Ashwini Gangal

Goafest 2014: "I Hate Scams; Ad Club once had a 'scrutiny committee' to remove scams": Bipin Pandit

To bring in Goafest 2014, we spoke to Bipin Pandit, chief operating officer of The Ad Club, the body that organises the annual, three-day event.

Pandit joined Ad Club in 1998 as executive secretary and was elevated to the post of COO in 2012, soon after The Advertising Club Bombay (ACB) went national and became The Advertising Club.

He spoke to us on topics ranging from scam to non-participation of many creative agencies (for example, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, McCann, Lowe, among several other leading names) and the need to revamp brand Goafest, one tainted by controversy.

Edited Excerpts.

Edited Excerpts

How different was the experience of working on Goafest 2014 as compared to 2013?
Goafest 2014: "I Hate Scams; Ad Club once had a 'scrutiny committee' to remove scams": Bipin Pandit
It was certainly different as so many stories were flashed by the media about participation and non-participation of certain agencies. The suspense started to unfold a few days ahead of the release of the entry form. As organisers it is always a matter of great interest as to who is participating.

I have always believed that to participate or not is the prerogative of the agencies and the decision is best left to them; nobody can compel anybody to enter. However it does feel bad that though, at the behest of the industry, two associations came together to have one awards show, agencies, today, are singing a different tune.

Frankly I would love to see all agencies participating like in the good old times. I am not convinced by any reason given for their non-participation.

People say winning an Abby is actually more difficult than winning a Lion. Do you agree? What is the reason for this perception?

I agree. And this is not a perception. It is a reality.

When your peers from the same country are judging your work, they tend to be stricter. The moment the same work is judged at an international forum, the cap of an 'international judge' is put on.

Many judges have told me that his XYZ entry bagged an award at an international show but got nothing in India.

Most Goafest judges are strict. Seasoned judges tend to be stricter. Those who come to judge for the first time (say, experts for new award verticals) tend to be liberal.

Goafest has been part of several controversies in the past (scams, agencies recanting entries at the last moment). What is your reaction when people say 'Goafest is becoming more and more irrelevant?'

I hate scams. How wonderful it would be to have work that is genuine, that is seen/released by a proper client and paid for with a specific brief. My favourite award categories in creative are integrated campaigns and single films. This is partly because it is most difficult to create scams in these two categories - film is a costly medium. And in the case of integrated, since it is a composition of several mediums, you cannot create a one-off scam ad to win.

Tell me, is Cannes devoid of scam? My friends from the fraternity tell me is there are lots of scam ads over there. Most of the international shows, I gather, have scams. But yes, that is no justification. A scam-free awards show is always better.

Let the agencies and creative champs decide that they will not commit scams. Then the whole issue will die. The Ad Club once had a 'scrutiny committee' in place to remove scam ads.

No awards show can get irrelevant, least of all a mega-brand like Goafest. In fact I read an article in which the fraternity stated that Goafest deserves to be given a chance; let some time pass and everyone will be back.

In the light of the criticism Goafest fetches year after year, do you feel the brand needs to work towards repairing its image?

The process of evolution is a never-ending one. We must thrive to add new dimensions to the show. Concerns are there and the best way to address them is by striking a dialogue. Surely the first thing that I would like is to ensure all agencies partake.

There are requests from the press to assign points to each Gold, Silver and Bronze award, and work out the total points for each agency. This we do at Emvies and Effies, and used to do it when the Abby was a standalone event in Mumbai; there was an 'Agency of the Year' award at the time.

However, at Goafest there is no 'Agency of the Year' award. Hence no points are assigned to the type of metals. The auditors issue a statement of the metal tally to the press.

This time, several leading creative agencies are not participating in the Abby Awards. In what way do you think their absence will impact the spirit of the event?

Well, I'd be lying if I say their absence does not make a difference. It surely does. Their presence adds a lot to the quality of the show reel. It affects the number of entries and presence of delegates. I'm an incurable optimist; they all will be back.

Do you feel the 'anti-awards crusaders' in the Indian ad industry will ever out-number those who crave for recognition of their creative work through these very awards? If this ever happens, do you feel the industry will be a better or worse place?

No worries on this front. Who does not like recognition? We all live for it and want to be recognised. So just chill; the stage is one place everyone loves. More importantly, everyone loves the awards trophy.

It will never happen. We all will live in good times; please do not even dream of worse.

Read the rest of the interview in our special Goafest Show Daily, a daily magazine being distributed at ground zero.

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