"Ad industry needs to celebrate good work irrespective of who does it"

Kyoorius Group recently joined hands with The One Club for Creativity, the leading global non-profit organisation behind The One ShowADC Annual Awards and other programming, to serve as the Club’s official representative in India. Under the agreement, The One Club will also contribute to the composition of the jury for all future editions of Kyoorius Creative Awards, as well as provide the Club’s high-integrity judging process and proprietary back-end voting technology platform. 

As part of this partnership, Kyoorius Group will work closely with agencies, media and the entire creative community in India to support and promote the Club’s awards programmes, including The One ShowADC Annual AwardsCreative WeekYoung GunsYoung Ones student awards, One Screen Short Film FestivalCreative Hall of Fame and others. 

“Since 2006, Kyoorius has been at the forefront of connecting the creative community in India through programmes that inform, inspire and stimulate,” said Rajesh Kejriwal, founder and CEO, Kyoorius Group. “We are very excited to serve as the official representative of The One Club for Creativity in India because their recognition, education and professional development programmes are the perfect fit for our mission to support and promote creatives in India.” 

In addition to these awards and recognition initiatives, The One Club for Creativity also gives back to the creative community through nearly 20 programmes throughout the year representing its four pillars: Education, Inclusion & Diversity, Professional Development and Gender Equality.  Programming includes Creative Boot Camps and Portfolio Nights for young creatives, Creative Leaders Retreats for senior creatives, Executive Creative Summits for agency founders/ CCO/ managing partners and more. Kyoorius will work with agencies throughout India to sponsor local versions of these and other One Club programming starting in 2018. 

“India is a very important market for the global advertising industry, and for The One Club in particular,” remarked Kevin Swanepoel, CEO, The One Club for Creativity. “There is tremendous work coming from agencies here, and we look forward to working with the Kyoorius team to help recognise and promote the country’s creative community.” 

Adgully spoke to Kevin Swanepoel and Rajesh Kejriwal to know more about the nature of this association, how it plans to benefit the Indian advertising and creative industry, promoting young talent in India and much more. Excerpts: 

What made you tie up with Kyoorius Communications as opposed to getting launched on your own in India?
Kevin Swanepoel: We have been looking into the Indian market for a very long time and right partners to date. And we decided to partner with Kyoorius as they have a good reputation here. We could have just tied up with any agency and would have done our own awards, but with the Kyoorius Awards, we stand alone and intend to do programmes with them and bring art teachings from the US and global markets into India. So, it’s more about education and giving back to the industry and less about establishing another print in another market. 

How did the association materialise with The One Club for Creativity?
Rajesh Kejriwal: This is something that I have been discussing with Kevin since 2008. It was too difficult to make this tie-up at that point when there was another CEO in charge of it because of their internal board issues. We have been in touch since then. Even at Kyoorius, if you see, we have been doing award shows for years, conducting jury sessions, having transparency and integrity around it, but then you need to move on from just an award show to giving back to the community. There is no better thing to this than The One Show. There are wonderful programmes which we can bring to India. We had tried with D&AD, but unfortunately it didn’t materialise. But The One Show was always a first and logical choice for us. 

What is the nature of this association?
Kevin Swanepoel: There is a commonality in what Kyoorius does and what The One Club for Creativity stands for. For us, it is really about education. We have this saying where we are trying to give back and support the creative community and celebrate it. So, on the support side we have four pillars that we have built our organisation on: First and foremost is Gender Equality, where we have been finding ways to bring it out in the US and other countries, also that’s one of the things we are aiming to do here. Education is one of the pillars we’ve had for the past 30 years and with very strong education right from conducting various programmes in high schools to university programmes. One of the things that we are doing here is ‘Portfolio Night’, which will be held on May 23, which will be for students and young professionals, graduating seniors and people with 1-2 years of experience in the industry. A couple of days later we will do what we call a Creative Bootcamp and again another educational initiative that will be focussed on young guns in the industry trying to raise the standard, young people from colleges exposed to the best creative minds from the industry and ad agencies. It is a weekend programme, where we will work with brands and a group of agencies, sending mentors to guide the participants for the whole week and then in the end they will present their works. This is what we are starting with, besides we are doing something around Kyoorius Designyatra as well. 

Will you bring to India the 20 programmes that have been initiated by The One Club for Creativity across the world?
Kevin Swanepoel: No. We have been very, very selective about what will work for this market, because not everything works everywhere. 

How will the coming together of  Kyoorius Communications and The One Club benefit the Indian advertising and creative industry?
Rajesh Kejriwal: I think the best benefit for the Indian advertising industry would be the programmes ranging from Portfolio Nights to Career Workshops to Creative Bootcamps that they bring on the table to educate and inspire. We will see a lot of professional development happening. In India, none of the associations or organisations that are currently in this space is doing anything for the creative community to upgrade themselves. For instance, how will I give him/ her the learning to become an ECD or from an ECD to CCO? Or, how do I get talent in this industry, which I think is becoming a huge sore point for the industry. We are losing talent to the likes of Google and Facebook. There are more people now who want to be a freelance designer. So, how do we make this industry more aspirational for people to come back? We want to do all of that and don’t want to be just an awards show. Making money by doing this is easy, but giving back is more important. 

Any plans to merge the two award properties in the near future?
Rajesh Kejriwal: Spiritually, we have merged. Legally, we cannot due to various other constraints. 

How is Kyoorius benefitting from this association?
Rajesh Kejriwal: We aim to give back to the society and we have got a partner who will help us in doing that. 

Kevin Swanepoel: The way in which Kyoorius will really benefit from this is that some of these programmes like the Boot Camps – we have been running these in China for the last 18 years – will help the industry and the agency community get more involved in training and bringing people in. We have a very long standing relationship of training and bringing in fresh developments. 

Any specially designed programmes for the Indian professionals apart from the scheduled ones?
Rajesh Kejriwal: No, not at the moment as it is too early. But as we go along, we are looking into it. For instance, suddenly in the morning reading about what new is happening in Kochi, I realised that nobody is looking at regional. A lot of work happens in local languages and they generally are much more close to sending entries, but rarely do we find them or none at all. Which means that they are kind of isolated within India. Creativity is creativity; it does not matter whether it is in Tamil or Malayalam or Hindi or English. Why can’t we look at local chapters and talk to The One Show about doing programmes in association with the local bodies. This has to evolve. 

Kevin Swanepoel:: I have been to India probably six times and this is my first trip in the last two years. Once we decide to spend more time here, that’s when we will understand the market much better and we can start sustaining in the market and the challenges. It is going to take some of the industry leaders to sit down together and try and find out what are the solutions that are right for this market. When we started the Boot Camps in China 18 years ago, there were no multinational agencies there and we couldn’t find any challenge. There was no young talent. So, we worked with 122 universities to find young designers and we started training them from the grassroot level. Now, probably we put more talent in multinationals in China than any other programme that exists. We just need to identify what the challenges are and sit down with a group of really bright good minds from different agencies and figure out how to solve these problems. The skillsets to do it will come from within. 

Where, according to you, does the Indian advertising industry stand today as compared to the rest of the world?
Kevin Swanepoel: I think year on year, the Indian advertising industry is improving. We have been getting representation from India in The One Show and ADC Awards for many years. I have been with the organisation for 21 years and India has always been among the top 10 country entrants. The number of awards won by the Indian agencies is increasing. This year, we have got three Indian creatives on our jury. Bobby Pawar has been on the jury before. Prasoon Joshi is on our board of directors. 

What we are hoping is that India will continue to up the scales year on year and increase the entries. But most important is the number of wins that they get. ADC is 97 years old, but I don’t want to talk about that. What I would like to talk about is how we are changing the new generation and working with young students so that we do forward-looking programmes for the younger generation. We get hundreds of entries for our Young Gun awards and the people who win are the future superstars. They are not just from America, but from all over the world. So, for us the younger generation is the future and we are here to nurture and support them. 

Media is changing rapidly, and so are the dynamics of the agencies. With time, some of the older generation are going to be replaced by the young guns and the winners of today and tomorrow. 

What can we expect from this year’s edition of Kyoorius Designyatra?
Rajesh Kejriwal: More optimism. More inspiration and much more learning. 

Could you tell us more about the Kyoorius Award Annual book?
Rajesh Kejriwal: There are no other award annuals as nobody wants to take the pain of presenting it. I think the purpose of an award annual is to recognise the people other than the heroes, who have collectively created the winning masterpieces. We went back to all the entries that won, got in contact with them and asked details about everyone involved in it and put that on the paper. So, I think it is good to lift the morale of the youngsters in the business. 

Kevin Swanepoel: The advertising industry is very non-descriptuous. It needs celebration. Because the people who have contributed to this amazing piece of art have really worked hard. Like at the end of any movie you get to see the end credits naming each and every person who has worked on the film. But you won’t find any such credit rollout at the end of a TV ad. 

Rajesh Kejriwal: I think what this industry needs more and more – and which I think has sadly been going down over the last ten years – is celebrating work and not just celebrating work that has been done only by my agency. One creative director complementing another for a marvellous work is rare to find now. I think that’s sad. People should start celebrating each other’s work irrespective of the person who has done it. It is about creativity. 

Another purpose of the book is that we are going to send it out to all clients. I think clients today need to know who are the actual people doing the great work.


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