O&M has dominated the proceedings of the 38th All India Awards for Creative Excellence of Advertising Club Mumbai (Abby 2005). The agency's points square up to 41 points, as compared to 33 points in Abby 2004. Its net accumulate consists of seven golds, sixteen silvers and one special silver. In a surprise development, Everest Integrated Communications has come second, with a net aggregate of 8 points, accompanied by Rediffusion DY&R also with 8 points. McCann Erickson (5 points vis-à-vis 8 points in Abby 2004), Ambience Publicis (5 points) and Enterprise Nexus (5 points) followed them.
The proceedings kicked off with a special homage being paid to the doyens of the industry: Arun Kolatkar, Prakash Tandon, Tharoor Parameshwar and Panna Jain. The multi-dimensional Prahlad Kakkar, CEO, Genesis Films, got the Distinctive Recognition in Advertising Award.
In his welcome speech, Parameswaran, President, Ad Club, said, "The number of entries shot up to 4,395, a 40 per cent rise over the last year. For the first time, Abby awards opened to our South Asian neighbours and we got 200 entries. This year, 79 awards will be given to 20 different organisations. Let's celebrate, cry and cheer creative excellence in advertising."
While Sony remained the noticeable entity in all its shining glory, Internet and print media marketers made their presence felt through the Interactive Digital Marketing Category awards (Yahoo!) and Think Print awards (Deccan Chronicle, Mid-Day and Malayalam Manorama). Contract got Silver for Mid-Day; FCB Ulka got a Gold for Zee Cinema; O&M bagged a Silver for STAR TV as well for Heroes Project STAR Care. Meanwhile, the award winning radio spots of the season were JWT's Spice Ambulance, Everest's Mango Bite (Sholay) and Rediffusion DY&R's Colgate Fresh Energy Gel.
The outstanding non-O&M campaigns, which stood out were Tortoise Mosquito Coils (Everest Integrated), Colgate and XtraMile (Rediffusion DY&R), McDonald's (Leo Burnett), Hanes (McCann Erickson), SCB Manhattan and Air Deccan (Orchard). Phoenix Ogilvy, Sri Lanka, romped home with several awards for UNHCR SBG public service campaigns after the other. There was no award for the Best Copywriter of the year although Santosh Padhi (Leo Burnett) bagged the Best Art Director Award.
Piyush Pandey, Chairman, O&M, said, "We have done some outstanding work on Pidilite, Hutch, Amaron, VIP and the Heroes Project, all of which have contributed to our success. Our strong point is that we have a talented team on board, comprising of youngsters like Abijit Avasthi and Sagar Mahableshwarkar and a bevy of supportive clients who are willing to stand for compelling communication as opposed to "run on the mill" ads. But we cannot afford to be lax; since competition is fast at our heels. Everest for instance is catching up quite steadily."
Meanwhile, Prahlad Kakkar (the proud claimant of the Distinctive Recognition award) said, "It's all a conspiracy of some kind, to propel me towards premature retirement. On a more serious note, I am a little overwhelmed by all of this and the only thing that I can ask myself 'has it really been that long? Have I really been in the industry for donkey's years?'"
Kakkar added, "Honestly, Piyush and his gang of warriors should be banned from sending entries to the Abbys. I think that the Ad Club should consider getting the whole bunch of them on the jury instead, so that the others get a fair chance to stand out."
Ali Merchant, Head, Triton Communications, said that O&M quite deserved to win the agency of the year title, and the other agencies to look out for in the near future would be McCann and Everest.
He added while the Ad Club has gone to great lengths to ensure that everything is picture-perfect, we really could have done without the musical. I think that if the agenda is to hand out awards, let's just get on with it."
While the mood was extremely buoyant at the Abby 2005, there were some who felt that the 'leftovers' were not distributed evenly enough. An irate copywriter said, "Honestly, after O&M has helped itself to the lion's share, you would expect that the left-overs would be more evenly distributed. But no such luck. It's the usual suspects who steal the glory yet again."
Certain categories stood out such as telecom which included Hutch 'You vs You (O&M), Nokia N-Gage (Bates India) and Spice (JWT). In the FMCG category, there was some good work on Babool and Happydent (McCann Erickson), Vicks Inhaler (Ambience Publicis) and Colgate (Rediffusion).
For more, read the story, "Abby 2005: Will the tortoise catch up?" in Impact Advertising and Marketing Weekly dated March 21-27, 2005.