Friday, 12 April, 11 am
My text to editor: There are some media reports on DDB Mudra Goafest wins and fresh allegations of plagiarism. Should we do a follow up story?
Editor: Have they announced it officially?
Editor: Then let’s wait.
And I wait for the AGC to come up with another official statement. Nothing arrives till evening but another set of rumour starts floating that the Grand Prix winning entry of McCann Erickson is a copy. As a journalist, I wonder, what am I supposed to do? Wait for AGC’s final announcement about the returned metals and then do a consolidated story? Flippant as it sounds, but I guess the joke is on us. Every year the media fraternity covers the festival with utmost sincerity but we end up writing more on the controversies than the actual event. Can we think of one Goafest which did not emit any controversy? Name any other international advertising festival which has unearthed so much muck since its inception.
I read in one of the media reports where Shashi Sinha says, ‘Enough is enough’. Nine years on and the advertising fraternity doesn’t seem to have enough.
This year, however, the controversies preceded the festival. It started with Ogilvy & Mather deciding to stay away from the festival. But soon after the Ford Figo poster scam/unreleased ad surfaced that JWT entered the festival with sole objective to win an award. It ended with the exit of Bobby Pawar, the erstwhile chief creative officer and managing partner of JWT, much to . O&M’s rescue.
As the curtains came down on Goafest, a series of horrific revelations started appearing on copied ads that picked up metals this year. It began with Leo Burnett, albeit in a more dignified fashion, when the agency requested the AGC to withdraw the two radio entries for Tata Salt Lite for which it had picked up two golds and two silvers. But it has been a downhill since then. Top notch agencies including BBDO, DDB Mudra and McCann Worldgroup were accused of plagiarism. While the fate of the metals won by DDB Mudra and McCann Worldgroup is still unclear (as we go to print), BBDO had to part ways with two golds and one silver for its work on DHL.
While the fraternity is more worried about if brand ‘Goafest’ has taken a beating, I am appalled that no one is really worried about the clients whose work is under the scanner. What is going to be the fate of the relationship between the agency and the client following these controversies when premium names like Tata, DHL and Electrolux are involved?
Agencies spend lakhs on pitching and winning business. A company joins hand with a communication partner to build a brand but end up getting a tight blow below the belt. Not because of drop in sales or staggering economies but because of its communication partner’s appetite for awards. When advertising pieces created by some of India’s top agencies are challenged, the industry has to kiss goodbye its credibility.
Given my limited years in this profession, I feel Goafest has been losing its seriousness over the years. One doesn’t line-up an eminent list of speakers and then serve alcohol throughout the day to an industry, where the average age group is between 25-30 years. I feelthe knowledge seminars hosted at Goafest, for which the organising committee spends a hefty sum of money to fly down many international speakers and host them at Goa, are mainly for journalists. Besides it is usually attended by committee members or new professionals, who are genuinely kicked about getting ‘knowledgeable’, or by people who are too bored either by drinking or getting tanned under the scorching sun!
I could not make it to Goafest this year. But I definitely want to attend the next one to see if the fraternity could infuse some dignity to the festival that it truly deserves.