BBDO’s Dani Richa On The Cannes Lions Dream Run

“We were hoping for the An Nahar work to do well — it won a few Grands Prix at Dubai Lynx after all — but winning a Grand Prix at Cannes Lions was a pleasant surprise,” BBDO Worldwide’s Chairman & CEO for MEA & Pakistan, Dani Richa reflects on the week that has been for the agency so far, and what can only be described as a dream run.

Three days in at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and BBDO Worldwide is not only dominating the performance in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019, distancing itself significantly from the next bests at the awards, but it has also made a mark globally bringing home the top prize in the Print & Publishing Lions category.

MENA’s First Grand Prix
Jury Chair for the Print & Publishing Lions category, Olivier Altmann, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Altmann + Pacreau had commented in a press interview that it took the jury “five seconds to decide on the Grand Prix”. “I read that comment, and I felt we underestimate our creativity. It is great for the region to get this recognition on a global stage, and it is an outcome of effort of all the agencies that have year-after-year done good work and gained attention. People in such shows look at our work with more interest now, and give it the fair recognition it deserves,” Mr Richa commented.

He points out that the bigger victory for An Nahar’s ‘Blank Edition’ winning a Grand Prix was because it was a win for print at a time when newspapers are under significant pressure.

Also, the ‘blank’ paper itself became a trigger for social media, wherein people took the blank newspaper and wrote what they expected from politicians.

“This amalgamation of physical with digital, of how they co-exist and, in some ways, even complement each other is another significant takeaway from this win. You have the newspaper of the heritage and credibility of An Nahar taking a bold move like this. This work was big on many fronts,” Mr Richa explained.

As the agency, the marketer and nearly all of Lebanon celebrates the Grand Prix, for Mr Richa, the win was more personal as well. “It means a lot to me personally. I come from a creative background — from time to time I put on my creative hat and get back in the kitchen. This was one of those times. It has been gratifying in more ways than one. It is the region’s first Grand Prix. I got more congratulatory messages from my competitors than friends in fact,” he said.

A Win Across
Impact BBDO and BBDO Lahore, both of which are under Mr Richa’s mandate, won for across different categories for several pieces of work including the work done for Berger Paints, 28 Too Many, Waste Management Coalition and UN Women. Mr Richa points out that not only is this testimony to the talent but also a reminder that for BBDO, it is all about the work.

“When you have BBDO as a name on the door, you do not shift from creativity — that is the mission. Creativity for BBDO emanates from its culture. If I were to leave and someone else was to replace me, that culture will not change,” he stated.

His words are vindicated by the fact that three out of the past four years, Impact BBDO was Agency of the Year at Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity. This year, the agency bagged Agency & Network of the Year title at the regional awards.

Mr Richa also said that per se the work from the region has improved continually and is “great work”. “In some cases, there was work from other agencies that I thought should have won. There are many factors at play in a platform like Cannes Lions. But, as a region, we have done amazing work. And I am very confident that the only way from here is up,” he informed.

Purpose Driven Delivers
Commenting on the overall body of winning work at the festival, Mr Richa said that the focus towards brands associating with or standing up for a cause or being rooted in a purpose was reflection of what consumers and people want from brands.

He said, “This is not just what you do but also why you do it. They are values brands embody. As a creative professional, there is only so much you can do restating a brand’s USP. But when a brand is bigger than the product and has a role in the community that allows for amazing work. Those are ways brands become part of the conversation. Consumers today, are talking among themselves; brands are lucky to be part of the conversation.”

He also reminded that there was evidence and research today to show that purpose driven work was driving business outcomes because of the values they represented. “It is great marketers and companies are getting the confidence to do more due to that, because it impacts the bottom line,” he said.

Cannes Lions Top Takeaways
Among his major takeaways from the festival this year, the topmost is the infusion of creativity with intelligence and innovation. “We have been talking about data and being able to really measure the impact of the work. That was there this year too, and to be able to make advertising be more relevant and reach more people. Also, it was evident once again, from the winning work and discussions, that innovation is king. These will continue to be our focus in the year ahead,” he summed up.

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