Chandrima Pal

Abby Awards: A retrospective on the champions of yesterday

Unbelievable as it may sound today, McCann Erickson was not a white hot agency in the late ‘90s. Between 1997 and now, times have surely changed. agencyfaqs! looks at the winners over the years

In less than five days and on March 19, to be precise, the Indian advertising industry will anoint its winners. The bubbly will be uncorked and winners will be feted with gusto. And yes, invariably, all will be forgotten in a few days. Or, probably weeks. Public memory is and has always been painfully short. For a majority of the here-and-now-population, it does not take long to forget about the achievers of yesterday.

agencyfaqs! walked down memory lane and looked at some of the winners of yesterday. Here's a snapshot.

HTA: The creative binge

These days, the agency is known as JWT. Back in 1997 and for people who came in late, it used to be called Hindustan Thompson Associates, or simply HTA. The agency won the coveted Campaign of the Year gold for its work with Pepsi, while the client clinched the gold for Most Outstanding Brand. In the overall tally, HTA came second with 17 overall points (See table 1997). HTA’s prowess at churning out winning campaigns continued in 1998 (See table 1998) as well with the Indian Army series, which clinched a gold. However, there was not enough noise from the agency in 1999, though 2000 saw a spark in the form of Most Outstanding Outdoor Campaign of the Century for Air India. Since 1999 HTA/JWT has not been able to claw back into the big league. Some of its recent work has created a flutter. Will it translate into winning a couple of big awards? We shall keep you posted.

Contract: Suddenly something

If 1999 was a land-mark year for HTA (pun intended), the same year (See table 1999) was pivotal to two agencies, O&M and Contract. Since 1997, it was the only time O&M had to concede the top slot to Contract, which pulled a coup of sorts. Check out the tally and consider this: Not only did Contract win the Campaign of the Year gold for its work with Chiclets, the agency won a silver in the same category for Cadbury’s Picnic. It won yet another big time gold for Best Continuing Campaign of the Year for NIIT. All this added up to the agency winning the coveted Creative Agency of the Year award.

In 2000 (See 2000 table), Contract’s NIIT campaign brought it the gold for Best Continuing Campaign of the Year. In the overall tally, Contract managed to stay in the top three slots from 1997 to 2000 and once again in 2002. But over the last two years, the agency has not been able to come up in the top three. Will 2005 see the tides turn for the agency? The new CEO Jagdeep Bakshi will certainly like to bask in the glory.

Enterprise Nexus: Small but steady

Over the years, Enterprise Nexus has had a steady presence in the top three slot (1998, 2001 and 2003). The agency, to its credit, has churned out some award-winning campaigns with Raymond (Best Continuing Campaign, silver, 1999), Sony Ericsson (Best TV/Cinema Advertising of the Century, silver, 2000). In 2001 (See 2001 table), Bennett, Coleman & Co won the Best Campaign of the Year (silver) and Best Continuing Campaign of the Year (gold). Here’s a classic example of how size does not always matter. With media reports suggesting that Mohammed Khan is selling his stake to WPP agency Bates, it seems the agency’s creatives won’t be the same again. For better, or for worse.

McCann Erickson: The arrival!/?

Like old-man Julius, even Prasoon Joshi can say the famous words: “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. Indeed, the last two years has seen a rise in fortunes of the agency. Riding on the red wave – it’s Coke, for the uninitiated – the agency came runners-up in 2003 and 2004, with The Campaign of the Year gold in 2003 (See 2001 table). It was also a personal victory for Joshi, who received Copywriter of the Year award for the Thanda Matlab campaign in the same year. Will Joshi able to surpass his mentor, Piyush Pandey at the awards sweepstakes?

O&M: The one & only

Punters, it seems, have a problem with Piyush Pandey. With colossus Pandey at the helm, O&M has reduced guesswork to an out-and-out useless affair. Propelled by the work it has been doing for high-decibel brands such as Hutch, Cadbury, Fevicol, and Asian Paints to name a few, O&M’s domination has been virtually undisputed since 1997, except in 1999. Will this year be any exception? There’s something called the law of averages and the industry could definitely do with some new bright creative spark.

The ‘supportive’ brands

There’s an old adage that goes like this: Behind every successful agency, there is a company. Indeed, some brands have been instrumental in shaping the destiny of agencies. Simply by a nod of their head, these brands have helped agencies create outstanding campaigns that have not only won awards but have also contributed in a healthy topline growth.

Take Cadbury for example. For O&M, Cadbury has been one sugary sweet relationship. In 1998, O&M’s Best Campaign of the Year gold was for its work for Cadbury Dairy Milk, while the Best Continuing Campaign of the Century Gold was O&M’s for Cadbury Dairy Milk again.

O&M has also hugely benefited from the bond that it shares with Fevicol. Year after year, Fevicol has helped the agency to claim one award after another. In 2000, O&M won the Campaign of the Century silver for Fevicol and a gold for Best TV/cinema Advertising of the Century for Fevikwik. It won the Best Campaign of the Year in 2001 and Best Continuing Campaign of the Year silver in 2002, 2003, and a gold in 2004.

Hutch, of course, has been in a different league altogether. With Hutch in 2004, the company won the Campaign of the Year gold, while O&M won the Advertiser of the Year award for itself in the same year. In the previous year, Amaron was the Advertiser of the Year 2003, thanks to O&M.

The list could go on : Bennett, Coleman & Co won three consecutive Advertiser of the Year awards in 2001, 2002 and 2003 for the creatives powered by Enterprise Nexus and O&M. Likewise, NIIT won the award thanks to Contract. If Coke partied because of McCann Erickson in 2003, Pepsi did the same for HTA in 1997.

In conclusion, over subsequent articles, agencyfaqs! will be speaking to individual agencies about their chances of winning the coveted Abbys. Read on to share the excitement.

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

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