It is a landmark year for Goafest as it extends its boundaries beyond India, inviting Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan to be a part of the festival. By embracing this new facet, the festival is at a critical junction where it needs to prove whether it has the scale and potential to become a truly regional advertising festival, rewarding the best work coming from the region.
Industry stalwarts have worked hard on growing the event in scale and stature year after year. Emphasis has been laid on increasing the credibility of the awards so that it is looked at positively by the agencies in the region.
If international gurus are to be quoted, Trevor Beattie has mentioned that Goa is a much better destination than Singapore or Bali for hosting a festival for the entire region. This is the year when aspirations will be put to test.
The organisers have been candid on their vision – to make Goafest the Cannes of South East Asia. And if we look at the additions to the festival this year, things seem to be moving in the right direction. Renowned international speakers have been invited and leading marketers have been asked to engage with them for focused interaction on India and the rest of the region.
‘Marketing Wizards’ is an attempt to get young marketers involved as they would be the decision-makers of tomorrow. The festival has not been on the priority lists for marketers and those who attend also do not become repeat visitors. Inclusion of big names such as Jean-Yves Naouri, Tim Love, John Philip Jones and Lucas Watson may lead to a positive change.
As Arvind Sharma, Chairman – Organising Committee, Goafest and Chairman, Leo Burnett said, advertising is not about solving the problems of today but finding solution for tomorrow; the discussions at the conclave and seminars have been ingeniously designed to find some of those solutions.
With all the changes, what remains unchanged is the format of the festival which seems to be the winning formulae for Goafest. The three part format – knowledge sessions, awards and activities on the beach – has kept many glued for years.
There is something for everyone. What also adds is the way media owners use the festival as a platform to communicate to the advertising fraternity. International festivals have a trend of marketers, agencies, media owners organising their own parties inviting relevant people to be a part of it. Clients such as Unilever and Microsoft do it regularly at Cannes. There is buzz that agencies and clients are planning similar activities on the beach this year but it remains to be seen how many people would actually do it. Will the top five agencies throw parties at Goafest? Will clients who are the biggest spenders do it? We don’t know. If it happens, it will definitely add to the charm of the festival, especially when it is stepping towards being regional.
Another shift to be seen this year which can be touted to be a step towards adopting global practices is extension of Grand Prixs to all the categories and inclusion of Design, Direct and Digital with Media Awards show. It not only helps Creative Abbys not stretch too long but also lends an arm to these platforms to become individual in their own right. Hopefully, we will see a day when there will be a separate Design and Digital Abbys, much like we have 14 different Lions at Cannes Lions.
Though everything looks hunky dory, the fact is some of the old issues are still unsorted. Leading agencies are still not willing to be a part of the festival. Big agencies not participating in the awards is probably a hint that the credibility of the awards is still under scrutiny. Agency owners and organisers, of course, have their own views on that but we are hopeful that Creative Abbys will sort these issues and announce ‘Agency of the Year’ unlike last year when no award was given. That happened to be the only thing that stood out as a sour thumb in an otherwise very well executed event, as far as the awards were concerned. Will we see it happening this year? We can wait and watch...