Ho-hum. The Economic Times has ‘leaked’ the winners of the Goafest. And ET seems to be proud of it, claiming ‘as is almost traditional by now, ET brings you a sneak peek of the major award winners, a week before they will be officially unveiled‘. It’s disgusting that this should happen despite the brouhaha raised by captains of the advertising industry last year and the year before last. It’s as if ET is showing the middle finger to the advertising industry. There is an obvious outrage, as witnessed by comments from the bigwigs of the industry, in response to this excellent blog post from Anant of Campaign India. Why is ET doing this knowing full well that the response from the industry will be negative? Can’t blame the reporter alone as such a decision would be taken by the higher ups. So, is it just to show how cool they are? Oneupmanship? It’s puzzling since the President of Ad Club, Bombay is also a head honcho with the Times Group. Whatever the reason it sits well with the misguided emphasis on sensational journalism that is prevalent today.
Which brings us to the logical next question: who provided the information to ET? Everyone would presume that it’s an inside job but as a jury member points out, there are 3 ‘groups’ involved. So someone doesn’t give a damn about the consequences and perhaps rubbing his hands in glee. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) it’s taking the wind out of the sails, as far as suspense or thrill of the event is concerned. Not that 2009 saw a great many campaigns and close competition was expected. Still, no fun in knowing the Oscar winners before hand.
As far as Goafest is concerned, it has all the ambition of being a premier awards ceremony, the ‘Cannes of India’ as it were, but comes across poorly in execution, especially after moving to Goa. Witness the breadth & depth of online content over at the Cannes website and compare it with our own. Till yesterday, about 10 days prior to the event, some of the content on the website was still ‘work in progress’. The site still has a flash intro (in this day & age?) lacks the finesse of international award ceremony websites. The website has links to the previous year’s websites (does the 2008 website list the winners? I couldn’t find the links) including registration links!
The larger issue that comes to question is the unity, or the lack of it within the advertising industry. The top agencies have rarely come together as one and addressed the critical issues facing the industry. Do all agencies agree on standard terms for agency compensation, especially the Agency Commission? No. Is there an agreement on how much to charge as pitch fees or even to charge it at all? No. There is not a single Indian creative award ceremony in which all the major agencies participate. Those who don’t participate (for whatever reasons) are ridiculed. The issue of awards pale in comparison with other serious issues grappling the industry – remuneration from clients, recruitment of talent, training and so on. Wonder if these issues if all the bigwigs ever come together and agree on an action plan to tackle these issues. There was a time when 15% was the accepted norm across all agencies. Nowadays, anything goes. If the industry was united undercutting would not have happened.
Anyway, I am digressing. What ET has done is surely a dampener. If this happens yet again (chances are high) it will hurt brand Goafest in more ways than merely stealing thunder about winning entries. It will make people take the event less seriously. Is that what ET wants?