She has been on multiple juries for award shows judging advertising prowess, but her first time as a judge at Cannes is quite special, says Swati Bhattacharya, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Ulka. In the second interview of our special series on Cannes jurors, Bhattacharya talks about the factors holding India back when it comes to winning Lions, India’s prospects, world trends and more.
Q] How differently are you approaching Cannes as a jury member?
I am trying to go with an open mind and a thousand eyes because you see so many things at such places and then come back and apply your experience in your job. I am really excited about that. However, I have not been on the Cannes jury before this, for me what differentiates it from the rest of the ad festivals is its sheer size, volume of work you get to see and conversations you have; it’s almost like the entire town knows what’s happening. It is indeed a mega event.
Q] What will you look for in the entries in the Print and Publishing category that you will be judging?
It’s something I look for in every piece of work. The work should be able to touch you in ways that you haven’t been touched before, sometimes as simple as being able to arouse a really petty jealousy. Anything beautiful or clever that you see evokes plain human emotions, it could be something lying on the table or stuck on a wall but when you go past it, you sense a multitude of feelings inside, I think that is the one factor I would be looking for.
Q] It is often said that Indian entries lack good presentation and packaging. Do you agree?
We really have to work on our presentation videos. They are terrible most times. Also, we have to get out of the habit of saying, ‘In India, women love their sons’, ‘In India, women menstruate’ etc. I know that is something that has worked for us earlier, but we have overdone it now. So, if we can go back to story-telling without underlining India, we will do better. I say this because at the end of the day, we are dealing with human beings and they will understand because humans understand humans, and you don’t have to constantly plug it with the ‘India’ angle. A story of a woman in a drought condition would be the same in India or in Somalia, or wherever. The point is to look at how big calamities like drought can affect a woman’s life.
Q] Is language a barrier in any way for the work that is sent from India?
Yes, in some of our work from India where language is very much in focus, it can’t have that kind of impact on the jury sitting there. But that is true of every culture. I don’t think something which is absolutely and crazily funny in Spanish would affect me the way it would affect those who understand the language. But I think that is true only for a certain amount of work and not all.
Q] We won more than 30 Lions at Cannes, 2014 but only 12 in 2015. To what would you attribute this dip in performance?
Times are tough and even to send an entry to Cannes means big money. When I was the National Creative Director in JWT, there were years when you had to choose between giving increments and sending ad campaigns to awards, and obviously giving increments was really important because nobody in the department had it easy. This becomes a major factor in deciding how much of work should be entered at Cannes. That is one big part -- that it is an expensive show to enter. The second big part is maybe we aren’t doing so many things in new media and digital which is where the world is going. But then comes something like ‘Share the load’ or ‘Make every yard count’ or ‘Touch the pickle’ and just that one piece of work can bring India all the fame.
Interviewed by NEETA NAIR