DAN Interviews

Language and cultural nuances can't be an excuse for not presenting good work: Ashish Bhasin, DAN

Author | Priyanka Mehra and Sarmishtha Neogy | Wednesday, Jun 29,2016 8:12 AM

“Concentrate on the quality of entries rather than on the quantity. You can send lesser entries, but they need to be better presented. The few early seconds of your work is the crucial time, when you can influence the juror and you can’t afford to lose that,” says Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Asia, who was on the jury for Media Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity which concluded last week.

Bhasin shares his thoughts on why agencies globally need to move away from charity work to doing work for brands, why Indian entries are not doing justice to themselves and more ………..

Edited Excerpts:

What was your experience of being on the media lion jury at Cannes this year?
I had a great experience this time being a part of the media lion jury this year. I had last judged at Cannes in 2007 and a lot of things have changed since then. In terms of the scale of the entries, the numbers have risen considerably. It is quite an exhausting process; sometimes you need to start at 8:30am and end at 10pm. The first three days, you just put your headphones on and look at the numerous entries, Day 4 gets spent on shortlisting the work and Day 5&6, goes in discussions, awards and Grand Prix winners.
The best part of the entire experience of being in the jury is that, you are exposed to a lot of good work. Secondly, it is truly global media creativity; you get to interact with really great individuals- like the other jurors, with high sense of professionalism and standards. Interacting and engaging with them helps one to get various cultural points of view from different parts of the world.

What are your takeaways as a juror having seen work from all over the world?
The entire media landscape is changing. The lines between creativity and media are blurring. There is a clear trend that a lot of work is moving in the direction of digital technology and data. However the ‘Big Idea’ still rules at the end of the day and the entries that stand out clearly reflect that.

How would you compare the work done by India with the rest of the world?
I have been very disappointed with regards to the Indian work and there are few things which I would like to point out. Firstly, presentation of our work needs to get better. At the end of the day, it is all about how well your work is being presented in front of the jurors, who have already too much on their plate. No doubt, we are good story tellers, but we don’t do full justice to our work in the manner in which we present them. I always feel it is better to send fewer entries, which are better done, rather than send a lot of entries that are half-baked.
Secondly, there is a huge preponderance of work focussing on charity and pro bono. I have clearly seen this trend, not only in India, but also globally. I am not against creating work for charity, but this is like the shortcut for getting recognition and we end up doing it often. Instead we should focus on doing work for big brands on large scale.
Thirdly, we are always doubtful whether the jurors will be able to understand local and the cultural nuances of the work we do. For example, a lot of the work from Latin America and Central America doesn’t even use English; but they have been doing really good job in presentation. So language and cultural nuances can’t be an excuse for not presenting good work.

So how do we get better?
Concentrate on the quality of entries rather than on the quantity. You can send lesser entries, but they need to be better presented. The few early seconds of your work are very crucial, when you can influence the juror and you can’t afford to lose that.
Focus on work that is highly into digital, technology and data, because that is where the world is moving to. Don’t always do work on charity, instead produce good work for big brands.
Thirdly, don’t worry whether the cultural nuances of your work will get backed or not. The jury will react to it, if the work is good. There is a huge leap which India needs to take to leave a mark. However, harsh it may sound, but this is the reality.

How are you going to apply your learnings from the jury to better the work produced by the DAN in India?
I am going to share my learnings with my colleagues in the media and apply the process. Other than Taproot Denstu, the other Denstu agencies were not really focusing on awards. However, this time around, we won big at both Goafest and had good shortlists at Cannes as well. Our focus is to sharpen our skills and we believe the journey has already started and we are heading in that direction.