Thumbs up for Congress in Kochi

21 Feb,2019



By A Correspondent


The weather was typical of what one can expect from Kochi in February: warm and sweaty. But all that was left behind as one entered the Lulu Bolgatty Convention Centre which played host to the 44th IAA World Congress.


Around 2000-odd attendees from 25 countries were present, set to witness the 40-odd speakers and partake in the entertainment cultural nights.


The inauguration was marked by the lighting of the ceremonial lamp, albeit digitally. Reliance Industries CMD and Chairperson of the World Congress Mukesh Ambani couldn’t make it due to some other pressing engagement, but ensuring a packed house was the presence of actor Amitabh Bachchan and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Bachchan spoke at length and Sri Sri got the audience to meditate. Also present at the inaug were:. Srinivasan Swamy Chairman & World President, International Advertising Association, Punit Goenka , MD & CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, IAA India President and Kaushik Roy , Vice President/Area Director, Asia Pacific, IAA Global and MV Shreyams Kumar, Joint MD of the Mathrubhumi group and Global VP of IAA were present for the inauguration ceremony.


In his opening address, Goenka stressed on the ‘Brand Dharma’ theme of the World Congress, as the basic principle a brand should follow, to connect with its customers and society at large. “what matters at the end of the day is the deep connect a brand establishes with the audience and the language, dialects in which the brand speaks with the audience,” he said, adding: “Also, how purely and honestly does the brand believe in the culture and value system of the audience.”


Bachchan spoke passionately on the topic of Brand Dharma. He mentioned that “Customer’s hard-earned money is Dharma, and a brand should sell their products accordingly, that should become brand’s Dharma.  He internalised the theme and said that “My face is present on over 24 product’s packaging. Not endorsing tobacco and alcohol products, that’s my Dharma.”


Sri Sr Ravi Shankar said that If you believe in your product’s quality, it is Dharma. He spoke about the dangers of the virtual world that had resulted in personality disorders in young children. “Video games per say encourages violence in children. Too much of screen exposure to kids impacts their central nervous system and hence the screen usage shall be controlled,” Shankar said.


One of the star sessions was that of Nandan Nilekeni, former Chairman, UIDAI and co-founder and Non-executive chairman Infosys. In the session titled “How India uses Digital Technology”, Nilekani spoke about how Aadhar has been essential to provide everyone a digital ID.  He also asserted Aadhar was not a data gathering instrument and rather uses minimal data to fulfil two key requirements of providing a basic and unique identity document as well as to ensure welfare benefits reach the right person.


In other sessions, Hans Paul Burkner, Chairman BCG spoke on the topic ‘Tech for Good’ and how personalisation is possible and doable and is absolute must for most companies as new consumers are really expecting personalisation of information and now companies have the tech to make it work. He indicated the fact that in today’s society, privacy is dead but security is a big issue and both these are interlinked as there is need of respecting privacy and security needs of the customers. “There is an issue of collecting data stealthily and utilising for the benefit of select enterprise,” he said.


Penny Baldwin, Senior VP and CMO, Qualcomm Technologies spoke about how Mobile is the world’s largest tech platform in the history of mankind and how Brand Dharma of Qualcomm is innovation.   According to Baldwin, mobile is the largest technology platform with 8 BN connections all over world and There’s a huge opportunity for marketers and advertisers to reach their audience even in remotest areas with the rise in data consumption.


D Shivakumar, Group Executive President-Strategy & Business Development, Aditya Birla Group, introduced the audience to the DUCA (Digitally Unacceptable Content and Attitude) World. He mentioned that digital has become mainstream and in the digital world, consumers are more aware and more cynical and more distrusting. “In a digital world it is society not your stakeholder and not your board that matters. If you need to build trust you need to build that trust in society,” he said.


Jonas Kjellberg, Lecturer, author, venture investor who was also associated with Skype, talked about three key gears building game changing companies and deploying capital. He spoke about customer acquisition, customer delight and zero cost innovation. Said Kjellberg: “what a customer loved before, today it has become commodity so there is need to spend time and energy on tomorrow ‘s delight through innovation and not only about today’s efficiency and functionality. Innovation in business model should be zero/ no cost innovation like Airbnb, Uber and Alibaba  as these businesses gained from innovating and not imitating.”


Also part of the Congress Day 1 was a chat that PayTM’s Madhur Deora had with journalist-anchor Mini Menon and Boris Eremin, President, IAA Russia Chapter welcomed delegates to St Petersburg, Russia for the 45th IAA World Congress in 2020.


The highlight of the second half was a fireside chat with media strongman, yet-again-entrepreneur with S4 Capital and former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell conducted by journalist Anant Rangaswami. “Transparency in data is important in India,” Sorrell said, adding: “


The position of the media industry is much better than what it was 10 years back and it’s a good business to get into. Our biggest clients are tech. Our recruits are really excited about technology. We are more attractive to population than ever before.”


The evening ended with a window to the local culture and cuisine curated and sponsored by the Mathrubhumi Group.



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