After Contagious Pioneers win, here's what Ogilvy India CCOs expect at Cannes Lions 2024

Ogilvy has dispelled the myth that work created for awards differs from work that drives sales," said Ogilvy India CCOs Sukesh Nayak, Kainaz Karmakar, and Harshad Rajadhyaksha in an interview with

Akansha Srivastava
Updated On
New Update

(L-R) Harshad Rajadhyaksha, Kainaz Karmakar, Sukesh Nayak

Listen to this article
0.75x 1x 1.5x
00:00 / 00:00

Delhi: There is a notion in the industry that campaigns created for awards differ from those that truly impact brands and drive results.

In an interview with, the three creative chiefs of Ogilvy India, Sukesh Nayak, Kainaz Karmakar, and Harshad Rajadhyaksha, emphasised that Ogilvy, known as the lighthouse of creativity, has played a significant role in dispelling this myth.

"We have proven to the world that some of our most iconic award-winning campaigns are also beloved by the general public and have transformed brands into powerhouses," added Rajadhyaksha.

Winning the hearts of both consumers and award juries worldwide is not solely the agency's responsibility; as Rajadhyaksha commented, "Taali ek haath se nahi bajti". "We need bold client partners who share our belief in impactful work."

"No client desires mediocre work, and brands do not invest millions solely for creative indulgence. They understand that these creative pieces also drive sales and represent cutting-edge campaigns," he said. 

Nayak echoed Rajadhyaksha's perspective and emphasised that brave clients recognise the direct correlation between extremely creative work and brand growth and profitability. "Our bold client partners inspire us to create work like this," he said.

Ogilvy India has been on an award-winning spree, with achievements including eight One Show 2024 finalists, winning a Global Grand Effie in Experiential Marketing, and securing a Grand Prix at Spikes Asia along with some other awards.

Most recently, for the second consecutive year, Ogilvy India was named in the 2024 Contagious Pioneers list, recognised for campaigns such as 'SRK My Ad', 'Vi Dabbawalas', 'Dove #StoptheBeautyTest', and '5 Star Erase Valentine's Day'.

“When we enter awards, we expect to win some recognition. However, being part of the Contagious Pioneers list came out of the blue, so the happiness is doubled because very few agencies make it to this prestigious list. Only the bravest and best agencies from around the world are included. Not only are we the only Indian agency on the list, but also the sole agency from APAC,” said Nayak.

The other work pieces that have been fetching awards for Ogilvy India are ‘Taj Megh Santoor’, ‘Coca-Cola Pujo Film', and Colgate’s ‘Sweet Truth’ campaign.

When asked if these are the major campaigns contending for the Cannes Lions Awards this year, Rajadhakshya said, "Of course, it's widely known that these campaigns are the ones we've been entering in most of the awards."

When asked about their expectations for Ogilvy India’s performance at Cannes Lions, Rajadhakshya refrained from making predictions but hinted at hoping to win big at the Festival of Creativity this year.

Explaining the rationale behind this, he said, "The campaigns we’ve entered at Cannes Lions this year have already made a mark at global awards. Additionally, Ogilvy India has earned a recurring seat at the table of Ogilvy International Cadre, a quality assessment committee comprising the top 15 agencies from the extensive Ogilvy network of over 140 agencies. We have consistently been part of this elite group 80-90% of the time. Based on this, it appears that every year we are presenting our best work for that calendar year, and we are hopeful this year too."

However, he added, 'But if, for whatever reason, our work does not make the cut on that particular day, we cannot dismiss the fact. We must take Piyush's words ‘Aage Badho’ in spirit and continue moving forward.”

Karmakar emphasised that ultimately, the outcome depends on the 10-15 individuals in the jury room and their perception of the work on that specific day. She mentioned, “There are numerous factors at play, making it impossible to predict wins. We've witnessed unexpected successes where work that initially seemed unlikely ended up winning big because someone strongly advocated for it in the jury room. Conversely, projects that appeared to be surefire winners sometimes fell short of expectations.”

She stressed the importance of not letting award expectations affect mental well-being and instead focusing all efforts on delivering the best possible work.

Highlighting the importance of creating compelling case studies to win awards, Kainaz Karmakar said, "A case study serves as an advertisement for your idea. While some campaigns can be universally understood, others require clear context and explanation. It's unrealistic to expect the jury to grasp your idea solely because you conceived it."

"For example, with our Dabbawala film, we needed to provide a compelling case study that explained the context and demonstrated its relevance to the jury."

Having said that, preparing case studies is a process that shouldn’t be taken lightly. 'Ogilvy case studies go through several rounds of review among the three of us internally. We then share them with Reed Collins, our Asia Pacific head, followed by Liz and Joe, our global heads. We incorporate their input and make the necessary changes. It's a rigorous process that we approach with seriousness.”

Presenting the case studies in the most honest and engaging way is all that matters, added Nayak.

While awards are important, Nayak feels that true victory happens when your work becomes part of dining table conversations. Quoting Piyush Pandey, he added, “If a neighbourhood aunt asks me if I created an ad that she really enjoyed watching, that's a bigger win for me than an award.”

Ogilvy has been behind some of India’s best humour-led campaigns, for example, work done for Fevicol, ZooZoo campaigns, 5-Star Ramesh Suresh, Happydent, and much more. But these were all done many years ago.

When asked why we don’t see as many funny campaigns today, and why recent attempts at humour aren't as successful, Karmakar said, “While humour hasn't necessarily declined, perhaps we haven't prioritised humour as much as we should have. I think emotional and human-centred storytelling has taken precedence over traditional humour. That is why, among the multitude of emotionally-driven ads, some of our recent humour-focused campaigns for Colgate have been very well-received.”

She added, “It's not that people aren't creating funny campaigns. The work done by Ashish Khazanchi's Enormous for Jaquar and their recent campaign for Lahori Zeera are both very cool and humorous.”

Ogilvy India