Of sun, sand and advertising: Goafest, Day 1

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Goafest, billed as India’s premier advertising event is in it’s 5th year. Yesterday was the official inauguration of this year’s event in Cavelossim Beach, Goa. This is my first time in Goafest (though I have attended the Ad Club Awards function when it was The Abbys in Mumbai) and was expecting ‘just a big party’ as it was labelled by those told me about previous years’ events. Herewith some impressions:

The positives:

The objective of creating a brand like Goafest, taking it out of Mumbai and making it a 3-day event is all good. Apart from awards, parties and leisure activities on the beach, there are ‘knowledge seminars’ with some international speakers, interesting topics. So calling it an ideal mix of fun, celebration and learning is apt.  The scale of the event is also impressive – giving the ad fraternity a sense of community. If the event grows in reputation, we could have our own version of international ‘brand name’ awards like Cannes, Clios and The One Show.

The negatives:

What was positive could also be a negative. Goa brings out the chill factor in all of us. Coupled with so many distractions – friends, beach, booze – some aspects of the event lacks gravitas that it deserves. I mean, India’s biggest advertising event was formally inaugurated with a handful of photographers taking photographs. The compere made an attempt to whip up some enthusiasm and all she got was dead silence. Because the rest of us were busy quaffing beer, having food…whatever. The whimper of an official launch may not be a big thing, but the atmosphere of fun, distractions and chaos leads to a ‘couldn’t care less about what’s going on’ attitude. There are almost 3000 people here and several of them would just see this as a giant party. Celebrating the good work (both in media & creative) and learning takes a back seat.

Aargh. Heat. I guess it was expensive to plan for it during Feb, so we got what was available. So everyone ends up worrying about the heat – rightfully so, and that makes you enjoy the event a little less.

Another aspect of the event is the cost and logistical issues involved. Is this money well spent? Not only does the event cost huge money for the organizers, the participating agencies cough up money on fee, travel and stay. Is it all worth it? If the negatives outweigh the positives, the question will be asked more in the coming years.

Coming to the awards, there was some good work on display in the Media Awards. Thankfully, the winners list was not leaked by ET. There was real work on display on big brands with real results. What was impressive was the creativity with which the media minds approached a business problem and found a media solution. The work on Tata Nano, Aircel, Nike augmented reality, Nokia Music Express, Vodafone (old Hindi songs download), Red Bull and several others truly deserved kudos. The creative awards has a huge share of unseen work, even in ATL. More on that later. If you were in Goafest too, what were your thoughts on the event? What do you think should be done to make the event better? Do comment in.

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