inclusion of the Abbys as the advertising awards at the Goafest, many within the advertising industry are excited about the coming together of the two bodies, the Ad Club of Bombay and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI). But others are not too sure about how well the Abbys will stand out in the hoopla that surrounds the Goafest. In addition, some of the Abby awards such as Campaign of the Year and Agency of the Year have been withdrawn.
Commenting on why this was done, Bipin Pandit, general manager, Ad Club of Bombay, says that since it was the coming together of two associations, there has been lots of brainstorming and discussions. "There have been some introductions like a category called Integrated Advertising. Also, now there is not just one Grand Prix campaign, but a Grand Prix for all, print, film, radio, outdoor, digital, integrated campaign - so the scope of that has been extended. Thus, with the bringing in of some new awards, some others have been withdrawn."
We posed these questions to the advertising community. Here's what they had to say:
Brijesh Jacob, executive creative director of Grey, offered an interesting perspective. "The fact that you're calling it the Goafest…," he pauses and smiles. He feels that at the end of the day, it depends on what it is that people generally call the event. "If 60 per cent of the people are calling it the Goafest, then the Abbys are losing out. But if people are saying, 'Are you going to the Abbys in Goa, then it becomes only a venue, just like earlier it used to be at hotels like Taj Land's End. Currently, I think there's a 50-50 ratio; people are not clearly calling it any one name. But I still feel it is moving closer to people calling it the Goafest. Whichever name wins in the second year - the name by which it is addressed by the general public - that will be the winner. I think we need to give it a year."
Satbir Singh, chief creative officer, Euro RSCG, says he is reacting to the buzz amongst people when he says that nobody is really talking about the Abbys at all. "I think the brand Abbys is dead. It's just Goafest, Goafest and Goafest. That is before I have reached Goa. Now once we go there and the Abby trophies are distributed, with these awards you might see a buzz about the Abbys, so that will be phase two. But pre-Goafest, I can tell you there is absolutely no talk about the Abbys."
Ashish Chakravarty, creative chief, McCann-Erickson Delhi, strongly feels that the Abbys will gain from the Goafest. "While the Abbys was about O&M and some others, the Goafest was absolutely fantastic in its two terms. It was the nearest to an international advertising festival that I'd seen in India. It's not that the Abbys will lose their sheen; they will in fact gain back their sheen. It was getting to be a one-sided sort of a show and the Goafest was like a breath of fresh air."
He feels that while the Abbys was cool and very razzmatazz in their early days, it was never much of a serious awards show anyway. And for the last few years, the Abbys had become a 'black shirt festival' (referring to O&M, the employees of which all wore black to the awards). "To my mind, if the Goafest keeps going the way it has, in another year or so, it will be 'the' awards show. So, the Abbys actually gain out of this."
Bates David Enterprise's executive creative director, Rajeev Raja, is sure that the Abbys won't lose out in any way. "I don't think the Abbys will lose their brand value at all at the Goafest. I think they will still stand out. It's just like at Cannes, you have the Lions, and at the D&AD, you have the Pencils. One is the name of the festival and the other is the award. I think the Abbys will definitely hold their own at the Goafest."
Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, chief creative officer, Rediffusion DY&R, feels that with the coming together of the Abbys and the AAAI awards, it will make the advertising festival more successful. "I don't think either will lose out on their individual identities. The AAAI and the Abbys will both benefit from this. The way I look at it is that it's a third independent body altogether."
Saints and Warriors' copywriter and chairman, Pushpinder Singh, diverts from the question to find an answer. "I believe that in India, we had a very mature awards scene, with the CAG and then later the Abbys, but of late, it has degenerated to what the Hindi feature film awards have degenerated to, which is that the more powerful person wins. So, because it has degenerated into an exhibition of muscle power, and proof of that is that when Mr Pandey is competing, then Joshi and Balki are not and vice versa, so I would think any dilution of brand value would be because of this, rather than any venue or location change or any merging."
Arun Iyer, creative director, Lowe, says, "I think in a way it's good, I don't think the Abbys will lose their brand value or anything. In a way, it means a consolidation of awards because there are too many awards happening anyway. It's all coming together and it really doesn't matter because it is anyway the same set of people judging two awards, so what sense does that make?"
"I think the Abbys should be able to maintain their brand value because whatever is happening is happening for the good of the industry," says Nitesh Tiwari, executive creative director, Leo Burnett. "When you can get the entire advertising industry to participate in one awards function, rather than be a divided industry, it is going to benefit as a whole. I'm happy that the awards are coming together and the whole industry is going to be there to participate. The youngsters of the industry are going to benefit a lot from this."
Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director, O&M South Asia, expresses his concern over one aspect. "Unlike when the Abbys were held in Mumbai, not many youngsters are being able to attend the Goafest, unless they pay a heavy registration fee. This is barring the few under-30s for whom the fee has been waived off. So, there's a restriction on the number of people who can attend it. I think we should take care that it does not become an obstacle for the young people of the industry - they should be able to participate."
But he is optimistic about the union and doesn't think the Abbys will lose their sheen, they will in fact gain from this. He says, "It's great that the industry is able to put aside its differences. If the Abbys have been able to work things out with the AAAI, and come together, then I think more power to them because they've taken a step in terms of uniting the industry, which is a very positive thing and will have a positive rub-off on the Abbys brand."