Stage is set for declaring the winners of the exchange4media and network2media OOH Conference and Awards for Outdoor Advertising and Digital Signage 2012. The awards will be given away at a glittering ceremony being held in Delhi on March 16.
Exchange4media caught up with the distinguished jury panel for this year’s awards, and this is what they have to say about the entries received, the OOH Advertising Awards and the OOH industry…
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO, South East Asia, Aegis Media:
When you want to develop an industry, it is not a one-day or one-time effort. The awards and conference, though a great effort, is at the end of the day a one-time effort. First of all, the media industry needs to document outdoor as it’s the least documented of all the media. If there is a library or a track record or proper acknowledgement of work – when it has happened, where it has happened – that in itself would be one step forward. Secondly, give great talent or upcoming talent more exposure so that they do not feel second to print or television or any other medium. This will encourage more people to join this medium. Third and very important thing is to have the guts to expose any malpractices. Everybody knows that the level of professionalism in some players in this industry is very low. The more we expose that, the more we will see professionals come into this industry.
An industry body is one part of it, there is a media owners’ body that has recently been formed, but it needs to mature and evolve. There needs to be a strong body of media users, media agencies and outdoor agencies that should be formed and then probably a common forum, for instance, a joint working committee. To draw a parallel from another part of this industry, there is the AAAI, which represents the advertising agencies, there is the IBF, which represents the broadcasters and then there is a joint committee of AAAI and IBF which works together on resolving common issues. I think that tried and tested parallel should be replicated in this industry.
Also, some other things will help too. For example, if research gets introduced in the outdoor industry, it will help bring in accountability and some amount of transparency. And equally, the industry together must have the guts to expose malpractices and to discourage those who practice them. Until that is not done, it will never be recognised as a proper industry as even today outdoor is regarded to be on the fringes of the advertising and communication business – the grey area where people talk of cash transactions, unprofessional practices and so on.
Abhijit Sengupta, CEO, OAP India:
The entries for this year’s award are not bad. However, I wouldn’t say they are gold standards either. I would appreciate a lot more better work and hopefully that would happen over a period of time. Today, clients have gone into a maintenances mode or they are not aggressive enough to push the agencies into doing more creative work.
The judging method should be looked at. I would appreciate if there is a wider panel so that the judging process doesn’t get hijacked or skewed towards a particular entry. From the participant’s point of view, I think the presentation becomes much more important.
The OOH Advertising Awards are a good motivator. Outdoor is a medium where the most innovative expressions can be done by a creative team and, therefore, in times to come I would like to see more work happening in outdoor.
Amit Tiwari, Country Head - Media, Philips:
Compared to last year, the quality and quantity of the entries are much better in terms of understanding of which particular category it needs to be in. The innovative work that I have seen has opened my eyes. It’s actually an upswing as compared to last year.
Globally, we are seeing the trend of online judging. It is something we can roll out, wherein one can create a particular site and upload all the entries. Then give a password to all jury members along with the log-in IDs and give a timeframe of, say, 20 days. Physically judging entries is a thing of the past. Most of the ad entries today, except in India, are judged online. This saves a lot of time. There can then be one meet where the unanimous judging of all the entries can be looked into. That’s the future everybody is looking forward to.
The awards are a platform which can recognise the work done – right from a place where a particular vendor is pasting a vinyl to the final product. I think it is a fantastic platform where you can acknowledge people who are behind the show.
Benoy Roychoudhury, Executive Director, HT Media:
This is my second year of being part of the jury and I feel the entries have become more interesting this time around. There are a lot of new things this year such as mobile advertising, increase in public service advertising, that are truly unique and extremely refreshing. I would say things are moving forward and in just a year, the entries have improved substantially.
The awards are well organised. It is a fair progamme, done with the utmost care and equity towards all the participants. But I think there are some discrepancies that creep in. We must be more vigilant and try and stop them. I think a measurement tool should be introduced to ensure that the initiative is carried out in a proper and honest way.
The awards are pretty representative as they cover a lot of categories. I wouldn’t really tinker with the format that we have today. It is very important to have such awards otherwise most creative people are drawn only to 30-second TV commercials. It is imperative to stress on other mediums such as print and OOH. We must attract new talent to this medium and if we don’t reward and recognise efforts of people, it is unlikely to get fresh talent.
Gautam Chadha, Managing Director, Broadview Mediacom:
Some of the entries this year are exciting but honestly, I haven’t come across anything that can be spoken of highly. Overall some of the works were okay.
The process for the awards is right. These awards are an encouragement for the industry. I think the entries are being debated and judged fairly and this is what we need to keep doing. I am glad to see the effort put in by the participants. People are doing good work and they just need to continue doing that.
Mukesh Manik, M-I-C, Encyclomedia Networks:
I think the quality of the entries is high, but the presentation quality is low and that has made the entire judging process really difficult. There could be entries that deserved an award but were not presented well.
The participants need to understand that presentation quality is extremely important. The plan that has been executed has to be explained really well so that jury members can easily associate with the rationale. From the organiser’s point of view, I feel the process should have been a bit more democratic. Also, the way the entries have been presented could have been done a bit quicker. For instance, the storyboards could have been put up on a wall so that we could just go through them and give marks right away rather than having to go through each and every book and page.
Recognition always helps, people like a pat on the back and that goes for every industry or individual.
Nabendu Bhattacharyya, Managing Director, Milestone Brandcom:
I think the judging process needs to be streamlined so that it is easier to take a look at the entries, understand everything and then do the judging. Secondly, the number of people judging the entries is merely 3-4 per group; I don’t think it does justice. I feel secret voting is the way to go. There is a need for a reputed auditing team that will follow the process from the beginning. In this way, there are less chances of any bias towards any particular entries.
Participants should not worry whether they would win an award or not. They should focus on showcasing their work to the jury members. They shouldn’t get disheartened as they have sent in their entries, many brands and marketers will be able to view and appreciate the work done.
Awards are important if you want to move up the value chain. It gives an opportunity to clients and advertisers to look at the variety of work.
Rajesh Iyer, Head – Marketing, Colors:
I think some of the work that has been done is really good and pretty impressive. We had a hard time judging the entries.
As far as the participants are concerned, they need to push themselves further. We are looking forward to more good work.
Rajul Kulshreshtha, MD, Kinetic:
I think we need to do a lot more work in making sure that the creatives are up to speed. We are well on our way, but still miles to go before we sleep.
I think the entries need to be a little crisper. The entries need to be in tweet format. So maybe have entries limited to 160 characters and tell your full story in those 160 characters because nobody has the time to go through 200 entries in a day.
Some of the categories that the entries were sent for were wrong, so participants need to be more careful. Thirdly, it can’t be one size fits all. A lot of places we found copy-paste of strategies. I think those are areas that people need to work on. We’ve had a healthy debate on various issues and people have been very open in their views. We discussed a special award on ‘Unsung Heroes’, which we hope is something that the organisers will look at.
The awards recognise that OOH is a specialised medium and like all other medium has a role to play in the media plan of a brand. It requires the attention it is getting to make sure that the stature of the industry rises.
Rameet Singh Arora, Senior Director - Marketing and Menu Management, Hardcastle Restaurants (McDonald’s):
There are lots of entries, which is good news. It shows that the OOH industry is coming into its own and wants to tell its story. I think there have been some fantastic ideas and some great stories, lots of ideas unfortunately left half way, but really good things.
Participants should tell their story better. Many of the entries had some lovely ideas but they didn’t tell the story well enough. We could see the ideas that were there but if they had spent some more time with the entries and raised the level of stories, it will help us recognise some of that work a lot more.
The awards are great because they recognise the industry. A little bit of competitiveness is also fantastic. OOH has been rather unheralded, rather unrecognised in previous years. So awards like these are absolutely fantastic and really raise the bar.
Sudha Natrajan, CEO, Lintas Initiative Media:
This is the first time I am judging the Outdoor Advertising Awards. I am judging them more as a marketer and a consumer. This is one industry I am really interested in because it is very vibrant and it has seen a lot of growth. The importance of OOH has really increased in the last few years because of the way our lifestyles have changed. Hence, with professional marketers getting into this field, we see the quality of work that is happening getting so much better year-on-year.
Perhaps because the awards in this category in India are quite recent, we see that the quality of writing for the entries is not up to the mark. Some of the creative ideas were really brilliant, but there was no fit between what exactly was the entry and the category it was entered in. So there was a mismatch or the creative strategy or the idea wasn’t explained as well as it should have been. The agencies that are participating in the awards need to articulate their entries more seriously.
Any kind of an award is recognition of the efforts done. It is imperative that awards are instituted in each industry as long as we can ensure that scams are kept out of them and it’s only the real work that gets entered. Due diligence is the need of the hour. It is very important for us to encourage people to enter because it recognises the hard work that goes into the campaigns.
500-plus entries compete for OOH Advtg Awards