Cannes Film Festival is a celebration of the art of filmmaking. Naturally, getting invited to the fest tops the bucket lists of most creators and artists. The buzz around the festival this time around was unusual, especially since many Indian influencers were seen on the red carpet, prompting many to call them out. Even the usually reticent Nandita Das had to remind people that Cannes Film Festival is a fest of films and not fashion.
For the uninitiated, Indian influencers and content creators like Kusha Kapila, Dolly Singh, Maasoom Meenawala, Diipa Khosla, Ranveer Allahbadia and Niharika NM were big at the event this year, inviting mixed reactions.
Kapila represented Dr. Fetch (A dermatology consultancy), Singh went on behalf of AJIO Life and Brut India, and Allahbadia also represented Brut India. The sudden influx of Indian influencers prompted many back home to wonder whether influencers have become a more popular choice for brands than the usual Indian celeb contingent.
While some saw it as the dawn of the Cannes influencers, others were quick to write them off.
“The questions surrounding their presence are valid: What are they really doing at a movie festival?,” says Saima Iqbal, Head of Branded Content at Brut India.
“But let’s face it, the lines between different platforms blur more and more each day. The creative community is driven to collaborate, and Cannes embraces that spirit wholeheartedly. It serves as a platform where film intersects with fashion and beauty, leading to fresh ideas,” she notes.
If big movie stars can leverage Instagram and TikTok with influencers to amplify their movies for a wider audience, can influencers not stray into their domain?
“Creators are breaking new ground by featuring in movies and showcasing their talents on OTTs. In this interconnected ecosystem, creators are an integral part, relying on one another more than ever before. Cannes celebrates this synergy, uniting diverse talents who rely on each other to thrive and shape the future of the industry,” says Iqbal.
Indian influencers have a huge following, which gives brands the reach they desire apart from boosting ROI, SEO and bottom lines. Since a sizable amount of the marketing budget is also being earmarked for influencer marketing lately, brands have also been seeing perfect business sense in sending these content creators to Cannes, which is a global stage for brands to promote themselves.
“Influencers are public figures, just like actors and celebs,” notes Viraj Sheth, CEO and co-founder of Monk Entertainment. “They specialize in genres like comedy, fashion, entertainment, music, and a lot more.”
Brands benefit from a captive audience to the tune of millions, when it comes to influencers who are also approachable and relatable, says Sheth.
“If Ruhee is showing that she wears a boAt watch on a regular basis, it is likely that she does. Niharika actually uses Bblunt products for setting her hair and that’s what we showcased in her Cannes brand collaborations,” he adds.
Influencer and content creator Dolly Singh who is famous for her quirky content also spoke to us about why influencers have become global sensations. She said, “Ten years ago, I would’ve never imagined seeing a question like this but well, the creator industry is definitely booming. There has been a global shift of people’s interest and loyalty moving away from celebrities to influencers just because there still seems to be a lot of relatability and honesty there. Influencers are more approachable and while you may not be able to ask SRK some FAQs about a product he promotes, you can definitely ask me.”
Singh also notes that a common comment that she encountered while posting Cannes content is “It feels like I’m there with you,” which speaks volumes for the influencer’s relatability factor.
“When I wore an AJIO saree in Cannes, people love it and felt seen because they can actually get the same saree and do it too,” she quips.
She also adds that there is a lot of direct engagement that happens between an influencer and their audience. “Keeping all this in mind, it makes total sense for brands to use more and more influencers to represent them on big stages like Cannes,” she avers.
This year Aman Gupta, the founder of boAt Accessories also attended the festival and became the first Indian entrepreneur to attend Cannes.
Karan Pherwani, VP at Chtrbox, notes while talking about the big draw for brands at Cannes, “The film festival amplifies the value of celebrities, influencers, and brands to extraordinary heights. For Indian influencers, being part of Cannes is highly relevant, as it provides global exposure and the perfect platform to collaborate with brands. These events have a profound impact, generating significant visibility and opening doors to international opportunities.”
For Brut India, which sponsored some of the influencers this year, the gamble seems to have paid off. Iqbal believes that the buzz on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit was testimony. “Creators at Cannes were trending everywhere, and that speaks volumes about its impact.”
Numbers flew in the face of those who scoffed at the influencer presence. “Our Cannes coverage garnered a staggering 350 million global views, dominating 51% of the Indian market share. As a platform targeting millennials and Gen Z, our aim was to capitalize on our young audience and position Cannes as a pop culture phenomenon. Impressively, over 75% of our views came from audience under the age of 34,” says Mehak Kasbekar, Editor-in-Chief and VP, Brut India.
The eight Indian creators walking the red carpet made a big impact, showcasing India’s strong creator economy and global presence, according to Kasbekar. “In a first, we partnered with leading Indian brands like Ajio, Lakme, Titan and Boat and gave an opportunity to Indian brands to showcase their brand at a global stage. Our brand partnerships led to sizeable amount of earned media and virality, thanks to the buzz created by the presence of these creators at Cannes.”