Ten years ago the India Chapter of the IAA launched the Olive Crown Awards. The first awards to salute creativity in communicating sustainability. The objective was to bring sustainability to the top of the strategic agenda of marketers and advertising agencies.
But the effort was almost still born.
After Kaushik Roy, who was then President mandated the commencement of efforts to conceive, design, and launch the call for entries, many well-intentioned members of the managing committee had promised to get a sponsor on board, to support the awards presentation event.
And so entries were invited, judged, the logo was designed by Bhupal Ramnathkar and everything was kept ready till we were told that all three prospective sponsors had expressed their inability to step up at that time.
It was clear that if the awards event was postponed the awards would die. And so it was thought, thought, why not approach the AAAI and The Advertising Club and request them to allow the IAA to launch their awards at the GoaFest?
In what will remain a symbol of advertising associations acting with great maturity to further a good cause, the Associations readily agreed and Lynn D'Souza who was Chairperson of the GoaFest that year and also on the mancom of the IAA at that time helped set up this unique launch.
The second year had its fair share of drama as well. One of the tallest creative names in the business kindly offered to get his client sponsor the Olive Crown Awards. The problem was the company was being seen at that time as a big ecological polluter.
I still recall a memorable drive from the Kingdom of Dreams at Gurgaon after the last day of the AdAsia 2011 to Chanakyapuri in Pradeep Guha's car. I briefed him about the development and he noticed my obvious distress on how complicated this issue would become if I declined the offer of sponsorship and quietly said, "how much do you need?". I told him the figure and in his characteristic underplayed way said, "OK".
And with that he breathed life into the Olive Crown Awards for three years.
The awards were always special. Whether it was Kaushik Roy getting Bittu Sehgal to come to Goa to accept the Green Crusader of the Year, or it was Dr Rajendra Pachauri coming to Mumbai to accept the award in the year he also accepted the Nobel Prize as Chairman IPCC, Maneka Gandhi and Amitabh Bachchan sharing a stage, and everyone from Praful Patel as Minister of Heavy Industries to John Abraham and Dia Mirza, and even Sadhguru, some wonderful names have been happy to associate with these awards. And who can forget Shankar Mahadevan singing at the Olive crown awards, as a labour of love?
The creative who's who have taken it up as their personal cause and always made the time to send in entries, participate in jury deliberations and of course, attend the awards presentations. Presidents like Srinivasan Swamy Pradeep Guha, Neeraj Roy and Punit Goenka have all backed this initiative whole-heartedly.
The Olive Crowns are also a classic example of inter-Association cooperation at a global level. Though an IAA initiative it has always been co-promoted as an initiative supported by the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations as well. Run as a cause, no entry fee is charged.
And this year, as the call for entries go out for the 10th. year, with some new categories like NGO of the year, one is looking forward to a really fantastic response and a great 10th. Anniversary party for these awards that have cut across Associations, Agencies and Continents and shown that the communications industry truly consists of people who are not just custodians of their respective brands, but also custodians of Brand Planet Earth.