Sanjeev Kotnala: 20 things Goafest must do to be in the reckoning

18 Jun,2014

Sanjeev Kotnala

By Sanjeev Kotnala


Goafest 2015 will happen at Goa – that’s as much certainty you have about India’s premier advertising-marketing event.  Basking in the glory of a successful Goafest 2014, it’s natural for not to look at the issues and problems with it and try addressing them in Jan 2015.


As an industry that claims to be at the forefront of designing marketing and advertising solutions for client , we would have once again failed. Trust me, the debate if it would / should / could been a Festival / Celebration / populist /  Boycott / Barat / knowledge platform / scam will never be finished. It’s been a mix of all of them and will remain so.


There are more problems than solutions at Goafest.  And the Kyoorius Awards night at NSCI has upped the benchmark raising new set of questions. But, Congratulations is due to the team that made Goafest 2014 possible.  The 2/3 day pass was definitely a relevant innovation. Getting the I&B Minister immediately after the election was a coup. ‘AIB’ and  ‘AAP developers’ a masterstroke. Publisher and Broadcast Abby a positive stroke towards wider inclusion. But these cosmetic victories does not provide the answer indstry and the young brigade been seeking.


Complicated and well-documented issues like Egos / Sponsorship / Permissions / International Speakers / Scams / Formats / Awards have been slowly eroding its percieved value of the fest. I fondly remember the euphuria when the first fest happened and again when AAAI and Advertisng Club came together to create one single award. After so many years, it remains an iffy. Come to think of even if spoken in humour, the Goafest signature seems to be ‘Beer & Rain Dance’.


It starts with the basic. Today we know the dates for Cannes. Spikes, MediaAsia  and  AdAsia. But for Goafest, please, wait for the new president to take over in Feb 2015. Can Ad Club and AAAI not agree to give the Goafest President/Chairman a three-year tenure. And are we still so underfunded that we cannot have a full-time-paid -secretariat working on the event. Before we single out Goafest, let’s be clear: this is true about all the industry events. The large acclaimed advertising-marketing bodies have not been able to create signature events with fixed schedules.


I have attended all editions of Goafest. I personally found new ways to enjoy the differentiated offering every year.  But most of them got nothing to do with the fest itself. The problems facing Goafest are well-known and mostly been stated in macro terms. More so and may be the same set ot people been trying to fight to on too many fronts. But truly seaking, the solutions are also with them.


Today, the time is just right with 10-11 months to go for Goafest 2015 for them to prioritise their problems to attack. The problems are so inter-leveraged that solution to P1P2 ( Priority 1 and 2) are bound to set series of domino crashing.


If you look at the Goafest – the problems are Participation / Boycotts / Bad publicity / not enough publicity/ Entries / Jury / Awards / lack of excitement / April-May / Fee and many more.


Sincerely, I believe that given the scope, time, experience and mutual respect, the solutions should not be really tough for an industry that has solved many complicated brand positioning and execution problem. The personal belief remains that Goafest is a deat of celebrating great communication and should be cosnidered the flagsip event of the industry in India. But then beliefs do not count for anything till the issues remain.



Easier said than done. Can we just adapt 1st Thursday of April start date?

Why can’t the Goafest committee be in place now?


2. FEE : 

Oh, they have started moving northward but are somewhat manageable. Or we need to find innovative ways. What about a refund that is based on the number of knowledge seminars you actually attended.
The amount of activation- fun and energy creating stalls and activity centres have been decreasing with the years. Trust these add to the whole space and the kick of attending Goafest



Unlike international festivals we don’t see any agency or marketer non-media sponsors. Depending on media like Discovery, Goggle, Hindu, HT, Colors, Star, Dainik Bhaskar is going to be suicidal in the long run.



One of the biggest issue. What is being done n the experience and promise part of the deal. Currently with the sponsor matrix of ROI and ROE not being answered we have to chase sponsors. If this is taken care of the sponsors would be willing to do a long-term deal.


5. OUTSOURCING. Or is it unthinkable?

I am also aware that a body of people did made a case of outsourcing the event with acceptable financial and on the terms that Ad Club and AAAI would have wanted. I am sure that may take it to another level.And if you do look within the industry many such consotiums willing to bite the bullet exist.



Toughest of all. Divided we stand and united is the image we would want to project. Every year the issues get voiced nearer the event. They need then to be tackled with the back to the wall. Mostly full of illogical, irrational at times seemingly ego-centric personal agenda-led crap creating volcanic fires tending to polarise the industry. it definitely does is to give the event a bad name and dampens individual interest.



Time to re-categories and re-look at the number of  awards and create a group for the 3 nights that remains consistent. The clubbing of awards are also by the categories / media / entrants and interest. Deep dive and understand the root cause beyond the apparent stated reasons and solve the participation issue.



For every delegate and participating company there has to be something of interest and relevance.  This year I was surprised at many under powered presentation. I thought they should have been booed not clapped. One clear case was the presentation that aimed at enlightening developing Indian advertising industry with  last year social media Cannes winners. I presume that delegates at Goafest mostly likely would have have seen / heard / read about last year Cannes winners. That is ancient for a dynamic subject  like social media. The claps were just an echo of ‘Athethi Devo Bhav’ syndrome.


9. Who is the P1TG ( Priorty 1 Target Group) : 

The young professionals or the industry influencers or just the industry from metro centers. The bigger agencies or upcoming talents. Personally I have never seen a more diffused campaign than the  Goafest 2014 campaign.



Would be nice to know what has been the % of delegates that came from places other than Mumbai. I am surprised that as an Industry body we have hardly made any successful efforts to rope in the Unmetro industry centres.



How have we failed to engage them. What can be done to get them in ?



Where will they come from?  Have we mined the data to see how the delegate composition and participation details. More and more people I met kept threatening not to come next year. Normally they would come for 2 more cycles from the period they start thinking in this way before Goafest drops out of their radar. If replacement delegates are going to come from Unmetro Markets- what we doing to tap them.






Oh that’s our signature. Otherwise, how could we have treated winners differently across the three nights with three different formats. You can’t be so casual that category and the brand names are referred as ‘this’ and ‘that’.  You can’t in one night honour bronze winner on stage and next night decide not to give the bronze winners in other categries the celebratory walk.



I would like to beleve that it was the function of the size of hall and not the content or the beer and networking. I know you can not force people to attend.  Can / should we really give a cannes trip to lucky-dip winner with delegate badge scanned in more than 80% sessions. Ensure we fill the front rows frst before openning slots fro perpetual backbenchers.



What about having the winning category plate on the trophy.  What happened to the young professional contest designed and executed  at the fest. Where is THINK PRINT – you would definitely find sponsor and get huge participation for it and it would definietly be a winner. Or even a campaign designed at the fest for a national problem / CSR or an NGO.



Are we analysing and learning from other successful international formats and events. Or we have pledged to remain the knee jerk tactical – ‘let’s get over with the fest this year’ attitude.



There is enough happening at Mumbai before the fest. But what do we do during the fest that would ensure that the buzz continues.who miss out feel really bad. Maybe it’s time that Goafest hired a PR agency. Trust me, it’s a Goafest for the advertising- marketing crowd of Mumbai with dismal participation from even Delhi, Bangalore, Kiolkatta, Hyderabad etc



Without parallel sessions you are too cramped for choices



Can we get dedicated flights and trains (at least 1st class and II AC Bogies)  off from main delegate contributory centres !  What a talk that could be. The bus shuttles at GOA working on time and with a wider route-map.

There definietly be many more hot urgent critical issues to be addressed. But one thing is sure that that theGoafest team definitely needs to prioritise its problems and attacked P1P2 (Priority 1 and 2) to make Goafest a benchmark in itself.


Sanjeev Kotnala is Head Catalyst, P1P2Solutions.


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