Whilst Goafest 2013, maybe an event that adlanders would like to forget, its aftermath is strongly being felt this year – accusations of plagiarism, scam ads and the appointment of a ‘super jury’ – some takeaways from last year’s festival, have left numerous agencies disappointed in India’s largest advertising festival. Large agencies like McCann Erickson, Leo Burnett, Creativeland Asia, and Grey Worldwide feature in this year’s absentees’ list, along with last year’s absentee Ogilvy India, even as Lowe Lintas & Partners continues its stance of non-participation.
While the festival has drawn flak from a section of adlanders, an overnight turnaround may not be feasible.
Pratap Bose, President of the Advertising Club (Ad Club), and Chairman of the Awards Governing Council, in a candid chat, talks about his approach to having taken on the mantle of being President of the Advertising Club under adverse circumstances.
Given the fact that media has been seen running down Goafest this year and six major agencies are not participating, how difficult is it to make Goafest a success this year?
I am amazed at this question. This saddens me.
As I have said earlier. The show needs to go on... irrespective of who participates or not. The strength of the Abby’s lies in its diversity of categories that cater to the entire spectrum of our business, and also because it encourages every agency – big or small – to showcase the best of their creative work. With more than 240 agencies taking part this year, we must be doing something right.
Why do you think there has been a focus on highlighting the negatives only? What are the positives of the festival that have been ignored by the media spotlight?
I think the Ford Figo controversy, which spiralled into the biggest advertising controversy just before the Goafest last year, combined with the decision to review the metals after they had been awarded, caused the maximum damage. It was an error on our part to have done that and sadly, we paid the price.
Having said that, I firmly believe that one bad day shouldn’t create prejudices, because the Advertising Club and the AAAI have really worked hard to put things right this year.
The fact that 180-odd agencies and 53 media agencies (last year we had 49 media agencies) have participated, comforts me. Whatever I have seen of the judging this year, it seems well represented in terms of the jury, and the process has been fair and transparent.
What is your personal approach to Goafest this year as President of the Ad Club?
I took over as President of the Advertising Club in an extremely adverse position as far as the Goafest is concerned, given the flak we took last year over the supposedly plagiarised ads. I have personally tried very hard to bring the sanity back, given the very trying conditions and am happy with the progress we have made, notwithstanding the non-participation of some key agencies this year.
I realise that in order to restore the faith, it does take time and I am very hopeful that this time next year we would have recovered significant ground.
Has the number of delegates also seen a decline?
With more than two weeks still to go before Goafest, it would be difficult at this juncture to predict the exact drop, but yes, we are expecting a drop in the number of delegates because I do presume that the non-participating agencies will not send participants beyond a small number.
One would think that the competition too has weakened because top agencies are not participating. What is your comment on this?
Yes, some of the agencies have decided to give Goafest a miss this year, which is regrettable, but don’t forget the fact that more than a 180 creative agencies have participated. Today’s world extends far beyond just the creative agencies.
PR, Promo, Digital, Design and Mobile companies are an integral and vital part of our communication business and they have all participated, which is a very encouraging sign.
Media reports have suggested that Publisher and Broadcast Abbys are aimed at pleasing sponsors. What is your comment on this?
It couldn’t be further from the truth. Our broadcast and print sponsors have always been an integral part of Goafest for the past eight years and will continue to do so. In addition to the two new categories, that is, Promo & Activation and PR, which we introduced this year, we also strongly felt that we needed to be a part of the media community as well, and hence, as a start we introduced the Broadcast and Publisher Abby’s this year. Going forward, we will also introduce Digital, Out of Home, and Radio. Never forget that without the surround of Media, advertising does not exist!
I have always said that we need to be as inclusive as we can within the ecosystem in which we co-exist.
What is the kind of sponsorship that Goafest has been able to attract?
Our sponsors have been kind this year as well and I’m sure the money they have allocated will benefit them well. We have raised enough money for Goafest to be a success and we are pleased with the efforts of the AAAI and the Advertising Club combine to make this happen.
How is the approach different to jury appointments this year?
This year’s Jury appointments haven’t been very different from the past. Our efforts have always been to choose the most worthy President of a Jury, if he or she is available on the date of judging. This year will see a few new jury heads and even non- participating agencies are part of the jury this year. Verticals such as PR, Branded Content, Promo & Activation, and Digital have specialists as part of the jury mixed with experienced creative judges as well.