder and CEO, Talented.Agency and Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India, taking to the Cannes Lion 2023’s stage as speakers. From the marketers’ side, L'Oréal’s Asmita Dubey, Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar, and Expedia CTO Rathi Murthy would also be speaking at the festival.

Furthermore, 13 Indians advertisers namely- Farishte Irani, Aalap Desai, Sukesh Nayak, Garima Khandelwal, Anupriya Acharya, PG Aditiya, Swati Bhattacharya, Rajdeepak Das, Hemant Shringy, Josy Paul, Aditya Kanthy, Valerie Pinto and Ahmed Aftab Naqvi have also been enlisted in the jury line-up for the 70th edition of Cannes Lions.

Much being said and done, it is owing to the above milestones that all eyes across the creative fraternity, both in and out of the nation, are now looking at India’s performance in 2023. However, it is important to understand that while it would be phenomenal to see India scoring big this year as well, not every year can be as fruitful as the last one. 

While the festival continues to take place at its usual location, this year there have been a few amendments and additions. The first one is the introduction of Entertainment Lions for Gaming as well as the introduction of the Metaverse into categories focused on New Realities and Emerging Tech. On the other hand, amendments have been made to the Media Lions, Creative B2B Lions, Pharma Lions and Mobile Lions.

As part of the second phase refresh of The Media Lions for 2023, steps have been taken to ensure that only the media agencies can enter the award to accurately reflect the current Media industry and celebrates the craftsmanship of harnessing media to deliver a brand message, change behaviour or engage consumers at scale.

The Creative B2B Lion has been refreshed to place more emphasis on the strategy of the work by removing the distinction between Products and Services across the categories to better reflect the B2B industry and introducing a new ‘Integrated Campaign’ category to ensure that the Lion recognises the multi-touchpoint, multi-stakeholder nature of the buying journey for B2B creative work.

The Mobile Lions has also been updated to include all applications of portable devices and mobile technology to celebrate work focusing on how the mobile device was central to the user experience.

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