Effectiveness has got all the agencies together: Ajay Kakar

Effies India Awards 2015 saw quite a few firsts. It was the first time that the judging process was held at a third city – Bangalore – besides Delhi and Mumbai. The Awards received a record 603 entries, which was approximately 28 per cent above last year’s peak, a new category was introduced to recognise new product launch.

In conversation with Adgully, Ajay Kakar, Chairman, Effie India Awards 2015, speaks at length about what were the key landmarks of the latest edition of the Awards, the judging process, the weightage given to effectiveness, his tenure as the Effies Chairman and more. Excerpts:

Adgully (AG): What do you feel was different about the 15th edition of the Effies India Awards, compared to the earlier Awards?

Ajay Kakar (AK): On the one hand, I believe nothing changes at the Effies and on the other hand, some things change every year. To elaborate on that what doesn’t change at the Effies is the fact that one, it is the only Award that recognises work that actually works in the market for the brand. The second thing that never changes at the Effies is that it is an Award that recognises both the agency and the client. But what did change and does change every year – for example, every year we have an Open House with our lead contributors and partner agencies where we discuss about what we can do to make the Awards an even greater success in the subsequent year. This year we had the judging rounds in Bangalore as well, along with Delhi and Mumbai. We had people who came from other cities to judge in these three markets. Keeping in mind the changing times and changing environment, we created a new category for recognising new product launch. For example, we redefined and made more contemporary the definition of categories like Digital and made them more interactive. These were the kind of things that we changed to keep up with the times.

But what did not change was the ever increasing adoption and support for effectiveness in marketing. The last five years that I have chaired the Effies, every year unfailingly the participating agencies and the number of entries have grown. And for me, at the end of the day, that has changed but not changed – the numbers have changed, but what hasn’t changed is the trend. For example, this year we had 603 entries which was approximately 28 per cent above last year’s peak. The number of participating agencies moved up from 48 to 57 this year, which is again an all time high. Thus, the importance of effectiveness in marketing is growing by the year. We had more than 280 judges and a different and important factor was that approximately 70 per cent of the judges were clients. It shows the support and the importance that clients place on effectiveness.

Effies is an Award which is supported by clients, an Award which has agencies participating, even those who do not participate in creative awards. I may not be wrong in saying that possibly this has pride of place in the advertising media and marketing fraternity’s calendar.

AG: 603 entries received, over 280 judges, and judging process held across three cities, what kind of challenges did all that pose?

AK: It does not offer challenges as much as it offers opportunities. You engage more and more brands, more and more marketing people and give them an opportunity to participate in the judging. I remember when I used to judge many years back, each judge had approximately 80 entries to judge and when you are judging 80 entries it is not humanly possible to do justice to the entries, after some time you just blank out. Now we have made sure that we do not burden any panel with an average of more than 30 entries. In the past, we used to have average 5-6 judges per panel, now we have average of more than 10 judges per panel. While it involves more people, at the same time the chance of bias or subjectivity also reduces with such participation. I think the growing demand and support has given us more and more opportunities to engage. Our ability to go to the third city and now the fourth city – Kolkata – I see that as opportunity.

AG: How has your experience been as Chairman of the Effies India Awards?

AK: It’s been gratifying for more than one reason. It has given me the opportunity to give back to the community which I belong to, which is marketing. It has given me the opportunity to recognise the community who partner and support, which is the advertising fraternity. It allows you to engage with so many people and keeps the diversity of work which you would never know. This gives you an opportunity to engage with marketers across the country. It has been a huge learning and an inspirational opportunity.

AG: What were the key criteria for selecting the winning entries?

AK: Effie India is a part of Effie Worldwide and, therefore, we have international standards to apply to the judging. There are four criteria – 30 per cent weightage is given to results, while 23.3 per cent weightage is given to the other three criteria. The other three parameters are the idea, converting the idea into execution and bringing the idea to light. Each of these criteria is independently important.

AG: Effies are the first major Awards of the year, what kind of a precedent do you see it setting for the industry for the year ahead?

AK: It’s the first, but it is different. First is the effectiveness, second is the creativity, third one is for media – all different facets of our industry. But it does lead us to look at how do we all unite behind the cause that we stand for – effectiveness is something which has got all agencies combined and supporting it.




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