Campaign India Team
Jun 01, 2010

Why the Ad Club cannot afford a deja vu again

Rumors, more rumours and still more rumours – and we’re no closer to the truth.The official version of the truth, that is.As we go to press, the latest update on the mess that is the Abbys (creative Abbys, that is) is the fact that Mudra has sent a legal notice (I do not believe they have filed a case) to both Leo Burnett and ‘Pops’ Shridhar asking for an apology.This is going true to form and one can’t help a feeling of dejа vu. Abbys. Boycotts. Leak. Controversy. Noise. Silence. We’ve seen it before.

Why the Ad Club cannot afford a deja vu again

Rumors, more rumours and still more rumours – and we’re no closer to the truth.

The official version of the truth, that is.

As we go to press, the latest update on the mess that is the Abbys (creative Abbys, that is) is the fact that Mudra has sent a legal notice (I do not believe they have filed a case) to both Leo Burnett and ‘Pops’ Shridhar asking for an apology.

This is going true to form and one can’t help a feeling of dejа vu. Abbys. Boycotts. Leak. Controversy. Noise. Silence. We’ve seen it before.

Except, this year, the (official) silence has been more deafening.And the silence does nothing expect fuel new rumours.

In a funny way, I think the Ad Club and the Advertising Agencies Association of India have got it right.

Maintain radio silence and wait till the rabble-rousers get tired of the whole thing and fade away. That way, the dirt gets swept under the carpet, to be forgotten till next year’s dirt needs the carpet.

Must it be this way?

Should these two entities – the Ad Club and the AAAI -- treat their own stakeholders and constituents so shabbily? Year after year?

While the agency heads seem to have shorter and more understanding memories, what worries is the impact that such incidents have on the younger generation.

In this day and age of communications at the speed of light, the old strategy of keeping whatever happened at Vegas in Vegas will not work. The truth will come out, and there’s no way of stopping it from getting out.

While this year’s mess has been successfully and dishonorably buried, one hopes that, finally, there is serious introspection, discussion and debate on ensuring that this is the last year of a tainted Abbys.

One also wishes that, starting now, the authorities choose communication over silence. Let all stakeholders know what is happening, give them opportunities to make their opinions heard, take their views into account and arrive at a plan that is acceptable to the majority. Majority of the members of the Ad Club, not just the members on the committee.

Do this, and there is a chance that the Abbys will survive 2010. Don’t, and risk next year’s edition being the worst that we have seen. We already have an Abby show without Lowe. We’ve seen both McCann and Contract choosing to stay away for various reasons. We’ve had a ‘movement’, overt and in-your-face, instituted by some Delhi-based professionals where they explicitly state their dissatisfaction with the Abbys as it is currently.

There’s enough to suggest that at least five other agencies are doubtful starters next year, thanks to their experience with Goa and the aftermath. And if more agencies stay away, it means a fall in the revenue from entries and from delegate fees.

That’s not all; if enough choose to stay away, it will also dampen the enthusiasm of those who are still ‘in’. It would result, I’m sure, in low entries and delegates. Not a pretty picture.

The tragedy is that there is so much that is good about the Abby’s. Fixing the shortcomings does not require any infusion of money. All that is required is a genuine and healthy debate on the shortcomings themselves.

That’s the choice before the office bearers: address the issues before you, or watch the pile under the carpet growing higher and higher till the mess it too large to contain.

I hope this time, the committee does not view the situation as they have done last year and the year before last. The unhappiness, dissatisfaction and, indeed, disgust, are too marked to be forgotten in a hurry. And if the issues are to be resolved, the time to begin is now, not January 2011.

Source:
Campaign India