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‘Goafest 2016 to be more inclusive:’ Raj Nayak

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MUMBAI: “Bigger, better and far more inclusive,” is what The Advertising Club president Raj Nayak envisions Goafest 2016 to be. 

To meet this goal for the upcoming 11th edition of the advertising festival, it is essential that Goafest 2016 gets complete participation from all stakeholders, clients and agencies. But with how things stand at present, will the “people’s person” Raj Nayak be able to pull it off?

It’s no secret that industry heavyweights have deliberately refrained from attending the Creative Abby for the last few consecutive years. Whether their reasons -- varying from Abby not being aspirational enough to disagreements on the shortlisting process -- are valid or not, the continued absence of some of the top creative agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, McCann Erickson, Leo Burnett and Lowe Lintas has dampened the spirit of the festival to a great extent. The festival has also lost the title of being a wholesome representation of the industry.

All eyes are now on the new Ad Club president and current Goafest Organising Committee to successfully unite the industry and present an ad festival that truly reflects the industry as one unit.

“A few members of the organising committee and I will be personally reaching out to the respective heads of the concerned advertising agencies and ask them to participate. We will implore them to share their reasons for keeping away from Goafest for the last few years. We are open to discuss their grievances. If it’s in our power to address such grievances to ensure their participation this year, we will be the happiest,” reassures Nayak. 

Having said that, The Ad Club prez adds that the committee will be powerless if the condition of getting the aforementioned agencies is to ensure their dominating presence in the winners list. That being said, the current Goafest Organising Committee led by chairman - Publicis South Asia CEO Nakul Chopra, is making an active effort to ensure that Goafest 2016 is more inclusive.

Agency participation is also driven to a great extent by participation of their clients in the festival. However, in the last few editions, Goafest has seen a dearth of representation from the advertisers, with the previous year witnessing an all time low. “We have a strategy in place and have taken new initiatives to get more representation from the advertisers. Although we don't guarantee anything, but one can expect a steady rise in the number of chief marketing officers of top brands in the country attending the festival this year,” Chopra points out.

While Goafest remains at its core a way to educate and inspire young advertising enthusiasts, the growing number of youngsters feel that the Abby is losing its aspirational value. Many from the industry blame the increased number of award ceremonies as being the reason behind it.

Addressing the issue, Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) president Ambi M G Parameshwaran says, “With advertisement becoming more segmented and specialised and more streams coming into it, it is the need of the hour to recognise excellence in the various categories, such as digital. And I think the young blood in the industry understands this more than us, and appreciates us considering all the avenues of advertising instead of restricting us to core media. We have been taking several initiatives to make the festival more engaging for the younger generation. Have we achieved something? Yes. Can we do more? Absolutely.”

When it comes to the content of the sessions and line up of speakers, the last few editions of Goafest haven’t been up to industry standards. Acknowledging the need to strengthen the festival’s speaker line up, Nayak adds, “For an organiser, it is a matter of pride that an event is lauded for its content. We thrive for it. If previous few years have disappointed the industry in its choice of speakers for the sessions at Goafest, this year our effort is to deliver higher standard of content. Keeping that in mind, we have put together a separate team, which is working to present a powerful line of speakers this year. We are also looking to invite speakers from a variety of industry. Whether it’s the tech startups, entrepreneurs or the torch bearers of the digital sphere -- we are open to suggestions from the industry on who they want to listen to, or who the current generation finds engaging.”

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