There seems to be no end to the controversy surrounding the Creative Abbys held during GoaFest 2010. While there have been reports of the GoaFest Committee mulling action against the agencies whose judges voted for their own work, there is no concrete plan in place yet. In an official communiqué, Colvyn Harris, Chairman, GoaFest 2010, said, “While it is true that the committee, in conjunction with E&Y, is investigating cases of judges voting for their own agencies’ work, no decision has yet been taken on the action related to the issue.”
Amid this entire controversy, two agency heads have locked horns with each other – KV Sridhar (Pops), National Creative Director, Leo Burnett, and Bobby Pawar, Chief Creative Officer, Mudra Group.
Sridhar on his Facebook and Twitter pages has gone ahead and brought the issue to the public domain. Here’s what he says on Facebook, “Fact 1- Mudra is the sole offender with 110 pieces of work with many judges’ involvement from the agency, one of the member was chairing the jury of outdoor.” He goes on to state other facts, the bottom line being that while Santosh Padhi of Taproot, Rajiv Rao of Ogilvy and Sridhar himself made the ‘human error’ of voting for their work only once and didn’t do so further in the second and third rounds, Mudra did this again and again. The person in midst of this controversy is Bobby Pawar, who has allegedly voted again and again for his agency.
On his part, Pawar maintains that the news being floated is only half baked truth and that once the official version is out, truth will prevail. He said, “All the agencies named are guilty of the same offence, but our mistake is blown out of proportion. The figure of voting 110 times is an inflated figure.”
He further said, “The voting happens in front of Auditors, and anyone doing this kind of blatant offence is bound to be caught there itself. This definitely defies logic, I mean, one would be insane to keep on voting for one’s own work thinking it will pass unnoticed. Some mistake did happen, but that’s mainly because there are loads of entries and at times one is not aware that a particular piece is your own agency’s work. This obviously is the failure of the system, which needs to be looked into.”
He went on to add, “There seems to be only one person (Sridhar of Leo Burnett), who has been voicing his opinion on this and it seems there is some kind of an agenda against me and the agency that’s taking place. The facts have been grossly misrepresented and the truth will come out eventually. I have been on countless juries and this has never happened. We are not desperate to win, and the only thing that matters to us is doing good work, and if awards come because of the work, its fine, but awards are not the be all and end all for us.”
If this happens to be Pawar’s side of the story, Pops has his own version of the truth too. He stressed, “I am not pointing fingers at anyone. I am stating facts, which anyway are in the public domain. If one visits the Ad Club website, one will get details of all the entries and winners. The entire voting is on tape and one can see who voted for which work. I don’t have any agenda, my only concern is that the truth should come out, else youngsters in the industry would lose trust in advertising and their seniors.”
In fact, Sridhar points out that the entire fiasco was brought to his notice much before the awards by some jury members, which was then presented to Ajay Chandwani, Chairman, Creative Abbys at GoaFest 2010 and Director, PerceptH. Since the awards were on the anvil, everyone decided to look into the matter once they were back from Goa, as the aim was not to spoil the show. It seems like earlier too the judges had voted for their own agencies, so what happened now that led has to such mud slinging? Sridhar said, “I am not saying that self voting has not happened before, but it has never been at such a scale and so blatantly. We can commit error like I did, but that can happen once not 110 times!”
His retort to Pawar’s comment that many times one was not aware that the entry belonged to one’s own agency because of the sheer number of entries, was, “If you are the creative head of your agency and not aware of the work coming out of your own agency, then you should not be representing your agency.”
Pops concluded, “I am pressing for bringing transparency in the system, as I feel the credibility of the awards is at stake. I don’t have any personal agenda, but as a jury Chairman of one of the verticals (print category) for GoaFest, this misconduct was brought to my notice and my plea is just to restore faith in the awards.”
Both Pawar and Sridhar have their own versions of the truth, it remains to be seen what happens next when the GoaFest Committee meet.
And now, it is clean-up time for Creative Abby