He has been on the Cannes jury several times, and each year heads to the international festival of reativity with renewed enthusiasm. This time, Ravi Deshpande, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Whyness is going to to evaluate one of the most talked about categories of all time, the Cyber Lions. He talks about what makes this category stand out and what India needs to do to get the Cyber Lions roaring
Q] You have been a jury member at Cannes multiple times, how differently are you approaching it this year?
Every time we see the entries as a jury, we don’t just judge but learn, understand and debate more; especially when we are looking at categories like Cyber. The work here is constantly evolving and makes us look at the possible future of our very business. Yet, Cyber is not a new category or a new medium anymore. It encompasses our daily lives in every aspect but has the most novel work. Obviously, the digital category is dramatically different from TV or Print with regard to the rules, values and parameters of excellence. Naturally, this determines the judging process. I am hugely excited to get a ringside view of the most innovative digital work out there.
Q] What qualities will you be looking for in the entries that you judge?
No matter what the medium, the fundamentals stay the same. To me, it’s about the power of the idea, a fresh perspective, sensibility and vision. To this, I would add the power of craft and the smart, new use of technology. I am looking to celebrate the ideas that stay with you, that compel and charm you to interact with them and to invest time and heart to experience them, ideas that powerfully entertain as they tell a powerful message.
Q] What are the trends you see in the category that should reflect in the Cyber Lions judging process?
Every year, there is a new trend. Sometimes it’s about brands that are generous towards society, brands that are useful or about the value of data or about technology as an interceptor. Sometimes, it’s just about a heart-stopping message that goes viral in a social world or perhaps just a dark horse that breaks all these trends and does something completely different. Let’s see how it goes this year.
Q] The Cannes Jury is a melting pot of creative minds across the world. What kind of differences arise because of little understanding of diverse cultures?
In 2007, there was this great film for the Eye Bank Association of India. It showed a bunch of blind kids celebrating Holi. Unfortunately, most of the Western jury members were not getting the very Indian cultural nuances of this ad. I had to explain the film’s finer points and convince the jury of its merits. The film picked up a Cannes Bronze that year. Another anecdote from the same year involved the Dove photoshop commercial, which was initially not a front-runner in the judges’ minds. There were other commercials that seemed to be sure-shot winners of the big awards. Then there was a healthy debate amongst the judges one afternoon and the Dove campaign emerged as the dark horse. It went on to win the Grand Prix that year.
Q] Despite increased focus on digital, last year India did not have a single shortlist in the Cyber Lions category. Where are we going wrong?
In India, we always arrive at our destination slowly but surely. We are not the most developed market in the world when it comes to digital communication. Yet the quality of thinking is very good. We have made great strides in Information Technology all over the world. But when it comes to digital work in communications, it’s not the same. Logic and technology must be married with great ideas, great execution and artistry. And most of all, there must be a big need for it. It must exist in the culture. In fact, the world of communications as we know it, is changing. And many agencies and clients, around the world, don’t know how to deal with it. The intent is clearly there, but somewhere along the way, the execution just seems either difficult or uninteresting or sometimes even unnecessary. Once we have powerful ideas and the craft and the execution to match, I am sure we would make it.
Interviewed by NEETA NAIR