On April 7, 2011, when Dabolim Airport was packed with the arriving advertising crowd, one could see anxiety on faces. Fair to say that most of them were regulars at GoaFest. That’s the very nature of this industry. A small set of people, but a very excited bunch, putting in all that it takes to win big metals every year.
Having said that, we did see some new faces – primarily speakers from different parts of the world, who came to share their insights, learnings and experiences of being in the advertising business. Will GoaFest this time around be a pleasant experience, was the question. However, despite the uncertainty, the crowd looked pretty optimistic and also geared to see what’s waiting at the Ad Village inside the picturesque Zuri White Sands resort.
The first glimpse gave us an idea of what was coming: A cleaner and greener GoaFest, something that Festival Chair Lynn de Souza had vouched for. Cleaner and greener, of course, not just in terms of ensuring smooth and controversy-free administration of the event – ensuring no rules are broken – but also in terms of cleaning up the mess. Self-voting, leaks and the clash of egos had left what seemed to be a permanent blot on the credibility of India’s only advertising awards show.
A wide section of the industry, who believed in the Chairperson’s commitment of producing a cleaner GoaFest, are impressed by the way things turned out. The Awards Governing Council looked like a serious idea, led by a serious individual – and veteran media honcho Shashi Sinha. The Awards Governing Council (AGC) Chairperson, who is also CEO, Lodestar UM, ensured that both Media and Creative Abbys remained shows where aspirations are created, awards are won, and advertising is celebrated.
In the opinion of GoaFest Chairperson Lynn de Souza, Srinivasan Swamy of RK Swamy BBDO, who headed the Advertising Conclave, put up a fairly decent show – pertinent speakers on relevant topics that define the DNA of India’s advertising and marketing industry. Particularly, the last session where panelists such as Arvind Sharma of Leo Burnett, Ashish Bhasin of Aegis Media, Sam Balsara of Madison World and Josy Paul of BBDO India discussed the up sides of advertising as a profession. Balsara, who moderated this session, urged clients to help agencies build resources that could then be deployed onto their businesses. The insightful presentation done by IMRB presented views of top advertising professionals on how they see themselves preparing for the next decade.
The ASCI youth initiative – Creativity with Conscience (CWC) – was the first ever step taken by GoaFest to promote responsible advertising. Young guns proved their mettle in the CWC contest, and showed yet again that while there are concerns over issues relating to talent, there is a lot of promise among the younger ones. How to shape them into gems that would take the industry to greater heights is in the hands of senior professions of the industry. GoaFest 2011, one could say, will be remembered for taking the first step in promoting talent, very importantly, in the right direction.
On day one of the run-up to GoaFest, that is April 5, the mood was very upbeat. Himanka Das, facilitator for the CWC, made sure that the contestants were briefed well and their queries addressed. Senior creative officers exchange4media spoke to were impressed with the quality of work produced by the youngsters.
And it was heartening to see senior members taking the pledge to produce and encourage responsible advertising. They even persuaded youngsters to take that oath and be a part of an industry that’s now looking to promote conscionable advertising in a big way. Yet another reason why GoaFest 2011 will be remembered.
The introduction of the Festival of Media, too, was welcomed by the industry. Only two categories were introduced in GoaFest this year. However, Charlie Crowe, founder of the Festival of Media is working closely with de Souza and the Media Abby team to introduce more categories next year and in the years to come.
The two entries that won in the category of Best Communication Strategy are Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Yeti. Creativeland Asia’s much-talked about campaign for Hippo and the way the agency used Twitter in engaging its audiences was seen as pathbreaking by the judges. The entry has been fast-tracked into the final round of the Festival of Media, Montreux. Charlie Crowe’s session and Google India’s chief Rajan Anandan’s presentations stood out on April 8.
The biggest highlight on April 9 was undoubtedly Sir John Hegarty’s session. He brought the otherwise non-responsive crowd to cheer after every piece of communication he showcased. He spoke about how traditional media still played a significant role in the era of digitisation and social media, where the consumer is in control, not the brand.
As is said, the best is always reserved for the last – the Creative Abby night was the icing on the cake for the all-new five-day festival. O&M yet again walked away with the Grand Prix, this time for their work on the Cadbury Dairy Milk campaign titled IMC. The famous ‘Blackberry Boys’ commercial bagged a Gold. Other agencies that shone at the awards night were Leo Burnett, Creativeland Asia and Mudra.
At the end of it all, it looked like GoaFest has become more meaningful, purposeful, and of course, cleaner and greener.