Goa by the sea should be balmy in April, with everyone shooting the breeze and Breezers during the glittering Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) Goafest 2008 ad event. The salty air will be laden with reconciliation, too, as two rival ad awards and camps become one grand event for the first time, under the overarching banner of the Goafest. The decades-old Abby awards, hosted by the Advertising Club Bombay, will join with the recently born Goafest event as its Abby awards section.
Many ad captains laud this union. They say it was pointless and too expensive to have two ad awards which had the same categories, judges, and identical work entered. Also, the ad industry had become fragmented since many agencies had stopped entering the Abby in recent times in favour of the Goafest, while creative big gun Ogilvy and Mather India (O&M) only entered the Abby awards. Having one awards event will bridge that chasm since O&M will take part in Goafest from this year.
Arvind Sharma, chairman, Leo Burnett India Pvt. Ltd, and chairman of the Goafest committee for its first two years (2006 and 2007), says the country at this stage needs an ad festival which brings together the best local and international ad minds. Abby will be the “centrepiece”of Goafest, he says.
Some ad men, however, lament this change in the Abby which, in their view, has been demoted from a respected institution to a sub-brand under Goafest, with very few of its categories being included in the latter. “There is no creative agency of the year any more though, ironically, Cannes awards still has agency of the year (category),” says an industry official who does not wish to be identified.
Some say the Abby was sabotaged since agency O&M had been sweeping those awards for many years, leading to a charge by some agencies that the judging process was flawed and skewed. An ad man recounts how Goodby Silverstein and Partners swept the local ad awards for many years in San Francisco, and then the awards themselves were done away with.
It all boils down to the politics of awards. Nothing markets a company and an industry as well as a good award. Ad awards get agencies recognition from peers and, more importantly, their clients. Which is why a Goafest with an O&M participating holds more weight for the festival and for agencies who can say they won against a creative powerhouse. O&M will be the cynosure of all eyes this Goafest. Will it win as many medals as it did each year at the old Abby?
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor.
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