Sanjeev Kotnala: Let’s have a last date to withdrawn award entries

25 Mar,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala


An agency withdrawing an award entry is neither something new nor a regular occurrence. There can be many reasons for it including the official one. But one has every reason to believe that the right reason normally remains uncovered.


At AdFest 2015 last week, JWT India withdrew its entry of Nutribic Biscuits titled  ‘Burberry Vs. Louis Vuitton, ‘Virgin Vs. British Airways’ and ‘Ferrari Vs. Lamborghini’ in ‘The Best Of Confectionary And Snacks Category’ and work titled ‘Music Sore’ and  ‘Antique Store’ in ‘The Best Of Electronics’ for Godrej Security Solutions. These entries were withdrawn after the jury had deliberated on them and recognised them with ‘Finalist Status’. So what went wrong?


As per Meen Lachaniwatan, Press Relation at Adfest, it was a non-issue. Just a date problem. The official reason being ‘the first launch date does not make it eligible to submit’. To me this is not a non-issue. It’s a respected agency with respected senior members; a place that is supposed to be systems-driven and it misses this simple detail! A company that the marketers believe has an eye for detail. Yes, the slip is technically a possibility.


I know doubtful ‘release date’ cases are hugely debated and the first thing one checks. The entries are rushed in at the nth moment. How the entry boards are done. Most of the time at the final stages when entries are being rushed, seniors are not available. No doubt, once in a while unintentionally an unintended entry moves in. So, the onus to explain rests with the agency.


Maybe agencies would appreciate another deadline between the  entry submission and the Jury meet… The Last Date to Withdraw, if one may call it. It is  already in place in  few award festivals like ‘Performance Marketing awards’.


There is too much at stake. It not only affects the agency but also the festival. It may impact someone else’s chances of winning. Hence the shout out for The Last Date to Withdraw. Once it is in place, harder punishment and decisions like embargo for few years on the entrant will be easy to take and implement.


It is interesting to note the Cannes Festival policy that defends agencies and blames individuals:  “We believe that banning agencies from entering on a wholesale basis is unfair on blameless individuals. There are many people who work in agencies who may not be involved with an erroneous entry and therefore should not be penalised. Our policy will be to ban the individuals named on the credit list if a scam is discovered.”


At D&D they are very precise in the process and transparent action. The D&D rule book says ‘the offending Entry shall be immediately suspended from the Awards and referred to the D&AD Executive Advisory Group on Awards Rules and Standards. The Rules and Standards Group is tasked to establish facts relating to any alleged breach and to advise the Executive Committee of Trustees of D&AD on further action or sanctions against the Entrant. In addition to any other sanction referred to in the Awards Rules, D&AD reserves the right to: 1. Remove an Entry from the Awards; and/or  2. Disqualify an Entrant from the Awards; and/or  3. Bar an Entrant from submitting Entries to further Awards; and/or 4. Revoke or suspend an Entrant’s membership of D&AD


Goafest is next month and I hope we will be spared the horror of withdrawn entries and scam. Hopefully we have process in place to deal with such an evtuality. It would be good to know and share publically.



Here is a short checklist for the next time you send an entry.


Sanjeev Kotnala is Head Catalyst at Intradia and believes the best way forward for an organisation is to enhance its interanal team’s potential and capabilities instead of depending on external resources. He is a Management, Marketing and Braand consultant and conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and Innovation (InNoWait). To contact email  or tweet at s_kotnala visit


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