India can be proud of staging IAA World Congress: Srinivasan K Swamy

12 Mar,2019

 

Impossible is not a word that you’ll ever find in the books of Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman and World President of the International Advertising Association (IAA). Hardly had the IAA World Congress at Kochi got over, he was busy working on plans for the next few projects. And of course achieving his dreams for IAA across the world.

The Chairman of the RK Swamy Hansa Group, Swamy took on the global charge in October. A quick chat with

Srinivasan K Swamy on the success of the IAA World Congress and what’s next on the IAA calendar. A slightly shorter variant of this interview appeared as part of a pull-out published with Business Standard today, March 12. Compiled by MxMIndia. Published and conceived by The Resource 24×7

 

You had set yourself near-impossible targets for the IAA World Congress. Now that the Congress is over, and the feedback received indicates that it was very successful, what are your own thoughts? Are you happy with what you set out to achieve?

Frankly, during the last few days prior to the Congress, it all came together. Of course the speakers were done and dusted well in advance. A few cancellations in speakers were always expected and we had some options that we exercised, without compromising on what we set out to do. The only reason we settled for Grand Hyatt Lulu Convention Centre in Kochi was because only this venue could host a capacity of 2500 delegates in India, that too in style. Our target for participation at the Congress was set at 2500, the full capacity, and we exceeded that too thanks to the enormous support we received from Kerala delegates.  We also felt the evenings is what would make the event memorable and these were executed to perfection. All our international delegates were overawed by the scale and the grandeur of the event, and India can certainly be proud of staging this spectacular international event in India.

 

And we now hear that the next IAA World Congress is in St Petersburg, Russia next year. How will you better the really high benchmark that you’ve set with Kochi?

St Petersburg is a beautiful city with many palaces and historical monuments. It  starts off with that advantage straightaway. The event is going to be conducted in late May 2020, when the sun never sets. It will be a new experience for many delegates during these ‘white nights’. Further, it will be more easily accessible from many European cities, so more international delegates will be a natural consequence. And last but not the least, the Governor of St Petersburg, the City Administration and the Federal Russian Government are fully backing the Congress and are very keen to ensure that the event will be a world-beater in both content and entertainment. We have already formed a committee of experienced people to finalise all details and I am sure the St Petersburg Congress will in no way fall short of the benchmark we have set for ourselves in Kochi.

 

Pre-event, you had mentioned that the real work on the Congress happened only in the last six-odd months. Given that all of you amongst the key organisers have other businesses to look into, what were the challenges that you faced?

The actual work for the Congress started well over 18 months ago. Many of the speakers were finalised well in advance. As is always the case, the momentum builds in the last few months when strong marketing efforts are put in for delegates to sign up. When we are organising an important event like the World Congress, our business demands do take the backseat. And fortunately, none of the core committee members complained in this regard and tirelessly plugged along.

 

The IAA World Congress in India is just a one-off event. Do you have plans to harness the momentum that the IAA franchise gained in India over the next few months?

We have many good global events coming up. We will have the Africa Rising conference taking place in May 2019 at Accra, Ghana. In June, we will be in Cannes, France having our own leadership sessions. In October, we plan on our third edition of the IAA Global Conference in Bucharest on Creativity4Better. There are couple of other things on the anvil which will be announced once the plans/dates are finalised. Events apart, we are putting enormous emphasis on Education. We have already accredited 44 institutions on marketing/ advertising courses and we want to provide active support to them, apart from expanding our accredited institutions base to twice that large over the next two years.

 

The IAA is of course a lot more than the World Congress, and in your presentation at the opening ceremony, you spoke about the work that you intend undertaking in the field of digital privacy? It’s a huge ask given the extent of intrusion that has taken place. What are your specific plans?

Privacy in the digital world is a matter of concern for everyone. No wonder the governments of various countries are stepping in to protect their Citizens. IAA believes that over-regulation may not necessarily be in the interest of the consumer, because it could impair on the efficacy of well-targeted communication. As a strong promoter and defender of advertising self-regulation, IAA is of the view that a strong data privacy regulation would actually act against the interest of the consumers. Advertising after all is a major source for economic growth. It promotes competition, thereby innovation, improves product quality, promotes choice, reduces prices. Excessive privacy laws would make targeted advertising difficult making the cost of advertising very high impacting on all the benefits of advertising listed.  With 43% of the global advertising budget going to digital, regressive privacy laws will change the business of advertising as we know it. IAA is therefore trying to speak to all the stakeholders – advertisers, agencies, media, digital companies, technology companies etc – to hopefully arrive at a self-regulation code we all can subscribe to and also develop a mechanism to oversee this. The response from the people I have reached out to has been overwhelming and I am sure many of what we need to do, will be based on further consultation with multiple stakeholders. As they say, watch this space!

 

The India chapter has been super-active ever since you helmed it. Do we see you inspire other country chapters to also become as active as the India chapter?

IAA Chapters are only as active as the leaders leading them. And another ingredient that is needed for this is the quantity of members. Our focus at IAA will be on both these fronts. We have already made some changes in our by-laws which will aid in membership-building. We have put in place some guidelines to check the health of the Chapters. And we do want to get Chapters to adopt certain common events from the vast repertoire of events we have in many of our Chapters. We have some distance to cover in this but I can say the journey has begun!

 

A slightly shorter variant of this interview appeared as part of a pull-out published with Business Standard today, March 12. Compiled by MxMIndia. Published and conceived by The Resource 24×7

 

 

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