Bangladesh’s voice getting louder at Cannes Lions

Wafiur Rahman
Wednesday, July 12th, 2017


 

Last year the pride of Bangladesh surged when an innovative, eco-friendly and sustainable air cooler with zero electricity consumption, titled “Zero Electricity Air Cooler”, was awarded the Gold Cannes Lion under the category ‘Product Design, Solution’ at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. That was the highest honour in the renowned creative awards ceremony.

 

This year, Bangladesh Country Representative of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Asna Towfiq was invited to speak at a panel discussion titled “How Creativity and Clean Cooking Can Save Lives” at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Thousands of people from nearly 100 countries working in creative communications, entertainment, design and tech came to the 64th International Festival of Creativity to find out where the industry is heading and celebrate the power of creativity as a force for business, for change and for good. Asna Towfiq has over seven years of experience in market development in renewable energy, agriculture, and tourism, with a focus on beneficiaries at the bottom of the pyramid. She has worked extensively with rural communities to change behaviors regarding farming, engage women in income generating activities, promote domestic tourism and now to change the way how people cook and save lives.

 

The clean stoves saga

 

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves along with governmental stakeholders and partners are working to enable 100 million households globally to adopt clean cookstoves and fuels by 2020. The session, hosted by the United Nations Foundation in partnership with McCann Health, explored how the public and private sectors are coming together to develop creative solutions to reduce the effects of cooking smoke on the environment, and to improve the lives of women and children in the developing world.

 

Keeping that in mind, the Bangladesh chapter, led by Asna, is working with the Power Division of the Bangladesh Ministry of Power, Energy & Mineral Resources to enable five million households to adopt clean and efficient clean cooking solutions by 2017. It is campaigns like this which symbolises Cannes Lions. Some get talked about, some get awarded.

 

Tiger, Tiger – burning bright

 

Last year, three Bangladeshi projects, including two for Zero Electricity Air Cooler, were brought out by Grey Dhaka, the other one being Pedal Pure, a pedal-powered water filter project funded by WaterAid. Bangladesh is indeed leaving its footprint on the international platform, which was originally all about rewarding innovations in marketing, but has ended up by becoming a huge networking event and conference for marketing, advertising and other related industries. Cannes received around 43,000 awards entries under 26 categories this year. Cannes Lions, segmented in two, focuses on the best ad campaigns, and also involves various industry stakeholders in talks, which are often some of the highly sought-after talks, as the speakers are diverse in range – from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to WWE superstar Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

 

Recipients galore, Bangladesh in the mix

 

Some 23 campaigns took home 28 Grand Prix awards this year, which included McCann New York’s “Fearless Girl”, which alone took home four Grand Prix awards. Many of the winners set out with properly ambitious goals and were rewarded for making great progress. McCann’s Yournalist aims to counter filter bubbles and fake news by surfacing the broadest range of views on a story.

 

The Grands Prix for innovation and creative data demonstrate perhaps the most important thing for brands to bear in mind: persistence. That is exactly where Bangladesh is making the most of its noise. The Eco Cooler is reportedly the world’s first-ever ‘zero electricity’ air conditioner, and its inventor wanted to get the concept out there to help as many people as possible. Grey, an advertising agency, simply stepped in to help, using its position as a multinational advertising firm to put the plans online, at no cost, so that anyone can build their own Eco Cooler system. Volunteers from Grameen Intel Social Business helped build and install the units, as well as teach locals how to make them, so the wisdom can be passed on.

 

Cannes Lions can be Bangladesh’s next consistent platform where several such social campaigns can be sent for consideration. There is no scope to be overlooked here, given the amount of entries submitted by all the countries. The people of Bangladesh are ripe with innovative ideas and this can be the best platform to make our voices heard. Only time will show the amount of nominations increase from Bangladesh, which is, by all means, a sure-shot hereafter.

 

Inspiring Creativity

 

Diversity is another Cannes Lions forte, which is evident through their introduction of a new video series earlier this year titled “One Day in Cannes”, that features delegates, speakers and jury members at Cannes Lions telling the stories as it unfolded.

 

One of those videos featured Nahar Khan, in her role heading up digital and strategy at the United News of Bangladesh (UNB), our sister news agency.

 

By no means a small feat, this was an achievement which benefits not only Bangladesh, but also UNB. There were candidates from other reputed media establishments, Nahar told Dhaka Courier, but the Cannes Lions authority chose her over all of them, signifying their faith in a digitised newswire that can be the face of new media, greatly encouraged at the event, in Bangladesh.

 

In the video, she talks about her participation in the five-day Young Media Academy, which shed light on the global media landscape and how this understanding could drive media solutions to greatly increase advertisers’ connections with their audiences.

 

“I am very interested in this transition that is currently happening in the media landscape from print to digital in a place like Bangladesh and South Asia in general,” Nahar says. She is particularly proud of being part of the increasing volume of the Bangladeshi contingent’s voice at Cannes, that is rightly acting on staking the country’s claim in an important space of the global discourse.

 

The young Bangladeshi media entrepreneur was there to find some answers as to how this transition can be made smoother. “I am here to take back powerful information. I am here to network, share knowledge, learn and to meet people from all over the world,” she says while expressing her views in the video documentary.

 

The video titled “One Day in Cannes with Nahar Khan” can be viewed on the official page of Cannes Lions.

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