All roads lead to Goafest

MUMBAI: It’s that time of the year again when the who’s who of the advertising and marketing industry ditch their suits and don their sunhats to attend the annual Indian advertising extravaganza Goafest.

Going with the theme ‘Just what you unexpected’, this year’s Goafest promises to be different and exciting. The focus is on listening to advertisers as to where they think media and creative agencies are falling short and what they expect from them.

The knowledge seminars will see global experts discussing issues like maximising the potential of social media, democratisation of creativity, and what great work looks like in the present scenario.

Perhaps for the first time, the festival also has speakers from walks of life different than marketing, advertising and media.

This year attendees at the Goafest will get a chance to hear Prasanna Trust founder and chairman Swami Sukhabodhananda talk about “Uncertainty is also part of life’ and film maker Abhishek Kapoor (high on the recent success of Kai Po Che) narrates his views on ‘Do What Your Heart Says’.

This is a year of firsts as the Abbys have introduced a new category named Branded Content. In the media category too, the committee has made a significant change by introducing sub categories in the digital segment. Explaining the move, Media Abby Jury chairman Ashish Bhasin said, “By having a broad category for digital, we ended up comparing apples to oranges. The digital medium has evolved rapidly to have a diverse range from website design to mobile campaigns to online activations. Introducing new sub-categories does justice to this variety of innovations that can happen on the medium.” caught up with some of the delegates and speakers headed for the Goafest to know what they expect from this year’s edition.

GCMMF (Amul) MD RS Sodhi who is one of the speakers at the Advertising Conclave on 3 April will be attending the festival for the first time. “I have heard so much about the Goafest and am really glad I’ll be attending this year. To be able to mix and mingle with the various stakeholders of the industry from India and abroad is what I am looking forward to. I’m honoured to have been invited to speak,” he says enthusiastically.

For Tata Sky MD and CEO Harit Nagpal, the annual ad fest is the perfect setting to meet the ad industry’s creative professionals and media planners and buyers and discuss matters in a relaxed atmosphere. He feels that more than a networking hub, the Goafest is a platform that allows the members of the industry to interact, debate and take discussions to the next level.

The delegates coming to Goafest look forward to not only the seminars and networking opportunities, but also the various activities lined by the festival partners. Last year saw Disney UTV’s youth entertainment channel bindass line up some activities like water zorbing and the Hindustan Times had a photo booth where you could have your photo printed on the front page of a newspaper! This year too, delegates can look forward to a Rain Dance and many on the spot activities/games.

Publicis Capital CEO Hemant Misra looks at Goafest as the time to take a break, meet old friends and see some stimulating work. He explains, “Goafest is a great opportunity for young talent. While we add value to our client‘s business we hardly spend time adding value to our own people, Goafest is an opportunity for them to open their minds, observe, discuss, argue...learn. Importantly unlearn the old and partake of the new.”

On a lighter note, Misra adds, “Hope there‘s no free drinks this time so the kids spend more time listening than getting drunk!” Publicis Capital will be sending upwards of 50 delegates to the Goafest this year.

Madison media’s Lara Balsara, who will be there at the Goafest with nearly 100 other Madisons, hopes there will be “some learning, lot of winning and lots of fun” this year. She agrees that the festival is a great opportunity to see some of the best work in the sub-continent at one shot. She has just one suggestion to make, that the venue be changed next year so that the ad industry can explore some new venues and beaches in Goa.

Carat Media Senior vice-president Himanka Das will be giving the festival a skip this year, but is confident that the work portrayed is getting better every year. Having been on the jury for the Media Abbys, he has seen some of the projects submitted by the agencies and he is mighty impressed.

Scarecrow Communications co-founder and director Manish Bhatt has a special bond with Goafest. He was part of the designing team at Goafest 2008 (he was at Contract Advertising back then). “The Goafest is fast becoming the Mecca of India’s advertising industry. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to meet and listen to the who’s who of the industry. The Abbys are the awards to look out for and this year, we are thrilled since of the 62 entries we sent, 33 have been shortlisted across categories,” says an excited Bhatt.

The Abby Awards have seen their fair run of controversy and this year was no different. The recent sacking of top creative executive Bobby Pawar by the JWT India management over the Ford Figo ads raised a lot of questions. While on the one hand the industry debated the evil of scam ads, many also questioned why the creative department is made the scapegoat in such cases all the time? The controversy though does not seem to have dampened the spirit of the Goafest goers as they are looking forward to the festival excitedly.

So it’s time for the ad industry to slap on the sunscreen, put on the shorts and head to Zuri White Sands in Varca Goa and have an educational, exciting and fun-filled time at Goafest 2013.

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