It’s spurred by the attendance at the event to felicitate Sam Balsara.Not the attendance, but the lack of attendance.
The evening was hosted by the Advertising Agencies Association of India, the organization that instituted the award that Sam was conferred.
And where were the members of the AAAI?
There was no Piyush Pandey. No Prasoon Joshi. No Balki. Not one person from O&M, from McCann, from Lowe, from Leo Burnett. Not one person from Lintas Media, from OMD, from Media Direction, from Mudra RADAR, from Starcom. Mudra’s presence was limited to Madhukar Kamath. No Pratap Bose. Group M’s presence was limited to Vikram Sakhuja and CFO Sridhar. No Gowthaman, no Ajit Varghese.
Surprisingly, media was more or less absent as well. Joy Chakraborty was there; no Bhaskar Das, no Sujoy Ghosh. No one from Network18, no one from Viacom18, no one from STAR India, no one from Hindustan Times, no one from the Bhaskar Group. No one from any of the FM radio channels that I noticed.
The list of prominent absentees could go on forever.
Which begs the question, do we have an industry at all? Or is the ‘advertising industry’ a myth propogated by all of us?
All we have is a motley collection of a number of advertising agencies and media agencies who come together (not quite) every once in a while pretending that an industry exists.
When the country’s foremost ‘industry’ body decides to confer The Lifetime Achievement Award on an individual and the foremost individuals of the ‘industry’ are not present for the felicitation, it’s time to worry – and it’s time for serious introspection.
Like a lot of you in the industry, I was also in denial on this issue.
I’ve attended every single AAAI and Bombay Ad Club event since Campaign India was launched and have often been concerned about the quality of attendance.
I’ve attended every single Subhas Ghosal foundation lecture since inception and have been flummoxed by the deterioration in the quality of attendance over the years.
And despite the evidence, I’ve believed that the ‘failure’ at each individual event was an aberration refusing to acknowledge the truth that this was a malaise that was steadily getting worse.
While I’m concerned, finally, I am just someone who writes on the advertising and media ‘industries’. Those in these ‘industries’ ought to be more than just concerned, they ought to be in a panic.
That they are not in a panic is more worrisome.
If key players are unable to come together for an event as prestigious as the Lifetime Achievement Award felicitation, it is difficult to believe that they could come together for meetings to discuss other, more mundane issues. If FICCI, the TRAI, COAI and the like are able to lobby with stakeholders on issues that concern them, it is because they are able to sit together and debate and discuss them and present themselves as a single body, as an ‘industry’. It’s clearly time that the AAAI set up a permanent secretariat – with office bearers of substance and quality. There are too many issues that need to be discussed on a continuous basis, with day-to-day involvement and day-to-day responsibility.
Take the first step towards revamping the AAAI and making it an efficient, productive body. Meet as soon as possible and discuss and ponder on the missing professionals at Sam’s felicition. Talk to those who were there.
More importantly, talk to those who weren’t.