Aditya Chatterjee & Prajjal Saha

How relevant is the New York Festival?

Critics pan it, while nominees defend the ad-award

When agencyfaqs! did a couple of articles on agencies winning nominations at the New York Festival recently, we were in for a surprise. Normally, such articles receive an enthusiastic applause from the winner-agency, followed by a polite murmur of approval from competitors.

Therefore, we were taken aback by the barrage of "negative" mails that we received on this subject. Sample a few:

"Your NY festival coverage is rather strange. What's next? A blow-by-blow account from Chirapunchi (sic) ad club awards? So is Canco the next big thing to hit (the) Indian ad scene? People of your stature should know better. You should also mention that worthwhile Indian agencies like O&M, McCann, Leo Burnett, Ambience and Contract do not participate in this losers' awards, like most of the reputed agencies across the world. Is it some kind of a paid coverage by NY fest guys?"

Another one titled "Poor ad-man's award" says, "There's been too much noise about the NY Festival nominations. The truth is, it's just a C-grade award show, when compared to the really prestigious ones like The One Show, D&AD, etc. Alright, throw in a Cannes and a Clio, if you should, but that's about it.

To see what I mean, just flip through any NY Fest Annual. Check the last page, where the index is. Peel your eyes and look for names like Fallon, The Martin Agency, Goodby, Silverstein, Legas Delaney, Chiat Day. Where are they? No where.

That's the point. These really, really creative agencies, agencies who win consistently at the big award functions, don't think this award show worthy enough to send their entries.

So who sends and wins? Check out the index again. You'll find a lot of agencies you have never heard of, some even from Pakistan, for crying out loud. And, of course, many, many from India. How else did you expect an agency like Canco to score?

To tell you the truth, I have won, too. Once. But one look at the other ads in that annual and I felt ashamed. Since then, I have never participated.

So all you Indian agencies, gloating there, tom-tomming your "achievement", congratulations.

You have 'achieved' quite something in a poor ad-man's award show. Thank You." This mail had come from

Stung by such mails, we decided to investigate and call up a few prominent ad-men. Here's what they said.

Ramesh Narayan, managing director, Canco Advertising says, "The New York Festival is a big and important international event, which is organised in a professional manner. One cannot compare one event with the other because every event is unique in itself. However, I would rate NY festivals among the top 5 international advertising awards. Probably, it's people, who couldn't make it to the nominations, are the ones bad mouthing it. Remember that old saying - 'Grapes are sour'?

Hemant Misra, president, Mudra Communications, which won quite a few of the awards, says, "NY Festivals can certainly not be compared with Cannes. But I personally would rate it among the top six international advertising awards. If someone says it's easy to get nominations at New York, just check out the archives. One would then know the kind of campaigns that has been nominated in the previous events."

His colleague at Mudra, S Radhakrishnan, executive vice-president, Mudra South, adds, "It's probably not as big as Cannes but certainly it is of great importance. If one looks at the history of the event, it has seen participation and nomination of leading international agencies."

Sharad Haksar, the head of 1pointsize, provides another explanation. He says, "Cannes is popular in India because Indian agencies win the maximum number of international nominations or metals here. But that doesn't mean that the other festivals are not important.

Every festival has its own uniqueness as the way of judging the campaigns is different in different places. Just like American humour is different from European humour, which is again different from Asia Pacific humour, New York festivals would also have its own criteria of judging campaigns.

For instance, if the Aamir Khan-Coke campaign is not appreciated at international festivals, it doesn't mean the ad is not good. On the contrary, it is undoubtedly one the best campaigns. Yet, the commercial may not get appreciated as the jury may be unaware of the local humour attached to it.

And, for those who say that getting nominations is easy at New York Festivals, let me explain that we had sent 10 campaigns but only 3 got selected. Even the one, which won an award at the D&AD, was not selected at the NY Fest.

Yes, there are more categories in New York, which makes the chances of winning brighter here. But this doesn't indicate that the NY Fest is of lesser value. Certainly the best campaigns in the world get selected there."

The last word of this war of words comes from Prasoon Joshi, regional creative director for South Asia & South East Asia of McCann Erickson India. Joshi, who is a member of the NY Fest Jury has this to say: "I'm not in the business of rating ad-awards. I'd rather ask the critics to wait for the results. It would be clear by then whether quality work got its due credit. And, McCann too has won nominations."

Need we say anything more? © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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