Even before the GoaFest 2008 had officially kicked off, the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) had an uncalled for ‘situation’ in hand. For the first time in 41 years of the Abby Awards, the list of award winners, or some part of it, was leaked out to the media. AAAI issued an immediate release calling the report “factually incorrect” and “a result of unconnected bits and pieces of information that have been irresponsibly and regrettably leaked”.
Leaked, nonetheless. Has this impacted the integrity of the Abby Awards, and the GoaFest itself? Does it raise questions on the objectives of senior industry professionals, who not only have agencies to look after but also industry roles to play? What steps should AAAI and the Ad Club to avoid a recurrence of such unsavoury events in coming years?
Industry leaders share their frank and forthright views on the issue.
The AAAI explained that individual judges and jury members would only have the details of the category that they have judged and each have signed a Non Disclosure Agreement. Only Jagdip Bakshi, Chairman of the GoaFest Committee, and a closed group of three people at the Ad Club know the entire details of the awards and the final result.
Madhukar Kamath, President, AAAI, said, “This report undermines the Festival, and we appeal to the media to desist from such reportage. I’ve had a discussion with the President of the Ad Club Bombay, Bhaskar Das, and he concurs.” Jagdip Bakshi elaborated, “We do not recognise any tally or point system been speculated on in this report, and hence, there is no question of ranking. The Grand Prix award is a recognition of an individual piece of work having achieved a certain standard in its category and in no way competes with any other piece of work.”
Industry leaders had this to say:
Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal (Also the in-charge of Media Awards 2008):
I don’t know if the winners put are correct at all. However, more than the Festival or the Awards, this is a shame on the individuals who have leaked out this information – those are the ones you should curse. In my personal opinion, they should be thrown out of the Festival, and their entries should be blocked. In my mind, the details are wrong, but whoever has done it, rightly and wrongly, should be boycotted at the Festival.
Madhukar Kamath, MD and CEO, Mudra (Also, the President of the AAAI):
This doesn’t mar the credibility of the Awards, but it is unfortunate if reports are put together wrongly on the basis of a few truths. Reports can be done on speculations; no one can stop that. However, the way this was reported, without any crosschecking with the organisers, was not correct. We have done a formal release on it, and we mean every word of this release. I know for a fact that what all was published is not true. Some bits of it can be right, sure. However, the headline was 100 per cent wrong, as was the way the article was put down. We do need to look at the process, and figure out from where this could’ve happened, and if it was motivated. If an agency has indeed done this, it is unfortunate. If we find any evidence against any particular agency or individual, we would go against it, and if necessary, we would prevent the participation of that agency at the Awards in future.
Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT India:
This has nothing to do with the integrity of the Awards – that is cast in stone. This is a well-managed and well-planned show, and it should be kept at that. The report that was published was not correct. I don’t think an agency has leaked out this information. This is just putting different bits and pieces of information together for a report. The jury has signed an NDA. They are privy to the information from one vertical’s perspective only. We don’t know anything for sure until the event is over.
Mahesh Chauhan, CEO, Rediffusion DY&R:
I don’t think anything has been leaked out. The report was speculative, and the media has every right to speculate. None of us knows the winners, except for Jagdip Bakshi. We had a meeting on this, and our sense is that this is not a correct report. If an agency has indeed leaked out the information, though I don’t know how they could because how would they get it in the first place, but yes, the agency should be identified, and then steps should be taken to curb something like this.
Suman Srivastava, CEO, Euro RSCG India:
The media report was really just spoil sport. They ruined the suspense for everybody. I don’t know whether this is even an accurate report and even if it is accurate, I think that it is quite irrelevant now. There were judges who did their work, which has then been tabulated by an independent body. The list has to be given to many people before the Festival actually happens, and clearly there was a weak link somewhere. We have to first know who the weak link is. I don’t think it is a good idea to give out any information like this – it’s a shame. What has been gained end of the day? Nothing. But some excitement and fun is lost. In my mind, nonetheless, I assume it is wrong, what the hell!
Arvind Sharma, Chairman and CEO, India Sub-Continent, Leo Burnett:
What happened was not an ideal thing from the show’s point of view. The media often has excess information, sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but I think jumping the gun was not required for the Awards show. We are certainly waiting for the show tomorrow to know the results. We have taken this report with a pinch of salt. I have in been media, advertising and entertainment for a couple of decades now, and I have also told my team that only what would be seen at the Awards on April 5, 2008 night was true, nothing else is till then.