N. Shatrujeet

<font color="#FF0033"><b>Abby 2004 Countdown:</b></font> I expect McCann to do well: Prasoon Joshi

In the first of a series of stories leading up to Abby Awards 2004, agencyfaqs! looks at McCann’s prospects of making an impact at this year’s awards

With barely a fortnight separating the Indian advertising fraternity from the prestigious annual Abby Awards, the buzz at agencies understandably centres at the outcome of this year's awards. Opinions on ads and campaigns are being liberally sought and exchanged. Last year's work from the contesting agencies is being furiously evaluated for the nth time in the hope of getting a grip on what will win at the awards and what won't. The frisson in the air is unmistakable. And infectious, it must be added.

In the first of a series of stories leading up to Abby Awards 2004, agencyfaqs! looks at one agency that is expected to make an impact at this year's awards. McCann. Traditionally a fringe player at the Abbys (just to give you an idea, the agency didn't pick up a single piece of metal in Abby 2002!), the agency stormed into the No 2 position behind O&M India last year on the back of the hugely popular ‘Thanda matlab…' campaign. The Coke campaign helped the agency win two gold Abbys (one in the Foods, Beverages and Tobacco category, and one Special Abby for the Campaign of the Year), and contributed hugely to the Copywriter of the Year award won by Prasoon Joshi, national creative director, McCann-Erickson India. The two gold Abbys for Coca-Cola and one silver Abby (for Heal Foundation of India) fetched McCann 7 points, enabling it to claim the second place in the awards tally, ahead of Enterprise Nexus, Mudra Communications, Ambience Publicis, Leo Burnett India and Quadrant Communications.

From nowhere to No 2 is good enough reason for the community to sit up and take notice of McCann. But its performance at the last Abbys is not why people are expecting the agency to put up a decent show this year too. For that, one has to look elsewhere - at a commercial that the agency made early last year for a 200-ml offering of Coke. ‘Paanch matlab Chhota Coke', arguably the best ad in the ‘Thanda' series, was one of the most talked about ads during the first half of 2003 (the latter half of the year unquestionably belonged to Hutch and the mutt), and is anticipated to reap a rich harvest in Abby 2004. We'd be sticking our necks out, nevertheless, agencyfaqs! says ‘Paanch' would claim gold in the ‘Beverages and Tobacco' category.

In addition to ‘Paanch', the McCann-Coca-Cola team produced two more commercials (‘sherpa' and ‘Bangali babu') last year, as part of the ‘Thanda' series. The three ads, put together, give the agency an opportunity to stake a claim for the Campaign of the Year… although Hutch (not to forget dark horse and campaign contender, AirTel) appears to be the universal favourite for that title. Coke, in our opinion, stands a real chance of picking up a silver Abby in the Campaign of the Year category. Coke apart, McCann has a strong entry in the form of the Sweetex commercial (‘sun block lotion'). Then there are the Chlor-mint Ice (‘fire eater'), Happydent (‘sweater') and Alpenliebe (‘old woman') films. And quite a few entries in print - including a couple for Coca-Cola - we are told.

"I see McCann performing pretty well this year," Joshi said, speaking to agencyfaqs!. He is, however, well aware of the work that his agency is up against in the Campaign of the Year category. "Last year, we won the Campaign, but this year there will be a tough fight for us because of Hutch," he acknowledges. Yet, Joshi believes Coke will do well. "It will certainly make an impression," he says confidently.

What Joshi refuses to be drawn into is hazarding a prediction on where McCann will figure in the overall awards tally this year. "I don't want to get into this numbers thing because one award here or there can change the equation," he says. "All I say is, last year, we did some great work with Coke. Have we, as an agency, managed spreading that quality of work across the other accounts we handle? Have we raised the bar, have we lifted the craft? That is what I would want to know from the Abby results." One thing Joshi seems fairly certain about. There's enough work entered to stand the agency in good stead. "McCann is not represented in very many categories, but we are strong in some categories. Considering the size of the agency and the accounts we handle, I expect McCann to do well in those categories where we have entered work." When asked to assess the ‘awardworthiness' of the work from the other contending agencies, Joshi singled out the Hutch campaign. "It is the strongest contender at the awards," he says. He also reveals that the work for Daikin, AirTel, Johnnie Walker and the Taj impressed him.

Joshi, as already mentioned, was the recipient of last year's Copywriter of the Year award. Asked if he was expecting a repeat this year, he answered in the negative. "I don't think so… simply because I didn't enter my name for that category," he smiles. Explaining his reasons for keeping out of the category, he says, "The work that has been produced over the last year is the result of some good teamwork within the agency, and a lot of people have chipped in. I am not playing the role of a big brother, but I really feel the team has to take the credit for the work, not me alone."

Looking forward to the Abby Awards night, Joshi feels awards should be seen as "an opportunity to raise the bar" and appreciate and learn from good work. "I think there should be a healthy atmosphere of learning and respect at awards," he says. "Awards should not be seen purely as a lottery, as in doing so, they will lose their significance. Awards are about celebrating good work and learning from it. People refer to the One Shows to learn what is great creative. I think we must make an effort to make our awards a learning experience, and more importantly, let us all learn from it." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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