There have already been so many debates, question-answers, suggestions and opinions expressed by one and all, on the Goafest. So is there anything left to say? The current Goafest was written off as a still-born baby, even before the dates were announced.
As I sit to write this blog from sunny Goa, on the second day of the Goafest 2014, with one day to go before the curtains-down, I am reminded of this famous quote from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet; “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
Since I have been asked to share my views, I thought of going back to the basics and start by questioning the very being of this property. But before I start, let me confess that these are my personal views, as a tenured agency person, having represented the disciplines of direct marketing, advertising and public relations, currently a client and also the vice president of the Advertising Club, And yes, lest I forget, a member of the Abbys Award Governing Council. Having been on nearly all sides of the table, I believe that my views do not carry a torch for any one ‘side’, but for what I believe benefits one and all.
As a format, I have chosen to voice some of the questions I have heard or sensed. And to then, sharemy point of view.
# 1. So what is the Goafest? And what is the purpose of its being? Is it needed? Is it relevant?
In my opinion, the answer is a resounding “Yes”! And let me elaborate…
In my belief, the Goafest is the only common platform shared by the Indian advertising, media and marketing fraternities. A single platform where you can hear the best, from within India and beyond, see the best of work from across agencies, brands and geographies. And since it has the Abbys as an integral part of the festival, it is also the platform that recognises the best of work that the industry has created, during the year.
All in all, a platform that has the power to enlighten you, refresh you, rejuvenate you and to inspire you.
# 2.But is the Goafest unblemished? Is it flawless? Is it “the Cannes of India” (a benchmark oft cited by us, as the ultimate, to compare our home-grown festival against, possibly in keeping with our belief that all things ‘phoren’ are unquestionably good)?
I will be quick to admit - Possibly, not. To borrow a line from a Kurkure ad, “Tedha he, par mera hai”.
What reassures me the most about Goafest, is my conviction that all the constituents are aware of the need to keep evolving with the evolving times. They are quick to acknowledge gaps, if any, and quick to seek solutions to plug them. They have done that in the past. And continue to do so.
And therefore if we don’t like what we don’t like, we can change it, together.
# 3. So if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t ‘Doodh ka dhula’, why not just boycott it?
As co-owners of the industry we have two options. One, to get up from our chair and roll our sleeves with the intent to bring about improvement; to bring about the change we want to see. Or, the option to boycott the Goafest, sit by the sidelines and pick holes or pull down whatever we see happen around us.
Since the world’s largest democracy has just gone through its general elections, let me draw a parallel from this fresh-in-mind event. Any country has its flaws and shortcomings, and India is no different. The Indian population hadtheir option to vote. To bring the change they want. By voting, you can’t demand or expect that your voted candidate wins. But yes, if like-minded people come-together for a common cause, in adequate numbers, they can ensure that what hasn’t been witnessed in decades, can happen. As happened in these elections, a new party came to power, with a clear majority and mandate for a single party. Which in turn means, that the party has the freedom and power to give life to their manifesto and usher in the promised change. Without any constraint or hindrance.
On the other hand, if you did not exercise your democratic right and responsibility to vote, you have no right to comment or criticise what the elected party does or says. Because you are a contributor to bringing in a government that somebody else has voted in.
As the priest says at the end of a Christian wedding, “Speak now, or hold your peace”.
Coming back to our very own Goafest, I believe that it is a fundamental right and duty of every industry-constituent to share his/their views and suggestions. Or, to raise a hand and volunteer to be a part of the decision-making body, the democratic way, by being voted as a voice of the industry. And then being a part of the force that ushers in the desired change.
The Goafest does give this window to all stakeholders, every year. All key constituents are invited to an open house to voice and discuss their voice. And only basis that is the next Goafest announced, with the changes that win the voice of the majority.
# 4. Rather than go through all of this, why don’t we just launch a new set of awards?
Sure. I am not against choice. But isn’t it better and easier to amend, than to create, afresh?
That being said, we should not hold back on competition. But, it will not have the flavor of the Goafest; a platform that is for the industry, by the industry and of the industry. A character that is unique to the Goafest. And will always be.
Let me draw a parallel from the Indian film industry, this time. Once upon a time there was the Filmfare Awards. And then came the Screen Awards, the Stardust Awards, the ZEE Awards, et al. But while all the awards have a place under the sun, the Filmfareawards remain the platform most cited and a gold-standard for recognizing excellence, across the decades; an integral part of the history of Indian cinema.
# 5. But some of the key players have chosen to stay away from the Goafest. Doesn’t it diminish its stature?
My answer would be a no. While every agency’s presence is valued, I do believe that the common cause of our industry is more important than any one of us.
Back to an example from the film industry. I am sure that every year there will be some star or the other who chooses to stay away from award shows. One of the ruling Khans has done so as a matter of principle, across the years. But that hasn’t taken the sheen away from the Filmfare Awards, or negated the need for it.
# 6. The Abbys has not succeeded in eradicating scams. So therefore should we not boycott it?
This time I borrow a quote from the bible, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. It is possible that at some point in time or the other, most agencies may have been guilty of turning their eye the other way to the four-letter word and its occurrence within their agency.
So while we all agree that we would like to eradicate it, today, let’s accept that Rome was not built in a day. And polio was not eradicated from India within a year or two.
I would urge us all to put our heads together to find a solution, and take definitive steps in this direction.
However, if anyone finds a permanent solution to this industry malaise, worldwide, I suggest he quickly patent his solution. Because every award show around the world would like to make a bid for this magic formula, because, to the best of my knowledge, no one show, anywhere in the world, has fully eradicated this ‘polio’ of our industry.
And if we are patient and participate at such global award shows, why not our own Abbys!
# 7. Why not just create my own internal award show?
Of course, why not! But my view would be, yes, as long as it is an ‘also’, and not in lieu. Because which of us wants to be the Champion of anything in our own building or mohalla. Or, which of us will be happy with just that.
There is no better joy than competing with the best among the best. And the more people you compete with, and then win, the greater the joy, the greater the pride. Which ‘maharathi’ will be satisfied with being a big fish in a small pond!
Take inspiration from cricket, which starts at a mohalla level, goes on to the state level and somewhere when even the World Cup doesn’t satiate your appetite, we introduce new formats. Or, let’s take the example of the National Games, the Asian Games and then the ultimate ambition of every athlete, the Olympics.
# 8. So when will the Goafest and Abbys be ‘perfect’?
As an ex Ogilvy-ite, I take inspiration from David Ogilvy’s spirit of ‘Divine Discontent’.
To whatever and newer highs we take the Goafest, let’s aspire to make it even better, together. Let’s aspire to make it the benchmark for the world.
But let’s be patient.
All of us want India to be corruption-free. But those who thought they could eradicate it in a ‘day’ got tired and were forced to accept defeat. Not because their cause or ambition was at fault. But because they set near impossible timelines for addressing ills faced by and across generations.
So let’s resolve, together, that ache din aanewaale hen. And together, we will make it happen!
# 9. So coming back to Goafest 2014 and the Abbys. How have they been so far?
Well, let’s just say that those who had written it off completely, have reason to think again. To be happy and proud of what has happened so far. At last count we have more participating organisations than last year. That means more believers in the Goafest and Abbys.
# 10. And what about the future of the Goafest and Abbys?
Being an old Hindi movie-buff, I borrow from a song from the movie Haqeekat, “Ab tumhare hawale wathan saathiyon”.
The future is in your hands, in our hands. Let’s bring the change we want to see, together.
And as a CMO who has three non-participating agencies partner her, committed, in public, she will urge these agencies to come back to the fold, next year. So if every convert converts a few, our cup of joy will soon overflow.
May her tribe increase! May the Goafest and Abbys be the North Star, the guiding light for the Indian advertising, media and marketing fraternities! And one day, soon, an inspiration for the world.