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Ford ad controversy casts a shadow over Goafest

The controversy over the series of advertisements for Ford's 'Figo' passenger car by the ad agency JWT, is giving the entire advertising fraternity sleepless nights.

twitter-logoAjita Shashidhar | April 12, 2013 | Updated 20:17 IST

Ajita Shashidhar
Ajita Shashidhar
The controversy over the series of advertisements for Ford's 'Figo' passenger car by the ad agency JWT, is giving the entire advertising fraternity sleepless nights. It is widely agreed that the sole purpose of the campaign had been to try and win awards rather than sell the product. And the fraternity acknowledges that other agencies besides JWT have also been occasionally 'going too far' in their obsession to appear creative and bag awards.

The controversy was the last thing ad gurus would have expected when they flew to Goa last weekend for the Goafest (the annual advertising industry convention, which also hosts the Creative Abby Awards given for the best advertisements in various categories). And it has hit them hard.

Shashi Sinha, CEO of IPG Mediabrands, who heads the Creative Abby's awards committee, jokingly says that most of the creative brains were far from excited about the likelihood of their respective agencies winning medals. "At least a couple of creative heads told me that they wondered whether they should actually rejoice if their agency won awards at the Goafest this year," he says. Would their campaigns too come under the scanner because they had won?  Sinha claims agencies withdrew four or five entries from the competition.

There were other reasons too why the ad-folk experience of the Goafest this year was indeed nightmarish. The agency Leo Burnett had to pull out two of its award-winning entries in the radio category - part of its campaign for Tata Salt Lite. Why? While the Abby's award committee claimed it had the mandatory letter of approval from the client for the campaign to be entered in the competition, the client blamed the agency for entering a 'scam' campaign.

Other campaigns under the scanner were BBDO's for Electrolux (which won a gold in the print category and a silver in outdoor) and DDB Mudra's, again for Electrolux (which bagged silver in the print and outdoor categories). They were charged with plagiarism.

Sinha sees these incidents as steps towards cleaning up the system. Are we going to see a scam free award function at the Goafest next year? Let's wait and watch.

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