Campaign India Team
Jul 17, 2009

On why adland needs to hold a mirror to itself


On why adland needs to hold a mirror to itself


It’s almost two years since we launched Campaign India. For the most part, the magazine and the dotcom have been well received – and praised by readers.

The only instances of negative criticism have been on the few occasions (and there have been very few) when we have made a factual error. We are quick to acknowledge such lapses and ensure that we carry a corrigendum or a letter from the aggrieved party verbatim.

Thanks to our dotcom, we are able to measure popularity (or the lack thereof) of pieces that we carry. Thanks to the nature of the beast, we receive comments as well – bouquets and brickbats.

To encourage comment, we decided that there would be no moderation of the comments so that the reader could see his or her comment up, unedited, in milliseconds and receive ‘instant gratification’.

Within months, we discovered a peculiar trait: comments praising the writer or blogger were always signed by the commenter while comments which were disparaging to the writer/blogger/the publication were cloaked in anonymity.

So I have no clue who Alter Ego is; Alter Ego comes after me hammer and tongs with regularity. His (or her?) comments are still on the site.

As a rule, we do not ever delete a comment which is unkind or worse to us. However, if a comment is abusive of a professional from the industry, we do delete it.

Which brings me to the bigger issue. Why is adland so closed to either debate or criticism? The most popular piece published on, the Fake Cannes Winners blog, was a source of delight to many readers – and was battered by a handful of critics. One of those presumed that the blog was written by me and called upon senior industry professionals to lynch me. I read the blog again and re-read and re-read the offending post in an attempt to understand what, indeed, was so offensive.

Nothing that I could find. The blogger writes about scams and about ads that were inspired or copied from earlier released ads.

Both scams and copying are real issues that need to be discussed and debated. While the jury is out on scams (and, one suspects, they will continue to be out and divided), one can’t imagine any doubt on the copying bit.

Copying from another ad cannot be condoned or encouraged, even when such an ad manages to get past the jurors and wins awards. It cannot be good for the agency that sent in the entry, it cannot be good for the client concerned – and, in the long run, it cannot be good for the creative team responsible for the communication.

Rather than call for the writer to be lynched, what Alter Ego and his (or her) ilk should do is to join the debate; tell the world what he or she thinks of the issue; what should be done to reduce scams and copying; or why scams and copying are not the crimes that others think they are.

Hopefully, such comments will lead to a conversation with many in the industry participating and allow all to understand an issue better; will lead to fine-tuning thoughts on the matter at hand.

Which is why we decided on allowing unmoderated comments. The feature allows all of us in the decision-making functions at Campaign India to understand what we are doing well and what we are not doing well. If we monitored and skewed the comments to show all that is positive about us, we would lose the larger opportunity to introspect and, hopefully, improve our offering.

That’s what healthy debate does. So on the areas that the industry finds itself wanting, listen to the voices around you; engage, defend, debate. That makes for an improvement of your industry.


Campaign India

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