Going by industry opinion, every other agency is essentially in contention for the second place at Abby 2004, with O&M virtually assured of the top spot. Here’s why
There is a lame sort of joke that has been doing the rounds in agencies over the past month or so, and it goes something like this: ‘Why are shopping bags selling at a premium in Mumbai nowadays? Because O&M is buying every single one it can lay its hands on.' Admittedly, not a terribly funny gag (most certainly not if you're not from Ogilvy), yet it sums up the pre-Abby sentiment prevailing in the industry.
For all those who have been following the last few Abby Awards with as much as a passing interest, the joke needs no explanation. For anyone who didn't quite get it… well, partner, you're in the wrong place, reading the wrong story. Nothing that a bit of history and statistics can't remedy, though.
History first. Apart from the odd year or two, O&M India has been consistently dominating the annual Abby Awards for the past seven-eight years, and has, in fact, been the Agency of the Year four years in a row now. The statistics are more conclusive and intimidating - even if one were to take only the last two Abbys as indicators. In Abby 2002, O&M picked up a total of 20 awards (two golds, 17 silvers and one special silver), a good 13 awards more than its closest competitor and number two agency, Leo Burnett India. Even in terms of number of points won, O&M (with 23 points) outstripped Burnett (9 points) by a 14-point margin.
The story wasn't very different at the 2003 Abbys, although here, McCann-Erickson India replaced Burnett at the No 2 spot. Ogilvy won 22 Abbys (two golds, 16 silvers and four special silvers) last year, which was 16 Abbys more than what third-placed Enterprise Nexus and Mudra Communications managed (although McCann was No 2 in the ranking, it won fewer awards compared to Enterprise and Mudra). And if assessed on the basis of points, O&M scored 28 points, while McCann struck only a quarter of that figure.
There is really nothing to suggest that one can expect a surprise with this year's Awards. Tata Safari (‘roller-coaster'), Close-up (‘Kyun nahin karte…'), Kotak Bank (‘restaurant'), SBI Life (‘rain'), Titan (‘debate'), Ranipal (‘sadhu'), Mentos (‘bar'), the Mid-Day calendar, a couple of entries for Playwin, the AdAsia campaign, the Child Adoption campaign… And, of course, the big daddy of them all - Hutch. Ogilvy, as you can see, packs enough firepower in one paragraph to comfortably outgun the rest of this year's contenders.
Hutch, it must be obvious by now, is the lead candidate for the Campaign of the Year. After all, the loyal mutt, in conjunction with the feature-led ‘cartoon' commercials (or should that read cartoon-led feature commercials?), makes Hutch advertising one of the best-loved ones in recent times. What's more, by virtue of last year's campaigns, Hutch also stands within striking distance of the Best Continuing Campaign title. Hutch apart, one can say with a fair bit of confidence that Tata Safari, Close-up, Titan, Mentos, Ranipal, Mid-Day and AdAsia are the other pieces of work that are likely to pick up Abbys.
Of course, these are only a few of the better-known entries from the agency. As Piyush Pandey, executive chairman & national creative director, O&M India, says, "There are loads of entries from all our offices, across categories. In its totality, I can't really remember what all work the teams have entered, but the good work that I can remember off the top of my mind includes Hutch, Mentos, Mid-Day, Titan, Child Adoption, SBI Life, Fevicol, Close-up and Kotak Bank. There are many more good entries, but these come immediately to mind."
Despite acknowledging that his agency has quite a few potential winners, Pandey is unwilling to make any predictions. "What will happen, God knows," he smiles. "The past suggests that one should not take anything for granted. Sometimes, even the Abbys can surprise a Cannes." He quickly adds that he is not knocking the Abbys. "All I am saying is, the decision of one jury can be very different from that of another. There are times when ads that make it only to the Finalist stage at the (AP) AdFest win gold at Cannes, and vice-versa. Both Cannes and Clio have eminent juries, but that doesn't mean the results of the two awards are identical."
Pressed to respond to the question on whether O&M would extend its fine run by claiming yet another Agency of the Year plaque, Pandey says, "I can't say about that - only Saturday evening can provide a fitting answer to your question. But yes, the width of O&M's work is nice, and I am happy with the work we produced last year. At the same time, talented boys from O&M are today spread across the industry. All are very capable, and they can surprise anyone at any time."
Pandey believes that there are some good pieces of creative produced outside Ogilvy that could fare well at the Abbys. "There is AirTel," he concedes. "The Maruti film (‘toy car') is also very endearing. Then there is the Times of India commercial (‘currency'), the Franklin Templeton campaign, Coke (‘paanch') and some good work in print for Elle 18… What will be interesting to watch is which new agency makes a mark this year. And if I were to put my money, I would put quite a bit of it on rmg david."
As Pandey puts it, while it would be interesting to watch which new agency makes a mark, equally interesting would be watching the tussle for the No 2 spot. For much as Pandey might evade the point, as far as the bulk of industry opinion is concerned, every other agency is essentially in contention for the second place, with Ogilvy virtually assured of the top spot. At least in Abby 2004.
Unless, as Pandey cautioned earlier, this year's Abby jury has laid a booby-trap of a surprise… Â© 2004 agencyfaqs!