N. Shatrujeet

<font color="#FF0033"><b>Abby 2004 Countdown:</b></font> "It has been a tough year for Mudra" - Rensil D'Silva

At last year’s Abby Awards, Mudra picked up seven Abbys and tied with Enterprise Nexus for third spot. What are the agency’s chances of doing an encore?

At last year's Abby Awards, one agency that surprised many industry watchers by picking up seven silver Abbys and tying with Enterprise Nexus for third spot was Mudra Communications. Not that Mudra has had a poor Abby record, but no one really expected the agency to outstrip traditionally strong contenders such as Contract Advertising, Leo Burnett India and Ambience Publicis in the final awards tally. Especially considering the agency had just one silver Abby to its credit in the 2002 Abbys.

The Award Goddess, if there is any such thing, was particularly generous on Mudra last year. In the Press category, the agency claimed Abbys for Paragon (the ‘pliers' ad), McDonald's (‘lick') and Smart Manager (‘blank'), while in Film, its commercials for Duroflex (‘photo session') and McDonald's (‘holding hands') won Abbys. Mudra was also awarded a silver Abby for its ‘birds on a line' press ad for Reliance Infocomm in the Unpublished Work category. To top it all, the campaign for McDonald's won a silver Abby (in the Retail Stores, Boutiques, Salons etc category), putting the agency in the company of the much-awarded Enterprise.

With last year's success still fresh in the memory, it is but natural for the industry to look at Mudra's chances at this year's Abbys with a fair bit of interest. Unfortunately for the agency, if Film is any indication (and it necessarily isn't, because a few Abbys for good work in Press can comfortably offset any shortfall in Film), it doesn't appear to have enough to show in terms of solid Abby prospects. In fact, going by most of the work produced by the agency last year, it is apparent that Mudra has only one bankable entry for this year's awards - the HP Cruise campaign. Plus a couple of one-offs in print for Smart Manager and Femina.

The ‘cuts out the noise' campaign for HP Cruise has a couple of things going for it. Simplicity. Originality. Freshness. However, the biggest challenge it would have to override is the hugely competitive Automotive category. In Film, HP Cruise is likely to be up against entries such as Maruti (‘toy car'), Tata Safari (‘roller coaster'), Palio nv (‘petrol pump'), Bullet Electra (‘road crossing'), Kinetic Zing Rockin (‘hawa nikaal de…'), Indian Oil (which would include the ‘India Inspired' campaign)… The question is will HP Cruise be able to hold its own in a tough category such as this.

Rensil D'Silva, senior creative director, Mudra Communications, thinks it will. "HP Cruise, to my mind, is the only piece of work produced by Mudra last year that stands a chance of winning this year," he says, honest to the point of being brutal. It stands to reason that D'Silva doesn't fancy Mudra's chances of doing an encore. "The idea is not to run anybody down, but frankly, we are not sure if we have the kind of work that would win us the number of Abbys we won last year," he says. "It has been a tough year for Mudra, and although there has been some decent work produced in Mumbai and Delhi, a lot of our energies have been focused on doing a lot of work for Reliance, much of which is various stages of development. I am a pretty harsh judge of myself, so I would tend to go with the opinion that this year might not be as good as the last for Mudra."

HP Cruise, D'Silva believes, is the closest the agency got to creating full-fledged 360-degree campaigns. "It was a good piece of work simply because it was a strong idea that didn't lose any of its sheen during its 360-degree implementation," he says. D'Silva also thinks the Smart Manager and Femina ads are good one-offs. "The problem is we did not have any work on the scale of HP Cruise." The fact that a regular advertiser such as McDonald's didn't do a lot of original advertising (the company ran an adaptation of its global ‘I'm Lovin' it' thought through much of end-2003) also worked to Mudra's disadvantage. After all, three of last year's seven Abbys were for McDonald's, it mustn't be forgotten.

Assessing all the work that is in contention at this year's Abbys, D'Silva picks the Hutch and AirTel campaigns as pack-leaders. "Hutch is a clear winner, and there is no rocket science to it," he says. "I loved it. I also loved the AirTel campaign. I am happy to see that kind of work being produced, bought and celebrated. My bets are on these two. They should win because both are strong on idea and both are popular." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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