The idea of being judged for a 'body of work' has been appreciated by the jury and professionals alike.
For digital agencies in India, it has been more of a rollercoaster ride than anything else for a really long time. Flashes of brilliance were followed by periods of mediocrity. But they seem to have finally come of age with wider appreciation from various quarters. Recognition has come on the back of a solid resume of regular quality work, a stream of great ideas and, of course, clients who have finally embraced digital enthusiastically.
The afaqs! Digital Agency Awards saw nearly 50 agencies participate with more than 500 entries in seven categories. The stars of the show were OgilvyOne Worldwide, Maxus Global and Interactive Avenues. While OgilvyOne Worldwide picked up three golds, Maxus had two golds, two silvers, and two bronzes for a total of six medals. Interactive Avenues picked up one gold and four silvers.
The other agencies that made a mark were PHD India (one gold), Jack in the Box Worldwide (a silver), BC Webwise (two bronzes), Propaganda India (a bronze that it shared with FCB Ulka), FCB Ulka (won a second bronze separately) and Webitude and Social Wavelength (shared a bronze).
The 10 winners were felicitated in a ceremony held at the capital on July 18. The evening was marked with cheers and some great live music by the Gravy Train. Supported by DB Digital as the growth partner and Jameson as the beverages partner, the afaqs! Digital Agency Awards have made a strong beginning. Though participation was enthusiastic, some agencies were stretched to find the minimum three pieces of work in each category to make the grade.
The jury for the afaqs! Digital Agency Awards included Alok Mittal, venture capital, entrepreneur in internet, media space, Canaan Partners; Neville Taraporewalla, general manager, India advertising & online, Microsoft Corp India; Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder, chairman & managing director, One97 Communications; Vidyadhar Kale, agency head, global marketing solutions, Facebook, and Satyan Gajwani, CEO, Times Internet.
Says Sreekant Khandekar, co-founder and director of afaqs!, "later this year, afaqs is going to turn 15, but this is the first award we are doing in the advertising space. There is a reason for the delay. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the other well-established awards. These awards are being given on a body of work to reflect the quality of an agency all year round, and that is the kind of quality and consistency a marketer looks for at an agency."
All the categories
The afaqs! Digital Agency Awards were divided into seven categories. The first was Apps, where mobile apps developed specifically as part of a campaign - or those that effectively attained the marketing objective on a stand-alone basis - were rewarded. Maxus Global bagged the Gold, followed by Interactive Avenues with Silver and BC Webwise with the Bronze.
Display, as a category, honoured campaigns that used digital banners, pop-ups, rich media with/without video or other forms of web display. Maxus Global bagged the Gold, followed by Interactive Avenues, the Silver medal winner. Propaganda India and FCB Ulka were joint winners of Bronze.
The Integrated category honoured the best comprehensive digital integrated campaigns, which were executed over a number of digital platforms cohesively. Interactive Avenues bagged the Gold, followed by Jack in the Box Worldwide and BC Webwise as Silver and Bronze winners respectively.
The Mobile category honoured outstanding campaigns that used mobile platforms - WAP sites, SMS/ IVR or banners - in the most effective way. PHD India took the Gold, with Interactive Avenues and Maxus Global winning Silver and Bronze respectively.
In the Social Media category, OgilvyOne Worldwide bagged the Gold and Maxus Global took the Silver. Webitude and Social Wavelength were joint winners of Bronze.
The 'Viral' category recognised and honoured campaigns that were developed and executed via text, video or graphics and distributed virally amongst audiences over the web, mobile, social media or any other digital forum and helped the brand achieve its marketing objective. OgilvyOne Worldwide won the Gold, the Silver went to Interactive Avenues and Maxus Global bagged the Bronze.
Under the Websites category, the afaqs! Digital Agency Awards acknowledged campaigns that used websites or micro-sites as an integral part of the overall marketing plan. OgilvyOne Worldwide bagged the Gold with Maxus Global and FCB Ulka taking Silver and Bronze respectively.
In addition to these, there was a special award - The Language Content Award - powered by DB Digital. This award acknowledged the best Digital campaign on the basis of its Content (Copy) in any non-English Indian language. The award went to Tangerine Digital.
Speaking about the importance of local language content online, Gyan Gupta, COO, DB Digital, says that advertising has essentially been a form of content that matches the brand philosophy of the advertiser. "So to get the user to engage with the ad, we need to integrate our content with the ad. For us, language is the key and having the creative in a local language works wonders for us. We see that people engage better with a local language ad online," he adds.
In the end, besides the applause and the recognition, the afaqs! Digital Agency Awards might just have given the industry another marker of excellence - the special Fedora given to each of the winners. Many vouch for the fact that it is impossible not to look good, or cool, in the hat.