Paresh Chaudhry on his experiences as a Cannes Lions 2015 PR jury member

As I write this after a magnificent award ceremony earlier this week, I recall the jury effort over 6 long days and nights. We had screened 1969 entries; fine tooth combed 1,566 first cut entires and came up with the best shortlisted 200 entires. 76 hours of evaluations over 6 days. We missed the gala opening tonight too. Tough but satisfying as we come up with some really stunning campaigns across categories who deserve the lions.

The 200 shortlist that was released had just 3 Indian entires and that's disappointing indeed. All the entries are from ad agencies. We have so many good stories to say but we don't. Budgets again eh?

The packaging and presentation makes the difference in the end. Good PR work could get lost if it’s not presented well. That's why advertising agencies walk away with the metals at Cannes. We present case boards while advertising present trailers of movies. If a PR agency - client believes in it's work then I suggest you go all out and hire an advertising agency to make this trailer. Invest in your creativity and showcase to the world. We are recognized at the Asia level fairly well despite limited participation.  

Interesting campaigns

I saw some fantastic work on digital and social platforms, travel and tourism, charities, corporate responsibility, media relations, events, launch, brand voice and as audience targeting and engagement, response by crowd sourcing story telling. It is clear that the world has moved to social in a big way. The reach is mind-boggling and the engagement even better. Listening tools, behavior analysis and measurements are so accurate that ROI 's can be linked to the goals clearly.  

Some of the really great campaigns I saw was the ‘VisitBritian’ campaign where Chinese tourists were asked to give their own name to hard-to-pronounce British landmarks.

Another fascinating initiative was by ‘MoltyFoam’, the only Pakistani entry that made the shortlist. Mattress maker ‘MoltyFoam’ created a ‘BillBed’, a portable billboard that you can turn to become a bed for those sleeping on the roadside.

If you look at the average in the last 4 years a total of 16 Golds, 22 Silvers and 30 Bronze were given each year at the Cannes. The shortlist this year is up by 40%. Expect more lions from us.  

Judging process

The metric guidance indicators that we used to judge are:

• Creativity at the heart of all that the idea stood for. Earned trust that builds reputation and has a staying power.  
• The campaign must inspire engagement.
• PR should be prioritized in the strategic planning process. 
• Achieve behavior change as a key outcome.

To me personally, it has been a titanic experience studying the work, imbibing the creativity quotient and making friends for life with 20 PR heads across the globe.

As I sign off, I have to say that the Indian PR industry has great potential. PR is at the heart of some of the world’s greatest campaigns’ that is constantly elevating it's power, making emotional engagements, opening minds, touching hearts and inspiring action on the ground.

Here's a toast to the people who make up the festival of real creativity.

Paresh Chaudhry, CEO, Madison PR and jury member for PR at the “2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity"

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