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 Stray Thoughts

Afternoon Independent Thinkers Awards

The third 'Afternoon Independent Thinkers Awards' came to a resounding climax on Thursday, October 7, when judges voted Advertising Avenues the most creative entry of 1999.

From the four hundred odd-entries received, the Afternoon Despatch and Courier sought an answer to the question raised by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's bus trip to Lahore in February this year. "Was it worth it?" was our question.

Vivek Godbole and Pierre Francis from Advertising Avenues scored top honours with their entry endorsing the act. Their legend "Their Road To Peace Was Long And Rough, What's A Short Hop By Bus?" set against visuals of the three great messengers of non-violence in our century, got the judges' unanimous vote for the gold.

POSITIVE CHANGE: The top prize winner from Advertising Avenues.

Coming up neck-to-neck, finishing at silver was Creative Unit's classy act which indicated the gear shaft of a bus. Underscored as 'The Bus To Lahore' the entry indicated the four gears that the bus-diplomacy had achieved - Friendship, Respect, Trust and Peace. The Fifth gear which had taken the vehicle in reverse was christened Kargil.

The third prize was bagged by BatesClarion for their witty entry showing profiles of four different prime ministers who had waged wars against Pakistan. From Nehru to Atal Behari Vajpayee four varying profiles were displayed and the legend read "How many times will we turn the other cheek?". Clever.

As the judges - columnist and author Shobha De, CineBlitz editor Rita Mehta, chairman of Enterprise Nexus Mohammed Khan, Ad Club president Kaushik Roy and editor of The Brief Anil Thakraney - deliberated over the entries for well over an hour, they came across submissions in various languages exhorting India to heed the call to arms.

Among others, one submission showed Prime Minister Vajpayee with a black eye with blood streaming steadily from his nose symbolic of the beating the nation had taken at Kargil. Another displayed the map of India with Kashmir truncated and the words "Is this what diplomacy is set to achieve?" One entry that came in for honourable mention depicted the act of trying to straighten out a dog's tail - an impossible task which was compared by BatesClarion to continuing a diplomatic dialogue with Pakistan. "Interestingly the overwhelming swing in favour of the violent image in no way swayed us from our decision to award the most deserving entry the prize - even though it was among the minority that advocated peace," said Shobha De. "The winner was one of the few entries that answered directly the question put - 'Was it worth it?'. Many entries tended to bifurcate into their own agendas of revenge, which I for one, found disturbing.

"A number of entries punned cleverly on the word 'bus' which in Hindi translates into 'enough'. The judges noted this but decided not to award any points for this because it was too easy a way out.The most satifying aspect for the judges, was the number of advertising agencies who had gotten involved in the cause of the 'Afternoon Independent Thinkers Award' which offered no pecuniary rewards. Among them were Trikaya Grey, Rediffusion, FCB Ulka, Euro RSCG, Saatchi & Saatchi, Everest, Contract, Triton, IB&W and others. "It just shows that the ad community isn't necesarily as mercenary as it is made out to be," said Mohammed Khan.

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