|Piyush Pandey, group president of Ogilvy & Mather India and jury president for the 2003 Cannes International Advertising Awards.
Mr. Pandey, who is based in Mumbai, will be the first Asian jury president at the June event, the international advertising industry's largest and most prestigious professional gathering and awards show.
"He's a good bridge between Asia and the Western world," said the festival's chairman, Roger Hatchuel. "It's what I've been looking for. You can't ignore the growing importance of Asia."
Mr. Hatchuel said that when Mr. Pandey served as a jury member in 2002, jury President Jeff Goodby "rated him as a potential jury president."
"He's like a national hero in India," said Mr. Goodby, co-chairman of Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. He said the new Cannes chairman has the creative credentials to be respected among jurors.
"You won't have that problem of 'What's he done?'" Mr. Goodby said, adding that Mr. Pandey is also "a gregarious, friendly guy who is a consensus builder –-that's what you have to do."
And at this year's festival, Mr. Pandey's Ogilvy team won five Lions -- two golds, two silvers and a bronze.
Film, print, outdoor
As president, Mr. Pandey will preside over the film, print and outdoor advertising award juries. He was a film judge in 2002, and last year was part of the "Young Guns" jury that picks the best work done by young creative teams at Cannes.
Before joining Ogilvy in the 1980s as an account executive, Mr. Pandey was a professional cricket player and then a tea taster. At Ogilvy he soon switched to the creative side as a copywriter and in 1992 became Ogilvy's creative director for India.
Besides raising Mr. Pandey's profile abroad, the honor of his Cannes appointment also highlights India as a creative hub and a developing market on the rise.
'Significant for India'
"India is capable of doing a lot of good work," the 48-year-old Mr. Pandey said. The Cannes appointment "is significant for India, and Asia; it's recognition of all the work that Asia has done for so many years, it shows we are getting there."
India is a land of unparalleled diversity, spanning rural villages and sophisticated urban centers. Advertising for Ogilvy clients such as Cadbury's and Unilever is delivered in 21 languages and a multitude of cultural nuances.
Mr. Pandey's creative reputation was forged by work such as a long-running campaign for local adhesive brand Fevicol that taps into the country's flamboyant sense of humor. In one famous spot, a huge mound of people cling impossibly to a moving truck. They are, of course, glued to the truck with Fevicol.
That campaign established Mr. Pandey "as a man with a huge understanding of the value of a brand, of the vernacular nuances of his audience, and of the myriad ways in which a brand can be built and kept fresh," said Neil French, WPP's Singapore-based global creative adviser.
A Pandey print ad, for the Cancer Patients Aid Association in Mumbai, shows a Marlboro Man-type cowboy standing over a dead horse with the tagline "Secondhand smoke kills."
Such campaigns have earned Ogilvy India attention overseas. The agency's work with Perfetti water in India, for instance, won the Mumbai office the creative assignment for Europe in 2003.
Legend in Indian
Despite his prominence within the Ogilvy network, Mr. Pandey does not aspire to an international position. "He's a legend in India, and becoming a legend worldwide," said Mr. French. "[But] a country of a billion souls is probably enough to keep him well-occupied for a while. It's my belief that, as a passionately patriotic man, he'll be happier running his life from his beloved homeland."
The other individual jury presidents at next year's festival will be Alexander Schmidt-Vogel, worldwide CEO of Grey Global Group's MediaCom, for the media jury; Howard Draft, chairman-CEO of Chicago-based Draft, for the direct marketing jury; and Robert M. Greenberg, chairman and chief creative officer of R/GA, New York, for the Cyber Lions jury.
~ ~ ~
Laurel Wentz and Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.