MxM Mondays: Are delegates ready to face the heat at Goafest 2013?

14 Jan,2013


By Johnson Napier and Ananya Saha


The festival that has been hailed as the Cannes of India beckons upon the advertising industry. April 4-6, 2013 are the days when the who’s who from advertising will be joined by a few from the media and marketing domains in keeping with the tradition of making it to the venue every year. The venue this year remains the same – Zuri White Sands in Goa! Like every year, the Goafest committee will be going all out to ensure that the event remains world-class, be it in the quality of speakers or the introduction of new initiatives or simply by bringing about a twist in the awards tale.


But in doing their bit in raising the bar of the festival, what they have not achieved so far is holding the event in some other month in Goa – by now the biggest peeve facing delegates. The Goafest committee led by Nakul Chopra of Publicis this year, has been making attempts to actively bring it forward by a few weeks if not a month or two. But that doesn’t help solve the issue of the torrid heat that delegates have to put up with in order to enjoy a festival that boasts of being the largest of its kind.


MxMIndia speaks to a few committee members and also some members from the ad and marketing fraternity and explores possibilities of whether the delegates can expect the unexpected…


Nakul Chopra, Chairman, Goafest Committee

There is a logistical issue with doing it in February from a perspective of the location. As one would know, the tourism season here starts from October right until March. The same is the case with Cannes where it is not a vacation season when the awards are held there. But we’ve tried our best by getting the event ahead in the first week of April. We do understand that the heat gets unbearable but we would make provisions to have more cooling areas in the venue.


As for the non-participation dilemma, I don’t think that with Abbys and Goafest in its current avatar, anybody is staying away in protest. Probably some agencies have a principle of not participating in awards or any other personal reason but not because of some issue from our end. These were issues of the past and as an industry we have managed to fairly overcome them in recent years. Due credit should be given to the fact that Goafest is the only award of this size and stature that is being run by industry bodies. This enables us to reach out to as many agencies and delegates as possible and not be limited in our approach towards the industry.


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

The heat and passion of advertising industry is stronger than the heat of Goa. Whenever you have it is immaterial. On a serious note, there is an economics of the whole thing. We try to do it away from the peak season, which helps us in two ways. One, of course the economics and second, it helps us with avoiding the crowd and congestion all over.


It is a democratic country but it is too early to think or know who might not be a part of Goafest. So far, we have the support of every agency. And it is too early to think anything to the contrary.


Anant Rangaswami, senior editor at and author of The Elephants in the Room

On the timing, all I can say is that April first week is better than April second or third week. That they managed to get it to the first week is not a bad thing. Also, it’s not easy to get an event of this scale to be held in February/March; it could be a logistical nightmare. Whether they should hold the festival at some other venue, I don’t know what’ll be the right thing to say as they had envisaged the festival with a certain concept in mind. I think it is a trap that they are finding difficult to get out of. Goa will continue to remain the venue as long as the name remains Goafest. That is not the case with other awards like Spikes that can be held at Bali, Singapore etc. For me, it looks like a big trap that they cannot get out of.


As for non-participation in the awards, the number has come down significantly. As for McCann Erickson preferring to opt out last year, it  did not opt out of the awards because of any issue with the way it was conducted. Prasoon made it quite clear that he did not think that they had a body of award-winning work. I can understand that, because the awards are an expensive business, and it makes sense not to enter unless you stand a decent chance of winning. In this industry, every sector apart from television is about scam and scam requires investment, time, energy…it’s not easy. There’s serious money that goes in the development of scam. But what the committee has done in the past two years is also noteworthy as they have managed to eradicate issues like bias in judging by the jury, favouritism, leaking of results and other such things involving the awards.


Arvind Sharma, President of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI)

The real challenge is getting rooms for so many delegates. With so much international tourists pouring in and domestic travel also seeing a spike it becomes difficult to arrange for rooms for so many delegates. But can it be held in early March, yes it certainly can. We are working towards it.


Any awards show around the world, a few agencies will chose not to participate for a variety of reasons. We should be looking at the fact that the number of participating agencies is increasing every year at Goafest. It also means that the number of winners are increasing every year because part of the purpose of an awards show is to be a beacon of light for excellence and I am particularly excited that we are recognising excellence in more than 119 organisations.


Shashi Sinha, President – The Advertising Club and Chairman of the Awards Governing Council, Goafest

The event is a very low-cost affair and not on the scale of what one gets to see at Cannes. There is no-profit motive behind this event and the effort is to try and accommodate the youngsters by offering them subsidised rates. This whole exercise is designed on the basis of sponsorships. The goal is to ensure that we have the right balance of sponsorships and also encourage more youngsters to come and attend the event. The other point is that October-March happens to be peak season for tourism and therefore the rates are pretty expensive. To accommodate more than 3000 delegates therefore becomes a huge task. We have tried our best to bring it forward by hosting it in the first week of April. But we would be providing more cooling options at the venue like the display area that saw heavy movement last year by the youngsters.


On the issue of non-participation by agencies, we have managed to successfully bring down that number significantly in the past two years. In fact last year there was only agency – McCann Erickson that did not participate. What we have managed to do is that if somebody is not participating we have made it clear that it is not because of the process; it is because of some other reason. Previously it was very convenient to blame the committee etc for the drawback but that is not the case today. One of the biggest reasons why agencies now participate openly is because of the transparency that we managed to bring in the process. That has cleared doubts that existed among agencies.


Prathap Suthan, Managing Partner & Chief Creative Officer, Bang In The Middle

I personally have not been there too many times and I did find that the heat was a torture. It is actually the old in the industry that are affected by the heat, the younger lot are not. It is a bit of summer blast everywhere in India at that time before summer actually begins. For youngsters, it implies lots of time on the beach, lots of time to run around, lots of beer, hang out in the shacks. It is going to be, let us say, 200 seniors and rest are going to be juniors. From that perspective, it does not really matter. Going to Goa, for youngsters, is the big thing no matter what time of the year. Seniors, anyway, are used to be driven around, staying in air-conditioned homes and offices. So to be outdoors, it is terrible. I am in creative, so I go for shoots, I do not complain. If I am in Goa then, I would prefer to stay in the auditorium or watch and learn rather than go out and stand in the sun. If I were young, say 25, I would be enjoying going everywhere. For organisers, to get hold of amenities is possibly a better deal at this time of the year. Since February and March are tourist seasons, availability of rooms could be a problem for organisers.


For the agencies refraining from participating, I would say that everything is fair. It is all about the money at the end of the day. If I have ‘X’ amount of money and I am sure of winning a metal at international festival, I would rather put my money at Cannes rather than Goa. It is also about the fight of action between two or three groups. Personally, I do not ascribe to any awards. I do not want to be part of any awards. I am very happy doing whatever I am doing. I am not here cutting any favours. My whole responsibility is only towards the clients that I handle, and towards my juniors.


I may or may not go. But boys and girls from my office will definitely go.


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