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How Lead India won the Grand Prix?

India made its mark, a total of 23 Lions including four golds and a Grand Prix.

, ET Bureau|
Jul 02, 2008, 05.25 AM IST

It was an awakening of sorts that happened at Cannes, this year. India made its mark, a total of 23 Lions including four golds and a Grand Prix. The campaign that led from the front was The Times Of India���s Lead India campaign, the winner of India���s first Grand Prix (in Direct), beating over 1,700 entries.

The members of the Direct Lions jury were bowled over by the campaign, though in retrospect, it���s hardly surprising that Lead India won these gongs. After all, it moved a country of a billion people, while there were just 31 jury members who had to be sold on the Lead India mission to give it the Grand Prix.

Launched on 15 August 2007, Lead India managed to get over 37,000 citizens of India to enter its quest to identify the country���s Next Gen leaders, within a mere 23 days of the campaign launching. Its mission was to give every right-thinking Indian a chance to step out of their comfort zone and take on the task of stewarding the nation.

It was a clarion call to be the change that we expect in Indian society; an opportunity for citizens to shrug off their indifference and to put a shoulder to the wheel. RK Misra from Bangalore won the mandate and now has a chance to pursue a political career, all aided by intensive grooming at the Kennedy School or at the Times School of Political Leadership.

Brand Equity got some of the key jury members of this year���s Direct Lions jury to talk about how and why the Lead India entry got picked for the Direct Grand Prix. Excerpts:

Marcio Salem
President & CD, Salem Advertising, Brazil and 2008 Direct Lions Jury President:

On the first day of judging, the jury was divided into six groups and the group that was seeing Lead India called me to show the film and ask me if it was a Direct Marketing campaign or it should be sent to the Titanium. We all loved the campaign and were absolutely impressed with what direct marketing could do to a country. We immediately spoke to the client to check if the ad had been entered in the Titanium and when they said it had, we continued judging it for direct marketing as well.

Before collectively meeting to discuss each piece of work we cast our individual votes, and when we met on Sunday as many as 15 votes out of a 31-member jury were in favour of Lead India. The campaign was so good that it was awarded a Silver very early in the judging process and when we met on Sunday morning (15 June), there were discussions of moving it to a Gold Lion and also to Grand Prix because it had the potential.

A few from the jury liked the campaign but were not sure if it fitted the direct marketing mould. So we played the audio-video presentation of Lead India again on Sunday, at the end of which everybody in the room started clapping. It���s a perfect example of a campaign that had moved the whole country. Almost everyone from the jury voted unanimously for it to be given the Grand Prix.

It���s a great example of direct marketing. It engaged people through print, SMS, internet and used all the tools that the jury were looking for in the direct category. The second campaign which was being considered for Grand Prix - Puerto Rico���s Rent-a-car didn���t even get close.

Lead India definitely raises the bar for work to win at Cannes in the future. This campaign moved the focus of the jury from the tools used in direct marketing to looking at the movement it created throughout the country. In a country like India, I believe there are still problems of electricity and this campaign showed that there can be two kinds of India, one that expects others to do something about an issue and the other which was concerned about an issue and called attention to deal with the issue. We were enchanted by the Lead India campaign.

Nuno Antunes
MD, Proximity, Portugal

The Lead India campaign was more than a big idea. It was huge and beautiful. Despite being a direct campaign, it also linked back to a website. So it became a viral of sorts. The challenge for most brands in direct marketing is the ability to start a conversation with the customer and then see what happens.

Through Lead India you have sent a strong message to people to get involved and at no point was the client in control of what was happening. Unlike other direct marketing initiatives, which clients try to control and put in a lot of marketing strategies, Lead India never did that. It started a conversation and used media like field marketing, SMS, internet, direct marketing and so on, but at no point tried to control it.

Direct marketing is not about control, but about engagement, using all forms of medium. What helped Lead India was it started a conversation with the people and was independent of any single channel of communication. It was very clearly active engagement. It was a special campaign, very mass, well targeted and done with a good insight on the brief; it was a good strategic campaign.

Janet Barker - Evans
Sr Vice President and Group CD, Draftfcb

All the entries this year pushed the barriers of direct marketing. I believe direct marketing is about sending the right message to the right person and at the right time. Direct marketing should also have a measurable response. Lead India had all of that, it knew the audience, a large audience that it managed to connect well with and also evoke a response.

More than 37,000 candidates entering the campaign is outstanding and what is equally impressive is that it galvanised a large bunch of people to participate in something which talks about the future of the country. We have been hearing talks of India becoming a super-power. This is a great way of recognising that. The copy of the ad was beautifully written, it knew the TG very well and I think direct marketing should be like this, it should be response driven and push the boundaries.

There is nothing wrong in using direct mailers and a T-shirt mailer did win the Gold Lion. But for a Grand Prix, we need something like Lead India, which reaches the right place and the right people at the right time. This campaign pushed the boundaries of creativity much higher and it was a smart usage of media. It engaged people, got a response from an entire nation and that is great.

Nishad Ramachandran
Indian member of the Direct Lions jury, iContract
���What happened at Cannes this year is a redefinition of direct marketing. Traditionally, direct marketing is about letters sent to customers, brochures and pamphlets sent via mail, but now the medium includes new media like internet, mobile etc.

Mailers also cause lot of environmental issues and often they are never seen by the person to whom they are sent. All this led to the redefinition. Even before the judging process began, the jury was clear that direct marketing this year will be different.

The judging process had started on Tuesday, but as early as Wednesday, Marcio came to me in the lunchtime with a very shocked expression on his face. He told that he had seen an entry which was completely out of this world, absolutely stood out and was very mega.

He said, ���I have seen the piece that will win the Grand Prix.��� Mauro and Nuno from Portugal have supported the Lead India campaign in a big way and even they said that it was the best piece of direct marketing they had ever seen from India . They had the same kind of reaction that Marcio had expressed earlier.

Six to eight of us right from the beginning believed that Lead India would win the Grand Prix, but I didn���t want to show my excitement, as it could have been misinterpreted by others in the jury. In the early rounds Lead India won the silver and as per the rules at Cannes, if a campaign has won something in the early rounds, then it can only go higher from there.

In fact, some of the films, like the Amitabh film, initially seemed to be rather pompous. But they had to be told about the context. The film was shot on the Bandra-Worli sea-link which has been a pending issue in India for almost 20 years. It gave the Indian population a choice to either sit back and complain or stand-up and do something. That insight had to be explained to the jury.

By Sunday Lead India had been pushed to gold and out of the final seven which qualified for gold, three were public service campaigns. According to the rules, public service campaigns cannot compete for the Grand Prix, so the fight narrowed to Wonderbread, JWT���s Rent-a-car and Lead India.

Around tea-time, Janet from Draft FCB came to me to ask me about the campaign and the context from where this work had come. After tea, when the jury assembled together, Janet spoke in favour of Lead India and why it is right for the Grand Prix.

In the entire judging process, the Lead India video must have been played at least 20 times, out of a 31-member jury team, 24-25 people voted in favour of the campaign. Since the last few years all winners at Cannes have been trying to tell the world where the future is.

Last year it was the Dove Revolution and this year it���s Lead India. Rent-a-car at the end of the day was a campaign for a client but that was not the case with Lead India. Lead India was a sort of call to arms. This is where direct marketing needs to go.���
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