That Memorable Summer of 2015

Posted: June 26, 2021 in Uncategorized

It’s that time of the year.

Cannes is in the air. And so is Wimbledon.

And in these pandemic times, as I experience these sitting at home, on a remote screen, nowhere close to Europe, I am reminded of that wonderful summer of 2015, one which was very special for me, in many different ways!

It was earlier in 2014 when the digital agency that I had co-founded, Social Wavelength, was acquired by the global advertising network, WPP. We were folded under J Walter Thompson, one of the oldest and highly reputed advertising agencies.

Even as we were getting inducted into the WPP network and getting to know people in the group, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to be on the Jury for the Mobile Lions at the very prestigious Cannes Lions Awards for advertising and creativity. Unlike colleagues in the WPP group who had grown in the advertising industry and many of whom had had a chance of experiencing Cannes, for me, having come to the advertising world, as a kind of “outsider”, Cannes was the holy grail of sorts, an awe-inspiring event, and one that ordinarily, would have remained aspirational.

So, the invitation to not just be at Cannes Lions, but to in fact, be on the jury, was absolutely out of the blue, and an unbelievable surprise.

What followed was a massive effort of pre-screening entries (while still in India) to help come to a short list of entries (once all jury members had done their pre-screening), and which entries, the jury would sit together and review in Cannes.

The jury experience itself was fabulous. One of the major highlights of that summer of 2015!

Being in a room with other eminent jury members, coming from agencies around the world, together looking at one entry after another, discussing the merits, debating some where we were not all on the same page. And doing this day after day, for almost a week. Meeting and engaging with these amazing folks, and also networking with them, beyond jury hours, was an experience of a lifetime!

The large part of this jury effort in Cannes happened about a week prior to the actual start of the Cannes Lions event. So, just as we completed the jurying effort, it was time to swing to the exciting part of actually being at the event and participating there. As a jury member, we got free access to the event (registration is pricey otherwise!). And specifically, for the day when the awards for the specific category that I was a jury member for, viz. the Mobile Lions, were to be announced, we got pride of place, in terms of being right up front in the main event hall. Being up close, right in the front, in a hall and an atmosphere that felt like being at the Oscars, was totally surreal. I had goosebumps. And as I saw the many winners come up on stage to receive their Lions, there was such an adrenalin rush, wanting to so badly, want to go up on that stage, to receive my own Cannes Lions!

There was a lot more about the Cannes experience, including the beautiful city, meeting up with many friends and colleagues from India, attending some really great sessions of knowledge from the absolutely top speakers and panelists from the world, etc.

With all these, Cannes was not done just yet for me.

Besides all the above mentioned exciting stuff that happened, there was one more very significant meeting that happened while I was at Cannes that year.

As mentioned earlier, in 2014, we became a part of WPP Group and were folded under J Walter Thompson (JWT). At this time, JWT was in the process of creating a new digital agency brand called Mirum. This was being created by bringing together a few of the digital agencies that JWT owned, around the world. We had just become a part of the group few months prior to this, and were still getting to know people in the network. Becoming a part of Mirum was going to be by invitation, and we were certainly not expecting that call so soon. However, the Cannes visit gave me an opportunity to meet with Dan Khabie, the global CEO of the newly formed Mirum. That meeting was a get-to-know meeting, which became the basis of our subsequent induction into Mirum. The opportunity to meet Dan in person, and for me to understand the vision for Mirum, and for him to understand what Social Wavelength was about, was an important development. Looking back, we know that becoming Mirum, has been an absolute game changer for us, and in many ways, the seeds of the same were sown during that summer of 2015, in Cannes!

While it all started with the invitation to be on the Mobile Jury at Cannes, as the travel plan was getting ready, I noticed an amazing opportunity. Just as the Cannes Lions event was winding up, on a weekend, the Monday that followed was the beginning of Wimbledon at London. Being the tennis fan that I was, this was an unmissable opportunity to add a few days to my travel, and grab the opportunity to make my “pilgrimage” to Wimbledon!

I did not have tickets for Wimbledon already, and an effort to try and procure tickets only returned very expensive options. But it also led to the discovery that there were a few tickets that Wimbledon sold at low prices on a first-come-first-served basis, every morning. And for which people would queue up, potentially through the previous night! That was a part of the big tradition of Wimbledon, and had it’s own charm!

So, that summer of 2015, in London, I did the whole works of spending a night in the Wimbledon lawns, getting a ticket to go inside, next morning, seeing some amazing tennis, and seeping in the brilliance of the Wimbledon experience. More detailed photos of my Wimbledon trip are shared here.

Thus happened, one of my deep desires as an avid tennis fan, namely to attend Wimbledon live.

In this manner, a matter of three weeks turned out to be extremely significant and crucial for me, in 2015.

  • Being on the Mobile Jury at Cannes Lions
  • Spending an amazing week attending Cannes Lions
  • Having a crucial first meeting with Dan Khabie, global CEO of Mirum, that led to Social Wavelength being invited to become Mirum
  • Making the “pilgrimage” to Wimbledon

Sometimes destiny ordains you to be in a place at a time, and it turns out to be the perfect place at the perfect time, and the rest of the dots just start connecting seamlessly.

The summer of 2015 was one such memorable period for me!!

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