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Goafest 2013: Controversy continues as Leo Burnett withdraws Tata Salt Lite award winning radio spots

The agency had won two gold and two silver awards in the Radio and Radio Craft categories for this entry, and production house Lingo had won a gold too   

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | April 9, 2013

Goafest 2013 will probably go down as the most controversy-ridden one its history. Even before the festival kicked off, it was hit by a huge controversy involving the JWT scam ad entries for Ford Figo. And now, before the dust has settled down on the sands of Zuri White Sands, comes another huge setback. Leo Burnett has withdrawn two award-winning entries in Radio for Tata Salt Lite.

Arvind Sharma, Chairman and CEO-India Subcontinent, Leo Burnett India, sent a request to the Awards Governing Council (AGC) for the entries to be withdrawn last evening through email.

The two spots for Tata Salt Lite – 'Office' and 'Society' – had fetched Leo Burnett two gold and two silver awards in the Radio and Radio Craft categories. Not only that, production house Lingo too had bagged a gold for the 'Society' spot in the Radio Craft category.

With the withdrawal of these awards from the Creative Abbys, Leo Burnett's tally of 71 now falls to 67 comprising 7 gold, 32 silver and 28 bronze. Lingo too would lose its sole gold medal.

Interestingly, Leo Burnett’s distinction of being the top agency at the Creative Abbys this year now seems to be taken over by McCann which also has 7 golds but it also has a Grand Prix to boot.

According to informed sources, the Tata Salt Lite entries had come in for questioning by the auditors, KPMG, even during the judging process for being “proactive” work by the agency for the purpose of winning an award. However, the AGC allowed it to go through once the client sent in its approval for the entries. But the whispering refused to die down. It is at this stage that the client decided to step in.

Tata Chemicals, which owns the Tata Salt brand, said in a statement: "It is unfortunate that our agency has been under the cloud of controversy regarding the recent Abby awards based on work done on our brand. The entire award submission process is one initiated and entirely managed by the agency; our role as a client was limited to approval of the creative. As a client, we were not aware of all the other technical requirements and subsequent process of submission criteria, etc. As soon as the inconsistencies were brought to our attention, and upon further enquiry, we concluded it would be appropriate for the agency to return the award to the organisers. We regret this incident, which only strengthens our resolve for and commitment to strict adherence to standards."

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