First came the news of some agency heads erring while sitting on the jury of GoaFest that sent the industry into a tizzy, followed by allegations and counter allegations. It was then time to wait and see how the GoaFest Managing Committee manages the issue, which has already put them in a spot. Now, comes an official statement of Bhaskar Das, President, Ad Club Bombay, where he has stated, “This year, the Award Committee received allegations that a part of the Abby judging process was breached as a result of some of the jury members voting for advertisements produced by their own agencies. After a thorough investigation of the facts, the Club has discovered that this process breach has occurred in 29 instances involving multiple agencies, out of 4,117 entries for the Awards.”
He continued, “The Club has taken serious note of this shortcoming in the process. For subsequent years, the Management Committee has decided to take steps to further tighten the process to prevent recurrence of similar breaches. As the Awards have already been handed over for the current year, the Club has decided to point out the instances of this breach to the respective winners and would appeal to their conscience and better judgment to voluntarily return the Awards they have received.”
The last one is actually a googly, as he says that they will point to the winners about the ‘breach’ and ‘appeal to their conscience and better judgment’, meaning to leave it upon the erring parties to decide if they want to give up the Awards. That surely doesn’t seem would be a smooth ride and will be a tedious process, which will definitely be contested by people who have breached. Also interesting is the fact that the figure, which was earlier stated to be 110, now according to the official figure is 29, involving multiple agencies, thus not really clear how many agencies are actually involved.
KV Sridhar (Pops) of Leo Burnett has been vociferous about the agency Mudra and Bobby Pawar being the biggest culprit in this fiasco and attributing the one time mistake of Rajiv Rao, Santosh Padhi and himself as human error. He said, “It’s clear from the official note that people are trying to cover up the mess and making it appear that many were involved, thus diluting the nature of the crime. The whole point of my protest was to bring transparency in the judging system and the truth to the people. Obviously, this is not happening.”
He further said, “The committee owes it to the industry and should name the agencies and people who have done wrong. The names should be out in the public domain. There is a need to clean up the entire mess and this can’t be done by a decision taken by select few. This is just not fair to anyone involved with the GoaFest, be it the agencies, jury or even the media.”
On their part, GoaFest Committee is trying to salvage the situation and bring this matter under control. Bipin Pandit, who has been associated with Ad Club Bombay for more than a decade now, said, “The Awards is an evolving process and we will bring in changes that will be pragmatic and help us be robust. My personal opinion is that I am against voting by show of hands. This was something, which was brought after discussion by the creative fraternity. I feel a better approach would be to get the jury present their point of view on a particular work and then to get into secret ballot. Also, life would be easier if all the entry forms would be given from the last week of December and close the submission in February. The judging could then happen in the last week of March and awards as they happen in April. This would give time to both submit the entries and for jury to study the entry. The audit process could start early.”
And we have not heard the end of it yet. Pops was busy tweeting on May 5. Sample this: “I urge all the jury members to come together to decide on course of action. How can we let committees to decide when we put our name.” And another, “Couple of judges made similar mistake once by abstaining for a wrong one. But one didn’t for 81 by his own admission.”