N. Shatrujeet

Effie 2003: Eight agencies contend for tonight's awards

With just hours to go for the Effie 2003 award winners to be announced, the excitement is peaking in the eight agencies that have made it to the Finalist stage

With just hours to go for the Effie 2003 award winners to be announced, the excitement and anticipation is peaking in the eight agencies that have made it to the Finalist stage this year. And why not? At stake is a clutch of gold, silver and bronze awards, and the most prestigious award of them all - the Grand Effie. For the record, this year, the award ceremony is being held at the Ballroom, Hotel Taj Land's End, Bandra. The actual award function will be preceded by presentations of the 16 case studies that have won Finalist nominations.

The 16 brands/case studies that will be on array later this evening are: Coca-Cola, Lifebuoy, Center Shock, Tide, Mint-O, Sprite (all in Consumer Products), Daikin, Asian Paints Exterior Emulsions, LG Golden Eye, Tata Indigo, Scorpio (all in Consumer Durables), Pulse Polio Immunization Programme, Prudential ICICI Mutual Fund, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Balbir Pasha/PSI and Max/Sony (all in Services). And the agencies that are competing for metals are O&M, Lowe, FCB-Ulka, McCann-Erickson India, Leo Burnett India, Rediffusion | DYR, Interface and Euro RSCG.

Of the eight contenders, O&M and Lowe stand a good chance of picking up awards by virtue of having multiple Finalist nominations. While Center Shock, Sprite, Asian Paints Exterior Emulsions, Pulse Polio Immunization Programme and Prudential ICICI Mutual Fund are O&M's case studies, Lifebuoy, LG Golden Eye, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and Balbir Pasha/PSI represent Lowe's advertising prowess. Lowe, incidentally, has regularly picked up Effies over the last two years - for Surf Excel (silver Effie) in 2001, and Pepsodent (gold Effie) in 2002. O&M, on the other hand, has won an Effie just once - a bronze for Kelvinator in the Awards' inaugural year (2001).

FCB-Ulka, another agency that has claimed Effies two years running (a bronze for Tropicana in 2001, and a bronze for Whirlpool last year), is also a strong contender this year, with two case studies in the Finals. Tata Indigo and Mint-O are the brands on which Ulka has its Effie fortune riding. McCann (Coca-Cola), Rediff (Daikin), Interface (Scorpio), Euro RSCG (Max) and Burnett (Tide) may have just one entry apiece in the Finals, but that does not mean they are to be taken lightly. After all, agencies with single entries in the Finals have landed Effies in the past.

In fact, if one were to consider some of the buzz in agency circles, a few of the ‘lone Finalists' stand a fair chance of winning. Scorpio for one; Max for another. And, needless to say, McCann's entry for Coke has more than a handful of ad folk rooting for it. Playing it purely by the ear, Center Shock, Pulse Polio, Prudential ICICI Mutual Fund and Lifebuoy are also being seen as favourites for picking up Effies. Tide, Daikin and Mint-O are being seen as the dark horses.

With so much of speculation in the run-up to the award ceremony, agencyfaqs! spoke to a few of the contending agencies to gauge the mood. "I am quite bullish on our chances of winning," Prasoon Joshi, national creative director, McCann-Erickson India, sets the tone enthusiastically. "I don't see why the Coke campaign won't win. I will be very disappointed if it doesn't." What gives Joshi this confidence is the "good mix" of strategy and creative in the campaign. "Everyone wants to do something that is solid in strategy and great in creative. Not many campaigns manage doing this, but the Coke campaign fulfills both requirements. And it worked extremely well for the client," Joshi reasons.

If Joshi is confident about the Coke campaign winning, Balki (R Balakrishnan), executive creative director, Lowe, shrugs when asked to rate his agency's chances. "I don't know what will happen finally, but I believe that Balbir Pasha (PSI) is one of the biggest ideas from last year," he says. The reason Balki is placing his best on Balbir Pasha is because he believes "this campaign has been very different in terms of the problem that needed to be tackled, as well as in terms of its idea and creative approach. As an advertising person this campaign gave me a lot of pleasure." Of course, he agrees that all four of Lowe's entries this year have been hugely effective, but "Balbir Pasha is the idea." He adds, in a way only he can, "It should win, but knowing advertising awards, you never know…"

Shashi Sinha, executive director, FCB-Ulka, is another who is "pretty confident" about picking up an Effie. Or two. "We've been winning every year, and this year we have two entries in the Finals. And if you were to count our sister agency's (Interface) entry for Scorpio, that would be three entries - which is great." More importantly, for Sinha, what matters is the fact that Mint-O and Tata Indigo "have done very well" in the market. "Mint-O, as a brand, was going nowhere, and our advertising helped prop it up to the extent that it now has a very significant market share. And the Tata Indigo is the best-selling car in its category. I think our chances of winning are good," he sums up.

"Ultimately, it is anybody's call," is how K Subramanian, planning director, Rediffusion | DYR, reacts when asked how he fancies Daikin's chances. "If the campaigns are judged on the creative parameter, we stand a fair chance. If they are judged on market results, we stand a good chance. But if they are judged on results dependant on spends, we stand a very good chance." Subramanian's logic is simple. Sizing up his competition in the Consumer Durables category, he says, "The entire Daikin campaign achieved its results in a budget of just Rs 3.5 crore. If one were to look at the other brands in competition (Asian Paints Exterior Emulsions, LG Golden Eye, Tata Indigo and Scorpio), each must have had spends well in excess of what Daikin had. Going by that measure, we should win hands down." What gives Subramanian great pleasure is the fact that Daikin was the only entry made by Rediff. "I am happy our single entry has come so far."

With agencies already making strong arguments in support of their campaigns, it can only be expected that the audience will be treated to even more convincing and ‘statistically-backed' fare later this afternoon. For Effies aside, the People's Choice Trophy is also up for grabs.

One thing's for certain. As the day wears on, the mercury will keep rising. And for those agencies that make a trip to the podium and lift metal, the excitement will reach fever pitch before the evening plays itself out… © 2003 agencyfaqs!