Anil Thakraney: How can things improve at ad awards?

26 Mar,2012

By Anil Thakraney


In my interview with Balki for MxMIndia, we discussed in detail his reluctance to take part in the industry award competitions. And he seems to make valid points. Broadly speaking, there are two big problems: One, the award competitions are designed to honour the ‘smart alecky’ stuff rather than the effective stuff. And two, the suspicious quality of the judges.


I personally think both these issues can be dealt with if the organizers have the will to make things better, and more importantly, are ready to set their egos aside. These improvements will only make the awards a bit more worthy than they currently are.


Let’s first examine the parameters for judging. Every entry must clearly spell out what the marketing problem was and how the campaign/advert helped solve it. This should be backed by credible facts and figures, and must carry comments/feedback from the concerned brand manager. Half the score must be reserved for this. As in, did the ad manage to meet the desired marketing objectives? The rest 50% of the marks must be awarded on how interestingly the message was communicated. This is where judges can be allowed to be subjective, and must reward only those ads which they believe achieved creative excellence. Though time consuming and tedious, this approach makes sense to me since advertising isn’t pure art, unlike poetry or painting. It’s commercial art. There is no use of pretty imagery if the brand went down the tube.


Two, the judges. No current creative director must be allowed on the jury. This will eliminate the slimy agenda of some, who seize the opportunity to negate the chances of a rival’s ad winning. (By the way, this keeps happening all the time.) The jury must only consist of ace marketing directors who are reputed to have built brands or turned some around in their careers. And retired agency creative directors who are admired for the sparkling work they did during their days in advertising. The doyens who most industry professionals revere. Alyque Padamsee and Mohammed Khan come to mind immediately.



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In short, I think things can be changed if people WANT them to be changed. Balki has made important points. Hope the industry leaders are paying some attention.




PS: Must watch. Not just for those ad industry leaders who are past their sell-by dates, but all oldies in any sphere of work. People who continue to hang around, unsure of when to move on. (In fact, I think one Sachin Tendulkar must watch it too.) It’s based on the farewell speech made by Leo Burnett in 1967 upon his retirement.


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