Great to see the democratisation of Goafest: Ashish Bhasin, DAN

Bhasin, Chairman & CEO - South Asia of Dentsu Aegis Network talks about the widened scope of Goafest and what non-participants are missing

by Srabana Lahiri
Published - Apr 12, 2019 8:28 AM Updated: Apr 12, 2019 8:28 AM
Ashish Bhasin

Dentsu Aegis Network bossman Ashish Bhasin, who is President of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), talks about the widened scope of Goafest, creating an enriched festival experience for delegates & what non-participants are missing.

On expectations from Goafest 2019

I expect to listen to some very good speakers, both from advertising - big names like Gordon Bowen, founder of McGarryBowen and CCO, Dentsu Aegis Group globally - and non-advertising related fields like film, music, sports personalities like Mary Kom who experienced difficulties, experienced challenges, worked in teams, worked as leaders to overcome those challenges. It’s a great thing to listen to advertising people but it’s equally enriching to listen to people from related fields.

On Goafest sans a theme this year

Goafest is a festival of celebration of creativity in whichever form, it does not need a theme. If you look at Cannes or elsewhere, the theme itself is celebration of creativity. Earlier, we did have campaigns running around it, but Goafest has matured as a property and everybody knows what it stands for. It’s now very well established, so I am not sure that it needs a theme. It is finally the decision of whoever is running Goafest that particular year. 

On efforts to create an enriched festival experience for delegates

There is a very different set of speakers, sufficient opportunities to speak and interact with people from related fields. There are also focused workshops and for youngsters that is a very good thing. We see a lot more participation from digital agencies. Even if you look at the award entries, the highest growth has been seen in media and digital - more than that in creative and other areas. I won’t be surprised if one of these years, a digital agency performs as well as a creative agency or better in terms of winning creative awards because lines are truly blurring. Goafest is fun, so there will be a lot of fun too, with people like Shaan coming in. You shouldn’t fall to the temptation of reinventing the wheel every time for the heck of it but keep improving on it and its continuum.

On steps to make Goafest even better

I think it has to be in the spirit of continuous improvement. There are always new themes and trends. One of the things I am very pleased to say is that it’s got more democratised as a festival over the years. For many years, it used to be the monopoly of 5-7 large agencies usually from Mumbai or Delhi or from Bangalore. Today, somewhere around 350 organisations participate. That gives them an opportunity to showcase their ability. It’s also no longer the domain of just creative agencies or just media agencies. There are PR agencies, event agencies, publishers, digital agencies, etc. We get participants from many cities across India and in fact from other South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, too. That’s the reality, that’s the new world. So, that democratisation process to me is very important and that’s been one of our successes over a period of time.

Message to people who are not participating in Goafest

Frankly it is their loss. I don’t think anybody misses them, but they miss a huge festival, and it is most unfair to the youngsters. To the senior guys, it doesn’t matter whether you win one more award or not, but for the younger people, it’s a big deal. They can’t walk up on that stage and see their work being honoured, which is a big high and a big motivator as well. I think agencies are doing a huge injustice by depriving their youngsters. Luckily there are 350 organisations which are encouraging their youngsters. And in many ways, many of the agencies who don’t participate are becoming irrelevant because of the way the business is progressing.

On priorities during the three days of the festival

One is to listen to very good sessions. I am really looking forward to some of them. Two would be to see good work. This is the only time in the year you get to see all the work across Print, TV, Radio, etc., on display, though it’s always a struggle to find the time during the festival to go and see that work, it gives you a very good idea of what is happening in the industry. Three, meet a lot of friends that does not happen during the year - especially the younger guys from different parts of the country, different agencies, different parts of the business. 

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