Mumbai: Even the prospect of winning awards isn’t proving enough of a draw for many ad agencies to attend the Indian advertising industry’s premier annual event this year. That’s unusual for an industry whose top professionals often derive a high as much from prizes as from their creative work.
The competition at Goafest 2009, slated for early April, could see the lowest participation ever as the downturn forces agencies to cut spending.
Ogilvy and Mather India Pvt. Ltd has already declared that it will not send entries for the creative awards competition this year; TBWA\India Group and McCann Worldgroup India say they still have to decide whether or not they will participate, citing budgetary factors.
Lowe India does not take part in such competitions because it has reservations over the way advertising work is judged at such events, and will not be participating in the 2009 awards either. Lintas Media Group, one of the largest media buying houses in India, will not be participating in the media awards section. Its chairman, Lynn de Souza, cited costs for staying away.
These no-shows could put a dampener on the awards. Goafest 2008 received 3,800 entries for its media and creative awards from across India and the entry mark this year could be significantly lower.
The advertising festival is organized by the Advertising Agencies Association of India and Advertising Club Bombay.
Ajay Chandwani, chief executive officer at Percept/H, an agency under Percept Holdings Pvt. Ltd, who is on the 2009 organizing committee, says all options are being explored to lower costs and encourage participation. “We are negotiating with airlines, hotels etc. to get the best deals for delegates which will bring down costs,” he said.
Shiv Sethuraman, chief executive officer at TBWA\India, says the agency has to decide what award festivals it would like to take part in this year: “We are just starting a new financial year and are working out key focus areas for the agency. Whether we participate or not depends on the kind of budgets that can be allocated for the awards, vis-à-vis other areas.”
BBDO India will also not enter its work for the awards, but it has other reasons. It has a smaller volume of work to display than other agencies because it is relatively new on the scene, it says. It launched in 2007. “The fact is that we’d like to enter a shower of good work, rather than a trickle of it,” says Josy Paul, its chairman and national creative director.
Agencies attending the fest say they will send fewer entries and people than they did last year. Draft+FCB Ulka Advertising Pvt. Ltd national creative director K.S. Chakravarthy says, “This year, all agencies would look to cut corners. Agencies may send far fewer people to the awards. Goafest offers a lot of international exposure and learning that youngsters could lose out on.”
Still, local ad award events are far easier on the pocket. Ashish Khazanchi, national creative director at Publicis Ambience Advertising Pvt. Ltd, says the cost per entry is about Rs1,000-2,000, against as much as Rs24,000 an entry at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the industry’s biggest global awards competition.