Why it’s not a good idea to invite Ramdev to Goafest

27 Mar,2018


By Sanjeev Kotnala


I am raising a voice because others have decided to conveniently remain silent. It must share with my well-wishers the reason for my proposed blackband protest against Baba Ramdev, keynote speaker at Goafest on April 5, 2018. The fest is the annual event organised by the AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) and The Advertising Club. I am surprised that no one else sees it this way and is seeking an explanation for serious oversight by industry leaders?

It is a demonstration of isolation and fragmentation in our industry. We fail to appreciate collectivism. We do not believe in, but subscribe to guidelines of self-regulation. These guidelines emerging under collective wisdom are supposed to be size, category and celebrity-agnostic?


We will never see a NIRAV MODI or a VIJAY MALLYA speaking at a banking conference celebrating stringent banking security measures. Then why is Baba Ramdev invited to the celebration of creativity?

Baba Ramdev has demonstrated incredible consistency in challenging, the collective wisdom of the fraternity. His organisation has knowingly taken chances and flouted guidelines. Last January, 25 our of 33 Patanjali ads were held to be false or misleading by ASCI. They have challenged ASCI scope in the court of law and called it unconstitutional.  It seems he and his team seem to suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) of poking ASCI.

Though headed by smart well-intending seniors who have experience of serving across the industry bodies, we live a cocooned life of isolated celebration.  We rarely demonstrate a feeling of togetherness.  We must some time try and put the collective health of industry before glitter at individual associations. Goafest in my view is one such occasion.


A time when we as an industry should isolate repeat offenders, stand together and strengthen ASCI, we are celebrating Baba Ramdev. What is the signal we are sending?

I have no question for the yogi-turned-businessman, who has shown utter disregard, lack of respect and confidence in the collective self-regulation.

He has re-written many rules marketing and advertising. He has made MBAs, marketing gurus and consultants rethink their strategies. He has taken on the might of MNCs in the dynamic marketplace and succeeded.

There is respect for what he has achieved. However, there is no reason for him to be speaking the celebration of creativity,  the Kumbh of Indian advertising, a festival of ethics and morality in the business.

It is a protest to show solidarity with ASCI, which has been doing exemplary work for the Industry. I see no reason why associations like IBF, ISA, AdClub, AAAI, INS and IAA should not support ASCI.

We Have Two Ways To Show Your Support And Protest. Wear White Or Wear a Black Band. Even, if I am alone protesting on April 5 at Goafest, it will not bother me.  At least I would have made a beginning and remained true to self.

I may be the only one protesting but I am surely not the only one who feels this way.

I hope ASCI too questions the invitation to Baba. I hope CCC (Consumer Complaints Council) members raise their voice against the lack of overt support, understanding and collectivism in the industry.


If Baba and team are misguided and don’t know of ASCI code, they can e-learn about it here. Please do watch this video to know what ASCI is and how it works. And if you can, do tell Baba what you think!



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