AdAsia: Experiencing India

03 Nov,2011

By Tuhina Anand

AdAsia 2011 has seen more than 1000 delegates registered from 25 different countries. While Indian delegates lead the pack as it’s the host country, there are also many delegates from different other parts of the world including UAE, Pakistan, Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia among others. At the venue of AdAsia one can see these delegates soaking in the Indian culture and cuisine and also attending the various sessions that comprise stalwarts from the industry from across the world sharing their insights with the audience. For some, travelling thousands of miles is standard networking practice, for others it’s a chance to know what is happening in the other parts of the world, learn from them and apply some of the discussed pointers back home.

Anis Khan, the MD of Leo Burnett in Karachi, Pakistan says his reason for being at AdAsia is to get an opportunity to listen to his colleagues from across the world and pick up new learnings from their sessions and interaction with people. He said, “After the downturn in 2008, AdEx across the world has dipped though many countries have bounced back. I am specifically looking at understanding how different industry people from various countries have been combating this challenge. Also I would like to learn more on the alternate and digital media and I think the AdAsia platform will help me in this.”

Chris Thomas, Chairman and CEO of BBDO Asia, Middle East & Africa, Chairman of Proximity Worldwide is in India as a speaker for one of the sessions. But besides that he is upbeat about the vibrancy and scale of discussions. He said, “The theme this year is interesting and content built around the various subjects around the theme is good learning. We do get an India perspective but also getting international and an external perspective to the theme. It gives us an idea how alive and kicking the industry is in Asia and particularly in India.”

Then there are those like Keith Thomson, International Business Development Director, BlackLite Media FZ-LLC, an outdoor agency in UAE for whom the platform is a good opportunity to connect with people beyond UAE. He said, “While Arabic population is aware of BlackLite but I am looking at acquainting people with what we do beyond this geography and also people who are already spending in this market to connect with them and persuade them to allocate additional sum and look at our medium.” But Thomson says that the networking bit is bit restricted as he doesn’t know too many people here and will use the list provided by AdAsia to connect with delegates later on their emails. He says, “It’s work in progress.”

Trung of Vietnam is at AdAsia with a group of 30 people from his country. His motive is to study and experience AdAsia and be ready when their country hosts AdAsia in Vietnam in 2013. He has one grouse though, that in his group, especially people in a slightly older age category, are not enjoying the lavish spreads laid out for the guests. There should be food that would appeal to their palate, he feels, as not everyone enjoys Indian food.

Food is not a problem for Jerry S Justianto, Director, Masima (contents + channels) which runs a number of radio channels in Indonesia. It’s his first visit to India and he is enjoying the food to the hilt, “especially the dessert”.  He also finds a common link between middle-class Indonesia and India which he feels enjoy similar kinds of popular culture.

The delegates have enjoyed the gala extravaganza and have talked about it with appreciation. But it’s not all work and no play – some have even managed a bit of tourism.  Yukinori Sasaki, Deputy Director, External Relations Office, Dentsu Inc, said, “Its my second visit to Delhi. I was expecting to meet lot of people and not just from advertising industry. I have managed that, but I didn’t get to meet many advertisers.” However, Sasaki has other plans on his itinerary which includes a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Some delegates also shared what AdAsia should do differently next year. Mehwish Rafi, Chief Strategy Officer, Adcom from Karachi, said, “As far as knowledge, case studies and information goes, we have had a lot of it. But the sessions should have been more interactive. Even if there was an option of receiving questions online beforehand and then addressing those during the session, it would have made so much sense.” This definitely should be noted especially when one is talking about listening to consumers and how digital should be used, perhaps the industry should start practicing what it preaches.

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