Yesterday, after receiving complaints of plagiarism, the Abby Award Governing Council withdrew the three metals awarded to BBDO for their work for DHL Express.
It’s clearly not the best of times if you are involved in the organisation of Goafest or in the creative Abby Awards.
"The first bit of bad news was the withdrawal of Ogilvy from the Awards, followed by the withdrawal of Creativeland Asia and of their CEO, Raj Kurup, from both the awards and the juries while the judging process was on.
There was worse to follow: the Ford Figo mess, which saw senior executives from Ford and from their advertising agency JWT India resign; the next bit of bad news was the withdrawal of Tata Salt radio spots by Leo Burnett under instructions from the client and, now, they have to grapple with allegations that BBDO had copied work done by Ogilvy Hong Kong for Allied Pickford Hong Kong,” Firstpost had written yesterday.
It’s getting worse. Two more anonymous complaints have come in, one against DDB Mudra for work on Electrolux and another against Leo Burnett for work on Coke Studio. During the course of the day, we will learn whether the Award Governing Council declares them to be kosher or not.
It’s less than a week after what should be the annual celebration of the advertising and media community in India but, instead of celebrations and camaraderie, there’s a pall of gloom and a divided house.
There is no sense of achievement for the ‘winners’ as the award was boycotted by two erstwhile big winners, Ogilvy and Creativeland Asia, while one of India’s biggest agencies, Lowe Lintas, has continued with their position of staying away.
Add to that is the fact that big agencies and big brands have been named and outed in incidents involving insensitive advertising, plagiarism and scam (work created for the purpose of entering awards shows).
There’s something not quite right about the state of the creative Abbys – and it’s time for the industry to take a long, hard look at itself.
This is not a situation which has come about overnight; it’s been simmering and bubbling for the past decade, and it’s boiled over this year. The greed for winning awards (I refuse to use a more diplomatic word) has resulted in a divided house, which is certainly unhealthy for the industry.
The majority of suits and creatives seem to believe that awards are the only route to success and growth – and are encouraged by their seniors and peers to attempt to win, at any cost.
Today, the cost which they were willing to pay is visible.
The cost is the loss of reputation, so difficult to build. The cost is loss of credibility with clients, so difficult to build. The result is loss of respect on the international arena, so difficult to build. The result is the loss of jobs, so difficult to deal with.
For all those tainted by the events of the past few days, it’ll be difficult to hold your head up in public, to have a drink with your colleagues, to be seen at industry gatherings, to explain the headlines to wives or husbands or children or to friends from other industries.
The cost that is paid for the short-cuts is incalculably large.