By Prarthana Mitra
India kicked off its medal tally on the second day of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018, by picking up its first Grand Prix besides a couple more Lions in the Health and Wellness category.
Creative agency TBWA received the “Grand Prix for Good”, for their project Blink to Speak, created in collaboration with nonprofit Asha Ek Hope Foundation and the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute. The world’s first language guide that aims to help paralysed patients communicate with eye movements, Blink to Speak was also the only entry that had a shot at bagging a “Gold Lion” but since it was a pro bono effort, it wasn’t eligible for the same.
Other Indian agencies also secured awards in the Health & Wellness category including Grey and DDB Mudra who have bagged a Silver Lion each for their campaigns with Mahindra Rise and Project Free Period for Stayfree sanitary napkins. McCann Health which had won the “Grand Prix for Good” last year, received a bronze trophy for Kwality Milk this time.
Blink to Speak is on everyone’s lips
As the world’s first eye language guide for those with ALS, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis amongst other illness the kit and manual aims to start a conversation, literally, for those rendered speechless due to paralysis.
According to their website, using a set of 50 eye-commands, a specific message covering the some of the most common phrases required for survival can be communicated. “Patients whose body is paralyzed and has speech difficulties can use their eyes for communication,” reads the introduction.
The language manual with visual cues is also available for free as an e-book.
TBWA India CEO Govind Pandey said in an interview with the Economic Times, “We believe in the power of disruptively simple ideas to make a difference to humanity. This was not done for awards. This was a heartfelt intervention from a team that genuinely wanted to help and make a difference.”
Rich Levy, chief creative officer at FCBHealth, president of the pharma jury, even called it a kind of “cure” for paralysis. According to TBWA, the language has already reached 3 million people and gives renewed hope to patients, their families as well as caregivers.
Praising the project’s simplicity and analogue nature, jury member Rajesh Mirchandani, Chief Communication Officer of the United Nations Foundation said the true hallmark of creativity lies in the ability to reach those left behind. “This could go global. Why can’t this be as universal as bread?” he exclaimed.
What to expect from Day 3
The two nominees in print & publishing again include Asha Ek Hope Foundation from TBWA and McCann India for Harpic, awaiting their Lions over the next three days of the festival. For mobile and innovation -categories in which India has traditionally underperformed- Ogilvy India and Cheil landed a solitary shortlist for Vodafone and Sense International.
The Lions have not been without their fair share of controversy, however, as the Publicis Group decided to boycott all ad festivals this year given their extravagant and expensive nature. Yet, the prestigious creative awards continues to ring in accolade for our creative minds, and this year it happens to hold an even more special place for India, as veteran ad makers Piyush and Prasoon Pandey will be conferred with a lifetime achievement award, the “Lion of St Mark”, on the last day of the festival.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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