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Embrace this 'new normal' that yesterday is not relevant today...: Srinivasan Swamy

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Embrace this 'new normal' that yesterday is not relevant today...: Srinivasan Swamy

The International Advertising Association (India Chapter) is all set to celebrate its Silver Jubilee with a three-day summit, which is being inaugurated at the Le Meridian Convention Center, Kochi, today. The theme of the summit is ‘Crossroads: Where Change is Shaping the Future Today’, which is a sub-set of IAA Global’s overall theme ‘What's Coming Next’. IAA India Chapter President Srinivasan Swamy spoke to exchange4media about the summit theme, speaker line-up and IAA India’s agenda over the next couple of years. Here are excerpts from the interview: 

From IAA Global’s theme ‘What’s Coming Next’, how did the India Chapter conceptualise the sub-theme ‘Change is Shaping the Future!’ for the Kochi summit? Tell us about it.

‘What's Coming Next’ has been the IAA Global theme over the last couple of years, which we adopted for our summit because it always makes sense to discuss the new issues that confront us. We just added a sub-theme ‘Change is Shaping the Future!’. We had a consultative high-table to help us plan the Summit and the results are for everyone to see - 11 international speakers, nine high-calibre Indian speakers over 18 business sessions, two celebrities... Everything that you would want in a conference that lasts three days. 

What is the thought process that has determined the choice of speakers and celebrities for the IAA Silver Jubilee Summit?

Once we decided on a future-looking theme, we knew it had to have a Digital and Mobile focus as well as developing brands in a complex world that belongs to tomorrow. We therefore worked on getting some international speakers who are experts in these areas. It was not an accident that we picked on Cindy Gallop, Paul McCarthy, Jeff Cole, Ralph Simon, Simon Kemp, Michel de Rijk, Rob Sherlock or Fernando Ortiz-Ehmann. Or, for that matter, Parminder Singh, Rahul Welde, Ritesh Agarwal or Sanjiv Puri. We decided to also honour two celebrities who are important brand ambassadors and have emerged as advertising icons – Shah Rukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar. Arnab Goswami and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev also cover two important aspects of our lives, and therefore, they too were invited. 

IAA India Chapter has won the Best Chapter award, two times in a row, from IAA Global. What is key to the performance of the India Chapter?

IAA globally believes in promoting the value of adverting, in supporting self-regulation and helping people become better professionals. I do believe we deliver on all these fronts well, plus we have gone a step forward with our belief that 'what is good, is good for business'. That’s why we do seminars on gender sensitivity or promote sustainability through the Olive Crown Awards. Such variety of events and differentiated work obviously has caught the attention of the IAA Global Jury which chose to recognize us as the Best Chapter repeatedly. 

How far has IAA seen the growth and involvement of emerging leaders in its fold over the years?

IAA India’s focus has been on improving India's future talent in whatever little way it can. It started its Young Turks Forum about 18 months ago. We must have held about eight major events where we got inspirational speakers to address young professionals and college students. Each event was attended by 400 to 800 people. That apart, we have IAA Webinars on the broad theme of ‘World Goes Digital’ and 10 such webinars have been held so far. Several hundreds of young people participate and benefit from these. Recently, we decided to pick a couple of future leaders who are under 30 years, but have shown enormous potential in the fields of advertising and media. They will be awarded at the IAA Summit in Kochi. They will also be sent to Taipei at our cost to attend Ad Asia in November. 

What does IAA have in store for the industry in the next couple of years? What objectives are prime on the agenda of IAA India?

IAA will continue on its path of being relevant and purposeful. We have launched the IAA IndIAA Awards where we will honour advertising that made an impact in the marketplace. The award will be given to the entire team behind the development of the work – starting with the advertiser, the creative agency, media agency and if appropriate the digital agency, PR agency, events agency, etc., all on the same stage. All activities will be focused on celebrating excellence in all spheres of advertising. 

What is your message to advertising industry professionals on the eve of the IAA Silver Jubilee Summit?

The world is very different from what it was 10 years ago. Change is taking place at a faster pace, and therefore, embrace this 'new normal' that yesterday is not relevant today and today will be less relevant tomorrow. Try and be one step ahead of this change, to be most competitive. Easier said than done, but that would separate the leaders and the laggards.


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