Mumbai has been hosting awards and events since its inception, be it Bollywood or otherwise. Major advertising and marketing awards and events are also held here as most of the major advertisers used to be located in the city. But Mumbai is no longer an advertising hub. Other cities including Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore are home to India’s best advertising minds and big brands
Hence, the question arises as to whether major advertising and marketing awards should now be shifted to other metro cities So, BestMediaInfo.com sat down with industry veterans to understand why most of the industry’s awards and events are confined to Mumbai only.
For Joy Mohanty, Chief Creative Officer, Dentsu Creative India, the concept of ‘capital’ in advertising no longer exists. “The larger creative community, even within office work teams, often works across cities,” he says. While it’s great to have a city other than Mumbai, as long as talent and excellence are being celebrated, location doesn’t really matter.”
Vineet Kumar, vice-president, Madison Media Plus, said, “Mumbai has been holding and hosting awards since inception but industry tycoons should now aim to diversify from their Mumbai base and shift award nights and other important media conferences elsewhere. Major state capitals of the region. If not, it would clearly be a call for comfort zoning.”
The award show serves as a platform for more than just recognizing excellence in the workplace; They also help to enhance the culture of the city. The most significant factor is how culture evolves; According to Jitender Dabas, Chief Operating Officer, McCann Worldgroup India, during the award show, industry people can interact with industry veterans personally.
However, Dabas added, “Since all these award shows are always held in Mumbai, many youngsters living in Delhi and Gurugram don’t get a chance to interact with Mumbai-based industry veterans. The time has come to start these award ceremonies in Delhi and Gurgaon as the physical interaction at such awards instills a sense of pride in the entire industry.”
Akashneel Dasgupta, Chief Creative Officer, Network Advertising, believes that when it comes to the Indian Advertising Awards, it’s always about Ad Club Mumbai. However, there is also an Ad Club Delhi and Ad Club Bangalore, but they never took off. Although Ad Club Delhi holds the award, it does not enjoy the same significance compared to Mumbai.
The award ceremonies held in Mumbai are similar to the IPL held in Dubai but Dasgupta says sometimes advertising agencies should pick it up and do it in Delhi for a change. “As an industry we want our juniors based in Delhi and Gurgaon to be a part of this event to understand the industry better,” he said.
According to Vivek Srivastava, MD, Inocean Worldwide, this is a very dated view of the advertising business. The contemporary scenario is much more equitably spread over major cities like Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Bangalore etc. The weightage percentage may vary across cities but there is no denying that NCR is now the center of biz volume.
He added, “There are award shows across the centre. They have a strong regional following. Perhaps what they need is better profiling. Traditionally Mumbai has always hosted the big awards, I don’t think anyone is upset about this at all.
Several traditional advertising agencies are headquartered in Mumbai as major advertisers such as Hindustan Unilever, Mondelez, Reckitt Benckiser, Tata Group, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Godrej Group etc. have their head offices in the city.
But Gurugram is no less. It has brands like Coca-Cola, Marico, Nestlé, Parfetti Van Melle and GlaxoSmithKline. The NCR region also has brands like Maruti Suzuki, HCL and Bharti Airtel. As most of these are legacy brands, they are among the top 50 advertisers in the country.
According to Srivastava, there are many awards in Delhi that have a good following. He said, “During my tenure as President of Delhi Ad Club we have organized three very successful award programs for creative excellence with participation between India and SAARC countries. Unfortunately, momentum was lost during Covid. There are also other big and lucrative prizes. None have matched Abby yet, though. Give it a year or two and it will get there. Bangalore already has the Big Bang Awards which has a reasonable following across India.
Reacting against this Dabas said, “The biggest advertisers in the country are now based in Gurugram, but still no events are held there. This is because the advertising agencies that conduct the awards still have a Mumbai-centric mindset.”
One of the possible explanations for why these events are not held in Delhi is that most of the office bearers of the IAA, AAAI and Ad Clubs are based in Mumbai, making it very convenient for them to organize awards ceremonies and other events there, marking the Dabas.
Delhi, on the other hand, is a much more viable option, as the national capital handles more Edexes than Mumbai to date, according to Madison’s Kumar.
Explaining this, he said, “The fire started by automobile, white goods giants and telecommunication companies has been further fueled by key players in FMCG, dotcom, QSR, mobility and many others. Today the world’s big scales like Nestle, Dabur, and RB are no less than HUL, two top beverage giants PepsiCo and Coca Cola are based out of Delhi-NCR known for attracting the fancy of the young generation. The city is also home to tech giants Google and Facebook, so holding an award show in Delhi has many benefits, one key benefit being exposure to new talent.”
Meanwhile, according to Kumar, the events and awards motivate, inspire and create a sense of “being a place” for the young guns. Which is not possible in other cities. With a higher ADEX, Delhi has to cater for greater talent than Mumbai today, and events like this will surely attract talent beyond media schools.
According to Dasgupta, the biggest challenge that Delhi-based companies face when award shows are held in Mumbai is physically sending people to attend events on the ground. It is not possible to get so many people down to Mumbai for just one event as sometimes the budget is tight and it becomes quite expensive.
Srivastava also feels something similar, according to him, there are no challenges in sending entries and subsequent recognition of winners. The jury selection process is being made representative of talent across the Centre. The only challenge is physically sending people to attend field events.
Mohanty feels that we need centers that celebrate excellence and cutting-edge thinking and rewards will automatically follow. “Big marketers and organizations should come together to create a museum of big ideas that showcases creativity from all corners of India. Awards shows and a community will naturally build around it,” he said.
Mumbai was the origin and center of advertising activities and hence the center of all events and awards. However, according to experts, the dynamics today are different and calls for action to justify the requirements.
One of the major challenges, according to Kumar, is that with events confined to Mumbai, agencies are missing out on the opportunity to give exposure to their brilliant middle management leadership teams. “Simply put, when an event isn’t happening in your city—you’re less likely to be fully aware and able to fully experience it. Especially for local talent, we fail to generate enthusiasm and inspire them because when it is not local only a select few – the privileged few get to experience it.”
He concluded by saying, “Ultimately, more inclusion will enrich our experience. Let the advertising and media people also feel how Delhi is partying.”