Starry, starry night in Mumbai

Written by Geeta Rao | Updated: Mar 24 2005, 05:30am hrs
The Ad Club, Mumbai, celebrated its 50th year and the now-traditional Abby awards last weekend. As always, the awards are a popular industry rating by peers for peers and reflect a scale that matches the industrys growth. As a competition, if that is the word one can use, it was Ogilvys dream run yet again.

In both, volume of work created and released and in quality, Ogilvy has proven it is streets ahead of it nearest rival. Everest, with 8 points, came second to Ogilvys 41 in the creative agency of the year tally. Kudos to Everest, who was the dark horse in the race and Rediffussion, whose points tallied with those of its baby brother. It was a sad barometer for hot shop McCann and Ambience. Hutch and Pidilite, both Ogilvy clients, won the advertiser of the year award yet again, an indicator that good advertising does create good brands and happier clients.

In Ogilvys case now, the benchmarks are self-created and tough to match. Ogilvys creativity has the mark of a self-fulfilling prophecythe more creative you are, the more creative you are expected to be and, therefore, the more creative you are. Which makes it easier for more creative work to see the light of day.

Lowe, the other agency that had a good year and may have changed the balances, though not the final outcome, did not enter the awards. This is in keeping with a tradition started five years before. Bringing back all wanderers to the fold is an issue the Ad Club should have resolved in its 50th year. However, the overall standard of work and films was better than before.

The return of print advertising is definitely in the offing and, thankfully, that will mean the return of good copy. Almost 5,000 ads were entered this year, which is a large number by any standard. The entry of South Asian ads also signalled that India and its neighbours are beginning to forge closer communication and advertising ties.

The ads that won were those that have worked. SBI Life Insurance, with its wonderfully touching drama of an old man buying a diamond for his wife and its signoff line, heere ko kya pata tumhari umar, is a superb example of both consumer insight and creativity dovetailing. I spoke about the need to look at stories and the human angle in financial advertising in my last column and SBI validates this.

McCanns Happy Dent, Rediffussions terrific radio spot for Fresh Energy Colgate and, of course, Everest Communications work for Tortoise mosquito coil, that won them almost all their awards, deserve special mention. Two agencies, to my mind, will be the ones to watch out for in the coming year Orchard Advertising and Everest. Not only because I saw ideas in their work, but because they seem energised, young and willing to take on challenges. In the advertising world, energy and passion take care of most other issues. Orchard, from Bangalore, had two gems in ManhattanDinku and in its Air Deccan communication. Marketing heads and brand custodians need to take a closer look at these two agencies.

It is clear that Indian advertising is maturing and willing to explore its own identity. A new breed of creative directors are confident enough to look inward rather than westward, as they explore humour, irreverence, language and emotion that is both culture-specific and universal. It is also clear that business is good and the stakes are challenging.

There were the usual suspects at the showsingers, dancers, Bollywood stars and Miss India, Miss Earth, World, Universe, etc. Fardeen Khan was the piece dresistance along with Celina Jaitley. In a flurry of stars and razzmatazz, the main event usually gets hijacked. But not for Mumbais advertising fraternity. As far as they were concerned, the real stars were the creative brains who made the ads that made the show.

The writer is CEO, Paradigm Shift, and creative advisor, Saatchi & Saatchi Advt