Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman, McCann Worldgroup, who is also the present Chairman of the Creative Leadership Council at the agency, has been immersed in two award functions as Jury Chairman in the last few weeks – the Dubai Lynx Awards from the organisers of Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, and back home in India, the coveted and somewhat controversial Abby Awards.
This year marked the return of McCann Worldgroup to Abby Awards and Joshi also accepted the responsibility to Chair the Film Jury of the ‘renewed’ awards.
Speaking to exchange4media on the experience, Joshi said, “The organisers have been very tight and strict this year, and till now they have been successful in what they have been trying to do. They were very clear about the rules and they applied them so that unlike last couple of years, this year would not see any controversies. While that was fine and, in fact, good for the awards, the thing that worried me was that as we get more bureaucratic, have we reached the stage where we have lost the soul of these platforms?”
For Joshi, awards is a platform where creative minds get together to discuss their work, things they did right or wrong, to applaud the combined work of the industry and to chalk a road for collective growth. “But when there are so many rules, when you have to vote secretly, when each of us has to be monitored, it appears we have reached a place where we are not honest with each other and where healthy competition is missing,” observed Joshi.
Joshi asked, “Why are we so suspicious of each other? To me, it looks like some amount of desperation has set in the awards.”
Drawing a comparison to international awards, Joshi commented, “Jury should have flexibility. I just returned from Dubai Lynx and it was a great experience – the region itself is doing some great work. McCann group companies, Y&R, Leo Burnett, are doing some very exciting work there. Dubai advertising too has reached the stage where creative professionals are beginning to understand the importance of local taste and texture in their work. In the awards, one piece of work was fantastic, but entered in the wrong category. The Jury took the call to change that, so that the work wins. This happens at Cannes Lions too. When you are judging a great piece of work, it is your responsibility that it gets due recognition. It does not matter which agency did it. Cannes Lions does not have an auditor. Somehow we are not realising this and becoming technical. In the process, we are losing the purpose of these awards and the trust in our relation with each other and that is worrying.”
What was his reason for returning to the awards this year? “The organisers this time honestly tried to make a difference and I could not ignore that. We are a part of the industry and we want to support it in our own way,” replied Joshi.
And will his agency be back next year? “It depends on who the organisers are next year and what are their plans for the festival. I also want my team to see their work win on industry platforms like these. But we have to work harder on bringing the awe factor back in these awards. I remember, when I was younger, it was a big deal coming to Mumbai at the time for the Abby Awards. When we won an award, we would look at the trophy over 50 times just relishing that moment. We have to hand over something of that stature to the youngsters of today.”