Pandey promises level playing field at Cannes

Piyush Pandey, this year's president of the jury at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, has vowed to give the same attention to small domestic brands as to their big-spending multinational rivals.

On the day before he travelled to the south of France for the official festival opening on 20 June, Pandey, the first Asian jury president, said: "This year, it's a level playing field. I will not be influenced by the client's past reputation or size."

The group president and national creative director of Ogilvy & Mather India, who was a member of the Cannes jury in 2002, added: "I've seen that, in the past, when all is equal, a familiar brand tends to win. I want to make sure that, just because you haven't heard of a brand, it will be viewed on an equal footing."

Lesser-known brands have not enjoyed much success at Cannes in the festival's 51-year history. Nike has taken more Grand Prix than any other, with six wins.

General Motors, Sony and Volkswagen have three, while Diesel, Levi's, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and Stella Artois have two. Since 2000, Ikea, Fox Sports, Nike and Anheuser-Busch have scooped the Film Grand Prix.

The new brand The Number 118 118 is among the UK front-runners to win recognition this year. Other hotly tipped UK hopefuls are "mountain" for Sony PlayStation 2 by TBWA\London, "Spike Lee" for Orange by Mother and Wieden & Kennedy's "everyday" for Honda Civic.

Clients are on the jury for the first time this year as part of the festival's bid to reward work that delivers results. Bernard Balderstone, the associate media director of Procter & Gamble UK, Scott Berg, the global media director of HP, and Nils Larsson of Ikea join the Media Lions judging panel.

A spokesperson for Cannes Lions says it has no plan to add clients to other categories "in the foreseeable future".

Entries were up by 14 per cent this year, totalling 18,705. Most came from the US, with 2,660. The UK is the fourth-biggest participant (with 1,522 entries) behind Brazil (1,978) and Germany (1,722).

Next year, Cannes Lions launches its seventh category, Radio, adding another revenue stream for the festival owner, Roger Hatchuel.

Numerous delegates from client companies including P&G, McDonald's and BMW will also attend the festival.

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