Mediaah!: Why Goafest hasn’t lost the plot and deserves one more chance

28 Mar,2014

By Pradyuman Maheshwari


I write this more in response to Anant Rangaswami’s article on Firstbiz and his Facebook posts. What I like about Anant’s writing is his definite views on issues, many of which I agree with.


But on Goafest, he’s been unduly harsh. His point on Facebook: Goafest has lost the plot. It’s press release offered a programme with just time slots and no mention of speakers and topics.


I received the communique too, and chose to not carry a report on it because it didn’t say anything at all. It was an advance intimation of the programme, but could have been held back for a few days with some names.


I also agree with Anant that Goafest in the summer is a nightmare (my descriptor, not his). Since I sweat a lot, I can say that it’s terrible even in the aircon. So, even though the event is indoors, the walk or buggy ride to your rooms could see you drenched in sweat. Your eyes could be burning all day and even the world’s best coolants wouldn’t work.


Last year’s Goafest could best be described as forgettable. It had loads of negatives. The Creative Abby was a disaster (albeit for a fault that wasn’t of the organising committee). First a controversy about the Ford Figo scam ads saw the exits of some high profile staff at JWT and Ford, then the Tata Chemicals scam ads that were eventually pulled out of the competition and later the controversy around scam ads and plagiarism.


Somewhere along this was the decision by Ogilvy to not participate in the Abby. Ogilvy had huge misgivings about the awards, and Ad Club prez Shashi Sinha tried his damnedest to get them back. But Messrs Piyush Pandey & Co didn’t budge.


When Pratap Bose took charge as Ad Club president last year, he resolved to ensure a buy-in from all towards the Creative Abby. That doesn’t seem to have happened thus far.


To add to the confusion, the AAAI delayed the Goafest announcement and later found the elections as reason to postpone the dates. Then came the news that Nakul Chopra had opted out of the Goafest chair position.


Finally Srinivasan K Swamy, better known in the frat as Sundar, took charge. I’ve interacted with Sundar a fair deal in the recent past, especially as head of the International Advertising Association India Chapter of which he is the head. I believe if there’s one person from the AAAI who can pull it off, it’s him. The IAA is supremely active thanks to Sundar’s leadership. I find him exceedingly keen on doing things and he knows the art of getting things done.


I am not sure how Goafest 2014 will be. I have heard people say that some regular sponsors have declined to be associated this year. But Sundar is confident of a turnaround and I think he ought to be given a chance.


Yes, I do think Rajesh Kejriwal’s Kyoorius Awards with the coveted D&AD partnership, has stolen the thunder from the Abby, but there’s space for multiple awards. We’ve seen how other disciplines – radio, digital, outdoor and PR, for instance – have multiple awards and they are all doing well. So ditto with creative.


I have heard some angry comments amongst industry elders about Anant’s Firstbiz piece and I was told that some pressure may be exerted on Network18 via the media agencies asking him to refrain from writing nasties against Goafest. I hope that doesn’t happen, that wouldn’t be right.


Sadly, Anant’s views are echoed by many in the industry. Before Sundar’s name was announced, even I wasn’t sure whether there was any point in conducting this year’s edition.


Sundar & Co have an uphill task ahead of them. But I think they need to be given a chance.


The industry deserves a good, celebratory Goafest. The format, the timing and the awards are a problem. Perhaps the organising committee and AAAI need some younger blood taking the lead on Goafest. Perhaps it may be a good idea to get a professional body to conduct the show – Kyoorius, e4m, Campaign/Haymarket… whosoever.


I know what I am going to do: have MxM support Goafest until before the event happens. The coverage of the conference (and the awards and the fun element) will then take over. And on that, we’ll be brutally honest about how it is.


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One response to “Mediaah!: Why Goafest hasn’t lost the plot and deserves one more chance”

  1. Amith Prabhu says:

    Goafest organisers need to start planning in June to organise it the following March. Everything else will fall in place.