Jitender Dabas, Vice-President & Strategic Planning Director, JWT Delhi, has won WPP’s Atticus Award for the year 2007. The Award honours original thinking in communication services. Dabas won the award for his entry titled “Why the Consumer should not be King in India?”
The work, an approach to building service brands in high power distance societies, was selected as a winner in the Branding and Identity category.
Dabas would receive the award and a cash award of $5,000 from WPP CEO Martin Sorrell in London later this year.
Atticus Awards is an annual event open to all WPP employees. Hundreds of entries from WPP companies like O&M, JWT, Grey Worldwide, Bates David Enterprise, GroupM, IMRB, and Millward Brown, etc, compete every year for the prestigious award across the network.
The event was judged by Jim Stengel (Global Marketing Officer, Procter& Gamble); David Kirkpatrick (Senior Editor, Fortune Magazine) and Judie Lannon (Editor, Market Leader).
Reacting to the win, Dabas said, “To be recognised amongst the entire WPP network and to receive the award personally from Sir Martin Sorell is a great honour. What makes it special is the fact that the category in which the entry won wasn’t just advertising but ‘branding and identity’. The criteria essentially is any new and original thought in the area of marketing communication. I guess the article forces us to question the long standing and well accepted model of relationship of the brands and consumers.”
Rohit Ohri, Managing Partner, JWT Delhi, said, “The Atticus Award is the most prestigious award in the WPP world. It recognises the brightest minds and the most original thinkers. I am delighted that Jitender has won this award, a testimony to the fact that we have the best talent in India.”
Dabas’ paper challenges the existing notion of ‘Consumer is King’. It states how the service brands are taking an incorrect approach as they try and import the “consumer is king” brand relationship model evolved in the egalitarian developed markets into hierarchical societies like India where the power equation tends to be completely different. He argues that in high-power distance societies like India, service brands will damage their equity if they went too subservient in their efforts to delight the consumer.
He further said, “The award means that as a planner the greater joy always comes from being able to use the understanding of cultural / societal context to lead the marketing / communication models. To be able to use the understanding of Indian society’s hierarchical system to develop a new take on services marketing was very exciting for me. The fact that the Atticus Jury found a merit in that argument just motivates me to explore more.”