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Guest article: The new and improved Goafest

01-May-2012
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Guest article: The new and improved Goafest

Viewed at first glance, it looked just like every other edition of Goafest. Mumbai airport’s departure lounge swarmed with advertising folks. Dabolim airport had even more, with old friends from across the country promising to meet up later at this or that shack. People networked, backslapped, gave interviews and tried to grab a nod from the heavyweights of the industry. But, once one got inside and actually saw the work, many things seemed different.

There were more countries participating for one, with the competition expanding to include agencies from across South Asia. While there was the usual preponderance of scam peppering the print entries, one could sense that, unlike when I was a rookie copywriter, print wasn’t really the hot section. Nor was TV, which brings me to my next observation.

Many of the most-talked about entries weren’t even traditional ads.

Kolaveri Di, anyone? All right, my mum, my laundryman and me had at least hummed the track, if we hadn’t forwarded six versions of it to everyone we knew. But an ad? Yet, here it was, IIM case-study material with sufficient muscle to compete with established brands and media vehicles. You had a product demo gathering more gold than Croesus; not too long ago, the making of one would have been delegated right down the agency food chain, stopping just short of the dispatch department. But here it was, winning a much-deserved (and applauded) Grand Prix.

A crime story with a difference proved that the medium has ceased to be the message, and that integrated campaigns are here to stay. Kudos to the organisers for a truly intelligent classification of categories that reflected what every traditional agency says in its conference rooms, but few take seriously; that advertising has finally outgrown the traditional, and is pushing every agency to do the same.

Away from the serious side of Goafest, the organisation was excellent. Zuri White Sands once again pulled out the stops, proving that moving the festival off the beach was a great move. The discos rocked (even if they rolled up their shutters a tad too early; but I’d always say that…), the beer flowed and the after-parties (as per my hazy recollection) were memorable. All in all, it was an experience from which one doesn’t merely return, but recovers from. I can’t wait for the next time.

The author is Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Mumbai

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