Conference round-up:A paisa vasool show!

09 Apr,2018

By Rahul Chandawarkar


The best Bambaiyya term to describe Goafest 2018 would be ‘paisa vasool’, as both the knowledge seminars and leadership summits were of high quality and provided ample knowledge enhancement.


While the two-and-half day, annual event began with a rousing session by yoga guru, Baba Ramdev, it ended with an equally interesting session with Bollywood actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui.  These two events were interspersed with sessions on Facebook, artificial intelligence, Swedish and Korean advertising, interactions with sporting icons, Jonty Rhodes, Rajyavardhan Rathore and Sania Mirza and two exhilarating sessions by teenagers Sparsh Shah (14), a gifted,wheel-chair bound youngster and Amelia Conway (15) a talented advertising film-maker.


However, it was the yoga guru, who gave the event a rousing start with his aggressive statement, ‘Hum MNC companies kodhoolchatayenge’(we will make MNC companies bite the dust).


Stating that the main objective of the Patanjali brand was to defeat and vanquish MNC companies, Ramdev said, “The East India company looted our country for centuries. The MNCs are doing the same now. This must stop. This why, we formed Patanjali to compete and beat them.”


Expressing his confidence in the Indian economy, Ramdev said, “The Indian economy is growing at 10% as compared to the US and UK markets which are struggling at an abysmal 2%. There are opportunities galore in our own country.”


Predicting that Patanjali would become the No 1 consumer products company in India very soon, Ramdev said, “We plan to introduce a wide range of dairy products, a complete range of apparels and even a drinking water brand called Divyajal next year.”


Day two began with some scientific crystal ball-gazing, when Dean Donaldson and Jonathan Tavss, transformation strategists and digital futurologists from Kaleidoko predicted that artificial intelligence would become common place and that robots would dominate our everyday lives. They also explained how geno media would be the new frontier after social media and how countries across the world including India were investing in genomics.


Cameron Worth of Sharpend took the technology discussion further when he demonstrated how the popular liquor products could be ordered, billed and consumed remotely with the use of technology like the ‘internet of things’ (IoT).


Later, little, Sparsh Shah, just 14 and wheel chair-bound, afflicted with the rare, congenital disease osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) sang, spoke and clapped and touched everyone’s heart. There was scarcely anyone with dry eyes, as this teenager from New Jersey, USA mesmerised everybody with an articulateness and a maturity beyond his years.


Speaking on the twin topics of self-responsibility and social responsibility, Shah urged the audience to adopt a ‘can-do-will-do’ attitude to life. “All of us must be completely positive in our outlook. This is self-responsibility,” Sparsh said. Likewise, he urged the advertising fraternity to give back to society by taking up socially relevant campaigns. “There is an urgent need for inclusive advertising campaigns, where we help the less fortunate among us also make the journey,” the teenager said to thunderous applause.


Later, young Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra displayed a remarkable yen for branding and marketing, as he answered questions with aplomb.To begin with, he asked the Goafest organising committee: “Have you allowed advertisements on the Goafest App? If not, then I would like to advertise my latest film on it!” to much laughter and amusement.


Having thus set the tone, Malhotra in response to one, brand related question said that it was the brand that chose a personality and not vice versa. “This is the way it is working for me and I am happy with it,” he said. Expressing satisfaction at being able to endorse brands such as Brylcreem, Metro shoes and Pepe jeans, Malhotra said, “The Pepe jeans campaign has been particularly pleasing to me, considering that I was the first Indian to endorse this multinational brand of jeans. I was familiar with the product and hence enjoyed the campaign even more.”


Malhotra singled out advertising campaigns for Amul milk, Cadbury chocolates and Bajaj electrical appliances as being very memorable. He even attempted to hum the Amul milk campaign jingle to drive home his point. According to the young star, it was important for advertising agencies to give back to society with socially relevant advertisments. “People like Aamir Khan and some advertising agencies have been doing a great job on this front,” Malhotra said.


Later, Olympic silver medallist and minister of state for sport and youth affairs, Rajyavardhan Rathore expressed confidence that his government’s ‘Khelo India’ campaign of encouraging school level sports would go a long way in ushering a sports culture in the country.


He also expressed satisfaction that the Prime Minister’s MUDRA (Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd) scheme had disbursed loans worth Rs 4.5 lakh crores  to micro entrepreneurs across the country in a very short span of time. “These are very positive developments for our nation,” Rathore said.


Day Two concluded with South African cricketing icon Jonty Rhodes throwing light on the recent ball tampering incident in world cricket, stating, “Most cricket teams try to rough up the cricket ball in Test match cricket to generate reverse swing. Only thing, the Australians did it illegally and got caught!”


On the final day, Rapha Vasconcellos, Head of Creative Shop, APAC Facebook explained why brands must focus on telling stories and use the social media as a platform to build meaningful interactions.


Vasconcellos explained how short videos could be made for the mobile handset to drive home a brand’s message. “Small brands are teaching us to rethink our own craft. They are showing us the possibility of building a storyboard using your phone,” Vasconcellos said.


In the same vein, Samuel Akesson, Art Director, Forsman&Bodenfors turned the entire concept of advertising on its head. Forsman&Bodenfors, an agency famous for its world renowned campaigns like Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split and Nike #Breaking2, is also the advertising agency which works very differently from any other agency in the world. They do not have any hierarchy and work as a collaborative team.


Akesson said: “What we do is ‘human’ mostly. Perhaps there is a lack of humanity in advertising, which is why sometimes advertising is bad at making people feel anything.”


Indian tennis icon, Sania Mirza later explained how advertising was more mature now than it was when she was a teenager. “Previously, I was asked to pose with the tennis racquet in a particular way and mouth some dialogues. Now, they are far more subtle and creative,” she said.


In the post-lunch session, yet another prodigious teenager, Amelia Conway, just 15 and an advertising film maker (director, Adolescent) explained why it was important for teenagers to conceptualise and execute advertising campaigns for teenagers. “I am happy that advertising agencies in my country are waking up to this fact and providing us with the opportunity to work,” Conway said.


Later, Wain Choi, chief creative  officer at the South Korean company, CJK-Valley explained how some inexpensive advertising campaigns had reaped very high dividends for brands. Burger King for example offered free coffee to anyone who volunteered to wake up sleeping commuters on Seoul metros at their designated stops, the message being printed on their eye patches!


Similarly, the company, Uniq Flo got a lot of free mileage when they offered branded, cold resistant bubble wrap papers to shoppers to fix on their windows.


The curtains were brought down by popular, Bollywood actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui who spoke about his early days of struggle and how he considered the lead role in the under-production, biopic, Thackeray, as the most challenging role of his life.


Rahul Chandawarkar is a former newspaper editor and presently a journalist, columnist communication strategist and triathlete based in Goa.



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