N. Shatrujeet

<font color="#FF0033"><b>Abby 2004 Countdown:</b></font> I am hoping Contract will do better - Raj Nair

With a handful of entries that are serious contenders in their respective categories, Contract Advertising has a chance of bouncing back to the top-end of the Abby chart

By no means is Contract Advertising a stranger to the Abby Awards. Indeed, for well over a decade, the agency has been a regular fixture at most local creative award shows, and it even dominated the Abbys (or the Bombay Ad Club Awards, as they were then known) through much of the nineties, along with creative powerhouses such as Trikaya Grey, Enterprise, Rediffusion and, much later, O&M. In fact, the agency produced its best show ever at the Abbys in 1999, when it won awards in almost all the big categories (including the Campaign of the Year for Chiclets and Cadbury Picnic), enabling it to claim the prestigious Agency of the Year title.

Going by that high standard, the last two-three Abby Awards have not been as rewarding for Contract. Mind you, it is not as if the agency's creative showing was in freefall. Contract maintained its winning ways, claiming four silver Abbys in 2002, and picking up a gold Abby for Platinum (in the Clothing, Footwear & Accessories category) and a silver for Lake View Café (in Unpublished Work) last year. It's just that one had got accustomed to the agency faring exceptionally well at the Awards by winning big…

There are some fairly strong indications that Contract's creative is in revival mode, and that with Abby 2004, it could bounce back to the top-end of the Awards chart. The optimism is based on a handful of entries that are serious contenders in their respective categories. The Franklin Templeton Investments campaign, the Kinetic Zing Rockin film (‘hawa nikaal de…'), the Daewoo Anchor commercial (‘old man'), the Allianz Bajaj campaign, the Baazee.com films (‘diamond gift'), the print work for Shoppers' Stop… There is little doubt that the agency has a lineup that may well deliver a positive impact.

"The work we produced last year has given us quite a bit of satisfaction, and the feedback that we have received through the year is heartening," says Raj Nair, vice-president & creative head, Contract Advertising, Mumbai. "Templeton, the Godrej Shaving Cream film (‘toothpaste'), Zing Rockin, Daewoo, Baazee.com, Allianz Bajaj, Shoppers', the public service campaign for Mumbai Traffic Police, a one-off print ad for Live-in Jeans, a film for Go 92.5 FM (‘car')… on the face of it, all these stand a reasonably good chance of winning at the Abbys. The overall body of work in 2003 looks better than the work from the year before last, and the thing is that we seem to have more good work in film than in print." Which is fairly interesting, considering Contract has traditionally been seen as a strong-in-print-weak-in-film agency. Nair, however, is clear that while upping the caliber in film is hugely welcome, the agency is still sharply focused on doing good print work. "While the desire to do better work in film has certainly been pursued at Contract, the important thing is that we have kept the momentum going in print," he says.

Nair is unwilling to make any sureshot predictions on the work entered by his agency. "You can't say what will happen at the awards," he says. "After all, opinion need not be unanimous, and what works for you and me may not work for a third person. Obviously, I am hoping Contract will do better this year, and that hope comes from the knowledge that last year's work has been better, which should add up." Nair may not be prepared to hazard any guesses, but going by the buzz in the industry and our own assessment, we figure the work for Franklin Templeton and Kinetic Zing Rockin would surely fetch Contract Abbys, with Templeton even in the contention for a gold in its category. Daewoo, Baazee.com and Go 92.5 FM could also strike metal. "I believe that with a lot more awards going around, we'd have a far more satisfied team," Nair smiles.

Vis-à-vis the prospects of the rest of the agencies, Nair feels Rediffusion | DYR is one that should make a significant impression this year. "O&M, of course, would do well, and will probably become the Agency of the Year because of the body of work they have," he says. "But from among the remaining guys in the industry, I think Rediff is definitely going to do well, thanks to some good work on AirTel, Colgate and the Taj."

Nair also acknowledges the fact that the industry has seen an improvement in Contract's work. "If people are noticing a significant improvement in the quality of our work, it is because there is a clear and conscious attempt on our part to raise the creative ante," he says. "And if we have a few metals to show at the end of it, it makes it all the more worthwhile." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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