Goafest 2019: Big ad agencies' absence is smaller networks' gain

Actors Kalki Koechlin (extreme left) and Siddhant Chaturvedi (right) on the second day of Goafest on Friday
At least 10 big agencies are not taking part in the Creative Abby Awards this year, making it possibly the worst edition for big-name participation at the Goafest. While names such as Ogilvy, Lowe, Creativeland Asia, BBDO, and Leo Burnett have been absent for a few years now, some regular participants such as Wunderman Thompson, McCann, Publicis, Taproot, and last year’s ‘Creative Agency of the Year’ winner Social Street are not visible as well this year. Even names such as DDB Mudra and Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, who have done well in last editions, are barely there at this year’s fest.

Advertising industry sources point to global dictates and the growing irrelevance of the Creative Abby Awards for the lack of participation by big agencies this year. “Worldwide, large agencies are cutting down on their ad award budgets across key festivals. The trend is visible here too,” says KV Sridhar, founder and chief creative officer, Hyper Collective, who was part of the master jury for the Creative Abbies this year. “However, the absence of big agencies has come as a blessing in disguise for smaller agencies and digital companies who are doing well at the fest this year,” he says.

Names such as Equinox Digital, Tonic Worldwide, COG Digital+Design, Open Strategy and Design, and Autumn Grey are some of the winners over the last two days in the Media Abbies and the design and direct marketing categories of the Creative Abbies.

Winners in some of the other key categories such as integrated, branded content, digital and mobile and out-of-home will be announced on Saturday. 

Abhijit Avasthi, co-founder, Sideways Consulting, who was also part of the master jury for the Creative Abbies this year, says large agencies lose out when they don't participate in an industry event.  “It is a loss for the big agencies and certainly a gain for smaller networks who would have otherwise not got the attention if the big guys were around.”

The smaller agencies and digital companies are expected to mark their presence even strongly on Saturday when the winners of the final set of creative awards will be declared. Even advertisers such as Tetrapak and Mondelez are drawing attention for their work at the Goafest this year. On Friday, the two bagged a gold and silver, respectively, in the public relations category, part of the first set of Creative Abbies announced by the organisers.

The Media Abbies, on the other hand, have seen big agencies participate whole-heartedly this year. The top five winners at the Media Abbies on Thursday were all big names — Mindshare from GroupM, Madison Media, Initiative Media from IPG Mediabrands, Lodestar UM, also part of IPG Mediabrands and Carat, which is part of the Dentsu Aegis Network. Ad sources say the pressure that exists among big creative agencies for awards is not there among media agencies, resulting in better participation by them. This year, 62 metals, industry parlance for awards, were given out at the Media Abbies, way ahead of the 38 metals handed out last year. 

This year’s tally included 19 gold, higher than last year's six. The number of winning agencies (at the Media Abbies) were also more this year at 23 versus last year’s 15.

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