We’ll look hard at strategy, what the ad is trying to do: Neil Dawson, Kyoorius Awards

13 May,2014


Save the three years in South Africa, he has spent his entire career in London. His ‘Weddin’ ad for Volkswagen Surprisingly Ordinary Prices has, for over a decade, been the most awarded print ad in history.


And his ‘Fish’ commercial re-launched the Keep Walking campaign for Johnnie Walker globally. As Chief Creative officer on the Phillips account, he won back- to-back Cannes Grand Prix in 2009 for Phillips Carousel and 2010 for Phillips Parallel Lines.


He was the ECD on the recent worldwide campaign for Bacardi – Untameable since 1862. With long time creative partner Clive Pickering, Neil  has recently launched London’s newest ad agency -  Dawson Pickering.


Meet Neil Dawson, Foreman of the Kyoorius Awards jury. For three days starting today, Neil and a set of national and international jury, will pore over some of the top creative work done by Indian advertising agencies over the last year.


On the eve of the jury meet being held in Mumbai, Neil took some questions from MxMIndia.


Here we go:


There’s a lot of anticipation for the maiden D&AD-Kyoorius Awards jury session. Are there any broad rules, Do’s and Don’ts that you are going to be setting out for your jury?

One of the key points for me is that we look hard at the strategy, what the ad is trying to do. I’ve seen a trend in awards entries of ads that simply describe what the product does rather than find a new and different insight.


How familiar are you with advertising in India? And your views on our advertising?

Having done an international role on Philips and worked closely with India, I have a ‘fairly’ good understanding of Indian work. But I can’t claim to be an expert. I will be relying on my local judges to fill in the gaps.


I have a general sense that a lot of Indian work is upbeat and fun – And there’s nothing wrong with that. Consumers are thankful of brands that convey a message in a positive way.


While India has a rich past of storytelling and our advertising industry has attracted top draw talent, we don’t do very well at the international awards. What would you attribute as the reason for this?

I think it’s no more than the international are harder to win than one thinks. The competition is extremely fierce. If agencies keep doing right by the consumer, awards will come.


You have a good mix of international and domestic creative biggies? Have you interacted with them already? Your comments on the mix of the jury?

I’ve judged with a few of them before so am looking forward to seeing them again. My feeling is that the jury is of a decent size and international mix to get the right results.


The D&AD is very British, and one may add hence very propah. Having spent most of your career in London, what are the values that D&AD brings to an ad award? And what would you say should the winner at the Kyoorius Awards be proud of (given the standards)?

Integrity. That comes with a not-for-profit organization that has one aim: the good of the industry. We need to protect the value of creativity. Clients need to believe it is a powerful force for their business not just an agency pastime. We are going to be hard and we don’t have to fill gold, silver and bronze slots so winning at Kyoorius will be a real achievement.


As the jury foreman of an Indian awards, have you prepared yourself in any way or would you say creativity has no language?

I saw Mandela come to power in South Africa and worked in the Rainbow Nation of 14 official languages. Ideas had to transcend language. Creativity is universal, and any local nuances will hopefully be explained by our Indian jurors.


One last question: this is the first time we are seeing multiple advertising awards. You have many of them in the UK and elsewhere internationally. Is there intense competition between the awards or do all co-exist? Does the existence of multiple awards impact the participation of some agencies because of limited budgets for spends on entries?

In the UK, awards do co-exist but, yes, there’s only a finite amount of money agencies can spend, so there is competition. Amusingly, everyone claims to be part of the Gunn Report ! My feeling is that not-for-profit awards like Kyoorius should be enthusiastically supported because long-term the whole industry wins.




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