Why was Cannes Ad fest 2022 the Indian advertising industry’s “moment of 1983”?


It is considered the greatest celebration of creativity in communications and related fields. According to its website, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has championed creative excellence since 1954 with the aim of providing a global destination and the definitive benchmark for creativity.

And this year, India stole the show with some good ideas and a few flashes of creativity. Indian advertising agencies have won a record number of awards – 47 trophies including five Grand Prix. And for the first time, the coveted ‘Agency of the Year’ award also went to an Indian company, Dentsu Creative, based in Bengaluru.

An advertising campaign, which offered a virtual tour of the treasures of the British Museum, was central to India’s historic journey at the just-concluded Advertising Oscars. The campaign designed by Dentsu Creative India married technology with creativity – the two essential elements that experts say worked like a charm for the country’s winners this year.

The campaign titled “The Unfiltered History Tour” alone won 12 awards, including three Grand Prix, a titanium lion, a gold medal, four silver medals and three bronze medals.

Dentsu Creative India’s “Historic Tour” for Vice Media is one of 16 national campaigns that won major awards this year. Other big winners included FCB India, Ogilvy, VMLY&R, McCann, BBDO, DDB Mudra, Leo Burnett and Byju’s.

Thus, during the festival in France, which attracts the best of advertising, Indian advertising agencies won 47 trophies, including 5 Grand Prix, two titanium lions, eight gold, 18 silver and 14 bronze. The previous top run for Indian agencies at Cannes dates back to 2017, when they won 40 awards. This tally included a Grand Prix.

Among Indian agencies, Dentsu Creative has won a total of 12 awards, including 3 Grand Prizes. FCB India has won a total of 14 awards. VMLY&R won 7, including 1 Grand Prix. Leo Burnett India, who won a total of 2 awards, won the last Grand Prix.

The “Chatpat” campaign, which focused on a 10-year-old social media influencer, was a major contributor to FCB’s tally. His street-smart life videos aimed to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable children and families.

Ogilvy India, which won six medals at Cannes, used artificial intelligence (AI) to create hyper-personalized spots for local businesses in approximately 260 pin codes for Mondelez India’s “Not Just a Cadbury Ad” campaign featuring featured actor Shah Rukh Khan in 2020. In 2021, Ogilvy took a step ahead and gave local retailers the opportunity to create their own version of these spots for their stores, again using technology from the ‘IA.

Josy Paul, President and Chief Creative Officer of BBDO India, said that while some agencies used technology well in their campaigns, others were known for the radical solutions they offered. Paul added that 2022 was the 1983 for the Indian advertising industry as it won the Advertising World Cup for the first time.

As 2022 has become a milestone for them, agencies are now competing against an army of influencers who understand the power of viral content. According to an industry veteran, two years of Covid-19 have disrupted the advertising industry. The advertising agency is no longer the core of creative talent. So, the combination of technology and creativity must be clever to stand out from the clutter. With digital being a much more complex medium than film, with multiple platforms and technologies, it’s a learning curve for Indian agencies. Will this year’s wins at Cannes give Indian ad agencies a leg up in the contested space they will soon operate in?

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