Noel D'souza
May 15, 2023

If an agency wins an Abby, good chance it will win a Lion: Ajay Kakar

Campaign India catches up with Ajay Kakar, Partha Sinha and Rana Barua, to discuss this year's categories, jurors and how The Ad Club's partnership with The One Show has helped the Abbys

From left: Partha Sinha,Ajay Kakar and Rana Barua
From left: Partha Sinha,Ajay Kakar and Rana Barua

It’s that time of the year when adland is geared up for The Advertising Club’s Abbys, which will be held during the three-day Goafest scheduled to be held between 24-26 May 2023.


The Advertising Club partnered with The One Show last year and in its second year of partnership, aims to raise the bar through its juror lineup, aspires to set global standards and promises to celebrity creativity like never before.


We caught up with Partha Sinha, president, The Times of India Group, and president, The Advertising Club; Rana Barua, group CEO, Havas Group India, and chairperson, The Abbys Award Governing Council, and Ajay Kakar, managing committee member, The Advertising Club, and co-chair, The Abbys Award Governing Council, to explore the distinctiveness of this year, the jurors they have onboarded and how The One Show has brought in global standards.


Edited excerpts:


For the Abbys this year, Mullen Lowe Lintas, Wunderman Thompson and McCann have returned. How did you go about this?


Partha Sinha (PS): We have started a new journey from last year. This journey has two parts to it. One is that this is the only award show owned by the industry.


Being an industry-owned initiative, it gets the element of purpose amongst agencies. Thus, this year we want to execute the awards show and revive the excitement in the industry once again.


Secondly, there is no distinction nowadays between an Indian and a global award. Everything has to be of a global standard nowadays. Every industry and even the government is aiming for international standards, so why should the awards be anything less? This is the whole purpose of Abbys, and if we are sticking to this purpose, I don’t see why any agency would not want to participate.


That is why we partnered with The One Show last year. Since 2022 was the first year, there was a bit of a teething problem. But this year, things have been much smoother.


The quality of the judging process and the people entering have been top-notch. It is the combination of all these elements that bring purpose back to the Abbys.


We will be steadfast to our purpose, which is that participation needs to be widespread, the industry needs to be represented well, and there should be no agenda that deviates from the focal areas of the industry.


Ajay Kakar (AK): The One Show was a great milestone in our lives, where we aimed to be at a world-class level. After the partnership, we saw a lot of agencies not only saying that they want to enter the awards but also want to participate as jury members.


This year we have a long list of agencies participating. The number of media agencies that have participated is 63 this year against 54 last year. Whereas, the number of entries from creative agencies that are giving Abbys a shot is 2,282 this year against 2,007 last year.


When it comes to media agencies, 2023 is witnessing 1,019 entries as opposed to last year’s 1,014 entries.


The total number of entries for 2022 was 3,301, these numbers encapsulate the pandemic year's entries where Abbys did not take place. However, in the second year of partnering up with The One Show, we received 3,021 entries for 2023.


We have agencies like McCann, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group, Wunderman Thompson and Creativeland Asia, to name a few. These agencies have chosen quantity over quality.


The Abbys has become a stepping stone to global recognition. If an agency wins at Abbys, there is a good chance they will win at Cannes Lions and the One Show, as well.


How has Abbys partnership with The One Show impacted the awards and adlands sentiment towards it?


PS: We tied up with The One Show, to bring in an international jury and credibility to the Abbys. In our second year, partnering with the One Show we are extremely confident that there is a true replication of the industry and the awards are held with global standards.


The agencies that won a Grand Prix at Abbys last year went on to win a Lions at Cannes. That is what gives us confidence. This year too, a tab should be kept on the wins at Abbys because they could be making a global mark at Cannes. 


Rana Barua (RB): Last year, when we were announcing our partnership with The One Show, a lot of people looked at it positively as it was something that has never happened in the history of Indian advertising. 


In the second year, now that we have built momentum, there has been a stark difference. The number of agencies that are participating this year for various categories and the creative Abbys has scaled.


The One Show has made the awards shows more credible, and we have a unique set of jury chairs as well who know they are not just judging a local awards show but The One Show Abbys.


Will this year too have different agencies crowned agency of the year for different verticals like design, digital, and the like?


RB: Because we had multiple town halls and because The Ad Club team is engaged with the industry, we have been listening to suggestions. Taking in the inputs we have received from the industry, we have curated this year’s categories.


PS: Due to the internet, there has been a democratisation of agencies. The beauty today is that the size of the agencies that are participating are massive like MullenLowe Lintas and Leo Burnett and the Publicis group.


On the other hand, there are also very small digital and design agencies that are also participating. Regardless of their size, they are all being judged with the same global qualities. It is only the second year and we are seeing it beautifully take shape in terms of participation.


AK: For 'agency of the year', we have seven categories. But as Rana pointed out, we keep looking at listening to people every year and aim to make it better than the year gone by. We want to incorporate the suggestions.


This year the seven categories have been divided into Still Print, Still Digital, Audio Visual (which will admit entries below one minute) and Audio Visual (which will admit entries above one minute). In the Audio Visual category, we have clubbed things like TV, cinema, digital, OTT, OOH and integrated.


We changed the radio category into audio as well. The ground reality is that the radio category has expanded to podcasts and other forms too.


We have fine-tuned the definitions of the categories this year to stay in touch with the times and the feedback.


We've seen several jurors share how they're on the jury for the Abbys this year. How many jurors do you’ll have in total this year?


AK: An award is as good as the jury that judges it. We wanted a contemporary jury. No one wants to lend their name to an awards show unless it isn’t worthy of their name.


So that says a lot about the jury participation this year. This has been a great indicator for us to know that last year they were dipping their toes, and this year they are lending their name in the form of jury participation.


It is not about their age or years of experience. So, while we have international jury chairs like Nick Law, Mandie van der Merwe and Wesley ter Haar, we also have a mix of the past, present and future for the jurors this year.


Among the jurors are youngsters who have proven their metal in such a short span. To have these stalwarts is very important.

Campaign India

Follow us

Top news, insights and analysis every weekday

Sign up for Campaign Bulletins

Related Articles

Just Published

2 days ago

Netflix announces ad tier milestone and adtech platform

The streaming platform’s ad-supported plan reaches 40 million global monthly active users and drives 40% of all signups in the 12 countries where it’s available.

2 days ago

Whisper unveils new phase of #KeepGirlsInSchool to ...

The latest poignant film seeks to normalise periods as healthy changes, empowering young girls to reshape their narratives around puberty.

2 days ago

Group M broadens remit of Wavemaker global chief ...

Jenner will remain as Wavemaker global chief executive.

2 days ago

Samsung's LTE Galaxy Watch6 campaign unlocks ...

The brand's latest film highlights the integration of LTE into consumers' lives, positioning the watch as a reliable digital companion.