Time to celebrate the all-new Abby

03 Apr,2018


By Pradyuman Maheshwari


Pradyuman Maheshwari

A few years back, on the sidelines of its internal Envies Awards, Piyush Pandey had told the media that he found that some members of his agency did not have any respect for the Abby Awards won by them and found the metals strewn all over. Not his exact words, but this is what he meant to say.


For long, former Lowe Lintas has rubbished the Creative Abby and was the first amongst the big boys who stayed away from the Abby.


Interestingly, both Ogilvy and Lowe are active participants of the Effies, though in the last edition, the MullenLowe Lintas group stayed away reportedly not because of any angst against the organisers. Bottomline: both agencies have nothing against the Advertising Club, but they don’t really much for the Creative Abby.


Juniors in the agencies have often cribbed that they don’t have Creative Abby metal honours to sport on their CVs, but the attraction of international awards and participation in the Effies has been some consolation for the rank-and-file. Ogilvy of course has been participating and is an active supporter of the Kyoorius Creative Awards.


To be fair to Ogilvy and Lowe, the Abby Awards (and the organisers) deserve some credit for letting the rep of the awards slip a few years back. It required the gentle aggression of Shashi Sinha to start the cleaning up, followed by Pratap Bose and later Ramesh Narayan to ensure that things were brought in order.


But I am delighted to note that in the 2018 edition, the Ad Club and Goafest thinktank have taken some dramatic measures to cleanse the system.


So the countless categories that were added to the list over the years have been dropped. This has resulted in a significant loss of revenue to the organisers, but it also ensures that the awards are rationalised.


Ad Club this year persuaded Ajay Kakar to take charge of the Awards Governing Council. Kakar, who has spent the bulk of his working years on the agency side of the business but now CMO of the high-spending Aditya Birla Capital,has been a closer watcher of what has worked and what hasn’t for the Creative Abby. He has also been head of the Effie Awards as well as some international juries so is clued into the ways in which jury processes ought to happen.


So this year, he unveiled a masterstroke in the form of the Masterjury where he called upon 15 creative hotshots to lead the judging process end-to-end. Including the initial sifting to the final judging. Also, the earlier pre-requisite that only representatives of agencies participating was done away with.


I understand from the grapevine that not all were happy with the constitution of the jury. There were some who felt that there shouldn’t have been two biggies from one agency. And then there was a sentiment that the emphasis was on big name creative biggies. What about those who’ve been doing great work, winning awards, but belong to smaller agencies.

And last and most importantly: there is no Piyush Pandey in the Masterjury. There’s no Sonal Dabral either… in fact there’s no one from Ogilvy. The official reason given is that Pandey and Dabral weren’t available, but there are some other theories doing the rounds. That Kakar wanted the Masterjury to be a ‘Jury of Equals’ with no chairperson or jury chair, and there was one view that Pandey should be given the honour, given that he is unarguably the most celebrated Indian creative adguru.


Some seniors in the system told me that the awards process has Pandey’s blessings, and takes care of many of his peeves against the Abby. If he and others find it clean and well-run, they’ll be back next year.


Let’s hope they do. I am all for multiple advertising awards. For instance, MxMIndia (and I) backed the Kyoorius awards very actively in the first few years. It’s not that I don’t back it now, but then Kyoorius is now established and doesn’t need any evangelising. Rajesh Kejriwal is an integral part of the A&M industry and he was even a member of the Abby Publishers’ jury. The exchange4media group also runs a score of advertising awards, and the participation in them underscores the fact that the industry finds them credible and has lapped them up. The Ad Clubs of Bengaluru, Kolkata and Delhi have their own awards, and they get a healthy set of entries too. There’s the Pepper Awards in Kochi. I don’t know if it’s still affiliated to the Kochi Ad Club or it’s an independent trust. There was some exchange of angst there, but I am told things were sorted out after the intervention of some local gods.


Back to Abby Awards 2018. I am going to be there yet again from April 5 to 8 and will watch them closely. I will also of course listen to all the conversations before and after and during the awards ceremonies. The Ad Club and Goafest office bearers aren’t in it for the money. In fact, they spend a sizeable sum in carrying out the responsibilities. In many ways, it’s a thankless task.


I think the industry owes it to itself to give the Abby Awards a good chance.



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