No golds in digital and print was shocking: Ajay Chandwani

12 Apr,2017



Okay, you’ve read the interviews and reports after Goafest concluded. We spoke to Ajay Chandwani, veteran adperson and also Co-Chair of Abby Awards Governing Council for an analysis of the Abby Awards

What’s the #1 takeaway for you from the Abby Awards 2017?

Overall, I got a sense that entries have dramatically improved is execution. Finesse and execution, presentation of the ideas, execution in illustration, photography, typography, the craft has really moved up a notch in terms of the quality of entries. Whereas the ideas are almost static.

But why no Grand Prix?

For precisely this reason. Grand Prix or Best of Category comes in if the ideas have dramatically changed.

So do you mean there’s no dramatic entry this year?

Frankly if you ask me, there were. But juries feel when they start giving a Grand Prix they are in D&AD, you have to almost remind them that this is a desi Award. You’re not sitting in the Riveira…

Juries appear to be functioning too independently. Shouldn’t they be given a directive to look at…

The only guideline, not even a directive we give them is this. In the past we had a few years in which a lot of metals were given. We formed this rule of not more than four metals per sub-category unless the jury votes. So, for example, four metals means you can have 1 bronze, 2 silvers, 1 Gold or 1 bronze, 3 silvers, and if it requires more than 4, then the jury must decide, 5 or 6 or 7 or even 8. It’s being followed. But in most last two years my observation has been very few sub-categories actually have more than four medals.

Why no Grand Prix? Is it that people are too strict?

Grand Prix means it must change the way the category has been looked at. That it is a very strong differentiator.

An example is an Adidas…

Yes, could have deserved one. A Grand Prix has to be completely breakthrough… I feel that people feel a Grand Prix is too much of a spotlight. If most judges haven’t won it themselves for a long time, they don’t feel…

So, dirty tricks?

I don’t think so. I’ll give you an example. The last Grand Prix was won by Lintas for DaburVatika. That work was a unanimous Grand Prix. Even today, people remember that changed the category. It took a bald woman, one suffering from cancer to sell a shampoo which talks about a lush growth of hair. That is dramatically changing the way you look at the category. It answered that.


You have a new #1…

In terms of the number of Golds, yes., I don’t how you look at #1. Total metals, Golds. We don’t rank.


Open Strategy and Design has 4 Golds

Famous has got 13 metals with 3 Golds. Then there is Star India with 13 metals including 3 Golds. Star is of course not an agency.


And you wouldn’t recommend comparing media houses..

You see this is a new trend. Lots of media companies are entering into creative and they are winning also…Maxus, MindShare and companies. And did you see how many bronzes Marico got


So takeways….

I wonder how it has slipped your attention. Digital got the highest number of entries and has zero gold.


That’s huge. Tell me, this whole thing of some juries being more liberal than other. I remember this an observation made last year too.

Yes it was..


Consequently, you have some agencies who are winning more golds. For example, the Design category has a lot of wins…



So you could see them far ahead of the regular creative agencies

In fact if Open had entered those ideas in the advertising categories, they would’ve had a different score. Like Autumn Winter is in design and advertising.


We’ve seen a fantastic rise of The Social Street. Taproot has done well, but it was #2 last year too.

Yes, just in the second year of its existence.


Do you think a Social Street has benefitted due to some liberal juries?

No, no. A single agency can’t benefit. I will tell you why a single agency can’t benefit… because every jury is so diverse that the only way you can win a metal is if your competition votes you. There is no other way. Many people ask meif it is possible that a group of six people are friends with an agency. No it just cannot happen. That has been my biggest endeavor… not to create gangs. It’s a very difficult thing to do.


Tell me now that the jury process has been streamlined…what will it take an Ogilvy and the others to participate?

First and foremost, there are three things they must do to even consider this serious. Today, some of them are staying away for a combination of either budgets or…McCain clearly mentioned this… Contract clearly mentioned this…infact we thought Contract & Mudra are the agencies that have promoted the Abbys…forget about, whereas Ogilvy and others of the last 5 years have not entered…so I don’t expect Ogilvy & McCain to go out of the way. But, let’s say…there are 2 or 3 agencies …Ogilvy, Leo Burnett I don’t have their view, BDDO they have mentioned that if we did a fewer judges judging everything, they might look at it. However it’s not practical, it’s a D&AD model…works on fewer entries. This is what Kyoorious does… it’s like the Critics Award… Abby is like Cannes…like Cannes has so many jurors…same model…specialist jury…for example, a digital entry can’t be judged by a bunch of advertising people…they’ll be throttled…they will stop entering…one year I had an agency person in the jury, they revolted…they said if you are going to do this next year, we are not going to take part…because if it for Filmcraft by Filmcraft then don’t impose agency people. Likewise design this year look at the design jury. Take design for example, almost every jury member is from design not from advertising even Alok Nanda. Now more than 60% work is from design… in fact his growth is in design.



I think this digital observation. If the ideas had been stronger, we would have had a Grand Prix. Golds and Silvers have gone up that’s because of execution. Earlier what would happen is ideas would falter in execution. That’s why silvers and golds were less. Now at least they have cracked that..


Hypothetically, if Ogilvy and Lowe had participated, would the results have been different?

Very hard to say. I cannot believe that some of the entries which won Goldswouldn’t have been Golds if others were there. None of the golds were by default. May be in one of two verticals.Take, for example, PR has had so many Golds. But these companies that you mentioned hardly have participate in PR and design. They are not big participants in digital also. For instance, they may have changed print. Because print hasn’t got a single gold. That was shocking.


In print..

In print craft there is, but not in print.


So basically, two categories that have not got gold are print and digital.

Yes, shocking


But Print Craft has…

This, by the way, is the trend abroad too, in Cannes for instance.Indian entries winning in craft, and technical aspects rather than ideation..


That’s not a good commentary for our advertising.

Yes, not a good comment.



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