Sanjeev Kotnala: What I would like to see happen at Goafest 2016

06 Jan,2016

By Sanjeev Kotnala


April 7 to 9, 2016 will see the 11th edition of  Goafest. The event has survived a controversies and absenteeism. The team at the helm must be appreciated for doing such a fabulous job.


This year afresh the Goafest team meeting important stakeholders – the advertisers, agencies, journalists and past jury members. That is a brilliant start.  I have shared my inputs on entry process. Additionally, I was happy to be probed for my input in a very informal way. I appreciate the intent and wish all the best to Goafest. We all seem to be on right track.


I have attended all past editions and one can say I have a love-hate relationship with the event. I have seen it from many sides. I have been sponsor, a rebel, winner, jury member, and delegate and in one year even had a parallel party on the Conclave night.   You bet I will be there for the 11th edition too.  I may be seen as constantly cribbing and finding faults, but, trust me, that is ever the intention.


There is nothing that needs to be held back. Here I am sharing some thoughts, in public. I am fully aware that it may not be possible to integrate few or all of them.  Still, here I go.



Not just the winners. This will be a mark of respect to the creators. Someone found them worthy of the entry. I find this practice at Pattaya Adfest a brilliant initiative.  The delegate would gain a hell lot more from viewing entries than any knowledge sessions.



Post the event; all entries should be available ASAP for viewing online.  This will also become an industry archive and a narrative available for reference. The access codes of these should only be made available to delegates.



Jury is one of the most critical elements of any event with awards. The jury is also a statement of credibility.  Can the jury presidents across the different segment be available on stage to discuss the criteria of evaluation? Share in an open forum why a particular entry won, what made one entry jump or nudge the other entry?  Very transparent and open discussion. Not that it is a practice in all industry events. But that should not stop us from considering it.

It will add a lot, give the entrants insights into what the judges were looking at. Also it adds to the event when the judges collectively before delegates state why what was chosen as the demonstration of excellence in the area.



There are possible 16 to 18 knowledge sessions in the two-and-a-half day event. We are in an industry with multiple stream of specialisation. This straight one focussed knowledge sharing stream fail to excite all the delegates. Maybe pre-registered workshops are possible. Maybe a live contest like- Developing Print campaign is possible.



Media amplifies the industry event.  To facilitate it media centres need be better managed and coordinated.  Excellent connectivity is a basic requirement.

In case the organisers make arrangements for the journalist stay, it must be close by and easily approachable. Providing space in the venue hotel (charging the journalist difference in cost) could also be considered.

Press should be provided with a table-chair set-up in the session halls. .  While we are discussing halls, a smooth Wi-Fi is a must for delegates to ride.

The media interactions with the speakers and interactions need to be pre-planned and streamlined with prior booking of slots.

Trust media and share the winner list with complete detail and images of entries well in advance. Give this only to the senior representative so that better control is possible.



This one is tough one. It is more of a wish.  I do not have any suggestions for this.



We have an award for every possible thing. There are just too many awards. There is a feeling that this brings down the value and the cause behind repeated announcements ‘No gold in this category’, which is definitely demotivating.

More awards means not enough time to showcase the complete work while being awarded. Moreover, Bronze winners do not get a chance to get on stage.  But when given an opportunity by the organising committee, I looked into the categories and subcategories and found that each one is properly defined and no clubbing is advisable.

The only area (debateable) seemed that Outdoor, Ambient and experiential could be clubbed to form a real OOH category.

Yet, two or three possible thoughts cross my mind.  In case any category does not get entries, which are more than a pre-decided number of entries, it should be dropped from next year. If in any category we get less than a publicly notified number of entries, let that not be considered for awards. Tough calls as there are possible arguments on both sides.



If the supporting AV is allowed for a max 2 minutes then jury should stop seeing it beyond that duration or just not consider it as part of supporting.

Entries should not be accepted beyond the last date. This should be possible for date-marked-digital entries.

Maybe organisers must ask entrant to provide an image or 30 second AV or whatever they define, which will be displayed as a standard display in case the entry win.  It will bring in uniformity. The function will be better controlled. It will help to treat every award winner at parity.



Rope in national news and business TV channels as well as regional large newspaper groups to deliver the messages. To start with, they could look at towns like Ahmedabad, Indore, Jaipur, Cochin, Madhurai, Lucknow etc.

Additionally is there a possibility NON-METRO DELEGATE FEE, as an initial push for non-metro market delegates should be considered.



If the organising committee seriously believes that in a particular category there were fewer entries than expected. That there was work which somehow could not be entered. That it is something that should be pushed, then a roadshow or an effective programme to address the agencies / marketers/ brand in that category should be initiated.



It is not a problem of organising committee if people come for a day or part of the fest and leave. We understand that they have other commitments and work. Lst year, Goafest stopped the delegate pass for one and two days.  It would be wonderful if there were ways to incentivise all-day participation. Is it possible to create a delegate ticket–plus-hotel-plus flight ticket? Not done anywhere but that’s okay.



Panel discussions are fillers of an event. They do no justice to time and efforts invested by the delegates. Or may be in past, but they have been rarely well-managed.



An event of this stature should over-ride all considerations and constraints that may derail it on timelines. Let it become an example of time management with proper buffers. Restricted questions, may be tweeted for the speaker to answer.



We always had fairly good speakers. There is less of agency-promoted speaker slots and paid speakers have been considered. It will be a bonus if they could just make that extra effort ensuring that the trend and discussion is relevant to Indian scenario, not dated and is customised to the fest. More so it will be appreciated if even the delegate seated in the last row could also read the slides. Sharing an advisory on font size, seminar area and use of excel is required.



The last 2-3 years the evening parties have become cramped for space. There are legal and venue compliance that pushed the parties indoor. As a result, the fest sacrificed space for late closure. Maybe there is some way in increasing space made available for the parties. I have not been to Cannes for some years but when I did, I found the especially conducted- promoted parties by different brands /companies on the same day vying for the right audience.



Yes, it has been there since the start. Yes, it has been losing its pull. Yes, the crowd has been thinning at the rain dance.  I personally think it has lost its charm. It will be better if some other alternative engagement is found for the young crowd.  If there is no new thing- let rain happen.



I know I will be hated for even suggesting it. Free-flowing beer is so an integral part of the fest. The argument is not about getting drunk, there have been very few such cases through the years. It is not even about not all drink beer as there is option of soft drinks etc. The argument is to use the beer footprint for a better cause. Change a nominal fee for beer coupons-  say three-day 15 coupons for Rs 150. Give this coupon money to some local NGO for a worthy cause.


HERE TO THE GOAFEST 11th EDITION.……………………………………………………………….

Sanjeev Kotnala with 28 years of corporate experience is the Founder of Intradia World. A Brand, Marketing & Management Advisor, he focuses on IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and INNOVATION (InNoWait) process and workshops. He is also a certified Life & ‘Mid life transition’ coach.Email tweet @s_kotnala web:


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