2013: Year of Shame (Part 1)

23 Dec,2013

 

If the adspend numbers that have been published by leading media agencies are to believed, India didn’t do all that badly in the media and entertainment sector in 2013.

 

Loads of milestones: 175 years of The Times of India, 90 years of Hindustan Times, 25 years of NDTV, 5 years of Colors… the list could go on.

 

There were some other interesting, or shall we say heartening, developments. Various constituents of broadcast got to blows many times over but settled down eventually. Indians continued their march to adopt global or regional roles. Entertainment television saw a new superstar in Kapil Sharma, the fast-talking funnyman.

 

However, Twenty-thirteen has been a year that would be best remembered for the wrong reasons. And that’s why we’ve called it the Year of Shame.

 

In the first of our year-end reviews, we bring you our overall view of the year that’s going to down shutter soon. Presenting: The Year of Shame – Part 1

 

All love lost:

The three key industry components of the broadcast sector fought as if there’s no tomorrow. And there’s no doubting the fact that they need to co-exist in the often-adverse business conditions. Digitization and the adding on of LC1 markets for TV viewership measured led to mayhem. Numbers of some channels zoomed up and many others dropped. Then there was a debate on the way billings were done by ad agencies.

 

Later, there was a standoff on TAM with the broadcasters’ body ending their subscriptions to the measurement company. In retaliation for taking what they termed was a unilateral decision, many advertisers and their agencies adopted a tough stand and pulled out their advertising from channels who ended their TAM subscription. All in all, an avoidable fight.

 

The Shabby Abbies

The Creative Abby organised by the Advertising Club saw crises that threatens its very existence. At first the issue was the non-participation by Ogilvy. NCD Abhijit Avasthi told us that the Abby didn’t energise his team.

 

But even as the industry reconciled itself to an awards minus Ogilvy and Lowe (“the show must go on” was the refrain), a huge scam surfaced one of the biggest players in adland. A JWT creative for Ford was entered for the Abby with due clearance from Ford. The ad brought embarassment to Ford globally which could’ve cause problems for a billion-plus-dollar contract between the auto giant, and WPP, JWT’s holding company.

 

JWT chief creative officer Bobby Pawar quit owning up for someone in his team who he didn’t know and so did a senior Ford marketing manager. The auto firm didn’t name the executive though some publications put out his name. We felt that Bobby Pawar and the Ford marketing manager shouldn’t have been the only ones to lose their jobs. JWT CEO Colvyn Harris should’ve stepped down too, but that didn’t happen.

 

Later, the Abby got into crazier controversies. A Leo Burnett ad for Tata Chemicals was found to have been entered without client approvals. It required some activisty zeal for Tata Chemicals to be made aware of the issue and Leo Burnett pulling out its awardwinning entry. There was also a controversy over ads found to have striking similarities with international ads. A superjury was formed to look into plagiarism charges. The superjury in its wisdom chose to not change any of the winnings. While there is calm before the storm, a statement from Mr Avasthi last week that Ogilvy will participate only if the changes it demanded are effected left one wondering whether Abby 2014 will see the normally-in-black Ogilvy creatives in attendance. Also, other than Lowe and Ogilvy, could there be others who may want to opt out?

 

On Thursday (Dec 26):

Concluding Part of Year of Shame::

Radio – waiting for Phase 3 and news:

Journalism – Charu Deshpande, Hindu… and more

 

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