What’s On

Indian agencies and brands lack the hunger to make it large

I came into this year’s Cannes festival mid-week and it has been a fantastic few days. Innumerable awespiring chats, kick-ass work showcases, surprising celeb dropping, red carpet steamy sitting, drink till you drop partying, almost everything that you can think of while reading this article, have happened. But you know, what didn’t happen? To my surprise, I didn’t meet a single Indian at Cannes who is really here to make it large. To become that one agency, that one brand, that one organisation that is trying to become THE brand everybody would be proud to be associated with. They are happy to be just bystanders. (Me included, since it’s my first visit)

If by any chance you don’t know, let me remind you that the last 2-3 years have been extremely exciting for the Indian advertising and marketing Industry. We have had huge success stories in India with the likes of Flipkart, Quikr, Housing.com etc. We have had inspiring news of Indian advertising agencies being bought over by global giants. We have had entrepreneurs pulling off real wealth by pushing their respective businesses northwards. But out of all of these stories there has been not a single case where the promoter is pushing towards building a real brand that everybody associates with and with great pride.

I was at an event at Amsterdam few weeks back and I saw the Dutch community taking great pride in home-grown businesses such as dropbox. Every young kid of the country wanted to be a part of that story. I also remember how even cabbies in Chicago behave differently with a Publicis employee as soon as they get to know you work for them. These are all business which have become big today, but their past is still of a bunch that decided to take the world head on with their stories. Remember? I happen to hear how Evan Spiegel, the 25 year old CEO of Snapchat, decided to rock the Cannes festival 2015 (and they really did! with a giant yellow animated billboard right outside the Palais and many other things) and then Hollywood in the near future. I am proud to be experiencing how Droga5 and RGAs of the world are thinking or for that matter what Naked Communication did 5-6 years back. Why don’t we have a single story like that? Not even one?

Now that brings me to some very bitter questions which I have for all my fellow Indian Agency/Brand promoters to ponder upon when they get a chance – Why are we not thinking of making our country proud by rocking a world advertising event such as Cannes? Why don’t we dream to be the brand that has hit every conversation that took place in Cannes? Why are we happy fighting a small battle amongst ourselves and feel good in our own ivory towers, where the world doesn’t even care if we were present or not? Yes, lets accept it that we are the under dogs when it comes to Cannes. We are just another name in the tally with an ever receding number of metals. We are a country with more people online than the entire population of a lot of countries and still we failed to clock a single Cyber gold. Why?

Shall we accept that we are really bad at what we do or do we give it a shot by working together in mobilising an entire generation of businesses wanting to rock a great leveler such as Cannes by actively investing in the same? Work is one part of the story. That’s the most important 60 seconder, I agree, but what goes inside the same in the last 365 days is probably of more value. The problem isn’t that we are not winning, enough. The problem is that we don’t treat this as an epidemic that needs immediate attention. The problem isn’t that we don’t have a single Indian brand owning a beach, the problem is we are not unhappy about it. The problem isn’t that there is not a single Indian brand in the roster of the sponsors, the problem is that despite having money there isn’t a single brand that believes that a presence in an awesome forum such as Cannes can change the way people perceive their brand or the country of Origin. There is a world beyond calculating ROI and that world is the most profitable.

There is so much pride in taking real pride. We, at LIQVD ASIA, are trying to remain independent and true to the cause of advertising and creating advertising campaigns that stir conversations. We didn’t take part in this year’s Cannes but next year we will be back with a bang to make it really large here.

Arnab Mitra

The author, Arnab Mitra, is an Editorial Consultant with Digital Market Asia