Young also want some gyaan @ Goafest: Ambi Parmeswaran

05 Apr,2013

By A Correspondent


Goafest, the annual advertising festival held in April every year, is a two-day festival of ad professionals preceded by a Conclave of senior media professionals.


This year, Dr M G Parmeswaran, executive director and CEO of ad agency Draftfcb+Ulka, is convenor of the knowledge seminars on the two days of Goafest (April 5 and 6).


Ambi, as Dr Parmeswaran, is known in the fraternity, took a few questions on the eve of the eighth edition of Goafest.


Being the convenor of the conference leg of an event like Goafest must be tough… how do you get folks to sit in for all the ‘gyaan’ when they’ve actually come to have a drink and make merry?

Over the years, we have noticed that the young are finding the seminar hangar not just a place to cool down but also for a bit of gyaan. We dramatically changed the format last year into to eight keynote speeches followed by Q&A moderated by a senior industry professional. We have also introduced a special prize for the best audience question. So instead of a panel of five people rambling on, we have one person on stage trying to engage the audience. Instead of people hesitating to ask questions, we have introduced the ‘slip’ system to curate the questions. All this added to better turn out last year. This year we are trying to bring in a couple of speakers from non-advertising domain. I am sure that will help lift the audience turn out.


So what’s been your magic formula for this year?

No magic formula, just understanding what worked last year and trying to improve on that. This year’s line-up is, in my opinion the best we have had of late. It covers a diverse spectrum. Yes, there are some last-minute snafus, and this is bound to happen when we are running the Goafest seminars on a shoestring budget. Overall the line-up is great, hope the audience think that way too.


What’s been your thinking behind inviting the various speakers – from across all spectrums – true-blue adpersons to a Swami to a tech guy to a film-maker. Expect the unexpected?

We first did a listing of areas we want to be covered -  Creative, Strategy, Media, Digital. Once those boxes were ticked, we said let us look beyond this. We reached out to over 35 thought leaders from sociology, psychology etc. And finally decided to have it all by doing the unexpected. Swami Sukhbodananda was a speaker at the Delhi AdAsia two years ago. He was the only speaker to get a standing ovation in the entire conference. Our young professionals have not heard him, so we reached out to him and Swamiji graciously agreed. The other unexpected speaker is the Bollywood director making waves, Abhishek Kapoor of Kai Po Che fame. He has a very interesting personal story to share. Should be time well spent for the young and old in advertising.


Given that scam ads have been a discussion point in the industry, and since the key stakeholders are out there in full strength, wouldn’t an open house on the issue have been a good idea? Or is that out of the purview of what’s essentially a knowledge-sharing conference?

My agenda is to deliver a Seminar that covers a wide spectrum of topics for young and old. Your idea is a good one. May be the Abby stage should be used to have this debate, but then again that is the wrong forum.


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