Thursday, April 2, 2009


The above is a link that appeared in the afaqs and which has sparked a debate on matters of ethics.This has largely to do with jury members leaking the results to the media in spite of a Non-Disclosure-Agreement and the publications carrying the story, causing "humiliation"(?)on the organisers! The publication, ET has also given a spirited reply which has been carried in the same article in the comments section.

I have my views which are given below.These pertain to similar revelation of likely results by a jury member on the Effie Awards 2008 which caused serious concern amongst those who prescribed to some old values of propriety and fair play.

Two quotes from DHUNJI WADIA, JWT Mumbai, jury member on the Effie 2008 panel.

AFAQS on 11th November: "Effies 2008" "Afaqs! met with a few jury members during the judging round to find out what they thought of the entries that they'd already been through .Dhunji Wadia, expressed his disappointment: "There has been repetition in some cases. Since the brands were present last year as well, some of them don't really hit you as a great idea"" .
Exchange 4 Media on 25th Nov08. "Effie 2008 awards to be announced". On his expectations, Dhunji Wadia, commented, “This year saw a keen competition from some defining case studies that have raised the bar for the Indian advertising and communication industry. JWT has eight finalists and we are hoping for the best.” However, when asked about his personal favourite campaign from the finalist, all Wadia said was, “All the eight finalists from JWT are my favourites. Some have already shown results in other global and local competitions and as for the others their time will come"

The two quotes above seem to indicate a worrisome trend in terms of ethics to me. Awards are benchmarks of talent and proven performance and relied upon by the industry as a benchmark. It also makes careers. When comments are made to media by those deemed to be industry leaders, which indicate a lack of objectivity, lack of consistency and raises the possibility of bias, there is serious lack of credibility as far as awards go. What it means to me is that comments of the industry regarding their peers and their work should now be vetted against facts before conclusions are drawn. As for the poor thousands who waste precious time and money in sending in entries, hoping for a fair trial and honest feedback, well, I guess these expose's will help them decide!
As for Advertisers/Marketing Professionals, the fact that Non Disclosure Agreements seem to hold NO importance to senior professionals in the advertising industry should be cause for concern. Similar NDA's are signed by Agency Heads prior to product launches and it is often that one finds that the competition was privy to the story board and media schedules. This report will surely raise a lot of questions which will need answers.
Lastly, I am of the opinion that Economic Times and Brand Equity did what any vigorous, intrepid journal would do, report the truth without fear or favour. That this has caused them to face a barrage of protests, simply indicates that they have stamped on many raw nerves. The "Washington Post" did not hold back the "Watergate" wondering what it would do to the institution of the American President, did it? Arun Shourie caused a fuorore with the cement scandal and others, "Tehelka" made us wiser about the possible corruption in defence circles, a Non Govt Agency told us that we were consuming pesticides alongwith soft drinks, we learned that the uncertainty of the game of cricket was not so uncertain and probably was to a plan we were not privy to, we also were shocked to know that the TRP sample was not as private and sacrosanct as we thought, when the list landed up on media reception desks.The list goes on.

None of these journalists received bouquets and had to cope with backlashes of various kinds, this includes being insulted with verbal abuse in industry get togethers(Nearly a decade back, a lady correspondent from the "Brief" magazine was subject to this by a very respectable agency head and on one occasion, threats were issued to withdraw a story on non-compensation of a story to do with non payment of dues )Anyway,this is what the profession is all about and as a reader, I am eternally grateful to these intrepid people who risk their livelihood to do their job right.I hope they continue with their crusade for the truth, work as ombudsmen and bite when required.

Good Night and Good Luck
(Yes there is a fabulous movie by that name on the journalistic zeal and spirit)

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