Dispatch from Cannes – Tuesday

Your daily dose of Canuck judge Matt Shirtcliffe’s Cannes shenanigans.

Matt Shirtcliffe, EVP/ECD at Proximity Canada, is chronicling his Cannes judging experience in a blog, MattinCannes.com. Stimulant received Matt’s blessing to excerpt our favourite bits, so check back daily to keep up.


[Direct Grand Prix winner Lead India] is a great campaign. Launching with a provocative press ad at the beginning of the year, it introduced the notion of two Indias – with only one half looking to the future. The ad drove traffic to a site, and was also read on TV by a very famous celeb. That ad, in turn, was downloaded millions of times. A national debate was born. the Times of India harnessed the passion by asking Indians to do something: take action and take a stand to lead the country. It sparked 30,000 responses and culminated in a reality TV show where the eight finalists (all potential leaders) were put to the test. The show was viewed by millions, and the winner is now a contender for the next PM.

So what was there to debate?

First, was it direct? That was tough, because it didn’t look like any other traditional direct campaign and the strategy was even more unconventional. Rather than being pre-planned, The Times and their agency had pragmatically capitalized on an opportunity that was created with one press ad. There were no hard and

fast business goals, no quantifiable metrics like, for example, an increase in subscriptions. But in rallying so many educated people around a cause, the Times had succeeded in bringing its brand closer to many in its target. And given that its business is all about advertising, this was a campaign that would appeal to advertisers too.

Second, was it really Corporate Information – or a sponsored Public Service campaign? This was a vital question, because no public service campaign is eligible for the Grand Prix. So, for example, the gold-winning and very clever Anti-Slavery campaign sponsored by MTV was not a contender. MTV sponsoring anti-slavery vs Times of India sponsoring leadership of a country – a fine line. It came down to the category it was entered in – so there’s a tip for any future entrants in the Public Service category!

Read the rest of Matt’s blog post here.