AdAsia wrap-up by Ajay Kakar: Memories from a distant past

04 Nov,2011

By Ajay Kakar

Having just attended the AdAsia 2011 in New Delhi, I was reminded of the multi-starrer movies that prevailed through the 1980s. Many top-notch actors and actresses, all together. Many, for the price of one. Wow! These movies caught the fancy of the generation and the very presence of the mega stars assured the movie a great opening.

AdAsia 2011 has been no different. Post a gap of eight years, the prestigious forum was back in India, with a line up of mega-stars from the world of advertising, media and marketing; Ram Charan, Michael Roth, Harish Manwani, Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, Sanjay Kapoor, Joseph Tripodi, Bob O’ Leary, Simon Bond, Chris Thomas… Indra Nooyi. The list just went on and on. And for good measure there was song and glamour too… our very own SRK doing a dance number, with Diana Hayden adding to the glamour quotient. With a batting order like this how can one go wrong! So not surprisingly, there were over 1200 registered participants from all across the region.

But once the initial euphoria of multi starrers settled, the audience became discriminating and demanding. A winning cast was appreciated. Great production values and style was expected. But the demand to have a strong story line became the differentiator between a winning multi starrer and a loser.

While AdAsia 2011 could be a learning for the Goafest on its speaker line up, it could arguably give a run to Cannes for it’s star speaker quotient. It could also boast of a classy and world-class execution. Be it the event, the infrastructure, the meals or the entertainment.

But what about the content?

One heard many in the audience lament ke naya kya suna aur naya kya seekha? Who were the speakers actually targeting? The theme had a slant towards the future – “Uncertainty: the new certainty”. But the audience comprised most of the stalwarts of the industry. Very few of the new generation torch-bearers. And as always, we had some good, some bad and some not-so-good presentations. Some highs like the Contagious and Coke presentations. And some disappointments – a no show by David Droga – due to visa problems.

The halls were full, with people standing in the aisles. But within the crowd I would have loved to see more clients. And more than just the very few creative people who made it. Surprisingly, not many of the Delhiwallahs from the fraternity made it.

Now for the rating of this multi-starrer. Net-net, I would give this extravaganza a 5 on 5, as far as the ‘cast’ and style is concerned. And on content, a 3 out of 5. Kudos to the organizing team (the event was supported by all the key industry bodies) for doing India and the industry proud.

And to end with a confession – the demands of being on the client side….I sneaked out at the end of Day 2 – needed to be back at the workstation in Bombay.


Ajay Kakar is Chief Marketing Officer – Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group

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