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Cannes 2008

JWT, Mumbai, Is Cannes' First Big Winner

Campaign to Recruit India's Next Generation of Leaders Nets a Direct Grand Prix, Along With Thousands of Applicants

By Published on .

CANNES (AdAge.com) -- India won big on the first night of awards at the 2008 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, with JWT, Mumbai, taking home this year's Direct Grand Prix for a national campaign that aimed to empower the nation and identify fresh political leadership.

Lead India
'Lead India,' which was created for Bennett Coleman & Co., the proprietor of the Times of India newspaper, began with a single direct-response print ad that was later unfurled into a full-blown direct marketing campaign won this year's Direct Grand Prix.

Ad Age's wall-to-wall Cannes coverage

"We were looking for big ideas," said Direct Lions jury president Marcio Salem, president-creative director at Salem in Sao Paulo, Brazil. "As direct marketers ... we communicate to move people," and "this campaign moved an entire country," he said.

Looking for leadership
The winning work, dubbed "Lead India," was created for Bennett Coleman & Co., the proprietor of the Times of India newspaper. It began with a single direct-response print ad that ran Jan. 1, 2007, and was later unfurled into a full-blown direct marketing campaign with TV, outdoor, online and mobile elements.

The ad asked readers if they were satisfied with India being called a "potential superpower," "emerging economy" or "sleeping tiger." It went on to request, "If you have it in you to lead India, log on to www.lead.timesofindia.com."

The response was staggering: The site drew more than 1.3 million hits, more than 1 million YouTube downloads and a list of more than 34,000 applicants, which was whittled down to a group of finalists who vied "American Idol"-style to oversee the Lead India initiative.

JWT's bumpy ride
The JWT network also walked away with a Gold Lion for a lighthearted campaign its Costa Rica office created for Nelka Rent-a-Car. Poking fun at the nation's pothole-filled roads, the campaign hinged on the idea that "if you drive through Costa Rica, do it with a car that's not yours." A judges' favorite, some on the jury had considered it for the Grand Prix, but in the end, a majority rallied around "Lead India," Mr. Salem said.

The direct category was deluged this year with 1,700 entries, the most in the category's history.

Shackleton, Madrid, was for the second consecutive year named Direct Agency of the Year. Australia and the United Kingdom were the most-awarded countries, with five Direct Lions apiece, while a range of others, including Costa Rica, Latvia, Belgium and Thailand, also picked up Direct Lions.

Out of a total 38 Direct Lions awarded, the U.S., however, picked up none. "I was as surprised as anyone ... given the amount of direct marketing that we do in the U.S.," noted jurist Janet Barker-Evans, senior VP-group creative director at DraftFCB, Chicago.
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