Goafest 2014: What is the biggest 'selling point' of the Abby Awards?

By Saumya Tewari and Prachi Srivastava , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 29, 2014
As Goafest 2014 kicks in, we asked a mixed bunch of industry professionals what they think the main 'selling point' of the Abby Awards is. Here's what they said.

Year after year, Goafest is put through the test. And with each passing year, the number of agencies boycotting the competition only increases.

Yet, somehow, Goafest wears it bruises proudly and manages to put on a new show for the industry each time.

We asked ad folk what, in their opinion, is the most marked 'selling point' of the Abby Awards. Here is what they said.

Edited excerpts.

Santosh Padhi

Amit Akali

Bedraj Tripathy

Vineet Bajpai

Amitava Mitra

Vineet Mahajan

Santosh Padhi, co-founder and CCO, Taproot India

Well, this has been a good and a bad year for Goafest/Abby Awards.

Good as it has grown bigger in terms of more communities joining the event (PR, branded content, editorial, activation and others); it's headed much like a mini-Cannes in India.

The bad news is the timing; the event got delayed due to the elections. Not too many youngsters are keen to 'chill' in 40+ degrees centigrade.

Also, some creative agencies have decided to stay away from the awards, which is not a good sign for the industry. But I see the positive side rather than the negative side of it. It would have been ideal if the beer glass was full in a place like Goa, but thankfully it's just half empty, so cheers for that.

Amit Akali, former NCD, Grey

I haven't really followed the changes made to the Abby Awards this year. But till last year, its main selling point was similar to that of Cannes. The latter may not be the most prestigious or the most difficult to win, but they surely are the most popular and well-known awards. Anybody connected to advertising and marketing has heard of them, and therefore it has become the 'default currency' for creativity. Cannes is the most popular awards show because it has the largest number of categories apart from a very democratic and large jury, with most agencies and countries being represented.

The Abby Awards were very similar, albeit in the Indian context - known by all, maximum number of categories, judges represented from across agencies. But the controversies that dogged it last year seem to have affected it negatively, at least in terms of participation.

The fact that this year there is an alternate awards show available might reduce the prestige of winning an Abby, and might also reduce its credibility as a 'creative currency'.

When it comes to marketers, though, it's probably the most known Indian creative award there is.

Bedraj Tripathy, senior general manager, marketing, Godrej Interio

As any other award, Abby Awards are a necessity for the industry. They recognise creative excellence and interestingly, are also judged by people from the industry. The biggest selling point is that Abby recognises the best talent in the industry. Advantages are galore, people look forward to this.

However, there are two things that really pull this institution down:

One, there are creatives (ads) that are developed only for awards, with one stray release, and not used as main creatives for the brands. These are then adjudged as 'award winning' creatives.

Two, the fact that certain agencies are boycotting the awards, for various reasons. If the format changed from just creatives to results that the creatives could amass for the brand, things could change for the better.

Also, a category of 'speculative creatives' should also be there for the non-released ads. Somewhere, AdClub should be a little more serious and look at things from the perspective of the results and not just from the perspective of good-looking creatives. This seriousness coupled with the truthfulness of agencies and clients should take the Abby Awards to a higher level.

Vineet Bajpai, group CEO, TBWA India

The main selling point of the Abby awards is its very Indian character, blended with the opportunity it provides for the advertising community to come together as a fraternity. The forum it builds for cross-agency interactions, networking and client interface is quite effective as well. It is also a brilliant learning platform, as it brings on stage some top-class advertising gurus and authorities. In the recent years TBWA has also contributed to the knowledge forums at Goafest.

The one and only 'caution area' or challenge is that sometimes, in bar-counter conversations, the element of neutrality is discussed. Otherwise it is a super platform.

At TBWA we have decided to focus our energies and resources on Cannes and Spikes this year. But we hope to be back with a bang at Goafest in 2015.

Amitava Mitra, chief executive officer, Percept/H

Known as the Oscars of the Indian advertising industry, Abbys started out as a trusted and revered creative award and was considered prestigious for the industry. However, over the years, it has lost its sheen thanks to scam ideas and campaigns winning, and the massive controversies around it. While there are a few creative agencies creating real out-of-the-box campaigns and ideas and winning, the confidence and trust in the Abbys has diminished greatly.

Last year McCann Erickson's entry for Active Total Security Systems, which won a Print Grand Prix, was labelled as a rip-off of international work for Mio GPS. There were other controversies surrounding other work for JWT's Sanctuary Campaign and Leo Burnett's Tide Campaign. In fact, Leo Burnett ended up withdrawing two radio ads as well.

This year many top agencies like Lowe Lintas, O&M, Creativeland Asia, BBDO, Grey, McCann and Leo Burnett are not participating, I am told, purely because the sanctity of Abbys is lost. Agencies are investing huge quantities of money to get illustrations, photo re-touching, photo shoots and even film shoots done, for clients on scam - wouldn't it be better if they did it for existing clients in their real work?

But I will add, you do get to see some very interesting and creative work in all categories. So as an industry professional I would say I wish clients saw merit in the interesting work that agencies can create and evolve.

Vineet Mahajan, head of art, Contract Advertising

The Abby Awards are the only national awards we have. It is a platform where professionals from the advertising fraternity can showcase their work. It is a large forum and attracts agencies and professionals from across the country.

Unfortunately, this year the top agencies are not participating in the event but it still remains the best platform in the creative field, nationally. The Abby Awards assumes even more importance with India being a major creative hub in the APAC region.

With inputs from Ashwini Gangal.

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