In an attempt to encourage the young creative talent of the advertising industry, the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) organises the Cannes Young Lions Creative Competition each year. In its ninth consecutive year, the competition, supported by the Times Group, is a national initiative aimed at providing an opportunity for international exposure.
The competition invited entries on the theme 'Stop Domestic Violence against Women. Report Abuse'. Entries were invited from people employed in AAAI member agencies and all INS accredited advertising agencies. The selection was a two stage process. In the first phase, the judges shortlisted seven entries out of the 212 entries received.
In the second phase, the shortlisted teams were asked to make a presentation before the jury on the work done by them in the past and the thought process behind the entries submitted by them.
"As per the brief, we got thinking as women. In that position, we realised that if one is ill treated and loses oneself, it's better not to be born in the very first place. We took that forward as the creative," says Khanna, explaining the creative presented by the duo.
Khanna has been in the business of advertising for about seven years. She began her career with Publicis Delhi in late 2002 as a trainee. After about three months, she moved to Bates 141 (Bates Enterprise at that time) as a junior writer.
After a year and a half, she joined McCann Erickson, where she spent exactly three years, a month and 27 days. Hailing from Shillong, where she completed her school and college education, she came to Delhi as her sisters were based in the capital.
However, after spending about five and a half years in Delhi, she shifted to Mumbai and took up a job in Contract Advertising. "Mumbai opened up more opportunities, and truly it turned my dreams into reality. And trust me, it's true when they say that there's something about the city," she exclaims.
Gurnani began her career in advertising three years ago with Ogilvy Bengaluru. Spending a year and some months there, she shifted to the agency's Mumbai branch. She joined Contract about a year and a month ago.
Originally from Pune, Gurnani has a graduate degree in fine arts. "When I was in the 10th standard, I knew that I wanted to be in advertising - I had seen one of my friends in the industry."
At Contract, Khanna and Gurnani are part of the same team and work on brands such as Disney Baby products, Disney channel, Tata Indicom, HSBC, Anchor Electricals, Bru and Cadbury Celebrations.
Khanna was behind one of last year's winning entries by the agency - Aadhar Association, for the work titled Family Name. The creative has been lauded at the Clio, Cannes, Adfest Pattaya and the Goafest. This work has also featured in The Work in two categories - Craft and Public Service.
Gurnani picked up a bronze in the Print Craft segment for Art Direction for her work for Home Stop, the home décor wing of Shopper's Stop.
Khanna and Gurnani have also worked together on the pitch for Tata Indicom.
As the winning team, Khanna and Gurnani will fly to the Cannes Advertising Festival in June to compete with the other teams from all over the world in the prestigious International Young Lions Creative Competition. Their trip will be funded by the Times Group, the official representative of the Cannes International Advertising Festival in India.
Vinod Nair, executive committee member, AAAI, and currently in charge of this initiative of the AAAI, was the convener of this competition. KV Sridhar, national creative director, Leo Burnett and Bobby Pawar, national creative director, Mudra Communications were the jury members who judged the entries.