The Gunn Report is the only independent report on creativity for the advertising world. First published in 1999, The Gunn Report and Showreel of the Year, as it is officially called, is a consolidation of winners’ lists from all the major advertising award contests in the world, including national, regional and global awards.
Behind the report is Scottish advertising guru Donald Gunn, from whom the report takes its name. Gunn’s advertising career began in 1962 with Leo Burnett in London, where he stayed for more than three decades — moving up from an account executive to the worldwide director of creative resources.
His job took him to Chicago, where he created several Burnett institutions, including the Great Commercials Library and the Global Product Committee — in addition to spearheading the worldwide study on creativity and effectiveness, Do Award Winning Commercials Sell? He was dubbed by Ad Age as “the man with the best job in advertising”.
After retiring from Burnett, Gunn served as president of the Cannes festival for 1998 and 1999. It was also then that he first launched The Gunn Report, which is now regarded by advertising agencies worldwide as the official measure of competitive excellence for the advertising industry.
Gunn, who is now retired and lives in the South of England with his wife Sarah and three children, spoke to Mint on the telephone. In his own words:
My report this year will include all the elements that have made for The Gunn Report in previous years, but will also feature a few surprises, and some new inclusions.
Donald Gunn. Photographer: Madhu Kapparath / Mint
To begin with, let me say that, as always, the report will continue to pick out the best creative work done across advertising agencies globally and will recognize the work as well as the talent behind it.
The Gunn Report typically has what we call “league tables” that list awardees of advertising festivals and award functions held all over the world during the course of that year. From the list, we then consolidate the Top 37 television ads and Top 19 print ads to make up our league tables, which are arranged according to categories such as the country which has been most awarded for its creative work, the most awarded advertiser, agency network, production company and, of course, director.
This is a big year for The Gunn Report, as it turns 10. So, in addition to awards in television and print, we have included, for the first time, the interactive media category. It turns out that interactive media, though very new, is growing rapidly.
Based on research, we found that interactive media is dominated by seven countries (India is not included), but the demand for this media is on the rise, and India is definitely one of the countries in which it is growing. Last year, India occupied only two wins in the interactive category out of 400, which is not much, but is a good start.
In fact, India’s advertising industry on the whole has shown tremendous improvement in the past few years. In 2005, India did not even feature in the list of Top 25 countries awarded for their creative work. In 2006, India came in 21st and last year, the country took the 15th spot. This makes India one of the strongest creative countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and one of the fastest growing industries, globally.
And while the growth is strong, the quality of creative work produced here is equally impressive. The standard is very high and is getting better, and what works to the country’s advantage is that the viewership of television and cinema is still very high in India. So, India has the technology as well as immense talent in film production and enough actors and film-makers.
In print, too, the standard of art direction is good, and is improving. The work created in India is inspiring for everyone around to see.
However, India is yet to prove itself in the interactive media space. The country has the technology capability and the agency network, and I think this new medium is an opportunity for India to conquer.
Overall, the improvement in India’s advertising industry has reflected in the award function, Goafest. It is an absolutely excellent festival, which has been received well by the Indian industry and globally. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the festival and, this year, they are expecting a better turnout.
I particularly like the concept of the village, which is constructed just for the festival. It brings the advertising fraternity closer. I remember last year, at 11.30am — in the middle of things — we broke out into what they called a “rain dance”, with outdoor sprinklers and music.
The work was great, too. The HappyDent ad was the 10th most awarded commercial in the world. This year should be more interesting as it will bring together the Bombay Ad Club and the Advertising Agencies Association of India in the same festival. I’m looking forward to meeting people from the agencies, and the festival gives you a chance to meet all the top professionals.
What is also interesting is that India pretty much skipped the traditional award show night where the jury meets and there is a basic prize-giving ceremony and that’s it. Goafest is a real festival where, apart from awards, there are guest speakers and an exhibition of creative work.
Come to think of it, apart from big global festivals such as Cannes and maybe some regional festivals, I can’t really think of any major country that has gone straight into festivals, skipping the plain old award ceremony. It’s a big achievement, and India’s ad industry should be proud of itself. I’m looking forward to it and am even bringing along my family this time. See you there!