I am saddened to hear that all is not well on the Goafest and Abbys front. As I write this there are chances that they could part ways. That would be a tragedy. Particularly when you hear the reasons put forward. One of ‘control’ and ‘veto rights’.
Since I was heading the AAAI when Goafest and Abbys came together, ending years of acrimony, I am astounded at the petty politicking and jockeying for ‘control’. When representatives of both Ad Club and AAAI sat down in a room at the ITC Parel and had a free and frank discussion, they concluded by agreeing to end the acrimony and have the Abbys given out at Goafest. What was clear was that the Goafest, a wonderful AAAI property would be the destination, where the Awards would henceforth be called the Abbys, Ad Club property. There followed a series of meetings to merge the AAAI Awards into the Abbys. After a lot of debates and discussions, a whole lot of compromises were made and what emerged was accepted as the Industry standard. AAAI and Ad Club ran the Abbys jointly.
Jagdip Bakshi from the AAAI was Chairman of Goafest in 2007 followed by Colvyn Harris in 2008 and 2009. During these years, and despite the recessionary traumas and the crippling effects of the slowdown, Goafest saw growing numbers in participation, speaker requests and award entries. It became the norm that if you went to Cannes to get the Lions, you went to Goafest to win the Abbys. National participation and International recognition followed. Jagdip and Colvyn ran the Goafest and the Awards with 100% co-operation from the Ad Club. The two associations worked seamlessly. I do not ever recall friction or stand-offs and egos coming into play. Goafest was an Industry event and the Abbys were the true Awards for excellence in Creative and in Media. Goafest grew, the Abbys grew.
True, there were controversies at the Awards shows every year. As there are the world over. But they were all amicably sorted out. For the sake of the Industry. Individual agendas were kept aside. Until controversy broke out in April 2010, earlier this year. Unfortunately, the situation was not handled and resolved quickly, and, like all warts left unattended, it became a virtual free for all. In retrospect, quick and decisive action as discussed and minuted would have resolved the situation and formed the basis for a new system of judging the Creative Abbys. Remember that the Media Abbys had ever increasing participation - and no controversy.
I hear that there is a stand-off. I can, for the sake of the Industry, only appeal to the dissenters and quasi-legal hawks that they bury their differences and move forward. The spirit of coming together and working together and the benefits thereof far outweighed any legal agreements. The AAAI has built a property called the Goafest, one that can become truly world class. The Ad Club over the years has built an Industry currency for the Awards called the Abbys. The two have come together and worked very well for three years. True, there are areas that need to be addressed. True that judging in the Creative Awards may need a overhaul. Perhaps even emulate the extremely well run Media Abbys and even the Effies and Emvies. Where controversy is addressed quickly, judging happens with clockwork efficiency and there are no ‘leaks and scoops’. We belong to one Industry. Can we not learn from each other?
As an individual, like everyone else in the Industry in Mumbai, I am a proud member of the Ad Club. The organisation that I represent is equally a proud member of AAAI, the Industry body. One is a Club that has done this city proud. One is an Association that has, and needs to, represent the Industry. Many among us are members of both, in an individual capacity and as professionals running an organisation. All of us work together, party together, celebrate together and also compete… happily. Why is there so much bickering about control and veto? Why should we allow anyone to further individual agendas? Can we not get together, learn from our own mistakes and build Goafest, a AAAI property, and the Abbys, an Ad Club property, together by just respecting each other’s ownership, legacy and strengths?