One could call it a disappointing show by Indian agencies in Cannes this year. After bagging 25 and 23 metals in 2009 and 2008, respectively; 2010 saw India take home only 17 -- three gold, seven silver and seven bronze.
While there doesn't seem to be much room for reasons and excuses; questions are being asked about whether Indian agencies have come of age yet, and what it would take for them to be considered as serious players on the international platform.
afaqs! spoke to a few Indian creative honchos at the end of the week-long international advertising festival. Not surprisingly, they were rather vocal about what they thought was going haywire in Indian advertising.
KV Sridhar (Pops), national creative director, Leo Burnett India strongly feels that complacency has begun to set in. He called for the younger lot to take over the reigns and step up the gear. Pops was one of the jury members in the Press Lions category.
"I am a little disappointed, but there are really no excuses left. Participating in Cannes all these years and even being on the jury, we all know how it works and we should know better. Clients are pushing for better work all the time. We, at agencies, should do the same and push the envelope," he says.
"The older generation seems to have lost ambition. It's time for the younger guys to take over," he adds.
Younger generation? Sure. We caught up with Sajan Raj Kurup, chairperson and chief creative officer, Creativeland Asia. The agency won a silver and a bronze in the Outdoor Lions, a category he judged.
Kurup comments, "A lot of work from India was just not up to the mark. And even the work that was, fights an unfair battle, as jury members from some regions are either completely unaware of its relevance and scale, or do not identify with the sensibilities."
Ramanuj Shastry, national creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi India, who was part of the Film Lions jury, agrees, saying that India did not have enough work that would stand out.
"We did not do enough world-class work. Simple as that! It's a combination of many things - clients playing safe, agencies focusing on protecting bottom lines and a general sense of disillusionment within the creative fraternity," he says.
Pratap Bose, chief operating officer, Mudra Group brings up the point that good work should also focus on scale, rather than just look nice.
"We have to get over the whole idea of presenting pretty work. It is clearly not working. It is all about scale. It is about how you leverage your work across digital, social media and relevant platforms. Yes, we won't stop winning; but if we continue to do scammy ads and expect to win, we really would not be able to compete on an international platform," he says.
Piyush Pandey, executive chairperson, Ogilvy India has his own solemn opinion, saying that he is not too bothered about the number of metals won, which varies from year to year anyway.
"I'm more bothered about the number of entries that has gone up significantly, which implies that we have to be a little careful judging if our work is really worthy enough. Besides that, there is really no need to read too much between the lines," remarks Pandey.