He has had three previous Cannes outings as a juror and has seen the Indian entries evolve over time. Judging Direct Marketing- a category which he claims is still not perfectly understood by most agencies here, Ramesh Iyengar, CMD, Select Direct Marketing Communications talks about the factors Indian agencies should have considered before sending their entries to Cannes.
Q] What kind of changes have you seen in the Direct Category that you are judging this year?
Till 2010 Direct was pretty much restricted to Direct Mailers, the standard stuff, but post that we started seeing the emergence of social media and how it was making inroads in Direct internationally. However it had not really arrived in India by then. I could give you a corporate example of a brand like Stella Artois, the beer brand which was trashed in the 2010 judging session at Cannes, it didn’t even make it to the shortlist. I was stunned and took it over to the chairperson, explaining to him how we missed the point. I am talking about 2010, when they used Facebook integration, had a video site going and made use of QR codes for the bottles. All this is very common place today, but was pretty path-breaking then. So, the chairman listened to my appeal and the 50 jurors from across the world took a second look at it. They agreed with me and wanted to not just bring it in but bump it up. But at Cannes once something is out, it can’t be given a metal so we gave the campaign a special citation even as it went on to win some big awards elsewhere. Years later now, there is a sufficient amount of social media and digital experience but is there loyalty and are we really cultivating customers, those will be the big things to look for in the direct marketing space.
Q] What are the exceptional pieces of work you have seen in Direct this year?
I wouldn’t be in a position to comment on it right now but if I were to give an example of an exceptional Direct campaign it would be of McDonalds in France. Paris was freezing with temperatures going as low as -1 degrees. So they worked with a company which specialized in outdoor - billboards, and illuminated sites. They made a hoarding at a bus stand and with some innovation made it into a heater. This was a campaign for McDonald’s American Winter Burger Collection. The people could lean against this hoarding and feel warm, which is how the burger and their service were to make them feel. They gave the people a taste of that experience through the warmth in the billboards and people have actually been hugging the boards and things like that. So, it’s a great piece of work which helped McDonalds sell 2% more burgers.
Q] Where do the Indian entries stand as far as Direct Marketing is concerned?
In India the basic understanding of Direct only exists with a few specialized agencies. Mostly Direct is treated as a URL in your ad and is considered a success if a lot of people visit your website. Let’s say there is a Vivo phone ad and it says visit www.vivo.com. You want to know more about a phone, so you are going to click on it. But that’s not a response, that’s just called showing interest. Genuine response is where people get motivated to go into the next step of interaction. So, I think people are not using the traditional direct marketing techniques to enter pieces in the Direct category. The general digital entries which have done very well are all coming here. And therefore they don’t get voted and as a result we get less metals.
Q] Has Cannes become more of a big agency festival because of the kind of money involved in it?
This would be true if it was an exception for small agencies to win at Cannes. But there are 50 jurors at Cannes who are genuinely there to see exceptional work, which is a great leveler. So, if you have a fantastic idea, you don’t have be a big network agency to lobby and cultivate your idea. Yes, three months before Cannes, the big agencies and their work get a sort of up swell in the media with several positive comments, which you may think can motivate the jurors to get influenced. But the jury embers are pretty savvy and can remove the wheat from the chaff and say if it is just a whole lot of dressing on the idea. There is no other thing at play in Cannes than the idea.
Interviewed by NEETA NAIR