Campaign India Team
Mar 31, 2009

I read the news today, oh boy!

For the second year in a row, The Economic Times has revealed some of the Abbys winners, just two days before the awards ceremony is due to take place. Campaign India spoke to some CEO-level veterans from advertising and media agencies, to gauge their reaction on ET's story. Here's what they have to say.  Madhukar Kamath, MD and CEO, Mudra and president, AAAI

I read the news today, oh boy!

For the second year in a row, The Economic Times has revealed some of the Abbys winners, just two days before the awards ceremony is due to take place. Campaign India spoke to some CEO-level veterans from advertising and media agencies, to gauge their reaction on ET's story. Here's what they have to say.

 Madhukar Kamath, MD and CEO, Mudra and president, AAAI

"In a year when the whole industry has really worked hard to put together this festival against the current economic backdrop, I believe it has been irresponsible on the part of The Economic Times to come out with such a story. It is also highly irresponsible on the part of the jury members  who had signed a Non Disclosure Agreement regarding the outcome of the results.

It is unfortunate that many of the jurors have not respected the confidentiality of the process, giving rise to the unfortunate buzz around the festival. We had looked for a greater degree of co-operation, from all concerned for the festival this year. While I don’t deny the fundamental right of The Economic Times to do a story such as this, under the current difficult circumstances, we were still looking for a greater degree of cooperation from everyone concerned. I appreciate all the publications who chose not to publish such a story because I sincerely believe that the media is an important part of making the Goafest a success.

 Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT and chairman, Goafest committee

"There are two elements to it. In terms of content, we were very clear that we did not want to know the results. E&Y is privy to the results.

The second element is that there are 108 members in the jury and all of them have signed NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), but somebody must have talked. The results can be correct or false. I don’t want to comment on that.

However, journalism needs to be responsible. The fact that ET has written about it is irresponsible."

Bhaskar Das, president, Ad Club Bombay

"I must say that I am amazed. How did the results get leaked despite NDAs being signed by all the members of the jury who have the responsibility to keep the results confidential?

The media will do their job—and their dharma is to break stories which The Economic Times has done. Why is there a demand to rectify the media? It is all of us involved in the organisation of the Abbys who need to introspect and correct ourselves and ensure that such leaks do not occur. " 

 Ajay Chandwani, executive director, PerceptH and co-chairman, Creative Abby, Goafest 2009

"It is absolutely wrong. First and foremost, our entire process is followed so rigorously. Unfortunately, this kind of speculation is a result of information leaked by jurors. Seeking that information and then publishing it is in bad taste for the awards that are created for the industry. ET can do breaking news on more important things happening around the country. Publishing the results three days before the award show is surely incorrect."

 R. Gowthaman, leader, Mindshare, South Asia

"To be very frank, I'm quite shocked. This is an incident very similar to last year's, and we had been sworn to secrecy in order to avoid something like this from taking place, again this year. It is impossible not to react harshly to ET, because what they have done is completely unwarranted!"

 Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal

"I'm not sure whether the story is right or wrong, but knowing ET, they will have done their homework before coming up with a story like this. But one cannot blame only ET, it is ridiculous on the part of the industry sources to have leaked any information in the first place. It doesn't affect the seniors of the industry so much, as much as the youngsters who are taking part. This sort of an act simply takes the fun away from the awards show."

 M G Parameswaran, executive director and CEO, Draftfcb+Ulka

"I feel that there should be some sanctity maintained. I don’t know who has leaked out the information. I don’t blame The Economic Times. It is the fault of the jury member who has leaked out this information."

 Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra

"It is extremely important to maintain the sanctity of the show. If we don’t respect our own awards show, who will? It is not so much ET’s fault. You can’t blame the journalist because it’s his/her job. It is the fault of people who have leaked out the information. The jury members should have kept it more under wraps."

Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, O&M

"Overall, I think it is in bad taste for whoever has spoken to the press because the jury members have signed a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). By being one up on somebody, why take away the sense of anticipation, excitement and surprise that the youngsters look forward to, and indeed deserve?"  

 Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, Group M, South Asia

"I am not amused by reading a story such as this. If this is their idea of a scoop, it is a childish one. I don’t know if the results are true or not, but as a reader of the newspaper, it does not make me feel too good about the paper and they have behaved like party poopers in the process."

 Mahesh Chauhan, group CEO, Rediffusion Y&R

"I don’t know if the news mentioned in the story is true or not but I think it is a highly irresponsible piece of journalism. It is speculative and what does one really gain from a story such as this? To me, this is a clear shade of yellow."

 Arvind Sharma, chairman and CEO, Leo Burnett

"In a country which is facing slowdown and poiltical elections, this is not front page news. If it is true, it takes the anticipation out of the festival and if it is not true, it is obviously futile."

Srinivasan K Swamy, chairman, RK Swamy BBDO

"ET has done this for the second time. They did it last year too. It is just playing spoilsport. It takes away the moment of glory and surprise element from the awards. It is in bad taste, as half truth gets published. They should practice responsible journalism and should restrain from doing such stories. If it was a speculative story predicting the winners, then it would have been different. But that is not what it is."

 Subhash Kamath, managing partner, BBH India

"I think it's really sad that ET has chosen to publish this news, because it simply takes away the fun and expectations from the event. I guess ET was driven by the compulsion to break the news before everyone else, hence I think it is the jury who shouldn't have leaked the results in the first place. I myself am a part of the Goafest committee, but I still don't know the results; that is how confidential it is supposed to be. It is unfortunate how a story like this takes away the winning moment from the participants, and even more unfortunate for a newspaper like The Economic Times to have carried the story."

Nirvik Singh, CEO, Grey Group Asia Pacific

"I can't understand how anybody can leak results before they are supposed to be announced. It just defeats the entire purpose. As the results are audited by E&Y, they should have been kept safely and should have been opened at the right moment."

 Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison World

"Today's was not as bad as last time. The report could not reveal too much. However, it seriously casts doubts on our judges. It is obvious that this information can only be given out by the judges. I don't understand the need to talk about it. Even the media jury knows the results by now but nothing has come out of it. If media can keep the results confidential, then why not creative?

Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman and regional executive creative director, McCann Erickson Asia Pacific

"What happened should not have happened. But it has, and I think we need to look beyond that and move forward. We need to participate in, and celebrate Goafest in the right spirit and once we are back, we need to have an honest introspection within the industry and discuss why this is happening. Jury results have been a subject of corridor talk years before, too not just at the Abbys but also at festivals like the Cannes Lions, one cannot monitor and police the way jury members behave. What we are seeing here is an undue interest being taken among industry folks as well as the media in talking about the results much before the event actually takes place. This issue raises some fundamental questions about the nature of the industry today, there are larger introspective issues that need to be discussed once Goafest is over, so that this is not repeated. What has fundamentally gone wrong in the hardware of our industry? Why are awards not taken in the right spirit, why are they treated like a subject of life and death and why is the bonhomie not there?"   

Read Anant's view on the ET story, here.


(With inputs from Bindu Nair Maitra, Payal Khandelwal and Mukta Lad)

Campaign India

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