Sanjeev Kotnala: Smudged Industry Awards!

02 Sep,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala


The second edition of the Dainik Bhaskar Ink Awards was held in Mumbai on August 21. It is unique with awards given out in two categories – creative and media. Something that is important to retain and build on. Everyone congratulated each other and went home happy.


I was party to conceptualising the Ink Awards and push the first edition before leaving Dainik Bhaskar. What I witnessed was dramatically different. An evolved version that may be was need of the hour. But on display was smudged ink of mediocrity. It definitely did no justice to the initial objective and final rendition.


It was good to note that the spread and depth of entries across agencies and client had improved. A lot many brands and agencies joined the race, a good sign. A new well designed-beautiful trophy added to lustre of the award, an Exchang4media group initiative.


The introduction of DB Ink Legend is a natural progression. Piyush Pandey Executive Chairman and National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather was an apt choice. His words echo in my head: “Someone has got to come out and say ‘I can do better’….  There is enough shit happening – let’s get down and do some good advertising”. That sums up my observation.


One should not point fingers. Who is responsible is immaterial. What is important is the question; are we going to really take our learnings and push the final frontier? Will we make the third edition of the Ink Awards something that you dream of?


My observations are not personal. It is what I heard the audience say. It is what seniors were snubbing about (no names). It is not about giving trophies before they were announced. It is not about a totally out-of-sync AV and MC. It is neither about mistakes by MCs and technical glitches and nor about the ill-fit of guest speakers and their ill-poised speeches. I do understand you have compulsions when the award is low key.  But if one is awarding even suboptimal output, it raises a pertinent question: what are the standards we are setting and what standards we want to breach?


They are purely a classic example of under-delivery and non-alignment of processes. The awards left many questions. The answers are right in front of the organisers. If the Ink Awards have to really grow and make an impact, it will need huge support.


Here are few observations and thoughts. Listed neither in order of  priority, nor in chronological sequence. They are something that the award owners and the organisers must debate and decide on their plan of action. Ink Awards are just a reference as they were the last one I attended.



The misguided MC kept of referring to ‘(Print) Agency of the year award ‘ (Madison) as the biggest award of the night and thus downplaying ‘(Print) Client of the year’ (Glaxo Smith Kline). Unfortunately there was no ‘Creative (Print) agency of the year’.



The ads that won Glaxo- client of the year stated the standard of the awards. I acknowledge the client’s acumen and understanding to enter it in the first place. I think organisers are aware of the good work done in print and plan should be made to chase agencies that do such work. I did not see even their Mosaic entrants entering these awards.



The work from Times of India was the one that pulled the event up. Across its media properties, the work was substantial and of high quality. Even in this category there is good work from HT, Hindustan, Mid-day, Patrika, Malyalam Manorana, Hindu, Eenadu which was not entered.



Ink Awards need a roa show. It needs agency level connects. It needs to start the process much in advance and in a far more targeted way to include the agencies and clients known for great print work.


Look at it, missing from the entries were the Abby winners, Mosaic Entrants, did not participate.



At initial stages, it seemed we were in a Media House awards show. May be media brands that releases work in self-owned-media need to be treated differently. Otherwise the winner presentation must be paced in such a way that media winners are not cramped together.



Are we not diluting segments by having awards for specific groups – like retail- real estate etc.? There has to be balance and must not completely be dictated by media business interest.



It may be better to look at the craft level and also award Best Typography, Best photography, Best Illustration etc. in addition to best art direction.



Other than the front roundtable populated by sponsors and presenters, rest of the crowd was primarily awardwinners. At the end of the show, every one had a smile on their face. It is a good tactic that adds fun and joy in the event.


But, if there are plan to make the Print Creative Media Awards get real big and a force to reckon with, one needs real audience and maybe a venue that does justice to the awards.



Seriously there were categories that could make to stand-up comedy show. Irrelevant and illogical in the second edition. Please educate me on something like Print by a dominant TV advertiser.
Oh, the idea of National- Regional and local seems so tempting when the awards construct was developed. Now it is the weakest spot. It is tough to break Ink awards into Ink–North-East- West-South-centre to promote creativity and inclusion of the regional and local agencies and clients. May be the regional awards winners at Madras / Kolkata / Bangalore ad clubs (add an event in west – Ahmedabad and centre –Indore) be given direct entry to really do justice to regional and local work.



It is evident from the entries that no direct efforts were made to connect with agencies and clients qualifying for local and regional tag. Result mediocrity of creative expression was paraded throughout the evening. Maybe this is something that needs to be reconsidered.


11. # SHORT.

If one was really wanting social media and in this case the tweets to work and flood then a hastag like #DainikBhaskarInkAwards that ate some 23 characters is not the best thing to do.



More than two presenters even for business sense does not make sense. More so when neither the award giver nor the receivers have been briefed on the process and markings on the stage. It makes a circus of the awards.


I sincerely hope that the organisers and owners of the Dainik Bhaskar Ink Award a property that is relevant and right in the slot do some soul searching and device ways and means (a plan that is monitored) to ensure that third edition is huge and with no glitches. I know I can just hope as an outsider.


Sanjeev Kotnala is Founder and Head Catalyst at Intradia. A Brand, Marketing and Management Advisor. He conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and Innovation (InNoWait). His focus energy in enhancing client’s internal team’s potential and capabilities. In process decreasing their dependence on external resources. To contact email  or tweet at s_kotnala visit The views expressed here are his own.


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One response to “Sanjeev Kotnala: Smudged Industry Awards!”

  1. Yosha says:

    Just a quick check. Who did the mosaic book for Bhaskar? I thought that was a really good initiative.

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