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How do you define the Indian youth and what attracts them the most?
Shamik Sengupta, Creative Director, Fortune Communications Hanoz Mogrelia, Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi Anu J, Creative Director, Creativeland Asia Nilesh Vaidya, Creative Director, Euro RSCG India
 
Nakul Chopra,
CEO & Managing Director-India, Publicis India

"Perhaps three years is too short to discuss evolution. In 2006 there was a lot of doubt and skepticism on whether indeed this would become an event. The record attendance in its very first year – over 1200 people – put all doubts to rest. In 2007 with another record attendance it was amply clear that Goafest is the premier advertising industry event. This year when Goafest combines with Abby it will now gain undisputed strength."

 


In conversation with exchange4media’s Tasneem Limbdiwala, Nakul Chopra speaks on his expectations from this year’s GoaFest 2008.

How do you think is GoaFest going to be different from last year, and since the time it was first introduced in 2006. Now that the industry differences are sorted out, how do you think this will make a difference to GoaFest?
This year Goafest and Abby are being combined into one. I would have hoped that this would have rallied the entire industry to the one platform that now represents our collective best interest. I find already some agencies are reporting they will stay away. Lowe has had this stand for some years – and I would treat them as an exception. If others stay away – we lose the biggest opportunity we have for a strong and unified industry. If indeed all of us adopt Goafest as our own – we would have taken down a serious barrier that divided the industry.

What is your opinion on the judging standards of GoaFest? What are your expectations this time around?
The judging standards for Goafest have been in line with international standards from the best global award shows. The focus will naturally lean towards work relevant to Indian culture – and that is a good thing. This time around we hope that with Abby and Goafest combining the standards will indeed become tougher.

How would you relate advertising with Goa? And how is it celebrating advertising in Goa?
The issue is not to relate advertising with Goa – the issue is that Goa is a idyllic setting to host the awards and celebrate the best work of the year. It makes for a great event where more than 2000 professionals congregate to not only focus on the best work – but equally to celebrate it.

If you were to select a 360 degree campaign as the best in the year, which one would it be and why?
Let the awards decide the best – I don’t believe I want to become a one man jury.

On the creative front, which ad according to you had the best creative idea in the year 2007?
Let the awards decide the best – I don’t believe I want to become a one man jury.

Who do you think will be the hottest agency this year and why?
Let the awards decide the best – I don’t believe I want to become a one man jury.

GoaFest have been giving a lot of importance to young creative minds in the industry? What is in it for them in the 2008 event?
Goafest has recognized that they are our future – and that typically they don’t get to as many award shows or advertising events as the seniors do. It is fantastic that Goafest has a special package for the young people – and hence draws them in huge numbers. It is a great opportunity for them to learn, to imbibe and to celebrate!

How have you been seeing GoaFest evolving as an advertising festival in India since the first time it was celebrated in 2006?
Perhaps 3 years is too short to discuss evolution. In 2006 there was a lot of doubt and skepticism on whether indeed this would become an event. The record attendance in its very first year – over 1200 people – put all doubts to rest. In 2007 with another record attendance it was amply clear that Goafest is the premier advertising industry event. This year when Goafest combines with Abby it will now gain undisputed strength.

What according to you is the importance of young and fresh minds in the industry?
They are both our present and our future. In a business where every idea needs to be a new one – we lean heavily on young minds. And these are the people from among who our industry will get its leaders for tomorrow.

What are the various initiatives the industry is taking to nurture raw talent and bring in a spur of talent to the industry?
Sadly not enough. Again I am not sure that this can be tackled at an industry level. Attracting talent and nurturing it will need far higher initiative both at the industry and individual agency level. Clearly our industry (whether collectively or individually) does not have a great track record in this area. And this shows in the quality of talent we can today attract – it shows in our ability to retain talent. I fear too much emphasis is laid on recruiting the talent – the question is not whether we can recruit from A level management schools – the real question is what we make these recruits do – and whether we nurture and retain them. Perhaps the time has come for the industry to examine some fundamentals like basic organization structures and departmental silos – these will need serious restructuring before we can address issues of talent.

Do you think GoaFest has now reached a level from where it can take bigger strides and expand its wings to Pan Asia or even farther?
I certainly believe it has. I am not quite sure that I would want it to expand. I do believe there is some merit in one show remaining completely Indian – where we celebrate the best of India – where we celebrate Indian culture.

On a broader note, how do you think awards help a creative professional in general?
Awards help in many ways – they set new benchmarks – they open minds to new ways – they celebrate and recognize performance – they provide immense motivation.

If you were to assess and review the year 2007 as a whole for the industry, what are the core points you think have made a difference in the industry past one year?
The industry saw strong double digit growth after a while. This is the combined consequence of buoyancy in the existing categories and a spurt of activity from newer ones. The industry on the other hand faced a tremendous pressure in terms of talent and attrition. We saw further consolidation of independents with the big groups – and we saw some pretty furious activity from some of the groups that are not that well represented in India. Agencies across the board were vocal in their pursuit of higher benchmarks in creative – some renowned Creative shops were very active in India – but overall nothing dramatic materialized in terms of output. Indeed when one looks at the output – there is a very distinct tiredness to it – as if the industry has now found a common brand of creative – which I believe we are now flogging to death. Time, in my opinion that we looked for some newer paradigms. Not enough happened in the non-conventional media and disciplines – we in India have a lot of catching up to do in that respect.

How has the industry grown revenue wise?
Pundits claim 20-25% growth – there are no official statistics – though we do know that media spends grew at about that level. Personally I believe growth for the industry revenues was lower – as our revenues now tend to grow slower than media spends. Yet the more competitive and agile agencies could notch up growth as high as 30% - I am proud that we too did.

What is your take on the compensation done by the clients in general? Do you think that agencies are under cutting a bit more than usual? If yes, what is the solution?
Agency compensation is not just a function of competitive pricing – this is a combination of the perceived value of our services – the pressures on clients to cut their costs and of course our own penchant to undercut each other. Today overall we do run the risk of tipping compensation into an unsustainably low level. There has been collective debate on this – and I am sure this is an active debate between the larger agencies and the larger clients. The solution is first for agencies to fix their value equation and then propose a fair compensation to the client fraternity for that. In my experience more clients are willing to pay for value received than are not. There will always be the fringe where either an agency will quote stupidly low prices – or a client will pressure agencies to work at these prices. For a majority of the larger clients the issue is they are under pressure from the market to bring down prices – and that too constantly – we as their partners need to help them in that pursuit. If we do – the issue will no longer just be squeezing our margins – rather it will be fair price for value delivered.

 
 
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