Sajan Raj Kurup
Apr 10, 2013

Opinion: The emperor is not wearing any clothes...

Sajan Raj Kurup is founder and creative chairman at Creativeland Asia

Opinion: The emperor is not wearing any clothes...

I feel like that little boy who called the bluff. And that little boy is what I wish to be for the rest of my life. Forward looking, wide-eyed and naive.

I know a lot of conversations are going on around my decision to pull out of Goafest AGC and the Jury. Some are patting my back. Some, hitting below the belt. Some, hitting even lower. I must say some of the comments online were incredibly amusing. I can see a lot of hard work has gone into it, with people pulling out some of the proactive work I may have been involved with in the past.

Everyone has a right to their comments, even the anonymous ones.

While there would be many stories doing the rounds on why I pulled out, I thought I’d tell you mine. Myself.

I have been meaning to do this for a few years now ever since I banned scams in my own organization and saw it work. We all love awards. But when we create an ecosystem that doesn’t allow us to be dishonest and fake, we do work harder and find credible ways of winning awards. And we did win some big ticket awards with real work in India and abroad. 5Grand Prix, 3 Agency of the Year awards and some meaningful Golds, Silvers and Bronzes are not bad for a young place like ours. I thought last year would have been the right time to hang up my awards shoes when Creativeland Asia won the Integrated Grand Prix at Goafest.

However, I met Shashi Sinha and discussed my disillusionment. He convinced me that instead of stepping away I must get more involved and help him clean up. I agreed to take one more shot and got on the Award Governing Council (AGC). I got to see things a bit more closely and I was more disillusioned. I didn’t know what to do. So, I did what I knew best - when in doubt, procrastinate.

I heard all kinds of rumours of lobbying, block voting, agencies teaming up, of more scams legitimised with client letters winning… I witnessed Ogilvy‘s pull out, the Ford Figo fiasco, creative heads rolling, international media slamming us... On the morning of Holi and a day before the digital jury was to sit, I was restless. I did not know if I wanted to commit to this for my own sanity. My heart was just not into it. My mind followed. And my conscience agreed. I sent a letter to the AGC informing them of my decision and wrote to my fellow jury members that I won’t be there for the following day’s proceedings.

The pull out may look like a last minute one. But it is not. There was always the threat of insinuation that I pulled out because CLA wasn’t winning enough. I didn’t care. Right or wrong, you may have an opinion on it. But I am not interested in playing to a gallery. I just didn’t think I wanted to do it anymore. Sorry.

It gets a bit unfortunate when we all start believing and justifying it as a part of the creative culture in advertising. It is one thing when people say this. It’s quite another when industry veterans state it. People generalise that politicians are corrupt. What would you do when politicians actually start believing and justifying how corruption is a part of their culture?

Scam ads, proactive ads, one offs… there are many names for this practice. Simply put, it is a dishonest advert that has been created purely to increase the chance of winning awards. It is the most alluring short cut young creative people have to become famous. Their ECDs want them to do it. The agency head’s incentives depend on it. Their organizations are asking for more work like that. And they are made to believe that it’s contributing significantly to their creative growth. And they would all lose their best creative years doing things that will never be remembered. It is a criminal waste of talent and a great disservice to the creative potential of the young.

I’m not trying to be a poster boy or a saint. It is not a fight or an angst. It is a very personal self-inflicted heartfelt stance against what I think is wrong practice.

And as of now it brings me more peace to stay out. That’s all.

Sajan Raj Kurup, founder and creative chairman, Creativeland Asia

Campaign India