Before I come to Friday’s happenings, a not-so-quick word on the booze meet of Thursday eve. Expectedly, the beach was left desolate as the power ad and media bigwigs hobnobbed with the attendant journos. This particular soiree was by invite only (as the lass at the registration desk cheerfully warned), so the youngsters were kept out. Good. This ensured the beach was left nice and clean for some heavy action over the weekend. I have always wondered how the power set would react to me at such meets, courtesy my not-so-sweet writing talents, so I always visit these jaunts with a degree of trepidation.
And yup, some of the p****d off leaders either look through me or flee at my sight. But the more sporting ones, the more self-confident ones, are warm and friendly. Guess they have achieved enough success in their lives to worry about some rants from a hack. Here are some of those good officers who not only tolerated my presence, in fact, appeared glad to meet me. Piyush Pandey. Sam Balsara. Bhaskar Das. Madhukar Kamath. Dhunji Wadia. And most of all, Ajay Chandwani, who made the grave error of telling me his wife loves my writings. I have since been chasing him all over the Cavelossim for her cell number. Pardon my depraved behaviour, dear Ajay, blame it all on the Scotch and the sun and the sands. Moral of the story: If you want your name in this exalted list, be nice to me, people.
Anyways, cut to Friday early noon. Most of the oldies are missing, but the hip agency crowds arrive. In droves. Suddenly, the GoaFest comes to life as thirsty and parched souls make a beeline for the booze zone. But hey, hold on! “You need to get coupons, man,” the bartender informs. And that’s the first sign that cost cutting is underway, and that dreaded R-word begins to get bandied around. Heck, even for that one-mint para-gliding expedition you gotta cough up bucks. No wonder the queues for the goodies are much shorter this year, I am told.
And then all of a sudden, I spot a large group of BJP ‘karya kartas’ arrive, and am shell-shocked. I rush to devour another gin-and-lime (there goes another damned coupon!) at the prospect of running into Shri LK Advani, but am quickly informed these are Rediffusion ladies and gents in their orange tees. What a relief! Yes, I like the idea of colour co-ordination, and am sure later on the O&M gang will arrive in their famous blacks. Would love it if all agencies colour code their people, much like the IPL teams. At least then we’ll know who belongs where, and when they commit the original sin of networking: hanging around the entire fest with their own lot. Also, if some naughty chap misbehaves, you can easily trace his roots.
Outstanding print work, but…
I check out the print and outdoor section and am pleasantly surprised to discover some wonderful ads on display. This section has the feel of an art gallery, as it should. Superb ideas and some great art direction. No, sorry, no body copy, the ad world in 2009 AD has no time and talent for the written word. I spot the stall is packed and the youngsters stare at the body of work with rapt attention, often showering compliments. Sometimes on their own creations. Small joys in the rough and tumble of the advertising world, where you have to battle many odds to get brilliant work through. The ‘idiot-proofing’ of adverts by worried clients destroys most of the industry’s creative excellence. Not surprisingly, I don’t recall having seen any of these jewels in the mass press. Some things never change.
Jean-Marie Dru: Pardon my French
The chief of TBWA Worldwide, Monsieur Dru, got a solid ovation. And deservedly so. He is the master of the famed ‘disruption theory’ and the brain behind some amazing idea-based work on brands like Apple, Adidas and Pedigree. To a packed auditorium, he spoke passionately about the power of ideas, but sadly, most of what he said went over people’s heads. Not just because they were massively inebriated (which most were), but because Monsieur speaks with a ‘tres’ heavy French accent, and was, therefore, difficult to comprehend. What a pity, because the man is a true giant of global advertising, and there’s a lot to be learnt from him.
One very senior creative director sitting next to me said that the only reason he has parked himself is that the seminar room was the only place with air-conditioning. I actually have a lot to say on the selection of guest speakers, so do ‘read my cribs’ in the issue of ‘impact’ out next week.
Meanwhile, here’s the impact Monsieur had on one of the delegates. Clearly, there was no disrupting this man’s snooze.