It is evidently difficult to conduct a GoaFest without the Abby Awards beginning and ending with controversies and disagreements. If last year was one of the most unusual Abby year, when for the first time in the history for the creativity awards the results were leaked before the awards and then the ceremony was followed by scam allegations to a winning entry, this year saw its own share of unusual incidences.
To begin with, the results, though sketchily, were leaked again, and soon after the awards ceremony was over, an outraged Piyush Pandey (Executive Chairman and National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather India) had much to say to the GoaFest committee. Pandey was spotted in angry huddled conversations with Madhukar Kamath (President, AAAI), Bhaskar Das (President, Bombay Ad Club), Ajay Chandwani (Chairman, Creative Abby), and the other GoaFest committee members.
The bone of contention was the format in which the Creative Abby was presented. A harsh jury in a few categories like Films led to very few metals being given and the eventual result of that was only one Grand Prix awarded – to JWT India for BCCL’s Teach India campaign.
Even though GoaFest Chairman Colvyn Harris has stated that the Grand Prix presentation, which was done right at the end of the Festival, was not meant to be the defining moment of the evening, the timing and the sequence did lead it to be that.
Pandey admitted that he was irked, and explained, “I was upset not for what was awarded, but for the order in which it was given. If there was only one Grand Prix, it should have been awarded in the end of that category. Do not steal the thunder from others works.”
Number of metals won versus Grand Prix
Last year, when the Abby Award was made a part of the GoaFest, the Bombay Ad Club changed the format and stopped awarding the ‘Agency of the Year’ award that was given to the agency that had won the highest number of metals with a certain value attributed to each metal. Ogilvy India has been winning this for many years. Even this year, with eight Golds and a total of 50 metals, Ogilvy has won twice the number of the next highest winner, JWT India.
A senior industry source stated, “Ogilvy would have won a lot more if the Film Jury was not so critical. Even though the Film Jury Chairman apologised at the ceremony for that, but it cost an agency like Ogilvy a few more Golds and a Grand Prix in the process. Just about all of us expected the Polio film to win a Grand Prix.”
Pandey, however, is not perturbed by these aspects of the awards. He explained, “Awards are subjective and it is the decision of the Jury Chairman as to how to approach it. I do not have any issue with that. My concern is that there was a sense of finale to the awards, and if that was the case, the finale cannot be about the Man of the Match of the losing team, it has to be about the winning team. Don’t screw up the finale.”
There is a division in thought on whether the Grand Prix is the highlight of the evening or the number of metals won. Voicing one side of the issue, McCann Erickson’s Prasoon Joshi said, “It has been agreed on by many that the Grand Prix award is always bigger than the number of metals won.”
Being the GoaFest Chairman
Harris finds himself in an awkward position – the GoaFest Chairman is also the CEO of the only agency that won the Grand Prix. Speaking on the overall affair, Harris said, “We had a tough jury; I would have probably seen at least two more Grand Prix if it were up to me, but at the end of the day, the decision is up to the jury. I never wanted to know the results, because I am new to this role of GoaFest Chairman and I did not want anything to colour my judgement in this role.”
“Piyush is a statesman and he is upset about the last award, but that was just timing and coincidence – it was never meant to be the defining moment of the evening. If there were more Grand Prix, they would also be given in the end. Piyush has a concern, and we would put it on the table and look into it,” he added.
It may be recalled that Ogilvy had decided against participating at the GoaFest this year. Harris, however, had convinced the agency to be a part of the Festival. Pandey stated that even now, the decision to be a part of the GoaFest was a good decision and the manner in which it was given had not changed his opinion about the awards per se.
It is interesting to note the amount of controversies and problems that have been emerging in the Creative Abby and how just about every situation is taken care of without any solution. Is the industry taking the only Creative Awards of this country seriously? Does R Balki suddenly look wisest of the lot to have stayed out from the Abby? With every passing year, the Abby is surely raising too many questions.