After several twists and turns, and many a heart-stopping moment, the Ad Club of Bombay's (ACB) ad award, Abby, seems to be well and truly on, notwithstanding some big agencies such as Lowe, McCann Erickson, Mudra, Contract, Leo Burnett, Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi staying out of it this year.
Starting Monday, the judging process will tee off towards a gala awards night on March 31. “We have got over 2,500 entries, with huge participation from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. Abbys have now become not just Indian, but even South Asian standard as well,” says Kalpana Rao, President, ACB and Talent Director (India), Ogilvy & Mather Advertising.
In all, over 110 institutions, including 71 advertising agencies, are on board for ACB's 39th award function. And the Abbys seemed to have gained in JWT India - which chose to enter Abbys at the last minute - what it lost in Lowe India, which was a fence-sitter right up to the end.
Other big agencies participating in the Abbys are Ogilvy & Mather, Grey, Rediffusion DY&R, Orchard and Bates Enterprise among others. Giving credence to Ms Rao's claim of Abbys as South Asian ad awards, there is a record 128 entries from Pakistan, 41 from Sri Lanka and 19 from Nepal. “We're expecting a huge ad delegation from Pakistan,” adds Ms Rao.
Though the Abbys may be on, it is far from being a happy-happy story out there in the Indian ad world. Even while ACB brandishes its all-new Abbys, over 2,500 entries, 28 different award segments, a jury president for every category, et al, there is no mistaking the fact that the Indian advertising industry has split right at the middle between ACB and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) over competing ad awards.
All attempts to make these warring bodies agree to work towards one common ad award function seem to have come to naught after all. Now you clearly have Abby agencies, and non-Abby agencies, which by default, seem to tilt towards the AAAI's Cannes style ad festival slated in Goa for April-end.
It's anyone guess whether some big agencies which are participating and have led the entire lets-not-junk a 39-year old industry standard in Abbys, will or will not participate in the AAAI festival.
This current award imbroglio started with AAAI announcing late last year that it will go in for strengthening its non-descript creative awards - kind of an attempt by the country's only pan-Indian ad body to give its seven-year award its rightful place under the Indian ad sun.
AAAI's move was seen by many as a move, not so much to undermine Abbys - which have come to acquire a creative currency value within the industry, more so after its rechristining as Abbys way back in 1993 - but to position AAAI Award as the numero uno advertising award, and by default, reposition Abbys as number two, an also-ran of sorts.
With Abbys managing to survive, even pull out a couple of new tricks from under its hat, and AAAI also managing to put out its refurbished festival-type awards on the Indian ad calendar, the great Indian ad awards circus seems to have just begun.