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Ogilvy competes with itself

Having stopped participating in Indian creative award shows, Ogilvy India launched its first internal awards, The Envies. An external jury shortlisted 35 out of 350 entries.

To motivate its creative teams to do good work, Ogilvy India started The Envies, the agency’s own internal awards show, at Mumbai on Monday. While announcing the first edition of the awards, Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, Ogilvy South Asia, said that since the agency has decided against participating in other domestic awards, it needed a show of its own to set creative benchmarks for the agency.

Earlier this year, Ogilvy had refused to participate in the most prestigious Indian award show, the Abby Awards held in Goa. This had come as a surprise since Ogilvy has performed consistently well at the industry awards show. At the time, Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy India, had told afaqs! that the agency had been mulling over the idea of withdrawing from the Abbies for three years. “We felt that the awards were not energising our people, not motivating them as they used to earlier,” he had said at the time.

Ogilvy is following in the footsteps of Lowe India which has boycotted industry awards for years and has been hosting its own internal awards, the True Show. However, the difference lay in the fact that the 35 campaigns (25 from next year) that won were judged not by an internal jury but by a mix which included people from other agencies. Also, The Envies steered clear of dividing the awards by categories.

The jury included Taproot’s Agnello Dias, DDB Mudra’s Sonal Dabral, McCann’s Akshay Kapnadak, Lowe Lintas’ Arun Iyer, Contract’s Ashish Chakravarty, BBDO’s Josy Paul, Grey’s Malvika Mehra, Creativeland Asia’s Raj Kurup, Strawberry Frog’s Raj Kamble and Wieden+Kennedy’s V Sunil. Amitabh Bachchan was the guest of honour at the event.

afaqs! spoke to Abhijit Avasthi on the sidelines of the award function to understand the raison d’etre of The Envies.

Q. What led to The Envies’ creation? Was it to make up for all the adulation that you missed at Goafest?

A. No. We have been fortunate to produce some fabulous work through the year for all kinds of clients across different media. It’s only fair that the youngsters who produce that work and the clients who help us are awarded and recognised.

For various reasons, we did not take part in The Abbys, so we decided to do our own awards but with the outsider’s true perspective to it. Therefore, we called in pretty much the best in the industry to judge us and help us evaluate our own work. That’s how it all started.

Q. Why ‘The Envies’?

A. There are obvious parameters to judging good work – originality, freshness, bravery and things like that. But, instinctively, it all boils down to this one word – envy. When you see something good, you wish you had done it. That’s the reason we thought of naming it The Envies.

Q. Was the external jury called in order to avoid bias?

A. It’s only fair that once in a while you get external perspective. It’s not good to keep looking inwards all the time. The external jury has an objective view and no axe to grind.

Q. Were you inspired by Lowe Lintas, which has been organising the True Show for many years now?

A. Not really. Our format is totally different and our reasons are different. Our judging process is different too.

While it’s fabulous that they do that (True Show), and it’s definitely applaud worthy, The Envies was something we intended to do anyway.

Q. What is more motivating – an internal award or third party recognition?

A. What would you call today’s event? It’s been judged by people from outside. It’s been felicitated by the best in the industry and by Mr Bachchan no less. All the clients, the partners who helped them make it, are there. So honestly, I don’t see anything that any other award show would offer them.

Q. Why are there no categories?

A. The way we look at it, ideas are of paramount importance today. This is why there were no categories, no sub categories and so on. We chose 35 of the most powerful ideas that, in a way, are worthy of sitting in the Ogilvy India showcase.

Q. Did the clients have any say in the creative works that were chosen? Was there any pressure?

A. None at all. What’s in it for them? They just want good work.

Q. Why have awards at all? Is trophy the only language or recognition a young creative director understands for a job well done?

A. Not really. It’s one of the things. Awards serve different purposes. Recognition for the years gone, that’s one bit. To open your minds to what else is possible and it’s always good to be appraised against what your peers are doing. That’s another bit. You get to learn from the tricks the others are using. So, award shows serve many purposes in honing our craft as advertising practitioners.

Q. Lastly, which was your personal favourite amongst the 35 campaigns selected for The Envies?

A. (Laughs) Sabhi mere bachche hai (‘They are all are my children’). They are all fantastic but the three that stood out were the three in contention (for The Most Envied) – Google ‘Reunion’, Lifebouy Roti activation and Cadbury 5 Star digital films.

(This piece was published in afaqs! on Dec 17, 2013)


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