Some good work, some surprises…

05 Apr,2019


With less than a week to go for the Goafest, the annual convention of the advertising and media industry, all eyes are on the Abby Awards. While some of the big names are missing, the overall numbers are roughly the same with a new set of entrants in the digital, publishing, broadcast and PR domains. MxMIndia spoke with veteran industryperson, CEO of IPG Mediabrands India and Chairman of the Awards Governing Council of the Abby Awards to get a feel of the Abby this year


You’ve headed the Awards Governing Council in the past. And we know it’s perhaps one of the most thankless jobs in the media association ecosystem. So why did you get drawn into it again?

I am part of this great industry and I’m very fond of Ad Club and the fraternity. I realised there aren’t too many people willing to take on the responsibility and someone with the wherewithal had to take it on. So when the President asked me, I said okay to it.

Getting to the critical question upfront… participating in the awards is at a new low this year. Other than Lowe and Ogilvy and a few other biggies staying away, even last year’s #1 Social Street isn’t participating this year

While I will give you the exact numbers in Goa, broadly they are in the same ballpark. Last time, it was 2700 entries, this year it may approximately be 30-40 entries less than that. But there is at least a 15-20% increase in media, and unlike last year, this time we have managed to get all agencies. So media has gone up dramatically this year. Similarly, the other categories that have gone up are Digital and PR. Yes, the drop has been in Creative. And that is primarily because of one agency which has come in which is, like you correctly said, is Social Street. They had some 300 entries last year. But there is a surprise entrant which has come in a nice way, and that’s Dentsu.

But Taproot isn’t entering…

Yes, Taproot hasn’t come. But other Dentsu creative agencies have entered

While you say that other categories have grown, isn’t Goafest and the Abby all about the Creative Abby?

I did try reaching to almost all agences, and we met the big boys who didn’t participate. And I am unhappy to report it that despite my meeting them 3-4 times, they didn’t come in. But no one is going to fault me for not trying. I went to Lowe, McCann, Publicis, JWT, Taproot… I went everywhere. Without giving names, some said we wish to participate, but we don’t have work this time. Someone said that you came late, you should have come earlier. Someone spoke of scams. So various people have their points of view. I can’t argue with them.

Is it because of the rankings, since you now have the ‘Agency of the Year’ title?

Well, even when we did not have the Agency of the Year, people would still put out the ranking.

It’s possible to bring India and Pakistan on the discussion table, one can get North and South Korea to talk, but it’s not possible to get all the agencies here.

I can tell you with all honesty, I put my might behind it. As I said, I met most people many times, and they were very receptive. But we have some clients participating directly even though their agencies are staying away.

Like we saw in the Effies, where Hindustan Unilever participated directly since Lowe was staying away. Moving on, how was the judging with the second year of the Master Jury. How do you find the quality of entries?

Very good. This year, we had the Master Jury for the Media Abby also. All the agency and network heads. There are basically two points of view: One, like every year, some have said the quality wasn’t as good. But there were others, who said the work was much better than last year. I am also delighted that many production houses and TV channels have entered some amazing work.

Is it?

Yes, and I hope they win. It will be a slap to some of the naysayers. Because finally it is all about content. Good content will and should win.

On the composition of the Master Jury, we didn’t have anyone from Ogilvy yet again?

I reached out to Sonal Dabral. He did not come back to me. There were a few who had agreed to be there, but couldn’t make it because of some last-minute engagement.

Any surprises, stand-outs this year?

Overall you will see good work. I don’t know who the winner is because I have not done the tally… the auditors do it. Guess there may be scams this time too, but I saw a lot of real work. I saw some films which were excellent. While I would like you to be there and see things for yourself, but I was mighty pleased with some of the digital work and the entries of the television channels.

Any surprises?

Who knows, you could well see some.



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