ABBY - On your mark ...

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We know you missed us, so we're back. And quite honestly, after the New Year rush, things have been pretty sedate in sunny Mumbai. Yet, let's take a look at what's been happening and what's not.

OK, it is the time of reckoning. The call for entries for the Abby Awards are on the desks of the creative who's who of our industry. People should have begun planning out which entries to send, to what has been seen as India's most coveted national awards for creative excellence.

So is it going to be yet another clean sweep for Piyush Pandey and his merry band of men and women in black, or will there be any strong contenders for the title this year?

Oh, by the way, one wonders what happened to the alleged spat between the Ad Club Bombay and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) regarding their respective awards. You will recall it was first reported here, and then different publications carried different versions thereafter. Things seem to be rather quiet on that front. Could it be the lull before the storm? A little bird tells me they haven't really kissed and made up.

Well, in a couple of weeks everything will be out in the open. You really cannot keep things like these under wraps forever, you know.

IAA function

Just when we thought the India Chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA) had gone into hibernation, it suddenly got into high gear with a pretty impressive event called "International Indians." President Sam Balsara landed a big catch in the form of Harish Manwani, Chairman, Unilever, for Asia and Africa. The relatively under-exposed Manwani (in picture) landed up at the Rooftop of the Hilton Towers fresh after announcing that Unilever in India was back on track as far as its performance went. Mr Manwani is a good presenter but one wished he had dropped a few more nuggets of wisdom and advice instead of making it "the great Asian Unilever plug." Each time Mr Manwani pulled up a slide that showed Unilever as No.1 in Cambodia and Vietnam and several other South Asian countries, one could notice Bharat Patel, Chairman, Procter and Gamble, sitting in the front row and enquiring of his neighbours, not too softly, "What about China?" Not that it fazed Mr Manwani. He ended with the Project Shakti film that the audience recalled rather clearly from Vindi Banga's AdAsia presentation. Well, I guess if you think you have a great thing going, you never hesitate to expose it.

Good draw

The IAA seems to have got its act together. One saw Adi Godrej, Brahm Vasudeva, the young Jalaj Dani (Asian Paints), Romit Chatterji of Tatas, I. Venkat of


, Jacob Mathews of

Malayala Manorama

, Girish Agarwal of


, and a whole lot of advertising honchos.

Sam Balsara exhibited his sense of humour by calling upon the Vice-President of the IAA, Pradeep Guha, to present a memento to the representative of Times Now (the sponsor), Bhaskar Das. Guha quipped, "I thought IAA was an apolitical body." One might say, "a memento from Times Then to Times Now.

Dubai Congress

One overheard at the IAA function that over 50 delegates had signed up for the Dubai IAA World Congress being held in March this year. Not bad at all! More impressive, the managing committee felt this could easily reach 75, closer to date. Talk about taking India to the world!

Taking India to the world

We've been enthusiastic about young Kumarmangalam Birla. He epitomises the new order of big biz in India. Young, suave, quiet and confident, wildly successful. We realise he is doing his bit to build "brand-India."

Aditya Birla Group's previous TV commercial was very impressive. It effectively conveyed that the group was "taking India to the world." Seen the current TVC? Well, it's like someone got carried away with the special effects game. While it is to be seen as an extension of the first effort, it looks like the effort of an FX-hungry kid who got a blank cheque. Water spouts, gargoyles, steep cliffs

et al

. What world are they taking the Group to now? We thought we were seeing the advertising adaptation of the

Lord of the Rings


Guys, technology is all very fine, but relax and recall what they told you about the big idea.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 23, 2006)
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