What Goafest must learn from Designyatra

02 Sep,2013


There was hardly anyone in the corridors or at the bar when the Designyatra sessions were on. Comments from a cross-section of industry folk on what the Goafest organisers must do to improve the annual event


Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner, Bang in the Middle

I must first admit that my experience with Kyoorius Designyatra is double of that of Goafest. It was an art director colleague who forced me to attend KDY last year. I was smitten, so much so that I came back this year and doubled our agency’s participation from delegate perspective. I have been to Goafest just once and swore to not return to attend Goafest ever. It’s been four years since then!


So what can Goafest learn from KDY? There are three blindingly simple answers…




There is only one word that aptly sums up my sentiment on the three-day twin-fests of Kyoorius Designyatra and Digiyatra: Salute.


A big salute to: Rajesh Kejriwal, his team at Kyoorius and the entire design and creative fraternity in attendance.


I have been hearing much the Designyatra but just didn’t get down to attending it all these years.


MxM launched around the time KDY2011 was happening, and I was busy with work on the Annual last year. But, having heard so much about it, we first forged a partnership with KDY2013.  We gave it the best and most premium adslots, sent mailers and supported it every possible way.


Editorially, we covered it extensively and all because we thought it merited it.


So, why the Salute, one may ask. Because there’s nothing like KDY that we have in the Indian ad and media world.


Every morning, there would be crowds at the entrance waiting for proceedings to start. Quite like the way you see people at the doors of a cinema hall/screen before the show starts. Then, even after lunch or tea were announced and Rajesh or the moderator would make house announcements, not a soul would get up to step out. They wanted to consume every thing.


But to me, and some of us who discussed it later, the biggest thing was an announcement on the last evening. There was a Gala Dinner for which people had to opt for by paying a small amount. Not everyone opeted for it, and the moderator and Rajesh took pains to inform everyone that drinks and sumptuous snacks would be served to everyone. And that happened, there was a steady flow of snacks.


Next, Rajesh announced that people can party as long as they wanted… they were buses to the various hotels regardless of the time. Even a 3 or 4am! A gesture not everyone would forget in a hurry.


There are a few biggies from the AAAI and Ad Club who were in attendance on some of the days of the Digiyatra and Designyatra. One hopes that they take the message to the Goafeset officebearers: get your act together… fast!


– Pradyuman Maheshwari


1. Invest in content. KDY is amazing from a content perspective. The speakers are eclectic. They come from all over the world, but they also come from our heartland, those who have had no training, who have don’t work for large networks and who have amazing stories to tell. KDY makes me feel like a student with lessons from life; Goafest makes me feel like a fraud who is somehow selling a pipe dream to his clients to have an alternate life.


2. As an industry advertising needs to give up the egos of select few and become humble again. Advertising is a small industry and has no reason to have large egos. When you give up ego, you will then you will be able to see that Goafest is not currently relevant to the new emerging marketing scenario.


3. Be eclectic. That is what the profession called communication is. Somehow Goafest is a closed user group which has very little reflection of the real world, real life and thus real learnings.


Anil Nair, CEO and Managing Partner, Law & Kenneth

This is my first Designyatra and for me this is a learning experience  – from two aspects. How do you go about doing something as interesting as this. KDY has actually covered the entire gamut. It’s not uni-dimensional. Personally, I have learnt a lot in the three days and I can well imagine what it means for the students out there, taking notes. There is an overall element of seriousness, no one sitting and wasting their time here. Attendance is amazing, quality of speakers is phenomenal and their preparation is very obvious.


The effort can be seen. Contrasting this with what I have seen in Goafest, right from before the event, you hear of partisan thinking groups and there’s much amount of frivolous, gossipy stuff. That reflects on the sessions. I haven’t gone there for a couple of years, I was totally disheartened. There are great names they bring, but they don’t do any homework.


First of all, AAAI or Ad Club should stop organizing it, and give it to someone like Rajesh who is a private body. Like Cannes is not run by an ad association, but by a for-profit body who does it well, success is critical for the organiser.


So #1: AAAI and Ad Club have to stop being part of Goafest, give the rights to someone. Control it from a holding stake or a monetary level.


#2: Get a real venue like this, don’t try to cut corners.


#3: Timing of the year. You can’t have anything in Goa in April, it’s the wrong time of the year. You may be getting hotels cheaper but look at these guys: they are organizing a successful show in the last week of August and it’s a good time to be here.


The problem starts with AAAI and Ad Club. It’s not a truly democratic process, there are the usual faces and figures. There are certain so-called cast-in-the-stone methods. There is no willingness to learn. When Pat (Prathap Suthan) started the Delhi alternative, there was a lot of hue and cry and they said they are willing to listen and learn. I don’t think anyone reached out to him to integrate him.


At a fundamental level, it’s a fiefdom of a few. The cause is much deeper.There is no attempt to make the younger, people who came into the limelight in the last 10 years, who have a different view of things. Try to have them in any committee, any decision-making body. I am not talking of problems of Goafest alone. They are not addressing fundamental issues like talent, remuneration. Their priorities are different.


All of them are busy, doyens of the industry. They should hand it over to others.


Anant Rangaswami, Editor, Storyboard

I have written so much about it, I can’t say anything new. But all that I can say is that Goafest is in serious trouble. Unless it addresses the issues, it’s the last time we’ve seen Goafest.


There are two things that have to happen. One is handling of the Abby mess which has to be done very quickly… it can’t carry on beyond October-November, otherwise next year is a non-starter. If Abby doesn’t happen, half the reason to attend Goafest is gone.

Second, addressing of the issue of the construct of Goafest where from morning to 3.30pm people have nothing to do but drink free


alcohol and then at 3.30 you expect conference halls to be filled.


You know when you come to Goa for Designyatra, you have a day that’s packed from morning to night with compelling content. And therefore you don’t make other plans like Anjuna or lunch at a shack. You won’t have time for all that. A perception from Goa is that you are going to have fun, and when the fun isn’t that much, there’s disappointment. You see kids of the same age group as those at Goafest riveted to their chairs. They don’t go to the loo, they carry bottles of water in because they don’t want to a single minute of the sessions.


What can Goafest learn from Kyoorius? Kyoorius told itself that it will give people reasons to attend and those reasons will be content that they will profit from. That’s what Goafest needs to do – create compelling content that a delegate will profit from.


KV Sridhar (Pops), Chief Creative Officer – India subcontinent, Leo Burnett

One big thing I see is that Goafest is run by the industry which is prone to politics whereas Kyoorius is run by a single individual that is devoid of any politics and whose intentions are clear – to bring all the designers together and make better design. So Kyoorius is selfless in a sense whereas Goafest is all about agendas, politics, measures etc. Here they do not have any hidden agenda when it comes to awards or even speakers who promote their own cause etc.


I don’t know if the construct is that people come to Goafest to celebrate, drink and collect awards. More focus is given on the celebratory aspect of the festival at Goafest whereas here the top focus is given to seminars. In fact the last four years we used to send many people from the design team to attend this festival but due to the ongoing crisis a few big agencies have stayed away. This platform gives them a huge exposure and also a chance to interact and focus on design. The message to everyone including myself is beg, borrow, steal but send in some people because this opportunity comes once in a lifetime and of they miss it’s like missing one year from your career. Also, a lot of design people from clients have made it here.


Everyone needs to learn from each other; we live in a collaborative world. If you stop learning then you miss an important lesson. What Goafest needs to do is reinvent and rediscover itself after the public outcry last year. If that doesn’t happen then a lot of people will stop participating in the festival.


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One response to “What Goafest must learn from Designyatra”

  1. Sanjay Salunkhe says:

    It’s 100% real and true picture. Thanks to Rajesh