We hope to bring ABBY Awards back to their glorious days: Ajay Kakar

The Chairman of the Awards Governing Council tells us about the many firsts in the process for the Abby Awards that enter the 50th year

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Published: Apr 6, 2018 4:28 PM  | 4 min read

Ajay Kakar, Chairman of the Awards Governing Council, tells us about the many firsts in the process for the Abby Awards that enter the 50th year. 

It is the golden jubilee year of the Abby Awards. How different is it going to be from previous years?

Many of us remember the Abby Awards for their past glory. The objective of the Advertising Club and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) is to take the awards to a new high, by making a few fundamental changes that have a disproportionately large impact on the perception and reality. We realized that many people felt that the Abby Awards were being judged by people who are themselves not award winners. An award is as good as the people who judge it, and jury members should not only be above any question, but also be inspiring. From there emerged the idea of creating a ‘Jury of Masters’ across all categories, comprising people who are undisputed, inspirational leaders, who are masters of their art and craft. We also introduced a similar concept of Master Jury for the Creative Abbys. On being approached, every jury member immediately agreed to participate in our journey to set the creative standards for the industry – a process which will be followed not only this year, but going forward as well.

Tell us a little more about the process for choosing the Jury of Masters.

The Jury of Masters comprises people from agencies which have not participated in the Abbys recently, as well as people from agencies that have decided not to participate this year. Despite this, all these stalwarts agreed to be part of the jury. Having one master jury ensured consistency and uniformity in judging. This year, we also requested our Master Jury in the Creative Abbys to judge Rounds 1 and 2. To ensure a qualitative process as well as ease of judging, we introduced online judging for Round 1.

The number of categories has also been brought down from 15 to 8. What was the thought behind it?

Over the years, newer categories and sub-categories of awards had mushroomed and some categories are no longer relevant. For the Creative Abbys, we rationalized and reduced the number to eight categories, with eight sub-categories. For Digital, given the fact that it is a technology medium, so rather than a separate category, we gave it the status of a newly found craft. Even before we started the rationalization process, we knew that if the categories were reduced to less than half, revenue would correspondingly reduce. However, hats off to the Ad Club and AAAI who instead of being overly concerned about revenue or profit, wanted to ensure that the sheen and the shine of the Abby Awards was maintained. That said, despite the reduction in the categories to less than half, the entries we received were much higher than expected.

The Agency of the Year award has been reinstated this year…

We have reintroduced the ‘Agency of the Year’ award, which had been discontinued earlier. Given that everyone has their own definition of which agency was the rightful winner based on the number or the quality of the metals won, this year we decided to create a new metric and reintroduced the ‘Agency of the Year’ Award, across categories. We have also introduced ‘Specialist Agency of the Year’ which is another first this year, to not only recognize the work but also the agencies that are creating this work.

The bar has been set high. How will you keep up the momentum going forward?

The Master Jury should not and will not end with the Abbys 2018. I would like to keep this band of Jury of Masters alive through the year; for them to sit together and decide and tell us what can we do to better the product - because my ambition is to make these awards the most credible and get all agencies who did not participate this year to join in next year. Given the fact that the Jury of Masters has set the standard and endorsed the Abbys, there is a good chance of them buying into the product that they have co-created and certified. This will ensure their future participation, which makes the investment in them this year well worth it. In the 50th year of the Abby Awards, we are working to bring them back to their glorious days that all of us remember.

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