"Goafest, starting today, will see a good mix of clients, agencies and media owners"
Ashish Bhasin, Chairman of Goafest 2018 and Chairman & CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network and Vice-President of Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), talks about upping the game for the festival.
Itâ€™s the 13th year of Goafest. How different is it going to be from previous years?
Over the last few years, we have been revamping Goafest and this year we aim to take the festival to the next level, particularly in certain key areas. Firstly, in terms of the speakers, our attempt is to get quality speakers; not just from the advertising world but also from related creative industries, as well as leaders from other spheres. A learning for us was that in addition to advertising, people want to listen to a wide variety of speakers from other industries.
This year, the Union Cabinet Minister for Textiles, Information and Broadcasting, Smriti Zubin Irani, will be there. The Industry Conclave is about brands built in India - Patanjali is a great example of that and we have yoga guru Rishi Baba Ramdevji as the keynote speaker. The second area is the overall Goafest experience. We are using the latest technology, have raised the standard of presentation and will put up a world-class festival. Our benchmark is to be pitched against the best in the world and we are slowly making progress in that direction. Thirdly, Goafest has truly gone digital. We have already had more than 1.2 million engagements from youngsters interested in advertising and marketing, beyond those attending Goafest.
Last year was the first time when we did something on Digital. This year we have taken it a step further and made it more interactive. Even the entertainment is world-class. You have to have a good balance of quality world-class speakers and the production values have to rise every year. The entertainment is now an equally important part of Goafest. So, you have to provide the full mix because different people come for different things.
Last year the Champions of Excellence Awards was introduced for marketers. Is this award being continued this year and what are the other efforts to engage with clients?
This year, we do not have the Excellence Award. However, we have got more than 175-200 clients who have entered as delegates. Itâ€™s a very good mix this year of clients, agencies as well as of course, media owners.
How many delegates are expected to attend this year?
We have seen a good response and the number of delegates is expected to cross 2000. The number of categories for the Abbys was reduced this year and this means that the number of awards has also been reduced. There was a fear that this could lead to a lesser number of people attending, but fortunately the numbers donâ€™t seem to reflect that.
This year, the festival has introduced The National Geographic Green Award, which recognizes creative work and campaigns on conservation of the planet. Can you tell us a little bit more about the award?
The National Geographic Green Award is an important award because we need to bring in environment consciousness, particularly amongst our young advertising professionals. We have a green partner in National Geographic. We are also taking small steps like carpooling from the airport and planting trees, so that Goafest will leave a green footprint well beyond the festival. Other small initiatives include conserving water, cleaning the area using recycled items and using recycled paper.
Looking ahead, how do you see Goafest evolving?
I am hopeful one day everybody will participate in the Abby awards. However, from a festival point of view, we have to focus on quality. We have been significantly improving every year and have to benchmark ourselves with the best in the world. I believe we are heading there pretty rapidly; we must put up the best show and festival in the world. That should be the endeavour of the entire industry. We have taken a few steps in that direction but we need to keep doing more.
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