O&M is agency of the year; McCann scores with Coca Cola

MUMBAI: Mile Sur mera tumhara! - were the words with which India's advertising fraternity welcomed Bollywood (Aamir Khan, Preity Zinta, Kabir Bedi), Tollywood (Aparna Sen, Riya Sen) and ramp "glam" queens (Sheetal Mallar, Katrina Kaif, Anupama Varma).

There was no dearth of excitement from the word "go" as the inimitable trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy strummed their guitars, banged their drums and strained their vocal chords to set the pace and tone for the rest of the evening. Abby 2003 - the 36th All India awards for creative excellence (popularly known as the Abbies) - literally rocked as McCann Erickson (six points) with its thanda matlab Coca Cola stole the best campaign of the year (gold) right under the noses of the "agency of the year" Ogilvy and Mather (28 points) who won silver for Amaron batteries and Perfetti's Center-Shock chewing gum.

Notwithstanding the loud claps, cheers and catcalls of the O&M team dressed in black, Prasoon Joshi of McCann Erickson was crowned copy writer of the year. However, O&M reigned supreme in the best continuing campaign with their work for Fevicol and Navbharat Times.

Chief guest Aamir Khan and Ad Club Bombay president Pradeep Guha did the honours. While giving the awards Aamir Khan noted: "It is nice to be amidst the sharpest creative brains in the country. These are the most enjoyable awards ceremony that I have attended - not that I have attended many! It is good that these creative geniuses keep us entertained on television, considering the poor quality of TV programmes."

The top two creative agencies were followed by Enterprise Nexus and Mudra Communications (six points); Ambience D'Arcy, Leo Burnett and Quadrant (five points) and Virtual Marketing and Rediffusion DY&R (four points). Amararaja Batteries, Bennett Coleman & Co and Coca Cola (six points); Perfetti India (five points); Hutchison Max Telecom and MTDC (four points) were the clients who dared to be different and were included.

Four people who were honoured with the Ad Club's distinctive recognition award included eminent personalities such as adman Bobby Sista; ad-film maker turned "art" cinema director Shyam Benegal; ace media planning guru Roda Mehta and model turned Bollywood-Hollywood actor Kabir Bedi. The awards were presented to the above mentioned winners by India's first "ad" citizen Mike Khanna (JWT); Genesis Films CEO Prahlad Kakkar; Mindshare Asia head honcho Andre Nair and Pooja Bedi respectively.

Noted Bengali actor-director Aparna Sen and Abby awards chairperson of judging committee Gautam Rakshit presented the Thinkprint Awards to McCann Erickson (gold); Ambience D'Acry (silver) and Mudra (Bronze). The awards were sponsored by The Hindu, Dinamalar and Dainik Jagranrespectively. Preity Zinta and Abby awards chairperson Ramesh Narayan presented the best actor, actress and director in a TV commercial to Akhil Mishra (Aajtak TVC), Malaika Shenoy (Toshiba Dramatic) and Pradeep Sarkar (Aajtak TVC). When queried about being Preity Zinta's escort, Narayan said: "Simply fabulous!".

Speaking to indiantelevision O&M's creative department executive Sumanto Chattopadhyay stated: "I am overwhelmed and we have lived upto the expectations of the ad fraternity. Despite the fact that we have been chosen as the best agency of the year for the ninth time in a row, we are setting ourselves newer and higher goals year after year. There is healthy competition between us even in O&M and urges us to raise our standards."

O&M's Abhijit Awasthy, who made frequent trips to the stage to collect several of the 20-odd awards, added: "I am overjoyed and ecstatic. We are lucky to have supportive clients; and geniuses such as Piyush Pandey and Ranjan Kapur guiding us."

Mudra's creative head honcho Anup Chitnis said: "It is nice to excel at the Abby awards and prove a point to our peers. Other awards make us happy but the Abbies are the ultimate because they are the symbol of creative expression."

Madison Communication chairman Sam Balsara said: "The ambience was excellent and the presence of celebrities added to the overall impact. The quality of advertising was quite good. The Coca Cola, Center-Shock and Amaron batteries campaigns are memorable."

Ad Club president Pradeep Guha summed it up : "The smiles on all the faces at the end of the function said it all! The judging standards were high and you must have noticed that there were no awards in several categories. But kudos to the winners!" It is worth mentioning that there were no ads given in categories such as rural and cosmetics/fairness cream/beauty accessories.

Well, Sony Entertainment Television, which has been sponsoring the Abbies for the fourth time in a row, also emerged as a winner. SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta expressed solidarity with the O&M team as he wore black! Along with Simone "Heena" Singh, Dasgupta gave away the awards in two categories. Pradeep Guha also presented Dasgupta with a memento in appreciation of SET's support!

Huge cutouts of the Abby awards statuettes adorned the stage even as Miss World 1997 Diana Hayden donned the mantle of being the hostess of the show. Hayden had her moments with some memorable 'ad world" lines like "If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space"; "Advertising is 85 per cent confusion and 15 per cent commission" and "Writing ads is the second most profitable business after writing ransom notes".

Tributes galore was paid to the advertising world as Shankar Mahadevan, who opened the act with his team with the youth anthem Dil Chahta Hai said: "Whatever we are today is due to the ad world!" Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy went on to present their "ad remix" which included several memorable ad jingles such as Cadbury's "kuch khaas hai"!

Genesis Films' ace ad film maker Prahlad Kakkar paid glorious tributes to his "guru" Shyam Benegal who had started his career with Lintas. Kakkar said: "Shyam was such a hard taskmaster or rather a slavemaster. I was his third slave and illiterate at that! He kicked my butt so hard that I don't sit during shoots even today - years after the association!" Benegal retorted by saying: "Seeing these ads of today it feels as if we were living in the dinosaur age. If I knew that there would be so much money in making ad films, I would have never left advertising and switched over to feature films!"

Tributes were paid to the geniuses of yester-years Frank Simoes, Shunu Sen and Suresh Mullick. There were visuals depicting glimpses of the timeless advertising campaigns of yesteryears.

Also seen around was Zee Telefilms president Apoorva Purohit who caught up with her old friend and colleague from Ulka Kalpana Sathe. Talking of rival channels, Channel [V] bagged the silver in the best corporate communications, industrial products and services.

Sony Entertainment Television's ad agency Euro RSCG also bagged the silver in the media category for the "Gully cricket" TV film and the MAX cricketaya-namaha rangoli ad. Aajtak's ad agency Apocalypso Filmworks also won the silver in the media category.

Skits, double entendres and spoofs were the order of the evening as actors-dancers on the stage performed to "remixed" versions of Cadbury's kuch khaas hai ; Pepsi's yehi hai right choice baby;soundarya saboon Nirma; "the mint with a hole" Polo; Bisleri" 20 per cent extra"; Mastercard's "for everything else.."; peeth ka dard Moov; Raymond's "complete man" and Reliance Mobile's Papa aap kahan ho.

Meanwhile, clients who paid for all the ads - Coca Cola's Sanjeev Gupta, Mahindra and Mahindra's Anand Mahindra, Kotak Mahindra's Uday Kotak, Hutchison Max India's Asim Ghosh - were enjoying every moment and even participated actively in the proceedings by giving away awards in certain categories. Long live Ad Club Bombay and long live Abbies! Amen!

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