As Goafest 2014 inches closer, the previous year’s controversies have sure played a role in the participation of agencies at the seventh edition of India’s largest advertising festival. The added absence of agencies this year such as McCann Erickson, Leo Burnett, Creativeland Asia and Grey Worldwide, along with last year’s absentee Ogilvy India, even as Lowe Lintas and Partners continues its stand of non-participation, dampens the spirit of advertisers as well, who play a very important role in making Goafest a success.
Meanwhile, media reports also suggest that entries from agencies have dropped by 50 per cent this year.
exchange4media gets clients’ perspective on what it will take Goafest to get its glory back, what are the changes clients would like to see in Goafest in order to wholeheartedly participate in the festival. What also emerges strongly is that good content will go a long way in engaging the client community, which feels that the fest has now become synonymous with awards and celebrations, and does not fuel an active role for clients.
Absence of bigger agencies takes away from the show, feel clients
The absence of larger agencies without doubt affects the all-important client participation to a large extent.
“I would like to see participation across sections; absence of bigger agencies takes away from the show, client participation has been poor. All agencies need to participate,” opined Anil Jayaraj, Chief Marketing Officer, Pidilite Industries.
The common sentiment among advertisers is also that over a period of time, Goafest seems to have got associated with 'Awards' and 'Celebrations'. It needs to be known more for learning and enriching content, not only Indian but global as well. This, in turn, will ensure that all professionals who attend Goafest get the opportunity to learn about the latest developments and the best campaigns the world over.
“Awards and celebrations are an outcome of good work and they should not become an end in itself. So, there is a need to re-position Goafest to improve its relevance for the marketing fraternity. Goafest also needs to shake off its current image and come across as a truly democratic forum where the best agencies participate and celebrate alongwith clients,” shared Anisha Motwani, Director & Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance.
Goafest being one of the biggest platforms for advertising and marketing professionals offers youngsters in the industry an opportunity to showcase their talent and learn from the best. At the same time it has remained the hotbed for controversies as well.
Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive Vice President - Marketing, Product, Digital & E-Commerce, HDFC Life observed, “Goafest is been marred with controversies. The organisers are putting their best foot forward to pack it with knowledge sessions on the advertising craft, social and digital media in the morning and award shows in the evening. But as of now, many big agencies are skipping it. They have to ensure the schedule is right and that the day is just not kept for drinking. Goafest needs to bring back trust and credibility and a clear stand against scam ads. That will help to bring back excitement amongst the agencies to enter legitimate high quality work. To make the awards credible and fair, Abbys can be run by an autonomous body with representation from industry, Marketers and international jury members.”
Good content rules the roost
Clients feel that enriching content has to rule supreme at Goafest. Better content from the speakers is essential so that there is something new for delegates to take back every time. Goafest should also ensure higher participation from clients to improve the stature of awards at Goafest.
Tripathy added here, “At present, marketers feel they will waste their time attending Goafest. Nothing has been done to make marketers an integral part of Goafest even after so many years. More focus needs to be given to compelling content and not to partying and awards. Good speakers, panel discussions, workshops can excite marketing folks. Focus on real work will definitely bring marketers to Goafest and they will be happy to celebrate the success with their agency partners. Seriousness has to be brought back to the event. It should make people sit and take notes and provide real learning.”
In short, Goafest needs to give marketers reason to attend, which includes engrossing content and a platform to share their challenges and views with the entire advertising fraternity and in the end, profit from the event and go back wiser is the overall sentiment from the clients’ perspective.
“Good content can go a long way in engaging both advertising and marketing folk, global speakers add a different perspective and are definitely a value add,” felt Nikhil Sharma, Director – Marketing, Perfetti Van Melle India.
Changes clients would like to see
After last year’s aftermath on scam ads, advertisers want to see a strong stand by the Goafest Committee this year on scam ads being awarded.
Speaking on his expectations from Goafest, Tripathy said, “I would still like to see higher participation from top marketers and their teams. Goafest can provide a great learning opportunity for the entire marketing fraternity and it needs to be leveraged better. I would like to see a tight schedule and full attendance for all sessions and I would like to see not a single scam work getting awarded.”
The Goafest Committee has taken a series of steps this year to make things better, which includes making the process of judging more stringent and giving a window of 10 days between two rounds of judging for the creative awards, where shortlisted work will be put up on the Ad Club website inviting comments and feedback. Any issue pertaining to the entries can be put forth during that window. In cases of plagiarism, complainants will have to back their claims with proof so that it can be taken up by the AGC. While all these are welcome changes, marketers make it clear that they need a higher level of engagement and value-add for the time they spend at Goafest as important stakeholders, as opposed to an awards celebration.
“I would like to see speakers who focus on the new developments in the field of business and strategy in context to brand building. A strategy based on sound understanding of business and consumers that translates into effective and measurable communication output. Digital being the hot favourite, I would like to hear some integrated thinking from digital experts as against the current silo-ed approach,” said Motwani, emphasising on the importance of engaging marketers.
“This year, there have been many changes, basis the feedback received. But I am sure that there are many ways to even further improve Goafest. But towards that end, it is key that marketers, media houses and agencies partake in this forum,” noted Ajay Kakar, CMO - Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group and Vice President, Ad Club on a more optimistic note.
While the Goafest Committee is making changes in order to avoid last year’s aftermath and clean up its act this year, the reality is that a large number of clients, along with agencies, are giving the festival a miss. All things going well, next year should see better participation from clients and agencies alike.