The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) rung down the curtain on its Diamond Jubilee Year at a well-attended function at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

It was a rare moment where past presidents were felicitated for their contribution in building the AAAI up to the stature it enjoys today.

A well-edited clip (by Mudra Videotec) gave the audience a glimpse of what the past presidents had to say on a host of issues. We say well-edited because it was tight and brief. We were dreading a much longer version of this tape. President Swamy sensibly announced that the full version was available on the AAAI Web site for all those who would like to get many more nuggets of wisdom.

Speeches galore

President Swamy spoke and detailed the various events the AAAI had successfully concluded in the year that was. He also threatened to actually complete the history book that was to have come out in the Diamond Jubilee Year. Readers of this column would remember us cautioning against too much optimism in any history project. They all seem to be jinxed. Well, we can wish them well and wait and watch.

Bharat Patel of P&G spoke on behalf of the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and ended his speech by saying that if the agencies wanted more remuneration they should provide more value and ensure that advertisers earn more. A rather socialistic note that one did not quite buy into.

Jacob Mathews of Malayala Manorama spoke on behalf of the INS. A very polished and well-meaning speech. Short and sweet. Jawahar Goel, the Vice-President of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (did you know that he is Subhash Chandra's brother?) gave a pithy little speech that was rather down to earth.

Presidents' parade

It was nice seeing some legendary figures of the advertising world. One wished that S.R. (Mani) Iyer would have been there in the flesh, but no matter, his screen performance was, well, vintage Mani. The stage was crowded as about 13 presidents (Bal Mundkur was probably the oldest and Ramesh Narayan the youngest) came up and received their crystal mementoes. President Swamy was given a memento as well. One thought he was the present president? Some golden oldies (respectful licence taken) like Gerson and Sylvie Da Cunha, and J. C. Chopra, added glitter to the function.

It was good to see media stalwarts like I. Venkat, Pradeep Guha and Pheroza Billimoria taking an active part in the function. After all, what is the agency business without the media? Looks like Sorab Mistry flew in all the way from Singapore for the function.

Nick Brien

The president and CEO of Universal McCann, Nick Brien, spoke at the function. His topic printed on the card was tantalising. "Will a new agency model emerge to ensure greater collaboration between media and creative?" One would have walked a mile just to hear a good speech on this contentious subject. We needn't have bothered. Nick spoke well.

At the end of his speech, we applauded enthusiastically and then wondered whether he had done justice to the topic. Reminded us of all those fantastic advertising campaigns that win the agency awards, while the product fails miserably in the market. When will industry leaders learn to stick to their topic and address the issue squarely? But then, as an old industry hand commented, there is no real solution still in sight. When it appears in New York, we will hear about it, and implement it.

FM heat

The radio industry is finally taking concrete shape. The industry hopes to rake in Rs 300 crore in the next year and that should really get things simmering.

If an industry is getting ready to take off, can awards be far behind? Radio Mirchi was the first off the block a couple of years ago with its glitzy Kaan awards. Now Radio City has announced a "Radio Active" award. One winning commercial would win Rs 50,000 and the client would get 10,000 seconds of free time. Well, you know what air time is worth now.


(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 10, 2006)
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