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Top agencies to give Abbys 2017 a miss

Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, Mullen and Lowe Group have maintained their stand of not participating in the Abby awards next year. This time around, Rediffusion Y&R has also decided to skip the Abbys while McCann is yet to make up its mind about its participation

Akansha Mihir Mota | Mumbai | December 28, 2016

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Things are not sounding good for Abbys 2017 as top agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Rediffusion Y&R, Leo Burnett, Mullen and Lowe Group have decided not to participate while McCann is yet to take a call. The 12th edition of Goafest, the annual advertising industry festival, will be held from April 6-8, 2017 at The Grand Hyatt, Bambolim. So, with key agencies out of the reckoning, are Goafest and the Abby awards losing their sheen?

Dhunji S. Wadia

Dhunji S. Wadia

In 2016, Rediffusion Y&R won quite a few Abbys, but it was disillusioned by the judging process. On its decision to stay away from the Abbys, the agency feels that there should be some standard for judging the entries. Dhunji S Wadia, President, Rediffusion Y&R and Everest Brand Solutions, said, “Last year we decided that it would be our last entry for the Abbys. There should be standardisation across juries.”

In 2013, Ogilvy & Mather also decided to skip the event as they felt the Abbys was not exciting enough for them. That was the year when Goafest’s credibility was questioned the most.

Piyush Pandey

Piyush Pandey

Explaining the reason for not participating in the event, Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia, said, “We don’t have great faith in the jury system and the way it is conducted. I don’t see any scope of participating in Abbys right now. It’s not that we have blacklisted them. I hope to see a meaningful jury and different people, and that the awards are not given out like ‘laddoos’. There should be credibility. If any random person is a jury member, you can’t expect good judgement.”

Prasoon Joshi

Prasoon Joshi

After a gap of two years, in 2016, McCann officially participated in Goafest. Not too sure of participating in 2017, Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, McCann Worldgroup, Asia Pacific, CEO and CCO, McCann Worldgroup India, said, “We have yet not taken a call. Like every year, I have put this as an open decision for our copywriters, creative directors and other people in the agency to take. Until now we have not decided if we want to participate next year.”

In 2001, Lowe Lintas accused the jury of discrepancy in judging the entries after which it boycotted the awards and has not participated since then. Although in 2016, former Mullen Lintas Chairman R Balki was present as a speaker.

Amer-Jaleel

Amer Jaleel

Amer Jaleel, Chairman and CCO, Mullen Lintas, said, “We at Mullen Lowe Lintas have similar philosophies and we participate in mostly similar kind of awards. We won’t be participating in the Abbys. We have earlier had a serious discussion with staunch supporters of Abbys and industry people. We have told them that being such a big part of the industry, we would like to contribute to the criteria, the way the Abbys are judged. Once we are satisfied the criteria is of the kind that we can respect, then we don’t mind participating in it. We have been saying that we want to participate in formulating robust criteria for the Abbys. Once there is adequate representation from all the agencies, we may consider participating in Abbys.”

Leo Burnett has not been participating for the past three years as it has decided to compete with international companies only and in awards such as Spikes, Cannes Lions and Clio.

Saurabh Varma

Saurabh Varma

Saurabh Varma, CEO, Leo Burnett, South Asia, Publicis Communication India, said, “We have never participated in Abbys earlier also because our focus is global awards. We have decided to benchmark ourselves against the world’s best companies and that’s a framework we have cre ated for ourselves. It is not that we will never participate. If we ever feel that our priorities have changed for some reason, we will do what we need to do. For the last three years, we have been giving the Goafest a skip. This time too we will do the same.”

Ramesh Narayan

Ramesh Narayan

Strongly countering the argument of the agencies, Ramesh Narayan, Chairman of Awards Governing Council, Goafest 2017, said, “Over the last three to four years, a lot of things have been tightened up and criteria has been relevant. Our jury consist of the best minds in the business. Last year’s jury chair had names like Prasoon Joshi, Bobby Pawar, Agnello Dias and KV Sridhar. It had a lot of younger people like Manish Bhatt and Raj Nayak. We had the finest minds as the jury chair. Last year, we had the highest number of entries in the history of Goafest. Don’t you think something is right in all this?”

Narayan added, “If you have more than 4,500 entries coming and the finest jury chair, then one should ask them why they aren’t participating and not us?”

All eyes are now on next year’s Abbys jury and the judgement criteria which will have a bearing on the participation of creative agencies. Being the most important Indian advertising awards, one can hope that all sides will strive to resolve the issue once and for all.

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