Perhaps Dr Bhaskar Das, Executive President, The Times of India group, described it best when he said, “AdAsia is not only amongst the largest advertising, marketing and media events of its kind in Asia, but is also internationally renowned as being the most significant advertising Congress in the Asia-Pacific region.” Dr Das was speaking at a press meet that the AdAsia Organising Committee (OC) had held in New Delhi on December 13, 2010.
Held bi-annually, AdAsia is returning to India in 2011 after a gap of eight years. AdAsia 2011 will be held in New Delhi from October 31, 2011 to November 3, 2011. The theme for the year is ‘The New Certainty’. Speaking further on the theme, Dr Das said, “The ‘New Certainty’ is a reflection of the accelerated technological changes, a dynamic regulatory evolution, a non-linear competitive landscape and an activist consumer. So, operating in such a disruptive and constantly evolving environment, the only certainty is the ‘new certainty’ or ‘uncertainty’.”
AdAsia 2011 calls for special attention also because the last time the Congress was held in India – 2003 in Jaipur – it had set a benchmark that the subsequently held AdAsia conferences in Singapore, Jeju, Korea and Kuala Lumpur did not necessarily build on.
A quick chat with the AdAsia OC, and one knows that India team is all set for the challenges ahead. Madhukar Kamath, Group CEO and MD, Mudra Group, is the Chairman of the AdAsia Organising Committee, which also includes Ashish Bagga, CEO, India Today Group, Dr Bhaskar Das, and Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR India.
The team would be guided by an elite Advisory Board that is chaired by Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra. The board comprises Aroon Purie, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India Today Group; Kurush Grant, Executive Director, ITC Ltd; Manu Anand, Chairman and CEO designate, PepsiCo India; Nitin Paranjpe, CEO, MD and Group Vice-President, South Asia, Hindustan Unilever; Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, South Asia, Ogilvy & Mather; Raghav Bahl, Founder and Editor, Network18; Ravi Dhariwal, CEO, Bennett Coleman and Co Ltd; and Vinita Bali, MD, Britannia Industries.
The OC has been busy with the event for a while, and when it set the ball rolling on December 13, 2010, in terms of speaking on the event, it already had a new logo and a theme to discuss. Mudra’s design agency Water has created the new logo, which attempts to capture the rich tapestry of all the Asian regional motifs and incorporate them in the logo.
The OC also met the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA) prior to speaking to the press. According to Kamath, the AFAA was already “on board and has extended its complete support to the India team for making AdAsia 2011 a new benchmark”. He added, “This OC is all inclusive with members from the Bombay Ad Club, the Indian Newspaper Society and Indian Broadcasting Foundation. Earlier, Bharat Patel from The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) also said that the ISA would be extremely cooperative towards making AdAsia 2011 a big success. So, it really is the entire Indian marketing, media and advertising industry together behind the Congress.”
A Bumpy Road
However, the road ahead is not simple and the OC admitted that much had changed that posed new challenges in making AdAsia 2011 different from what was seen in the previous years. The popular industry feedback on the previous three AdAsia events had been that the event was losing relevance and repute. The other challenge was that from the last time AdAsia was held in India to now, the number of events of this nature has increased and in many cases, the content – in terms of speakers and subjects discussed – is similar.
Kamath explained that the solution was to address the event from the audience’s viewpoint, and that content indeed was the differentiating factor on what the audience takeaway would be. Dr Das, who was instrumental in the content seen in AdAsia 2003, is heading the content this year.
Speaking to exchange4media on the subject, he said, “With unprecedented tectonic changes impacting the way one does business, AdAsia 2011 is a platform which not only chronicles the changes, but also provides a glimpse of what opportunities and challenges await us. This is especially relevant as 2011 will see the world – after having weathered the financial tsunami – emerging from the effects of the global meltdown. Moreover, with Asia broadly, and India specifically, leading this global recovery, the centre of gravity is changing. If in the 19th century, the world looked at the West for innovation and progress, in the 21st century, everyone’s attention is on the East.”
He explained that from this perspective, the focus of the Congress was not limited to merely advertising or Asia. But instead, its view is one from a global prism and the emerging trends in the business world. He said, “As such, media is a sub-set of advertising, advertising a sub-set of marketing, and marketing a sub-set of business. Hence, the speakers at AdAsia 2011 – who are authorities in their respective spheres – will decode emerging global business trends that are directional rather than deterministic. Truly, AdAsia 2011 promises to be a gala gathering of the best of the business and marketing fraternity from across the globe, thereby providing a wonderful opportunity to learn, share experiences and network.”
One key area where work has to begin is in terms of the monies required for the event. Kamath explained that there were a number of ways to raise funds, and this included sponsorships, or as Dr Das put it, like-minded partners who believe in the event, delegate fees and so on. For now, citing that the event should not be known for how many crores of rupees were spent on it, the OC did not divulge a figure, but indicated that in AdAsia 2003, a spend of Rs 5 crore was seen.
Whether it is the composition of the 2011 OC or the fact that India is buzzing and AdAsia 2011 is hosted in India or India’s previous experiences with the event, the industry has immense expectations from 2011. Piyush Pandey, from the Advisory Council, said, “The year 2003 was a benchmark and I am sure the effort of the OC is to better that. The Advisory Council has to still meet and hence, it is still early to speak on how the event is looking, but I have high expectations from it.”
In 2003, the event had seen nearly 1,500 delegates in Jaipur. The OC is expecting a similar number this time as well, of which 400 would be international delegates. New Delhi was chosen as a venue from a convenience of travel viewpoint, while attending the event and the ease of visiting neighbouring areas too – we have a glorious week planned, Kamath had said.
And the industry is looking forward to more details on that, soon.