Jaisurya Das: Kappa, Meen Curry & the IAA Summit

08 Sep,2015

A glimpse from the streetfood festival hosted by Mathrubhumi group on Day 2 of the Summit


By Jaisurya Das


Shah Rukh Khan, Mammooty, Sachin Tendulkar, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev and earthy crooner  Papon topped with pyrotechnics and Kappa – Meen Curry and you have glitz, glamour and intrigue like never before.


Kerala – God’s Own Country – played host last week to over 700 Delegates from all over the country at the Silver Jubilee Summit of the International Advertising Association India Chapter. An eclectic mix of international speakers, top-notch professionals, academicians and students did the audience proud at every session.


Srinivasan K Swamy, IAA India President, welcomed delegates while Faris Abouhamad, Global President and IAA chairman and Pradeep Guha, Summit Chairman & Area Director IAA Asia Pacific, gave their short and crisp Introductions to the Silver Jubilee Summit.


Amitabh Kant; Secretary, Industrial Policy & Promotion , Government of India delivered a keynote address with almost a rehearsed élan. Kerala and tourism have always been synergistic, yet the transition from being known only for Kovalam (The ‘Done to Death’ beach near Thiruvanthapuram ) to a destination that has immense diversity, was a carefully planned strategy. “Brands are made by people,” said Kant.


Now , we have to agree with that don’t we ?


The sheer diverse plethora of eminent speakers (that includes the glam world) who spoke at the Summit rendered it Unique . Srinivasan Swamy and Pradeep Guha gushed about the immense response they got.


While Cindy Gallop (Founder & Former Chair of BBH, USA and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn ) explained the need of a new world order, Paul McCarthy, author of Online Gravity, outlined how gravity giants attracted huge investments . Undoubtedly a reality that was seconded by Abhay Pandey, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital. Simon Kemp, Regional MD, ‘We Are Social’, Singapore, was emphatic about how social will disrupt all the fundamentals of the marketing mix. We would imagine it already has, Simon. We are still trying to find the method in the madness called social!


That’s probably why Sanjiv Puri, President – FMCG, ITC Ltd, felt that building globally acceptable brands wasn’t easy. Understanding the equity of tradition is the essence, remarked Puri.
A meaty day met its match when the Mathrubhumi group took over the evening and ferried the entire lot of delegates to the boat jetty at Marine Drive. Half-hour later, the boats approached what seemed like an enchanted island. It was Bolgatty, resplendent with exquisite lights and the resonance of the unmistakeable ‘Chhenda , the Traditional Drum.


The overcast skies came alive with the startling pyrotechnics, much like the famed ‘ Trichur Pooram ‘ where neighbouring temples symbolically compete with each other using fireworks. This festival incidentally attracts visitors from across the globe.  More often than once it is the fireworks and the majestic elephants that has the audience spellbound, year after year.


Malayalam film icon Mammooty stole everyone’s heart with his inimitable baritone intonation and sheer presence. Street food in Kerala has its own charm, and the Bolgatty Island came alive with food stalls , picklesellers and the like. All that was served was homecooked or made right there , making it even more authentic and rich in flavour and tradition. Shreyams Kumar of Mathrubhumi played a perfect host and ensured every one was taken care of well.


The third and final day of the Summit was a mixed bag of glamour, intrigue and emotion what with Sachin Tendulkar, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, Arnab Goswami etc sharing their experiences and views on ‘What’s Coming Next’.


Tendulkar was his calm, composed self, in conversation with Prasoon Joshi. He talked about how a good advertisement could help him in addition to the brand and how he respected his father’s wishes and refused all tobacco and liquor ads. “Let the country talk about the past innings, you think about the next,” he said. ” Take that extra step, don’t give up” was his positive advise to all. The master blaster and Prasoon Joshi handed over the stage to the ever-charismatic spiritual leader Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev.


His deep voice and incisive views enthralled the audience. “Why create the ghost, fight with it most of your life, and then win over it,” remarked Vasudev.  “Success is Joy. ” he said while advising the audience to be positive in life.


Rahul Welde, Vice President-Media , Unilever Asia, Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Russia, was lucid in his talk focussed on the power of custom content. “Don’t be in the advertising business. Be in the content business,” he said with passion. Custom content is the future where speed is the new currency.


One also saw the likes of 21-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, OYO Rooms, in conversation with Sam Balsara, Chairman, Madison. Sameer Nair, the man who brought Koun Banega Crorepati and Amitabh Bachhan to the small screen, and currently Group CEO, Balaji Telefilms, talked about how word of mouth is now word of social!


The Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy was all praise for the IAA for having brought the Summit to Kerala. This, Chandy said, was the largest advertising conference to be held in the State.


The Summit ended with Arnab Goswami talking about how his breed of journalism is disruptive. “You have to be like a pin prick for the society to change.” remarked the Newshour man.


Kerala will indeed a special place in many hearts, be it the Kappa and Meen Curry or the diverse energy that came together for this Summit.


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