How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
A Closer Look at Awards
Indu Balachandran, Executive Creative Director, JWT Chennai
you look closely at awards (the word, not the metal, you prize-hungry advertising
person), the word ‘AWARDS’ is ADS with a WAR in the middle. (What
a wonderful cryptic clue for a crossword!)
it’s a war all right, with strategies to think through before sending
out our ads to win. Find out who the judges are! Kill all that body copy! Chop
off the dealer panel! Still not fit for the battle? Then just scam it, dammit!
even our stern office accountants become victory-hungry. Yes, a war costs money,
but the agency’s honour is at stake. And hey, what’s a few lakhs
from the office kitty for entry fees!
soon we agencies head for the battle on Awards Night: to plunder, to pine, to
win, to weep, to clap, to bitch…
fact, we even pay fees to enter the grand hotel where the glitzy show is being
is why, what I’m about to tell you would sound simply unbelievable.
couple of years ago, right in the middle of the awards season, a quaintly worded
‘government type’ invitation (printed in letterpress, single colour
on pulp board) landed in our agency.
as we are to snazzy invites that tease, seduce, and even speak to us, this modest
thing, which had “Presentation of Kalki Sadasivam Memorial Trust Awards”
humbly printed in Times Roman Bold, nearly never even got opened… till
we got a phone call in a fine Tamil accent to confirm if we would be there to
“kindly receive the advertisement award as per details in card sent by
We hadn’t heard of, leave alone enter any such award show, we said, as
we continued busily calculating the entry fees for the Abby’s and Addy’s
indeed you must come, because your ad has been selected, the earnest voice persisted.
Be there at 6 PM at the Raga Sudha Hall, nearby to Nageswara Rao Park, Chennai
4. “Please be on time for invocation prayer, and do attend with all your
near and dear and well-wishers,” concluded my eager caller.
Was this a trick? But April 1 was still weeks away…and where on earth
was this Raga Sudha Hall or whatever anyway??
into the bylanes of Mylapore, where countless ‘music sabhas’ have
their humble concert halls, we saw the banner: Kalki Sadasivam Memorial Awards
couldn’t be true. Not a single ‘advertising type’ in sight!
Instead, a stage filled with four septuagenarians, a table with a deity of Ganesha,
laden with fruits and flowers -- and a packed hall of people in kanjeevarams
we allowed ourselves to be led to the front row by the smiling ‘sabha
secretary’. We closed our eyes to a lilting invocation song. We heard
rich tributes to the founder of ‘Kalki’, the Tamil weekly, T. Sadasivam
(the late husband of the famed singer, M S Subbulakshmi). We heard the grand
old men on the dais speak in chaste Tamil and the “queen’s English”
– in praise of “good advertising that was decent and responsible
and informative”. And sat speechless with utter surprise as an ad of ours,
for Ashok Leyland school buses, was unveiled. The ad, we heard, was “selected
as the best that appeared in ‘Kalki’ magazine, on the basis of creativity,
artistic visual depiction, and catchy copy slogan, with a touch of social purpose”.
to thunderous applause, we were on stage. To be garlanded and photographed;
to receive a gigantic tray of fruit, a ‘blouse piece’ and kumkum
(!), and a framed citation in praise of our ad. And then to our complete amazement:
a cheque for Rs 10,000!
unbelievably charming and unforgettable incident has now become advertising
folklore at JWT. A contest we didn’t even know about! Entry forms we never
filled. An ad that we had casually dismissed as ‘souvenir advertising’
-- defying all the “looks” of the typical award winner, too much
body copy (at least 150 words explaining the safety features of Ashok Leyland
buses for school children), a large logo. And, oh yes, a dealer panel too!
we are yet to win a Cannes Lion for an ad featuring say, a dead horse, but when
new recruits see the curiously worded and framed citation in our conference
room and say, hey, what on earth is this, we tell them about the unbeatable
thrill of winning in our own backyard. Of the ring of utter sincerity with which
the prize was given. Of the charming, touching speeches. Of the sheer honesty
of the event. Of paying nothing, absolutely nothing, yet getting 10 grand to
take back home.
you ever come by our office at JWT Chennai, we’ll feel proud to show it