Leo Burnett withdraws awardwinning Tata Salt Lite radio spots [from Mon eve]

08 Apr,2013



By Pradyuman Maheshwari


In what could spark a longdrawn controversy in the scam ads-afflicted Creative Abby awards, Leo Burnett has withdrawn two Tata Salt Lite radio spots that won it four coveted metals in the radio and radio craft categories.


Arvind Sharma, Chairman and CEO, India Subcontinent of Leo Burnett, has mailed the Awards Governing Council (AGC) chairman, Shashi Sinha, with a request to treat these two spots as withdrawn from the agency’s side.


Arvind Sharma

The Tata Salt Lite ads won a silver and a gold each in the radio and radio craft categories, and their exit reduces the final tally of Leo Burnett to 67 (7 golds, 32 silver and 28 bronze). McCann Worldgroup has lesser number of metals, but with 1 grand prix, 7 golds, 15 silvers and 33 bronze, it becomes the numero uno agency this year.


In his mail to Mr Sinha, a copy of which is with MxMIndia, Mr Sharma has written that he was aware that there was a debate at the AGC about two Tata Salt Lite radio spots submitted by Leo Burnett. While he “recused himself from this debate and the AGC decided to award the spots… a website alluded to this debate with unnecessary insinuations”. The dispute is over the ads being created only for awards and not as commercially released work.


Although he hasn’t named MxMIndia, we believe that Mr Sharma was referring to the story at MxMIndia at: http://www.mxmindia.com/2013/04/5-things-well-want-to-forget-about-goafest-2013/. Much as we would like to be given the credit for having corrected a wrong,  sources tell MxMIndia that the word had indeed reached Tata Chemicals/Bombay House including the ethics committee ahead of our post.


Updated: It is learnt that when KPMG, the auditors for the Creative Abby jury, pointed out that the the client (Tata Chemicals) had intimated that the ads were created for awards, it was decided to debar the entry. However, later, the AGC decided to go ahead with the awarding of the metals after it received a revised communication from the client that the ads were indeed released commercially.


Meanwhile, Mr Sinha confirmed receipt of Mr Sharma’s letter of withdrawal. The AGC’s decision on the letter is awaited, though according to sources, the demand will be accepted.  Also, while it depends entirely on the decision of the AGC, there is a likelihood that in the Radio Craft category, a gold that Lingo India has won may also be considered withdrawn.


Clarifying its standpoint on the controversy, Tata Chemicals has also issued a statement: “The entire award submission process is one initiated and entirely managed by the agency; our role as a client was limited to approval of the creative. As a client, we were not aware of all the other technical requirements and subsequent process of submission criteria etc.  As soon as the inconsistencies were brought to our attention, and upon further enquiry, we conclude that it would be appropriate for the agency to return the award to the organizers.  We regret this incident which only strengthens our resolve for and commitment to strict adherence to standards.”


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