Four Shades of Goafest 2015

15 Apr,2015


By Sanjeev Kotnala


Goafest is in a time warp. Not much has changed in design and yet it seems to be evolving in the right direction to become a destination fest in more ways than one. The shades I share are reflections of various delegates. So before we go ahead, the shades cover the places and pieces of GoaFest I personally interacted and experienced.


SHADE 1- THE EXCELLENT. Something that was paisa vassol and made attending at 10.30 AM  the late morning sessions, that too  after late-night parties and free-flowing beer.


Arnab Goswami (Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief, Times Now ) played the classical debate trick. Pleaded guilty to expected area of suspect like playing up a story, being an activist, getting too involved in the story and not allowing others to speak. Then systematically attacked, broke down charges and ruthlessly crushed them. He craftily leveraged selective pieces of delegate memory moments like the Prince borewell story, the Rahul interview, 26/11 and other stories to draw attention and reflect on his passion.  In the process, justified his actions and get absolved of the charges.


He left few thoughts for the audience to reflect upon. Vehemently voicing his passion for what he does, he reiterated his stance: ‘Neutrality is a crime, when something is wrong’, ‘Journalism of neutrality is a waste, it has no impact’,  ‘There is nothing like a story for a Hindi or an English channel; a story is a story’. And he majestically added:  ‘I am here neither for a PR job or be part of the cocktail circuit or be gratified… I am a journalist’.


He did interject some humour and here’s are a few samples: ‘I have the propensity to go for 2.5 hours, I hold the record for the longest one-hour show on TV’, ‘It became a news not because of content but because PM decided to speak’, ‘Once I have given someone a chance to speak and that was Rahul Gandhi and see what happened’.


The one I liked best was ‘Rahul is like a submarine, he surfaces and then does the deep dive and disappear, he has beaten my best team of investigative journalism an we don’t know where he is’.


Playing the  ‘Chamatkar’ game of 3 Idiots, I contextualised his speech in reference to brand and communication. And it made sense. Sample: A neutral campaign that creates no impact is a waste’. ‘I am not in advertising and marketing to just sell the product, I am there to ensure that the product is safe and creates an impact in the life of its users’.  Suddenly Arnab started to make more sense.


DEVDUTT PATTNAIK (Leadership Coach, Consultant, Mythologist) was a different league. He banked on Santosh Desai’s definition of ‘Brand is a pattern of expectations’ and that Shiva, Vishnu and the temple system in Hindu religion were not too old. Everyone then wanted to be a monk and these were introduced 2000 years back to help the ambitious rulers to find soldiers. Devdutt took delegates through a journey in iconography and symbolism in Hindu mythology. He restricted discussion to Vishnu and Shiva in poster art form (visual form) and temple art form (experience form) and slowly built the case for deliberate planned consistency in brand messaging. He presented how brand message and its consistency flowed through out the elements in the garments, ornaments, body application, location, dance, weapons and even the animal associated as their vehicles. The net result of messaging by hermit Shiva said that it is not essential to leave worldliness and that completeness is only possible with the female form. The householder Vishnu, never seen with his children, pointed that progressiveness. Vishu is seen with his wives in the human avatar form but is never seen with the children.  He is the one who participate and escape, enjoys and breaks heart, is never complete. That is how life is. Vishnu in Krishna avatar gives hermit message: ‘Keep doing your karma and responsibilities- do not fear or desire rewards’. How complex the things are and yet the messaging of not leaving but fulfilling the roles remain alive. All mythological branding has happened without any media or intended push, it impacted us, as the brand message is hugely consistent across time and form. And that is what brands must follow.


THE EASE of registration, movement. The ever helpful crew and the organising committee members working round the clock on their toes to deliver a seamless engaging experience


SHADE 2- GOOD. Things that made other incidents and sessions bearable.


CHETAN BHAGAT (Bestselling English Author) attempted a forced demystifying of his work. He agreed that he might not be the best author but pointed out that he definitely was the bestselling author. And in his own way that proved that you need not to be the best to be successful.


He impressed that his main agenda is change. To make impact. To show progressive way to the Indian youth.  And hence he is using diverse transmedia, multimedia and newmedia opportunities at zero budget to amplify and be everywhere. His engagement runs from books, TV shows, films, digital, writing articles, social media and much more.


EAST INDIA COMEDY performed twice, once during the knowledge session and second during the awards function. In the knowledge session, the group shared ‘how the brands could use the new wave of Comedy and Comedians’. Making relevant points they said: ‘Comedians are influencers and brands should consider tapping into their fan following’, ‘Comedians can make anything funnier, almost anything’, ‘You need to find the best-fit comedian for the brand- so that their core value as and content design does not conflict’ and the best advice ‘Internet audience is smart and takes very less time to decide what to watch and what to trash and hence the rand associations should be subtle. Content remains the king across formats. People may willingly watch a shabbily produced video if the content is funny and good’.  And a warning that ‘Low self-esteem and desperate need to seek attention is the prime requirement to be a comedian’


SUHAS GOPINATH (Founder CEO Global Inc) mesmerised the audience with his story of passion and focus in a candid talk. The sheer enormity of his stature, approach and success made an impact. He proposed starting early but also to complete education. His advice is being seriously passionate about what you want to do and have higher goals.


ASHISH HEMRAJANI (CEO, Bookmyshow) presented the challenges and the changing landscape in e-commerce bsiness amid often shared annecdotes from his own life that helped delegate relate to the lfe and expectation in entrepreunial e-commerce service  space. He predicts a bubble burst in the e-/m-commerce industry.  Hope he is wrong about it.


Alan Moseley (President & Chief Creative Officer, 180 Amsterdam) said there is a need for us to have a different perspective to the things and that the best way to find solutions is to face it.


The SHUTTLE SERVICE had decent frequency connecting few of the associated hotels. The THREE POST AWARD PARTIES were simple and good. They were rocking late in the night. The SAILING experience that few enjoyed during the fest was also good.


SHADE 3- NOT-SO-GOOD. Being polite but they were not bad either.


Film-maker VIKAS BAHL’s interaction with Sonal Dabral was a decent feel-good session. The chemistry between the speaker and the moderator was clearly visible but what is tough to understand is why they chose the path they did for their discussion.


Guy Abraham (Global Strategic Planning Director, ZenithOptimedia Worldwide) moved around the thought that it is about continuously thinking about the brand and called that a 365 degree thinking. In his vie, this minor (to me a major) shift in thinking could make all the difference in brand health and returns. He asked the industry to look for Longer Ideas that can last long. The most valid point shared was that ‘use the paid media to catch them in a moment of connect and not to change the habit’. He complimented Lifebuoy’s ‘Clean and wash hand’ efforts and how they now own the thought.


NEIL STEWART (Head of Agency, APAC, Facebook ) true to Facebook style focussed in sharing what was happening at facebook and what could be expected, how the brands could leverage it, why ‘likes’ were never and now are definitely not the currency to go after. He was worried that the agencies are on the way to kill the golden geese by over-empthasising advertising in digital sace and this may cause disconnect. He said and pushed at the thought that facebook=reach and that is how the brands should be approaching it,


Johny Stark (SVP, APAC, Razorfish ) emphasised the need of great content and adapting to a fast paced working and campaign concept cycles to really take advantages of opportunities in real-time marketing.



ONLY TWO BARS to pick beer during the day. They were many times non-operational. The FOOD during lunch and dinner.  RAIN AND FOAM PARTY, seems it is loosing its charm.  The music and infrastructure was excellent but participation going south.


SHADE 4 – UGLY. Things that have their own reason to be the way they are. But something that one would want rethought.


Starting on time. Waiting for the hall to fill… Goafest needs to set example. What stops us starting on time like the rest of the international awards and seminars. The gap between lunch and dinner extending to 8 hours. Would supose that is bad and disturbing for a lot of people. Many laptops at media centre not working


The post-lunch session on Day Three (Ted Lim of Denstu Asia) was cancelled for some reason.  I am afraid that no announcenet was made or if it was made the delegates were not aware of the same.


Bronze winners called on stage on award night on Day 1, but denied the pleasure of picking the trophy on Day 2 and 3. I propose that there should be consistency in Goafest approach.


The incident involving a habitual interrupting delegate during Arnab Goswami’s session. There was a clamour for his eviction, but graceful Arnab said he was okay with him being in the hall.


No comment on Industry Conclave with Anand Kripalu, D Shivakumar, R Chandrasekar and Sanjeeb Chaudhuri in sessions moderated by Arunabh Das Sharma. I could not attend it. Most who attended found the Conclave  useful, relevant and well-presented. Session not attended but comments are  basis delegate feedback – Ashish Hemrajani Jonny Stark , Niel Stewart and Guy Abraham



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