India has won two Bronze Lions and one Silver Lion in the PR category this year, taking the country's category tally to three Lions.
Publicis Communications' Silver is for its Adopt a Pothole Project for Apollo Tyres. O&M India/Mindshare Fulcrum's Bronze is for its Roti Reminder campaign for Hindustan Unilever's Lifebuoy. And lastly, BBDO's Bronze is for its Shave or Crave campaign for P&G India.
In a pre-Cannes conversation with afaqs!, Dilip Cherian, founding partner, Perfect Relations and PR juror this time, said about the way Indian PR professionals treat the category: "In the PR category, India tends to be rather conventional, the tendency is to be safer because you don't want to run the risk of not having client acceptance and public acceptance. And because of the large quantity of media options people tend to be careful."
And about the one factor in PR that differentiates a Silver Lion from a Gold Lion or a Gold Lion from a Grand Prix, he said: "It is scale (say, something meant for a niche audience could be great but may not have the same level of impact) and replicability (that is, whether it can play across the country, age groups, etc.). The overarching thing is good creativity and applicability. Beyond that it's just judgment, I guess."
& #VIDEO1 & #When asked what the biggest challenge as a juror for the PR category is, Cherian said: "Nothing. I don't see it as a challenge. I see it as adding to the very competent jury's ability to understand and contextualise across markets, to understand what works in some markets and does not work in other markets and to make sure enough attention and sensitivity is paid to this in the judging process. What could work in Japan would not work in say, London. Each of us will have a view on it. Today, globally there's a lot of self-consciousness about this. Looks like the organisers have paid special attention to making sure there are people from different kinds of places on each jury. The more we become like each other the more we're getting separate and not-so-alike. That is very comforting too."
Note that all three Indian winners this time are advertising agencies and not PR firms. According to the PR jury president, David Gallagher, senior partner and chief executive officer, Europe, Ketchum, advertising agencies do better in this category when they focus on "measurable results". Interestingly, he added that, in general, ideas from PR agencies tend to be "less ambitious" than those from advertising agencies.
So, what should the PR industry do to win more at Cannes? Gallagher responded, "Just make sure your best work finds its way to Cannes! We are looking for work that amplifies conversations through earned media. We did see some significant progress this year, though, in terms of entries, shortlists and Lions. We're definitely about to enter a renaissance for the PR business soon." This year the PR category saw 95 winners in all.
A juror contributed, "We saw a lot of fabulous creative work from unlikely countries with smaller budgets. In PR, message delivery trumps mere share-ability."
For the record, the PR Grand Prix went to McCann Melbourne's Dumb Ways to Die campaign for Metro Trains.