AdAsia 2011 is just over and as I get back to my routine, I have this sense of pride - India pulled it off once again. The organizers of this conference had to meet very high expectations of delegates, after AdAsia Jaipur that happened 8 years ago and I would say they have managed to meet these expectations, if not surpass them.
The Congress was a good mix of knowledge sharing, entertainment and interactions with people, a bit too hectic if you ask me, given the early start to the sessions everyday and wonderful entertainment programmes at night.
‘Uncertainty - the new Certainty’ was a very apt theme for the conference, given the current environment we live in. Renowned speakers from different parts of the world spoke on a wide range of subjects. Whilst it’s very common for most conferences to have sessions on Digital, capturing attention of the ever evolving consumer and getting senior creative directors to talk about their favourite campaigns; this Congress also covered the growing importance of building trust and integrity in all relationships; whether they are client – agency relationships or the relationship that a brand has with its consumers. Michael Roth went on to urge agencies to treat their old clients as a new client, the agency is pitching for.
Some speakers also spoke about the benefits and growing importance of brands taking up social causes seriously and how consumers respond and react to such brands very favourably. The other prominently discussed topic was that of talent and the importance of training and developing Leaders who can motivate teams and lead agencies in the future. Indra Nooyi went on to say that this is one of the most important roles of a Leader and Prof Ram Charan very succinctly put it - Put People before Strategy.
What took everyone by surprise was to see a “Swami” on the agenda. Day 3 started with a bang and the only speaker to receive a standing ovation from the audience, the Swami spoke so eloquently and shared interesting anecdotes to tell us all to stop stressing and worrying and to think about the present, and surprisingly also mentioned that materialism is not so bad, as long as you do it with a sense of purity.
Indra Nooyi posed a question to the audience and to her agency head honcho John Wren, “Has your agency changed enough to keep pace with what is happening in the outside world?”, John had to say a YES and justified that answer by giving a few examples. This is a question that can’t be answered easily and calls for introspection, because if one were to put their hand on their heart and answer this question, we know what the answer would be.
At the end of it all, after three full days of listening to 50-odd speakers over 15 sessions, I would say, the future is still uncertain, but we do know that we have to deal with this uncertainty in the most creative way and without any fear and who better than us (the advertising community) are better equipped to do so. I am glad I attended this Ad Asia and I look forward to the next Congress when it is held in India again and I hope I don’t have to wait for another 8 years!