AdAsia Jaipur in 2003 was an event of the scale that made AdAsia an important date in the diaries of the who’s who of the Indian advertising and media industry. The AdAsia, earlier known by different terms, including AdGro, had come to India after 21 years, and the Indian advertising and media fraternity ensured an affair that was larger than life.
However, even though AdAsia Singapore 2005 had one of the largest delegations from India, the event did not create the kind of buzz that was seen in AdAsia Jaipur, and the delegate list of AdAsia Jeju was shy of any participation from the advertising agencies.
Members of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) such as Madhukar Kamath (MD & CEO, Mudra) and Colvyn Harris (CEO, JWT) were present at AdAsia Jeju, along with the likes of Jagdip Bakshi (CEO, Contract), Roshan Choudhary (MD, NAC Advertising), Prabha Prabhu, Veena Gidwani and Punitha Arumugam from Madison Communication, but most of the other delegates were from media owners such as TV Today, ZEEL, Lokmat, BCCL, MCCS, STAR India, Mathrubhumi, Chitralekha, The Hindu, India Today and Outlook.
Winning the bid for AdAsia 2011 means that the AdAsia will be back in India, this time just within eight years. While that is good news, the fact remains that with the exception of the mentioned names, there was no representation of advertising agencies in AdAsia Jeju. So, is AdAsia losing the importance that it had for the advertising fraternity?
“Definitely not,” asserted Pratap Bose, CEO, O&M. He elaborated, “At least in our case, there was a regional meeting for which most of us had to be present in Hong Kong. So, we couldn’t make it to AdAsia in Jeju since the timing coincided.”
Subhash Kamath, CEO, Bates David Enterprise, was also in Hong Kong for a regional meeting. He was candid enough to state, “AdAsia Jaipur was fantastic, but the one that followed in Singapore was dismal. In the case of Lahore, I really hope they have great speakers, otherwise it would be a waste.”
Mahesh Chauhan, President, Rediffusion DY&R, was more positive and maintained that AdAsia was definitely not losing any relevance. He said, “AdAsia as a platform still is an important platform. Last AdAsia probably saw one of the biggest Indian delegations attend it. We couldn’t be a part of it at all this year since it comes right before the festive season, and that meant coming right in the way of work. I am nonetheless, already excited about AdAsia Lahore. I would really love to visit Pakistan, so I am really looking forward to that.”
FCB Ulka’s M G Parameswaran explained that in the case of Ulka, the dates collided with a training session that was taking place at FCB Ulka where international heads such Laurence Boschetto, COO, Draft FCB, were in India. Parmeswaran brings another perspective to the subject. He said, “AdAsia is all about theme and speakers. We began the preparation for AdAsia Jaipur more than two years in advance. Jaipur is an interesting location, but a very difficult location in terms of logistics.”
He explained that the fact that the speakers’ list in AdAsia Jaipur had the likes of C K Prahlad, Ricardo Sembler, Charles Handy, and Jack Trout did the trick. He added, “In AdAsia Jaipur, we took it above advertising to the level of management and marketing with the speakers that we had. CEOs were attending the conference. I think Lahore should be interesting as they are doing it for the first time and it would be interesting to see what happens there. Also, due to their location they would get good participation.”
Parameswaran advised that AdAsia needed to be properly packaged and marketed, and that perhaps the participation at Jeju was not an indication of the significance of the event itself.
Nakul Chopra, CEO and MD, Publicis Network India, explained, “An award function tends to attract more attention than just a conference, but the manner in which the advertising industry is growing in Asia, one cannot question the importance of events such as AdAsia. AdAsia Lahore might give a better indication of what the Pakistani advertising industry is like, and the growth and opportunities there. Also, the way advertising professionals are growing, many senior heads have some or the other Asia link in their everyday work. Hence, events like AdAsia become important.”
AdGro, which was the 13th Asian Advertising Congress, was held in Delhi in 1982. Some of the speakers then included the likes of David Ogilvy, Stephen King, Stephen Greyser, Simon Broadbent. Following this, the AdAsia next came to Jaipur in 2003, and the next AdAsia in India would be in Delhi in 2011.