The battle for the Creative Abbys this year is literally a David versus Goliath duel. Here’s why: With two widely appreciated TV campaigns for Airtel (Har Friend Zaroori Hai) and Pepsi (Change the Game) and over 80 entries in print, Taproot is a clear favourite to bag the agency of the year trophy. But the question is: can it?
Last year’s winners Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) and DDB Mudra have left no stone unturned in their quest for the top honours this year, too. Last year, O&M walked away as the winner, with DDB Mudra (then Mudra) a close second. Mudra still had the highest number of metals under its belt at 37, against O&M’s 31. But the clincher for O&M was the number of golds it had: five, plus one grand prix as against Mudra’s two golds, lower than Leo Burnett’s tally of three.
But this year, say ad industry sources, both agencies have come prepared, sending almost 500 entries each for the creative awards in the hope of striking it big. The scene is no different with other regulars such as Grey, Leo Burnett and JWT.
While the news about the number of entries could not be verified by either DDB Mudra’s group chief executive officer and managing director, Madhukar Kamath, or Ogilvy’s executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Piyush Pandey, ad agency heads admit the two are not likely to give up without a fight.
O&M has its Shubh Aarambh campaign for Cadbury, as well as the well-regarded Roads are Full of Idiots for Ceat Tyres. DDB Mudra has its work for Volkswagen Jetta, say agency sources.
“It’s a fight to maintain their creative reputation. Don’t expect O&M and DDB Mudra to sit quiet,” says an agency head. “They’ve been the number one and two for the last two years. I don’t think they’ll let go of the opportunity to outdo each other this year, too.”
So, where does that leave Taproot, which in the last one year has demonstrated that small agencies can make a big difference, if advertisers trust them with their work.
Ad industry folks have been unanimous that Airtel and Pepsi have struck a chord. “The recall value for these campaigns was high,” says Partha Sinha, managing partner, BBH India.
Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Euro RSCG India, says, “Both campaigns were popular and they served the purpose they set out to achieve.”
While Taproot failed to make it as Pepsi’s agency for this summer — the football ad featuring Ranbir Kapoor has been made by JWT — industry sources say Taproot could be back in the autumn with a new campaign for the beverage maker.
For now, the agency is keeping its fingers crossed, as the industry waits with bated breath for the final outcome.