Has brand Goafest taken a beating?

As we await AGC's decision on McCann's Grand Prix winning work on ATSS, Leo Burnett’s Coke Studio & DDB’s Electrolux, creative honchos comment on the current turn of events...

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Published: Apr 15, 2013 9:39 PM  | 6 min read
Has brand Goafest taken a beating?

The festivities and celebration that marked the announcement of the Creative Abbys at Goafest 2013 are a far cry from the series of controversies that mark the period post the results. Goafest 2013 has been characterised by an unprecedented series of controversies, beginning with the pre-Goafest week that was a victim to scam ads, resulting in the Chief Creative Officer of JWT India, Bobby Pawar giving up his position due to the Ford fiasco.

But what has followed post the results of the Creative Abbys have caused many to question the decision on the part of the AGC to open cases and withdraw entries post metals awarded and work being celebrated.

What started with the withdrawal of Leo Burnett’s radio spots for Tata Lite on the agency’s request, continued with AGC’s withdrawal of BBDO India’s ads for DHL and DDB Mudra Group’s work for Electrolux on the grounds of work being similar to work done by Ogilvy Hongkong and Y&R Sao Paulo for LG washing machines respectively.

What the AGC may have viewed as a stray case beginning with Leo Burnett’s plea for withdrawal has led to opening the Pandora’s Box which refuses to close without taking down most agencies.

“If the intent and spirit is right, every decision irrespective of the results is a correct one in my opinion,” said KV Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett India and Subcontinent.

On the other hand, Santosh Padhi, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Taproot India said, “I don’t think that entries should have been revisited post the metals been awarded, but for this I would not blame the Ad Club but the various juries who made the decisions across categories, as it is their responsibility.”
Is the Indian Cannes Awards losing its relevance in the light of recent controversies?
Goafest is known as the Cannes Awards of India; it is touted to soon become even bigger. The initiative is viewed as a forum that gives youngsters an opportunity to come to the forefront.

Is this forum now losing its relevance with the turn of events this year? Is this indeed reflective of years to come? Will this dissuade agencies from participating next year?

Joseph George, Chief Executive Officer, Lowe Lintas and Partners shared that the fest is indeed losing its relevance. “We pulled out many years ago because it had lost its professional relevance to us even then. I fear post this year’s continuing carnage, it may now have lost its resume relevance too. When irrelevance is not just felt institutionally but at an individual level too, these shows going forward will experience exponential decay in its ability to evoke any interest.”

Interestingly other industry leaders maintain a positive futuristic outlook. “IPL was marred by controversies, but has the game stopped? It hasn't and it shouldn't. It’s up to the creative leaders to come together and figure out how to restore lost pride. I am sure creative agencies will learn to think before firing a bullet. Not entering is escapism; you can only become the change by participating,” opined Sridhar.

Sonal Dabral, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group echoed the same sentiment when he said, “Controversies happen and will happen at every award show, in every field of competition. It’s the nature of the beast. Goafest has not lost its relevance. There are many things good about it and we need to celebrate and nurture them and move on. Agencies will be there next year again and it’s for all of us to make this important show the best it can be. When you get a cold, you take a few medicines and keep going. You don't stop breathing.”

However, even as industry leaders seem determined on maintaining a positive view on the turn of events, DDB Mudra’s work for Electrolux in the outdoor category awarded a Silver metal, Leo Burnett’s work on Coke Studio awarded a Gold metal and McCann Worldgroup India’s work for ATSS in the print category awarded a Grand Prix are under the AGC’s scanner and the decision on this will be out soon.

The AGC is estimated to have received over 100 letters of complaints for the Creative Abbys; so much so that Shashi Sinha, Chairperson, AGC had to put a deadline to receiving complaints to put an end to a seemingly unending series of controversies. “We will not take any more complaints for the Creative Abbys after today evening as enough is enough and we must move on,” Sinha had said to exchange4media on April 12.

Takeaways from Goafest 2013
“What is life without some fun? Well, we indeed had fun and how. It only takes a naive creative community to laugh at itself, whilst the world is playing them up. It’s so sad that great pieces of work such as KBC, Killer, Nike, Kissan and Aman ka Asha were camouflaged by AGC’s infighting, politics and school boyish slinging of mud at each other. What else captains of the industry will remember? I always put ideas above politics and legal correctness; therefore, I would still like to remember this Goafest for showing the power of integrated big ideas,” remarked Sridhar.

Moving forward
On this positive note, instead of dwelling in the past, even as further controversies continue to mire the fest this year, what are the checks and measures that are needed to be put in place to restore the credibility and take Goafest to new heights?

“We need more of Shashi Sinhas, who are neutral parties and clean guys, to come forward. The whole world is looking at India and Goafest, which is a healthy and motivating forum. It is unfortunate that so many things have happened this year. It is our own industry, so who do we blame here? Going forward, we should have stronger boxes to tick and revive Goafest in a new avatar, with juries of domain experts that match each category,” concluded Padhi.

Goafest 2013 coverage on exchange4media is presented by Patrika group.

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