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Experiment with your craft, but not at the client’s expense: Prasoon Joshi

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Experiment with your craft, but not at the client’s expense: Prasoon Joshi

On the eve of the much talked about Super Jury meet to resolve pending complaints on Goafest 2013, ad veteran and creative leader, Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman and CEO India and President South Asia, McCann Worldgroup shares his perspective on taking a larger view of the Creative Abbys, fixing existing loopholes, way forward for award shows in India, striking a harmonious creative balance between the client’s needs and experimentation, among other things.   

What in your view is the way forward for Creative Abbys and Super Jury that is meeting on April 23?
The Super Jury is an opportunity to take stock as I feel there are larger points to be discussed here…
Where do you draw the line when it comes to similarity of ads?
Where are award shows in India going?
Has this become a free for all discussion?
Is that our industry is not doing its job?
Lastly, do we want to become people who love and respect each other or who dislike each other?

It is high time that as an industry we understand that we are here to sell client’s brands and products. Having said that, creative people are not mechanical, they need to experiment; but we definitely need to instill in creative people values to be responsible to clients. You should experiment with your craft but not at the client’s expense. You cannot expect a free for all atmosphere – at McCann we have creative workshops for the same. I am not saying stop experimenting but do it in sync with your client.

Yes, there are shortcomings but as an industry we have been successfully partnering with clients and doing good work and good campaigns. We need to fix the loopholes and not take issues frivolously.

How can we overcome the shortcomings and make things better?
Our industry today is at the receiving end. We need to seriously address the issues:
Rules of award shows need to be defined better. Once defined and conveyed they are not open for discussion.
Define what is legitimate work
Decide when does the discussion on an entry stop
Reassess the way we conduct our jury process. If judges need more time, let us provide them that. If there need to be fewer people on the jury – let us do that. We need to streamline and action whatever it takes to make our judging process robust. 
Decide a code of conduct, people are free to critique work or a decision that has been taken through the year, but we cannot take things back to the drawing board.   

How do we strike a balance between creative expression and requirements of a client?
There is a misnomer that clients are against creativity; this is not true, some of my best clients are the ones that have pushed me to do better creative work. But yes, what clients are against is irresponsible work. As leaders today we need to remember why we are hired and cannot confuse the two issues.

Let us push ourselves as a creative community, wherein we are able to not only satisfy our creative urge but also sell the client’s product through this. It is not easy but as a creative community we must challenge our limits. For e.g. when we did the Happy Dent campaign, the client had to install a new machine to meet the demand but then we won numerous awards for this work. We must understand that the creative process is a two-way street – let us channelise our creative urges in selling our clients products.

You have to be a little tolerant when it comes to creative people; experimenting and pushing boundaries is constantly needed, you cannot be rigid and dogmatic about it. For creative people, it is important to experiment with their craft. On the same note I will add here that I will never allow anyone at McCann to do any kind of experiments that may be in any possible way detrimental to the client's or brand positioning. Whatever work we do needs to be in sync with the client's product and brand positioning and can by no means be harmful to this.

Brands are built with a lot of hard work, creative people can definitely express themselves but not when it becomes detrimental to the brand and product positioning.

What do you suggest as way forward for award shows?
Proactive work is not a new phenomenon and has not suddenly arrived this year. It has been happening for years and this cannot be a reason for us to drag each other down. International and local juries have different sensibilities, which why there is an imbalance on certain things. It is tough to strike a balance between work that will do well in the consumer market as well be appreciated by a jury – but we have to strike this balance.
As an industry we need to create ‘Showcase Awards’ which can be a forum to showcase creative talent; this can be done at different platforms, maybe three times a year.

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