10 Days to Go-Goafest! It’s all about celebrating ideas: Arvind Sharma

09 Apr,2012


As the countdown begins for Goafest 2012, Arvind Sharma, Chairman Goafest 2012 and Chairman, India Sub-continent, Leo Burnett, speaks to MxMIndia’s Tuhina Anand on the festival this year and why it is truly the celebration of creativity at its best.


What can one expect from Goafest 2012? How will it different from last year?

The Festival will stay true to its fundamental vision. It is a platform for celebrating creativity and a source of inspiration. Most importantly for the entire fraternity comprising young and not-so-young, Goafest is the preparatory ground for the industry to gauge where and how to go forward. I feel that the core, sometimes, is forgotten in the bid to do something new.


I mean, we live in a world which is changing rapidly, so having something new is inevitable. If you look at successful festivals around the world 90 per cent remain the same. Similarly, at Goafest, we have defined categories and 95 per cent remain the same in terms of predictability of entering, judging, Awards Governing Council and Goafest Committee. There is consistency in that format and our effort of providing conversations. All this is same as what one had last year.

Having said that about the predictability factor, let me also add that moving forward is equally important.


So, what’s new?

This year we are looking at ways to involve clients in a meaningful way. The fact is that, there would be no advertising if there were no clients. The business of advertising is about partnering with the marketers. We, at Goafest, believe in evolving vision that doesn’t really mean evolving identically, but in evolving together. We look at bringing in more opportunity for conversations and that’s the reason why we have brought clients this time into the seminar.


There is a slight change in the format. So far, there have been series of international speakers, while some of these presentations have been received well, some weren’t, and there have been questions on the relevance of those to India. Changing that, we have brought in senior Indian clients to raise questions after the presentation. So there will be 30-35 minutes for the speaker followed by 10-15 minutes of Q&A led by a senior Indian client. He or she will be the voice and mind of the audience and bring in the Indian perspective to the entire presentation by agreeing, challenging, bringing contextual light and interpreting the whole presentation.


We have also brought the Marketing Wizards to Goafest. This is calling the under-30 staff of the marketing community. We have had a good response and we expect overall 70 to 80 major advertisers to participate, which include team of two people representing to some even registering team of 30 people even though we have a limit to numbers.


Why this whole idea of bringing in Grand Prix to all verticals?

Grand Prix, traditionally, has been awarded in Print, TV and Integrated. This year, we have expanded the Grand Prix to cover all the 9 verticals. This was not an easy decision and the step was debated. We believe that the time has come for specialists in area to move to the centrestage. I don’t really know if the jury will find works worthy enough for Grand Prix in each of the vertical, but this would help in finding worthy advertising and celebrating it around India and even around the world.


For a young designer who is always on the periphery of an agency, winning gold is good but winning the GrandPrix might help in moving the same person to leadership position. We hope that the move will catalyze long term fundament change in the way we create advertising.


We hear this year there are entries from other South Asian countries?

Yes, we have entries from Sri Lanka and Pakistan and we will have delegates from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In South Asia, we have different cultures but there are more similarities than differences within those cultures and we can learn a lot from each other. Unfortunately, the politics of the subcontinent is more difficult. We had planned a road show in various countries but our passports got stuck and this could not happen.


Can you throw some light on the conclave and the seminar?

We have put together an enviable list of names and these are speakers who really are worthy of listening. Jean-Yves Naouri, COO Publicis Group spends almost 150 days in flight. He knows what is happening in the business around the world and will share his valuable insight. Tim Love has been involved with theCannesand he played important role in the shaping of the future of Omnicom Group. Jonathon Mildenhall, VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, CocaCola promises to be stimulating session. Steven King, CEO, ZenithOptimedia will also be on panel. Anuradha Sengupta, who loves throwing challenge, will be part of the session.


On the seminar speakers, Amir Kassaei, Chief Creative Officer, DDB Worldwide, Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, VivaKi and Prof John Philip Jones, Emeritus Professor at the Newhouse School of Public Communications,Syracuse University,New Yorkwill be speakers. While the world is talking video as the future, Lucas Watson, Vice President, Global Sales and Industry Marketing, YouTube will tell us how and Simon Wardle, Chief Strategy Officer, Octagon will be worth listening to for all the planners in the industry. Erik Vervroegen, International Creative Director, Publicis Worldwide will give his take on creativity. We will announce one more name in this list soon. From the Indian marketers side who will be part of Q&A, we have Sanjay Behl from Reliance, Kainaz Gazder from P&G, Viral Oza from Nokia, Gayatri Yadav from Star India and Hemant Bakshi from Unilever.


Awards have been under the scanner, do the controversies surrounding it mar the event in anyway?

Awards show will have criticism. What is driving us is the celebration of creativity and look at this Fest as a platform to prepare ourselves for the way industry will go forward.


Why did the Goafest Committee decide the theme – Magic of Ideas?

Everything that happens at festivals is ideas. While advances in technology and database is important, but what we celebrate is ideas. If we add everything on an excel sheet, we will see that when a brand gets a lot of traction or if it is ignored, it is all to do with ideas. No client launches a product with the intention of not succeeding, so getting it right is important. For a product to be embraced, it has to connect with people and this cannot be reduced to a formula but has to do with the magic of ideas.


The awards have been leaked in the past, losing some of its credibility, how do you ensure that this doesn’t happen this year?

We believe that awards will not be leaked. In this, the media as well as the organizers have a role to play. There is a symbiotic relation. We do our best to avoid any such incident. Some information has to be shared with the media beforehand, but there is an embargo on release information and last year journalistic fraternity showed a sense of responsibility. I will add that the media has equally a big stake in the Fest.


What will you say to the agencies that have decided to stay away from the fest?

Whether to participate or not is an agency’s decision. We on our part, including the AGC, have been ensuring that our job that includes category, rules, audit and the jury does their job well. Let creative minds debate as for us touch wood, thing are going as per planned.


If you have to send a formal invite to the industry for the Fest what would you say as to why must the fraternity attend?

You will get to see the best of work and see the best creative minds judging what they think is worthy of awards. You get to interact with seniors and bright creative minds which many times is impossible in the busy schedules that we lead. Besides you will get to hear exceptional speakers’ line-up.


Goafest creates the space for debate with peers and youngsters, which includes large group discussions and one-on-one interaction. We are expecting around 2,500 people to attend Goafest this year. Not to forget that Goafest is not heavy-handed like training sessions but good learning place where you also have loads of fun.


Personally for you, how has it been plugging all the gaps before the festival?

We have a very big team working across agencies. There is a sense of joy and shared sense of purpose to make Goafest a success. We are in it together and there still is a fair bit of work to be done. However, it’s been an enjoyable experience.

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