If the year 2008 was a dream run for advertising festivals, given that most of them had registered all-time highs in the number of entries and delegates, 2009 is expected to be a challenge. The global recession, which has taken a toll on the Indian advertising industry as well, has led advertising agencies to be extremely judicious on the expenditures that they are undertaking, and award festivals are not spared from the line of fire either.
The national advertising festivals such as GoaFest are seeing their share of deliberations. This is perhaps the first year when Ogilvy & Mather contemplated on whether or not it should enter the awards. From the looks of it though, Indian agencies are positive on GoaFest for now. McCann Erickson is expected to participate this year, unlike last year. Lowe, on the other hand, would continue with its no-participation in Indian awards philosophy. While many agencies are on, some are still deciding.
The international advertising festivals, on the other hand, may see trends that are different from previous years. The entries for festivals such as The One Show, Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Clio Awards, D&AD, New York Festival, London Advertising Festival, AdFest, and ADC Sydney would soon begin full flow.
exchange4media spoke to a few agency heads to gauge the mood this year.
Quantity down; quality up
Umesh Shrikhande, CEO, Contract Advertising, believes that quality of the awards may just go up. He said, “It would be unrealistic to imagine that paid-for award entries will not get impacted in these times. However, good thinking agencies would treat this as an opportunity to do a more stringent evaluation before deciding on the award-worthy entries. So, while the absolute number of entries might come down, the quality might well go up. It would be interesting to see how this pans out.”
Sumanto Chattopadhyay, ECD, South Asia, O&M, Mumbai, thinks on similar lines. He divulged, “There is no denying that this would be a year of restraint. This may not necessarily emanate from the financial capability of the agency, but from the overall mood around us. We would be giving our entries a very hard look before deciding on what should finally be sent. The number of delegates going may also be impacted.”
Leo Burnett India’s Arvind Sharma, too, is of the opinion that the size of the delegation from an agency may get impacted. He elaborated, “In a relative sense, the cost of entries is not as high as that of sending delegates. The average expenditure of sending one delegate would be around Rs 5 lakh; we can send 20 entries to an international award in that much. Each agency would have their own views on this, but for us, all work that is worthy of recognition should be sent.”
Global awards score over regional in priority
Most of the agencies are also deliberating on which awards they should enter and which they should stay away from. Just about every advertising agency head that exchange4media spoke to stated that the global advertising awards would see preference over the regional ones. BBDO India’s Chairman and NCD Josy Paul said, “Even though the economic slowdown is a sentiment for us and not yet a reality, we would like to respect that sentiment and be prepared. We would be vigilant about our spends on awards. As of now, we would only be entering Cannes, but that would all depend on our work.”
Sharma said, “We are very clear that we would be entering awards like the Cannes Lion, D&AD, The One Show and Clio Awards. What we may review are awards like the AdFest and ADC Sydney. Even though Asian recognition is good, Indian agencies are aspiring to international recognition, so the regional shows may get down-prioritised.”
Shrikhande added, “Given that we now have only one important national award in the Abby Awards at GoaFest, the real impact would be felt on some of the international awards. And here, not surprisingly, the big and best global awards such as Cannes Lions, D&AD and One Show would get prioritised for the superlative work.”
Chattopadhyay reiterated the thought on this and said that awards like the Cannes Lions would see preference.
Perhaps the key international awards festival organisers are aware of the role that the awards play in the overall scenario. This may be one reason why one has not heard of any international awards announcing discounts on delegate packages or any rebate on entries or any promotional package to attract more entries. Sharma explained this best when he said, “In management, one has to just manage. During the 2001 slowdown as well, no award festival had any special packages or deferred dates. The slowdown is much stronger now, but having said that, awards would go on.”