As part of its effort to recognise the contributions of advertising professionals, the Advertising Club Madras (ACM) today conferred the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) to SR (Mani) Ayer, ex-honcho of Ogilvy & Mather (1974-1994). This is the fourth award that was conferred by ACM since it was instituted in 1994. The first award went to R.K. Swamy and it was followed by an award to N. Murali, joint managing director, The Hindu. The previous recipient of the award was V Narayanan, ex-managing director of Ponds India (before it was merged with Hindustan Lever).
The award function, peppered with anecdotes and quips from the guests, included an address by the chief guest Narayanan, who said Ayer imbued all qualities befitting a leader and rated him as "an outstanding advertising professional, one of the finest that India has produced". He went on to recount an anecdote relating to the legendary David Ogilvy, who was making an observation on the era of mergers and acquisitions in the late eighties: "This (mergers and acquisitions) would lead to one big corporate advertiser and one agency, then Ayer would head that agency," was what Ogilvy had said
While accepting the award, Mani Ayer regaled the audience with one-liners and said that the industry had come a long way since the heady days of the mid-nineties. While it was going in the right direction, he felt advertising professionals still resorted to 'safe' options by giving the big, bold ideas the go-by.
Speaking exclusively to agencyfaqs! at the venue of the function, he said the Indian advertising industry and the economy simply lacked confidence. "There is nothing that one can't do. You simply must have the will and confidence. Look at how the US was dusting the rubble within hours of the world trade centre's collapse and talking of rebuilding the whole thing." Ayer also dismissed the notion that client servicing was a superfluous function in agencies. "Creatives are certainly the soul of an agency, but who gives them direction? Client servicing. It is a vital function and is crucial in strategic thinking''. He also commented on the fact that both clients and advertisers were realising that 30-seconds of commercial time was not a solution to every problem and that the trend of increased below-the-line spends was healthy and sensible.
The function also kicked off a two-day workshop organised by ACM on 'The Many Faces of Creativity'. The first day's session started with an introduction by Prahalad Kakkar on 'Moving Creativity', which was followed by a session on 'Working Creativity' by Noorul Islam. Among other sessions would be one on 'Smiling Creativity' by Bharat Dabholkar and 'Seeing Creativity' by Gopi Kukde.
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