Mumbai: India’s top advertising agency executives are thinking of boycotting the 2011 edition of Goafest Abby and instituting alternative prizes because they are exasperated by the Advertising Club Bombay awards controversy.
Ever since news of manipulation of the creative awards broke earlier this month, agencies have expressed their disappointment with the initiatives taken to set the record straight.
A statement from Bhaskar Das, president of the Advertising Club Bombay and executive president at The Times of India, said that process breaches had been discovered in 29 instances, with various judges rooting for their own agency’s work. It also appealed to the “conscience and better judgement” of the winners to voluntarily return the awards they received.
“It’s a cop-out by the Bombay Ad Club,” said Aniruddha Banerjee, chairman of advertising agency Publicis Ambience Advertising Pvt. Ltd. “If you are appealing to the better judgement and moral conscience (of those who’ve tampered with the results), then it’s obvious that nothing’s going to be done about it.”
New club: The Delhi Alternative is rooting for national awards, bigger and more stringent than Goafest, with funding from key sponsors.
Banerjee added that the agency will seriously rethink its participation in Goafest Abby 2011.
Mahesh Chauhan, chief executive of Rediffusion Y&R Pvt. Ltd said that unless the tainted agencies are brought to book, he will not participate in the awards next year. “If this is not sorted out by then, count me out,” said Chauhan.
This year, agencies such as McCann Erickson (India) Pvt. Ltd, Contract Advertising (India) Pvt. Ltd and Lowe India did not send their entries to Goafest Abby.
Ad man Prahlad Kakkar, who founded Genesis Film Productions, also expressed his disappointment with the Abbys.
“I think Goafest is well on its way to becoming a three-day holiday junket that companies want to give their employees,” Kakkar said. According to him, manipulation of the awards has been on for some years and may have only been spotted now because they were audited by Ernst and Young Pvt. Ltd and there was a video recording of the voting process.
Some agencies are also exploring the setting up of a new club.
Cheil Worldwide Inc. national creative director Prathap Suthan confirmed that there was such an effort. A page on his Facebook account titled—The Delhi Alternative—talks about its formation. His post said the new club “will recognize, applaud, appreciate every cog in the wheel that drives advertising”, from illustrators to typographers, cinematographers to editors, and models, set directors and media planners.
The Delhi Alternative is rooting for national awards, bigger and more stringent than Goafest, with funding from key sponsors such as television channels.
“We cannot obviously call ourselves the Delhi Ad Club,” Suthan said in his post. “That already exists, and they run their Delhi Advertising Awards, etc. Ours will not get into their space. We will create our own.”
Suthan told Mint that a de facto steering committee had been formed. “I don’t want to announce names as yet, but it would comprise top people from advertising and communications—those who are based out of Delhi, but have a national presence,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ajay Chandwani, chairman (Creative Abby Awards) at Goafest 2010, and director of Percept Ltd, said the organizers were still in the process of writing to agencies to voluntarily return the medals. “I am confident that most of them will,” he said.
“It’s obviously not a happy situation and we hope that everyone participates (next year). But the awards will go on,” Chandwani said, adding that it was not fair to blame the Ad Club Bombay for the manipulation.