GoaFest 2011: It’s India, we expect more - Dheeraj Sinha
If it weren’t for the scorching heat outside and the superb air-conditioning inside, would one still sit through those presentations, wonders Dheeraj Sinha, Regional Planning Director, Bates141, as he feels there’s an air of ‘been there, done that’ at GoaFest…
If it weren’t for the scorching heat outside and the superb air-conditioning inside, would you still sit through those presentations? That to my mind is a million dollar question. May be the bullishness of India is getting to all our heads, the confidence that we too have been part of work that has been celebrated at the global stage is making us over evaluative. But like it or not, that’s a truth of these times. As a result, every work spoken, every slide shown is being questioned with an attitude – does it tell me anything that I haven’t heard before?
The highlight for me has been that digital is finally beginning to take off in India in action and not just at conferences. Examples of YouTube innovations shared at the Google presentation and the buzz around the digital work overall is encouraging. Finally, we have digital sessions with Indian examples. Some of the other sessions to my mind should have been subtler about using this opportunity to sell their companies.
On the work front, I must confess that I have managed to see only the print section till now. Looking at the work, it’s evident that a few illustrators back home have made good money this award season. There are a couple of strong campaigns in this style and they stood out for me. A majority of ideas are visual, with execution taking the centerstage. Judging from this perspective, our industry certainly seems to have superior art talent. The quality of craft is clearly getting better.
The work at display brings to the fore two worldviews or motivations if you like. One worldview seems to say I know how the global work looks today and I want to look similar. While the other one says that there’s a lot that India has to offer and how do I take this to the world stage? I am personally fascinated by the latter. The gods campaign for PETA and instant power back-up for Base Terminal were notable for me in their inspiration from India’s rich visual culture.
If as an industry this was a representative sample of the amount of work we are doing around social issues, then advertising has no soul searching to do. Our concern for the environment, drinking and driving, animal rights and even homelessness has dominated this category. But at the same time, there’s a good volume of work on the brands that the industry actually spends most of its time on. And to my mind this is positive as it demonstrates our real ability on what we could do for our brands.
Advertising people learn from their experience. Having been to the GoaFest a few times now, most people have figured out their itineraries rather well. The festival now seems to have a rather settled pattern than an excitement of uncertainty that it had in its early years. Everyone is walking with a face that knows exactly what they want out of here. While unbundling might be a burning issue of debate in the industry right now, the GoaFest is like a full service agency – there’s something for everyone. So, between the copious amounts of beer, socialising, afternoon siestas, creative showcase and presentations, I am waiting to see if ‘rain dance’ still takes the cake away.
(Dheeraj Sinha is Regional Planning Director, Bates141 and author of ‘Consumer India – Inside the Indian Mind and Wallet’.)
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