How Indian agencies can increase their winnability at Cannes Lions

The insights shared by industry experts shed light on the strategies that agencies and brands in India can adopt to enhance their presence and recognition on the global stage

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How Indian agencies can increase their winnability at Cannes Lions

India ended its Cannes Lions campaign with 25 Lions and an Agency of the Year award by track out of 77 shortlists in 2023 vs 47 Lions in the previous year.

While agencies spend lakhs of rupees in preparing the entries and then entering them at Cannes Lions, it’s very disheartening when the work doesn’t go down well with the global jury.

Advertising leaders and also Cannes Lions 2023 jury members from India shared with that India's chances of winning at the world’s biggest advertising and marketing awards can be enhanced by soliciting feedback from unbiased third parties to gain new insights and by highlighting the role of media right from the start in their submissions. 

They also recommended fortifying the cultural depth and context within the entries to maximise their impact.

These insights shed light on the strategies that agencies and brands in India can adopt to enhance their presence and recognition on a global stage.

Sukesh Nayak

According to Ogilvy India’s Chief Creative Officer, Sukesh Nayak, one approach to enhance India's chances of winning at Cannes is to seek feedback from a third person who is unfamiliar with the project, in addition to conducting internal reviews. 

On being asked how India can prepare its case studies and entries to enhance winning chances at Cannes Lions, Nayak said, “I dislike the term 'case study' and believe that presentation is crucial in any aspect of life. A jury member shared an insightful suggestion with me, stating that the true understanding of an idea comes from someone who has no clue about it. Therefore, alongside our internal reviews, why don’t we show our work to a third person who is unfamiliar with it?” 

“The jury is not solely interested in the beautiful work but rather the clarity and how simply you are telling your story. Hence, I believe 'case study' is an inadequate term, as the work we create today involves intricate modern solutions. Our writing must be sharper and more refined, presenting our ideas effectively. Additionally, our partners and clients, who support these ideas, will undoubtedly contribute to representing them better on a global stage,” he added. 

Hemant Shringy

Hemant Shringy, Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India (Mumbai), who was on the Health & Wellness jury, said that India is making a great mark across categories. 

“When it comes to Health Lions, there were very few entries from India, to begin with. The Indian entries didn’t make it to the final round of judging for shortlists,” he added. 

As per Shringy, Health and Wellness is almost like a whole show combined with the pharma category. He shared that there were more than 1,300 entries in the category and he was given 360 entries in the first round. After reaching Cannes, the jury members finally went through 171 pieces and shortlisted 128 campaigns, which didn’t include any entry from India.

“Out of 360 entries I was assigned, I came across only two entries from India, which I was hoping to make it to the second round of pre-judging. But in the second round of pre-judging, those two campaigns didn’t make it,” he commented.

For Shringy, another learning he gathered from the judging process is that if a campaign didn’t make it to the jury room, where a jury person from that country could push for that piece, it means that the entrant also needs to strengthen the cultural depth and context in the entries as well.

When asked about whether the Health and Wellness category has taken a back seat for agencies and brands in India, Shringy disagreed and said, “Hypothetically, if there are not many awards in the Innovation category, doesn’t mean people have stopped creating innovative work. There could be a lot of reasons for a campaign to not work in a subcategory. For example, an agency enters a wonderful campaign in a subcategory, but in that particular subcategory, there is an even greater piece.”

Publicis Groupe South Asia CEO Anupriya Acharya, who recused herself from judging a few entries from India in the Media category, gave a piece of advice for agencies entering this category. 

Anupriya Acharya

According to Acharya, it is crucial for agencies entering the Media category to emphasise the role of media in their entries. 

“The use of media should not be mentioned later in the entry but rather upfront, loud and clear. The jury always pays attention to not getting carried away by the idea, insight and how well it was executed, they also have to see how the particular entry fits in your category. Many exceptional entries often fall short or could have achieved better results if they had focused on customising their entries for the media category and stay very clear about how media has mounted up that idea,” she added.

Anupriya Acharya Cannes Lions Cannes Lions jury jury members case study India entries jury Hemant Shringy Cannes Lions 2023 Sukesh Nayak