Monday, June 26, 2006


The Annual Cannes Advertising Festival results are out. The creative department in the agency is agog. There’s a huddle around the computer downloading the winners’ list. It’s a great year for Indian advertising – 58 nominations, of which 12 have turned into gold, silver and bronze.

The brilliance is sizzling; humbling even. Some ideas leap off the screen and strike you between the eyes. Some creep up slowly and punch you in the gut. A whistle of appreciation. A dismissive snort. A reverential silence.

There’s this winning entry in the Outdoor/Poster category from Everest Advertising, Mumbai, that demands a closer look. There are two pictures. The first picture depicts an unusual vantage point – a view from the bottom of a freshly dug grave. A square patch of sunlight is visible; around the edge of the ‘grave’ stand mournful relatives and a priest ministering the final blessing.

The second picture shows the first picture stuck on a ceiling of a Smoking Zone. Two people standing under the poster with cigarettes dangling from their fingers look up at it with tremulous expressions.

The penny drops. It’s a poster for the Cancer Patients Aid Association. By putting it on a ceiling, it gives those smoking below the impression that they’re being readied for burial.

A bold new way to convey an age-old, almost clichéd message. The murmurs of approval from those huddled around the computer reaches a crescendo. Even the cynics among the lot hail it. The finger on the mouse pauses before moving on to the next entry. Two questions hover in most minds - How did they think of this? Why didn’t I think of this? This is the best Indian entry, one person declares. What a killer idea, another repeats for the fourth time, shaking his head in awe.

They troop out one by one and meet again in the passage outside the office. The sole lighter is passed around. Amid puffs of smoke, the killer idea is once again given the thumbs up.

P.S. I doubt if my description of the poster did enough justice. Here it is

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