Old vs New

Written by Anushree Bhattacharyya | Updated: Jun 24 2014, 07:46am hrs
At a time when a large section of the advertising and marketing fraternity was getting distanced and disillusioned with the Goa Ad Fest, Kyoorius D&AD advertising awards have found ready supporters among the big and small agencies in the industry including those that gave Goa a miss this year. Organised by D&ADthe UK-based non-government organisation that promotes excellence in design and advertisingand Kyoorius, a not-for-profit organisation that publishes a bi-monthly magazineKyoorius Magazine apart from organising various conferences and allied events such as the Kyoorius DesignYatra for the advertising and design industry, the just-concluded award got most of the industry's representation including from the biggies such as Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), Grey India, Creativeland Asia, Leo Burnett and BBDO India who were conspicuous by their absence at this year's Goafest. The fact that Kyoorius D&AD award has a limited number of categories, a transparent judging process apart from zero tolerance for scam ads is the reason why some of the big agencies like us are supporting it, said Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy & Mather.

Run by Transasia Fine Papers Mumbai based distributor of fine papers, Kyoorius has been organising the Designyatra, a design conclave since 2006. Last year, the company for the first time joined hands with D&AD and the India chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA) to launch the Kyoorius Awards for the design fraternity. Rajesh Kejriwal, CEO and founder, says that though he agrees with many in the advertising industry that the organisers of the Goa ad fest need to put in a system of checks and balances, he is not competing with it.

In a country like India, there is enough space for both the awards to co-exist. Moreover, the Goa fest is positioned as popular awards.

It follows Cannes Lions, while we have tied up with D&AD and are positioned as critic awards, says Kejriwal.

The highpoint of Goafest are the Creative and Media Abbysthe gold, silver and bronze metals apart from a Grand Prix given to the winners across several categories, such as television. print, digital, outdoor, etc. This year 329 metals were awarded at the festival. Of this, three were grand prix, 49 gold, 117, silver and 160 bronze. The Kyoorius D&AD ad awards, on the other hand, has restricted the number of advertising categories to nine and digital categories to seven. And, following the footsteps of D&AD which awards Yellow, White, and Black Pencils to winnersKyoorius ad awards gave 37 Blue Elephants with 24 Blue Elephants awarded in Advertising and 13 in Digital and 4 Black Elephants apart from publishing an in-booka coffee table book that featured 114 creative works that got nominated. All the creative work which got nominated will be part of the coffee table book. In addition, all entrants will receive a small elephant, said Kejriwal.

At the inaugural edition of Kyoorious D&AD ad awards this year, Ogilvy & Mather won most awards as many as seven Blue Elephants and three Black Elephants in addition to 45 of its entries making it to the in-book.

Some in the industry see a silver line in having in having two awards. According to Raj Nayak,CEO, Colors, the general entertainment channel from Viacom18 stable, awards play an important role in bringing the industry together under one roof. Whether it is the Goa ad fest or the Kyoorius D&AD awards, both play a vital role in recognising good work produced in the industry. It is good that different kind of awards are now being introduced in the advertising industry, as new awards bring in new thought process and both the parties may have something new to learn from each other at the end of the day, he said. Interestingly, Colors was one of the associate sponsors of the Goa ad fest and is a presenting partner for Kyoorius D&AD awards, too.

In its debut year, Kyoorius D&AD has introduced few steps to ensure that scam ads do not make their way into the nominations. To begin with, it made a three-day judging session open to public. From fellow professionals, to the media, everyone watched the jury debate the entries. People were also allowed to raise an objection if they found questionable entries. The result was that as many as 20 entries were disqualified in the print and outdoor categories including the infamous Kurl-On print campaign by O&M that caricatured Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.

Explaining the rationale behind opening the first stage of nominations, Kejriwal says: The idea was to ensure quality check at every level and this is why we had international as well as national advertising professionals as part of the jury. This really helped us in getting rid of scam work. For example, the international jury was able to point out if a particular idea appeared to have been lifted from an old international creative work.

For Sajan Raj Kurup, founder and creative chairman, Creativeland Asia, the Goa ad fest committees lackadaisical approach towards scam-ads is a big reason behind the award losing its credibility. When I spoke to Goa fest committee regarding the need to resolve the issue related to sham work, the members in a letter said that it is part of our culture and we need to live with it. As a creative professional, I refuse to tolerate such an approach towards a grave matter. Kyoorius, on the other hand, is clear from the word go that it would not put up with such work, said Kurup.

Goa fest, which is still fighting the ghost of scam ads after last years Ford Figo-JWT controversy, got a muted response from the advertising industry this year. Only 1700 delegates attended the ninth edition of the festival as opposed to 3000 attendees last year. The Goa ad fest committee and the Advertising Club (Ad Club) need to urgently win back the confidence of stakeholders and the agencies that did not participated this year, said O&Ms Pandey.

Goafest organisers, however, are in a denial mode. Arguing that there was no controversy last year, Srinivasan Swamy, chairman, Goafest 2014, said: As for the last year, after the entries were announced, a few were later withdrawn and subsequently reinstated. This made the agencies and the people affected by it very unhappy. Many of them are part of global organisations and this was quite embarrassing for them. We ensured we had no such controversy this year.

Interestingly, this year, it was JWT, the agency which created a stir in Goa last year, that won most metals at the Creative Abbys. JWT took home 40 metals including five gold, 13 silver and 21 bronze. Pandey, however, points out that the win came in the backdrop of the fact that many top agencies from the industry stayed away from the festival.

To give the organisers their due, this years Goa ad fest was different in many ways. From changing the format of the seminars and the advertising conclave to the judging process and introduction of new categories, the festival committee along with the Ad Club tried making a fresh start. To begin with, the advertising conclave, which until last year was held on the first day and was a by-invitation programme, was shifted to the second day and was open to everyone. Also from this year, the show was extended to three days with an awards night on each day as opposed to a two-day event earlier. We couldnt have sustained the interest of the delegates with just knowledge seminars as in the past. So, meaningful changes were called for. We also had three half days of knowledge seminars with an eclectic set of speakers comprising people from advertising, digital, innovation and such fields, said Swamy.

Indeed, the festival this year had an eclectic mix of experts called in from various parts of the world. Arvind Sharma, president of Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAI) said that the list of speakers was created after a detailed feedback from the past delegates of the festival. Everyone needs fresh content. For several years now the ad fest has had chief executives of different brands speaking at the seminar. This year the idea was to get people who are in the middle of action and have gained popularity due to their work to come and speak, he said.

The judging process, too, was tweaked to bring in more transparency. For instance, the shortlisted entries were put up online for public scrutiny and anybody could raise red flags over any entry within 10 days with due proof. According to Pratap Bose, president of the Advertising Club (Ad Club) and chairman of the Awards Governing Council, even this year the festival received a few dodgy entries but the new process made it easier to weed out such work.

Some in the industry, however, were not satisfied with the new moves. Arguing that a critical aspect of the judging process needs to be business impact, Sanjay Tripathy, senior executive vice president, marketing, product, digital and e-Commerce at HDFC Life, says: Supporting documents proving business impact must be made a part of the entries. It is easy to project scam work this way even if there are no audits done. Also creativity alone cant be a factor for evaluating advertising work. It should help in making brand work become more definitive, he added.

Meanwhile, the festival brought in some changes in the Abbys, too. The Goa ad fest committee, along with the Ad Club and the Awards Governing Council, introduced new categories such as Promo and Activation and PR apart from Broadcasters and Publishers Abby this year. According to Swamy, all new categories added were part of the evolving communication eco system. The good work done in these spheres needs recognition and awards. The industry can expect continuous churn or addition of categories based on changes on the ground, he said.

But a few in the industry think otherwise and feel that by introducing new categories the committee is trying to financially compensate for the drop in the total number of entries. While in the case of Media Abbys, the drop in number of entries was marginal, Creative Abby witnessed nearly a 50% drop in the total number of entries from 4300 last year to 2700 this year. One of the categories to witness maximum fall in the number of entries is Print Craft which fell from 900 entries last year to approximately 200 entries this year.

Pandey of Ogilvy & Mather says that an advertising award like Cannes Lions has expanded categories and awards after earning credibility on existing categories. But in case of the Goa fest, which has not been able to sort out many issues of the past, expanding categories appears to be an exercise in securing more revenues, said Pandey.

This year the entry fee charged by the Goa fest committee and the Ad Club for regular categories was R6,500 excluding taxes, per entry, whereas for integrated campaign category, agencies were asked to pay R9,000 excluding taxes per entry.

Going Forward

Even as the Kyoorius D&AD advertising awards have found ready supporters in the industry, there are many who wish that Goa fest finds its lost glory soon. The Goa ad fest is the only award which is of the industry, by the industry and for the industry. It is that one event of the year, which brings various creative agencies, media agencies and advertisers under one-roof. Nevertheless, like any brand it should also evolve with time. And it could begin the process by gathering feedback from various stakeholders, said Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officerfinancial services, Aditya Birla Group.

Festival organisers seem keen to bring about the changes while insisting on the relevance and the importance of Goafest. The youth wants to chat with great creative minds of the industry such as Agnello Dias, Josy Paul, Santosh Padhi and the ad fest is a great platform for them. Also, not everyone makes it to Cannes Lions or D&AD every year. So plans are being crafted to create more year long engagement opportunities apart from resolving other issues, said Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India Group and a member of the Ad Club committee.