When Colvyn Harris, chief executive officer, JWT India and president, Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) chose to not continue as the head of the association for a successive second year, one couldn't have foreseen the effects of his decision.
As the day draws near for the next president to be elected at the AAAI annual general meeting on July 30, things have heated up a little as Nagesh Alai, executive director, Interface Communications and current vice-president, AAAI and Sandeep Goyal, chairperson, Dentsu India race for the position.
A series of e-mails are being exchanged within the ad industry concerning the nomination of Goyal, with strong opinions flying all around.
When contacted, Goyal's campaign spokesperson says, "Sandeep Goyal's campaign is completely topical. We will not participate in any media queries related to the dirt being thrown up to malign him or to block his campaign. We will stay focused on issues and refuse to be drawn into any controversy."
It is learnt that the election procedure for the appointment of the executive committee begins one and a half months before the body's AGM. The member agencies nominate candidates from other agencies as self nominations are not allowed.
The membership is divided into three types of agencies - full service, media and creative. There are eight vacancies in the committee for full service agencies and four each for the creative and media agencies.
One person each is nominated to represent the south, north and east regions, and the 19 members in all elect one president. The vice-president is elected from among the 19 members, while the immediate past president remains an ex-officio member, taking the total strength of the executive committee to 21.
While it is really not a thumb rule but the practice for the last few years has been that the vice-president takes over as the next president of the association. However, there have been exceptions when the vice-president did not succeed as the president or someone who did not serve as a vice-president was elected president.
Also, the elected president usually continues for two years, after which he is expected to step down. He, however, has to be re-elected at the end of the first year.
Harris, who did not continue for a second year so as to devote more time to JWT, is of the view that the current situation is "unwarranted".
According to him, it is expected of the elected president to have served time in the executive committee, contributing to the association and the election must continue to be a smooth and transparent process like any other similar body in the country.
When spoken to, Alai, too, offers a similar opinion as he says, "The elected president must have spent a reasonable amount of time in the association, understanding the issues of the industry."