Goafest 2008 | K.V. Sridhar
Much has been said about this whole awards fracas. The Goafest-Abby debate has been an ongoing soap opera that has come to its final season and, hopefully, its conclusion. Thank God. Now we can go on with the business of cracking and celebrating ideas.
This leads me to my first, and most basic, point. The whole reason for the Goafest, or really any awards show worth its salt, is the celebration of great ideas. It is, and always has been, a way for the creative fraternity—or those involved in the “creation” of the idea—to get together and acknowledge a great idea.
In the past, the creative persons behind the idea were showered with praise and the night got over. The next day began with a slightly inflated ego and a hangover. But those were the honest old days.
Over the years, ideas have taken a back seat in the whole process. In their stead, the economics of winning awards is now firmly ensconced in the driver’s seat of a car careening out of control. In short, this last pure, virgin beach has been discovered and littered and dirtied beyond recognition. The heads of agencies and the businessmen who run the industry (and I can be included in this little club) have seen the “benefit” of creativity. The more awards you win, the better your creative reputation; the better your standing in the network (that most terrible of slave-drivers), the more clients you can get and influence and, surely, the better the money you can make.
It is quantity over quality. There, I have said it. It makes sound business sense to win an award. And where sound business sense lives, pure creativity does not. In fact, it packs its bags and moves on, without even one forlorn look backwards.
So, what happens is that every agency, big and small, fights to supply quantity. You have the cash-rich “big” agencies sending more than a thousand entries to the awards, hoping that if there is even a 25% conversion rate, they will come away with 250 awards. Which is more than the number a smaller agency might even be able to enter, leave alone win. It is sheer economics, not creativity at play here.
The most vulgar display of economics, I have always felt, is one agency eventually celebrating a higher accumulation of points. Not ideas. Points.
Points, for the uninitiated, can be accumulated in many ways that are creative, but not in the sense we have been speaking of thus far. Which is why I am still looking forward to Goafest. Here, the organizers are trying to celebrate ideas in every medium, and devil take the points. This is why the Goafest, to me, is still an unsullied beach. Here is hoping that the tourists who visit, help keep it clean.
The author is national creative director, Leo Burnett India Pvt. Ltd
Scam (award) ads are very real
Goafest 2008 |Ramesh Narayan
It is probably as old as sin itself. Yet, it suddenly hit us in 1997 or 1998, when a leading agency won an Abby for the advertising of a plumber who didn’t even have a proper office: scam ads had arrived.
What is a scam ad?
In the ad world, it can be defined as an advertisement created with the objective of winning an award. This is obviously because commercial advertising is supposed to be created primarily to further the communications objective of a client, not to win awards. And, of course, commercial advertising presupposes the existence of a real client with a real communication need, a real brief, a real market scenario, a real media plan, however small, and a real payment for the ad.
As a result, scam advertising is very far from the real world of commercial advertising, but it is very real in the world of advertising and the games around creative awards.
When Arun Nanda—as president of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI)—carried the managing committee along with him and actually scrapped the AAAI awards because it was believed that an embarrassingly large number of entries were “scam”, the idea was to send a clear message to the advertising industry that scam ads were not acceptable. All it did was to create a huge controversy and make an enraged Ogilvy and Mather India (clearly the front-runner to win that year) stay away from the AAAI awards ever after.
AAAI and the Ad Club then appointed scrutiny committees to try and weed out scam ads and ensure that only “real” ads found their way to the jury.
This was to ensure fair play.
I personally believed it was unfair to those people whose ads had been through the rigours of a brief, presentations and market acceptability, to be compared with something that flew out of the brain of a creative team and landed on the table of the jury. But, sections of the industry let out a howl of protest.
“How can you play God?” was their refrain. Sure, it was impossible to say with complete confidence whether an entry was a scam ad or not. But, I believe that some method was necessary in this madness. To cut a long story short, many agencies kept away from the AAAI awards and promptly ran back when both the Ad Club and AAAI bowed to popular pressure and did away with the scrutiny committees.
So, now you have the two associations giving away one award. Let us hope the country’s finest creative effort does not end up being for a plumber of a rest house in a game sanctuary that you have never heard of, and will never hear of after the awards ceremony. Indian creativity deserves a better deal.
The author has been in the advertising industry for decades.