Unrelenting Lowe says no to Abby Awards

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 22, 2002
Miffed with the Bombay Ad Club for not having addressed past grievances, Lowe has decided not to participate in the Abby Awards

Putting to rest all speculation about whether or not it would enter its work at this year's Bombay Ad Club (Abby) Awards, Lowe has confirmed that it would not be participating in the awards. Communicating this to agencyfaqs!, Balki (R. Balakrishnan), executive creative director, Lowe, said, "We have taken this decision in the light of what happened at last year's awards."

It might be recalled that last year, with barely a week to go for the Abby Awards function, Lowe (then Lowe Lintas & Partners) had protested to certain comments allegedly made by a couple of jury members about Lowe's campaign. Fearing pre-biasing, the agency had demanded an immediate reconstitution of the judging committee, failing which it threatened to pull out of the awards. Subsequently, taking umbrage to the Bombay Ad Club's perceived apathy in dealing with the issue to its satisfaction, Lowe boycotted the awards ceremony altogether - despite having won quite a few Abbys for itself.

By the looks of it, time has done little to placate Lowe. "We are bitter about last year, and the fact that the Ad Club has done nothing about it," says Balki. "Privately, everyone admits that what we say happened, happened, and they also admit it was wrong. But no one wants to say so in public, which is demeaning to the people who worked so hard in creating good advertising. We pay money to enter our work, and I expect the Ad Club to treat that work with some reverence. Honestly, we at Lowe are shattered."

So does this mean that henceforth, Lowe will stay away from the Abbys every year? "We will not be associated with the Ad Club till such time we get a detailed, formal note from the Ad Club saying such-and-such a thing did happen. You cannot expect me to take you seriously if you say, 'Yeh sab chalta hai, so forget about it and let's get on with the awards.' Sorry, but this gives the signal that the Ad Club does not mean business. And one day of media glory cannot compensate for a yearlong sense of being taken for granted."

Incidentally, Lowe is participating at this year's Triple A Awards - to be held later this evening. Balki, however, doesn't seem to be too pleased with any award. "We are skeptical about all these awards, which is why we even debated entering the Triple As," he reveals. "While our first instinct was not to participate, we eventually did because we are, after all, a part of this community."

Attributing causes for his skepticism, Balki says that it has everything to do with the quality of judges. "The kind of people who get to judge the advertising agencies create is scary… I'd hate to expose a young writer to the kind of comments these people make about good work. Yes, there are four or five really good, impartial judges around, but they invariably get outvoted by the rest." Balki insists that the only way awards can gain respectability is when award committees announce who the judges are beforehand. "Let us know in advance what the jury looks like, so that we can decide whether we want to be judged or not."

Lowe is well within its rights to stay away from the Abbys - the decision is even justified, some believe. Yet, Lowe's stand is bound to disappoint many industry watchers for one simple reason. With O&M not participating the Triple A Awards, the prospect of a professional confrontation between Lowe and O&M - two big outfits that have done a lot of creative work over the last year - was limited to the Abbys. Now that Lowe is out of the Abbys, the chances of the two agencies facing off on the same platform appear bleak.

At least till 2003. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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