Is it high time for A&M industry events and awards to shift focus to Delhi-NCR?

The question that arises is whether major advertising and marketing awards should now shift base to other metro cities. Therefore, sat down with industry veterans to understand why it is so that most of the awards and events are limited to only Mumbai

BestMediaInfo Bureau
Updated On
New Update
Is it high time for A&M industry events and awards to shift focus to Delhi-NCR?

Mumbai has been holding and hosting awards and events since its inception, be it Bollywood or anything else. The major advertising and marketing awards and events also take place here as earlier the majority of big advertisers were based in the city. But now, Mumbai is no more the centre of advertising. Other cities including Delhi, Gurgaon, and Bangalore are home to India’s best advertising minds and big brands.

Hence, the question that arises is whether major advertising and marketing awards should now shift base to other metro cities. Therefore, sat down with industry veterans to understand why it is so that most of the industry awards and events are limited to only Mumbai.

For Joy Mohanty, Chief Creative Officer, Dentsu Creative India, the concept of advertising ‘capital’ doesn’t exist anymore. He said, “The larger creative community, within office work teams also, often works across cities. While it’s great to have cities other than Mumbai, as long as talent and excellence are being celebrated, the location doesn’t really matter.” 

Vinit Kumar, Vice-President of Madison Media Plus, said, “Mumbai has been holding and hosting awards since inception but the industry stalwarts should now aim at diversifying and moving out of their Mumbai base and shift award nights and other key media conferences to other key state capitals in the region. If not, it would be blatantly a call of comfort zoning.”

Award shows serve as a platform for more than just recognising excellence in the workplace; they also help the city's culture grow. The most significant factor is how culture develops; during award shows, people in the industry can personally interact with industry veterans, as per Jitender Dabas, Chief Operating Officer of McCann Worldgroup India.

However, Dabas added, “Because all these award shows have always taken place in Mumbai, many young people living in Delhi and Gurugram have never had the opportunity to interact with the Mumbai-based industry veterans. It is high time that these award shows begin taking place in Delhi and Gurgaon because the physical interactions at such awards show instil a sense of pride in the entire industry.”

Akashneel Dasgupta, Chief Creative Officer at Network Advertising, believes that when it comes to the Indian advertising Awards it is always about the Ad Club Mumbai. However, there is also an Ad club Delhi and Ad Club Bangalore, but they never took off. Although the Ad Club Delhi award takes place, it does not enjoy the same significance as compared to Mumbai.

Award shows taking place in Mumbai are like IPL taking place in Dubai but according to Dasgupta occasionally the advertising bodies should sort this out and make it to Delhi for a change. He said, "We as an industry want our juniors based in Delhi and Gurgaon to be a part of these events for understanding the industry better."

According to Vivek Srivastava, MD at Innocean Worldwide, this is a very dated view of the advertising business. The contemporary scenario is a lot more equitably spread across the main cities of Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Bengaluru etc. The percentages of weightage across cities might vary but there is no denying that the epicentre of biz volume is now the NCR.

He added, “There are award shows across centres. They have a strong regional following. Probably what they need is better profiling. Traditionally Mumbai has always hosted the bigger awards, I do not think anyone grudges this bit yet.”

Several traditional advertising agencies remain headquartered in Mumbai because big advertisers like Hindustan Unilever, Mondelez, Reckitt Benckiser, Tata Group, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Godrej Group etc have their main offices in the city.

But Gurugram is no less. It houses brands like Coca-Cola, Marico, Nestle, Perfetti Van Melle, and GlaxoSmithKline. The NCR region also has brands like Maruti Suzuki, HCL and Bharti Airtel. Most of these being legacy brands, they come on the list of top 50 advertisers in the country.

According to Srivastava, Delhi has a clutch of awards which have a good following. He said, “During my stint as President of Delhi Ad Club we hosted three highly successful award shows for creative excellence with participation from within India and SAARC countries. Unfortunately, the momentum was lost during Covid. There are other sizable and coveted awards too. Though none yet match Abby’s. Give it a year or two and it will get there. Bengaluru already has Big Bang Awards which have a reasonable following across India.”

Countering this Dabas said, “The biggest advertisers in the nation are now located in Gurugram, but there are still no events held there. This is because the advertising bodies that run the awards still have a Mumbai-centric mindset.”

One of the potential explanations for why these events don't take place in Delhi is that the majority of IAA, AAAI, and Ad club office bearers are in Mumbai, making it very convenient for them to host award ceremonies and other events there, Dabas pointed out.

On the other hand, Delhi is a much more viable option, because as of today the national capital commands higher adex than Mumbai, according to Kumar of Madison.

Explaining this, he said, “The fire started by automobiles, white goods giants, and telecommunication companies got fuelled further by key players across FMCGs, Dotcoms, QSRs, Mobility and many others. The biggies of the world like Nestle, Dabur, and RB today are no less than HUL in scale, the two top beverage giants Pepsico and Coca Cola known for catching the fancy of the young generations are based out of Delhi-NCR. The city is also home to tech giants Google and Facebook whilst there are numerous advantages of having an award show in Delhi, one key advantage would be exposure to the fresh talent.”

Meanwhile, as per Kumar, events and awards inspire, create motivation, and spark “a place to be” feeling for the young guns. Which is not possible when it’s happening in another city. With higher adex, Delhi needs to solve for a larger pool of talents than Mumbai today and events like these will certainly attract talents beyond a media school.

According to Dasgupta, the major challenge that the agencies based in Delhi must face when award shows take place in Mumbai is sending people physically to attend the events on the ground. It is not possible to fly down so many people to Mumbai just for one event because sometimes the budgets are tight and it turns out to be quite expensive.

Something similar is what Srivastava also feels, according to him, there are no challenges per se from sending an entry and the ensuing recognition of winners. The process of jury selection is being made representative of talent from across centres. The only challenge is in sending people physically to attend the events on the ground.

Mohanty thinks that what we need are centres that celebrate excellence and cutting-edge thinking and awards will follow automatically. “Big marketers and agencies should get together to create a museum of Big Ideas that showcases creativity from all corners of India. Award shows and a community will naturally build around this,” he said. 

Mumbai was the genesis and hub of advertising activities and hence the centre of all events and awards. However, according to experts, the dynamics are different today and call for action to substantiate the requirements.

One of the major challenges, as per Kumar, is that with events limited to Mumbai, the agencies are missing out on the opportunity to give their bright middle management leadership teams exposure. “Simply put, when an event is not happening in your city- you're less likely to be fully aware and be able to experience it in totality. Especially for local talents, we fail to create enthusiasm and to inspire them because when it's not local only a selected few- privileged ones get to experience it.”

He concluded by saying, “Lastly, more inclusions will make our experiences even richer. Let the advertising and media folks also experience how Delhi goes partying.”

Vivek Srivastava Akashneel Dasgupta Mumbai IAA events Marketing AAAI advertising Awards Jitendra Dabas Vinit Kumar Delhi A&M industry