In what is obviously a sign of the growing influence of the Indian advertising industry, 11 members from the Indian advertising fraternity will be on the jury of different categories of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2009.
Recently, Prasoon Joshi was invited to be on the Titanium and Integrated jury, the first Indian to be on this category in its history.
The others who also have the honours are: KS Chakravarthy, national creative director, Draft FCB Ulka (Outdoor Lions jury) - Joshi was chairperson of this category last year; Meera Sharath Chandra, chairperson and NCD, RMG Connect (Cyber Lions jury); Abhijit Avasthi, executive creative director, South Asia, O&M (Press Lions jury); Lynn de Souza, chairperson and chief executive officer, Lintas Media Group (Media Lions); Ashish Khazanchi, NCD, Publicis Ambience (Radio Lions jury); Sujata Keshavan of Ray+Keshavan (Design Lions jury); Agnello Dias, co-founder, TapRoot India (Films Lions jury); Leena Basrur, managing director, Direxions Marketing Solutions (judging the Direct Lions); and Atul Nath, co-founder and managing director, Candid Marketing (judging the Promo Lions).
For the first time, Cannes has included PR (public relations) as a category in the festival. Prema Sagar, principal and founder, Genesis Burson Marstellar, is on its jury.
Avasthi is hopeful that India's performance at the advertising festival will be as glorious as it was last year. He wasn't able to make a guess as to which press campaign will clinch it this year. He says, "I haven't exactly been clued into all the work and most of it isn't even seen yet."
Khazanchi of Publicis Ambience, who is part of the jury on the Radio category, speaks of how India may fare. "India's radio work hasn't traditionally done that well at the Cannes," he says. This isn't because radio isn't done well in the country but because of language being a barrier, he explains.
India's performance in the Radio category has been sporadic. Publicis Ambience won a Lion in 2007, while Mudra won a silver Lion for its Cycle Agarbatti campaign last year.
Both Avasthi and Khazanchi are jurors on the Cannes for the first time, too.
There were nine Indians judging various categories of Cannes 2008.
In 2008, JWT led the awards tally for India with seven Lions, thanks to the Lead India campaign for the Times of India Group. Leo Burnett was at the second position with six Lions for the Luxor Highlighter campaign. In all, India brought home 23 Lions last year.