Vinita Bhatia
May 31, 2024

Goafest 2024: Highlights

BLOG: All the latest highlights from the three-day event taking place in Mumbai on May 29-31 for all things creative, AI, disruption, and more.

Maruti Suzuki's executive director Shashank Srivastava, Raymond Lifestyle's CEO Sunil Kataria and  Anuradha Sengupta, founder of @anuradhasays
Maruti Suzuki's executive director Shashank Srivastava, Raymond Lifestyle's CEO Sunil Kataria and Anuradha Sengupta, founder of @anuradhasays

Goafest 2024 has officially ended, and on a high note!

The event took place from May 29 to 31 at the Westin Powai in Mumbai and showcased the resilience and innovation within the advertising and marketing sectors amid rapid technological and economic changes.

Under the theme of 'The age of adaptability' Goafest 2024 gathered leading figures from advertising, marketing and media business to discuss the importance of adaptability in today's volatile market. Over the course of the next three days, here is live coverage of the talks on AI, creativity, industry disruption, technological innovation, and more.

Scroll on to read the highlights.


Future-proofing agencies by listening to the expectations of the younger talent pool 
SpeakersAnusha Shetty (Grey Group India), Jitendra Dabas (McCann WorldGroup), Babita
Baruah (VML India), Arun Iyer (Spring Marketing Capital) and Dheeraj Sinha (FCB Group India)
In a session titled 'Adaptability and innovation: The cornerstones of a future-ready agency,' the focus was squarely on how adaptability and innovation are the game-changers in shaping the future of agencies. It especially concerned the next-gen talents.
Presented by Malayala Manorama in association with MIQ, the panel comprised Anusha Shetty, chairperson and group CEO of Grey Group India, Arun Iyer, founder and managing partner of Spring Marketing Capital, Jitendra Dabas, chief operating officer and chief strategy officer for India and head of effectiveness for APAC at McCann WorldGroup and Babita Baruah, chief executive officer of VML India. 
Leading the discussion was Dheeraj Sinha, the group CEO for India and South Asia at FCB Group India. He kicked things off by asking a pivotal question, "What should we be asking about talent?" Iyer jumped in, stressing the need for inclusive workplaces that nurture the younger generation's growth and comfort.
Shetty chimed in, shedding light on the generational shift in workplace expectations. "I hear from senior leaders about culture missing. But the truth is GenZ is the largest workforce today and they want flexibility,” she pointed out. She further added that this section of the contemporary workforce with a whopping 85%, craves flexibility and prefer a hybrid work setup. Are senior leaders ready to adapt? That's the million-dollar question.
Adding her perspective, Babita highlighted the importance of setting up younger talents for success and fostering a culture of inclusivity and belonging. "Simple things like setting younger people up for success and fostering a sense of belonging are crucial. Allowing expression and embracing them is key,” she maintained. 
Drawing from their collective experiences, the panel dished out strategies to groom talent and revamp remuneration structures for the next generation. Because in the fast-paced world of advertising, staying agile and innovative is the name of the game.
The session ‘Adaptability and innovation: The cornerstones of a future-ready agency’ explored the vital role of adaptability and innovation in shaping the future of agencies, where the next generation is concerned. The discussion underscored the need for senior leaders to evolve and create supportive, flexible work environments for the new generation.
The experts shared insightful approaches for nurturing talent and reshaping compensation frameworks tailored for the upcoming era.

Driving accountability: OOH experts recommend strategies for industry adaptation

Speakers: Darshana Shah (Aditya Birla Capital), Pawan Bansal (Jagran Engage), Noomi Mehta (Selvel One Group), Jahan Mehta (Oap Mediatech) and Sam Balsara (Madison World and Madison Communications).

The ‘OOH: Adapting to be accountable’ knowledge seminar was stacked with heavy hitters from the industry. This comprised Darshana Shah head of marketing and customer experience at Aditya Birla Capital, Pawan Bansal, COO of Jagran Engage and chairman of the Indian Outdoor Advertising Association, Noomi Mehta, chairman of the board at Selvel One Group and Jahan Mehta, chief growth officer at Oap Mediatech. 
Sam Balsara, founder, chairman and MD of Madison World and Madison Communications steered the dialogue as the panel moderator. From embracing new technologies to ensuring safety measures, the discussion underscored the industry's commitment to adaptability and accountability in a rapidly changing landscape.
The session zoomed in on the crucial theme of accountability in outdoor advertising. The recent hoarding collapse at Mumbai, which claimed 17 lives and grievously wounded over 70 people, formed the backdrop for this much-needed conversation. 
Darshana Shah set the tone of the dialogue, stressing the evolution of OOH advertising beyond just hoardings. "It's not just about recall anymore; it's about being the first medium," she emphasised. She also shed light on the power of multi-screen geotagging and the flexibility of crafting concise, 10-second features for OOH.
Bansal chimed in, discussing the metrics of reach, frequency, and impressions. "We're on a 100-day plan to ramp up measurability and sustainability at IOAA," he revealed. He also delved into the association’s certification efforts, aimed at preventing tragedies like the Mumbai mishap from recurring during thunderstorms.
The conversation didn't stop at accountability; it veered into strategies to boost the reach and effectiveness of outdoor campaigns. Mehta shared his take on wooing prospective clients, shining a light on the potential of automation to revolutionise OOH advertising.
The panellists swung into strategies on how to boost the reach and effectiveness of OOH campaigns.


Looking at brand campaigns through the gender lens 
Speakers: Chandni Shah (FCB Kinnect), Darshana Shah (Aditya Birla Capital), Kailashnath Adhikari (Sri Adhikari Brothers and GovernanceNow), Rajdeepak Das (Publicis Groupe South Asia and Leo Burnett South Asia), filmmaker Ram Madhvani, Kranti Gada (founder of

The second day of Goafest 2024 kicked off with a session hosted by Sri Adhikari Brothers Networks—Dhamaal in collaboration with UNICEF and the International Advertising Association (IAA), titled ‘Gender-sensitive marketing: Navigating the new consumer landscape’.

The lineup of speakers included Chandni Shah, founder and COO from FCB Kinnect, Darshana Shah, head of marketing and customer experience at Aditya Birla Capital, Kailashnath Adhikari, director of Sri Adhikari Brothers and GovernanceNow, Rajdeepak Das, chief creative officer and CEO of Leo Burnett South Asia and chairman of creative council at Publicis Groupe South Asia and filmmaker Ram Madhvani. The session was moderated by Kranti Gada, a management committee member of the International Advertising Association’s India chapter and founder of

The discussion delved into the complexities of gender-sensitive marketing, exploring strategies to adapt to the evolving consumer landscape. Chandni Shah addressed the portrayal of genders in education and its impact on leadership roles, emphasising the need for women to support and nurture each other. Madhvani brought up the Bechdel-Wallace test, highlighting the importance of representing women authentically in fiction.

Das highlighted the significant increase in female education rates over the decades, underscoring the transformative power of coaching in enabling women. Adhikari discussed the economic repercussions of gender inequality, stressing the need for empowering women to bridge the digital divide.

Throughout the session, the speakers emphasised the importance of inclusivity and understanding diverse perspectives in marketing. They provided practical insights for brands to authentically engage with consumers, fostering meaningful connections and driving positive impact in the marketplace.

Shining the spotlight on gender-sensitive marketing

Media mavericks: Navigating evolving expectations in client leadership

Speakers: Ajay Gupte (Wavemaker South Asia), Anita Kotwani (Dentsu) Tanmay Mohanty (Publicis Media Services India), Vaishali Verma (Initiative India) and Vikram Sakuja (Madison Communications).

Sports18 and JioCinema brought together industry stakeholders for a session titled ‘Media agencies panel—the changing expectations from a media client leader, and the challenges in getting there’. 

The panellists delved into the shifting landscape of media client leadership and touched upon the hurdles encountered along the way. Drawing attention to the need for tailored leadership approaches, Verma highlighted the importance of aligning the client leader's skills with the unique demands of each client and industry. Kotwani echoed this sentiment, stressing the client leader's relentless dedication to achieving wins for their clients.

Gupte raised the question of whether a client leader should serve as a single point of contact (SPOC), underscoring the enduring significance of understanding clients' needs despite industry transformations. He accentuated the necessity for adaptability and maintaining a client-centric focus amidst evolving market dynamics.

By sharing their own experiences, the speakers provided insights into the strategies essential for success in today's dynamic media landscape. From embracing emerging technologies to navigating shifting consumer behaviors, they underscored the importance of client-centricity, accountability, and adaptability in driving excellence in media agencies.

Tailored leadership approach is pertinent for client success in diverse industries

Nishant Patil and Bodhisattwa Banerjee hit the winning notes at Advertising Rocks 2024

In the lively mix of creativity and melody that marked Goafest 2024, Advertising Rocks took center stage for its second edition. Crafted to spotlight the musical flair of the country’s advertising, media, and marketing mavens, the platform set the tone for a showdown of talent.

Nishant Patil, representing Logicserve Digital, clinched victory in the 'Solo Indian' category, while Bodhisattwa Banerjee from VML India snagged the 'Solo international' award. Both walked away with a cash prize of Rs 50,000, respectively, while the runners-up secured Rs 25,000 each.

With an open invitation to submit their musical entries, the stage was set for four finalists from each category—Indian and international—to captivate the audience with their melodies. A blend of jury decisions and live audience voting determined the champions of the musical evening.  

Behind the scenes, a panel of judges lent their ears to the performances. Singer Harshdeep Kaur, Rajeev Raja, founder of Brandmusiq, and music director Merlin D’Souza, founding partner and principal composer at Brandmusiq, adjudged the participants. Alongside them was Subhash Kamath, curator of Advertising Rocks and former CEO of BBH.

Nishant Patil from Logicserve Digital amd Bodhisattwa Banerjee won of Rs 50,000 in cash prize, respectively.


Goafest 2024: Embracing change and creativity takes center stage

Goafest 2024 commenced with an electrifying performance by singer Sukhwinder Singh, setting the tone for the event. The ceremonial lighting of lamps followed, marking the beginning of a three-day extravaganza hosted at Mumbai’s Westin Powai, in collaboration with The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and The Advertising Club (TAC).

Prasanth Kumar, president of AAAI and CEO of South Asia at GroupM, then addressed the attendees, marking the festival’s 17th edition. He remarked, “The composition of the clients has been very interesting this year with a notable presence of tech specialists. It's encouraging to see such diversity...While we anticipated challenges, the dedication and support of all involved have exceeded our expectations, and for that, we're immensely grateful. Our goal is to institutionalise Goafest, constantly striving to improve. By completing 60% of the work early and refining timing, we're making practical strides toward our vision for the next year."

Rana Barua, president of TAC and group CEO of Havas India, South East, and North Asia, added, “Through countless journeys together, we've always been driven by passion, not profit. This year, our commitment to not miss out has been unanimous. The whole team rallied together, united by our love for this industry, to make Goafest 2024 happen within our tight timeframe."

Jaideep Gandhi, chairperson of the Goafest Organising Committee, stated, "We aim to keep this festival relevant, as we've successfully done in the past two years, especially in the post-pandemic era. Each year, we strive to introduce new elements, constantly raising the bar."

"Disruption is the new norm"
Speaker: Harit Nagpal, CEO, Tata Play

Under the overarching theme of ‘The age of adaptability,’ the event delved into various facets of embracing change and fostering innovation. Harit Nagpal, the CEO of Tata Play, shared insights from his book ‘Adapt To Thrive Not Just Survive,’ in an eponymously titled session, emphasising adaptability as pivotal for thriving in today’s ever-evolving landscape.

Delivering an address filled with anecdotes, the keynote speaker prompted deep reflection among the audience by highlighted the inevitability of disruptions in life and underscoring the necessity of resilience in navigating them. "Disruption can arise from any source, but it's our responsibility to persevere and prosper," he affirmed.

Discussing business continuity planning, a strategy from the 2000s, he drew parallels to its relevance amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasising the need to prepare for both expected and unforeseen circumstances. Nagpal spotlighted the rise of digital interactions, such as video calls and remote work, which are now commonplace, elaborating that while the pandemic disrupted traditional office setups, it also spurred more adaptable and efficient work models.
Furthermore, he unveiled a significant shift in consumer behaviour, noting a growing preference for digital recharge options among Tata Play's customer base. This transition has translated into an expanding market share for the company, reflecting the increasing adoption of virtual recharges for their convenience.
In a nod to the relentless pace of innovation, he proclaimed, “Disruption is the new norm.” From the inception of the world wide web to the advancements in AI, each breakthrough accelerates the frequency of disruptions, signaling a continuous evolution. His parting message, “Either you disrupt, or someone else will do it for you, and the optimal time to act is when you're most comfortable!” highlighted the imperative of embracing change for sustained growth.

Fostering leadership for success
Sanjiv Mehta, executive chairman, L Catterton India
In the session titled 'Navigating the age of adaptability: Leading with vision, flexibility and purpose', former Hindustan Unilever Ltd chairman Sanjiv Mehta, who is currently the executive chairman of L Catterton India, delved into key leadership elements necessary for success in today's rapidly evolving market landscape. He emphasised the significance of visionary leadership, flexibility, innovation, agility, and dynamic purpose in driving business resilience and growth.
Underscoring that agility requires spare capacity and the ability to reallocate talent towards value creation, he stressed the vital role of innovation, citing examples to illustrate that businesses seldom follow a linear path. Resilience and adaptability, he argued, are paramount for organisations to thrive amidst dynamic changes.
Speaking about the importance of humility in learning, he stated, "Learning begins with the admission of I don’t know'" This mindset fosters growth by enabling organisations to embrace new knowledge and insights from others' experiences, rather than solely focusing on profit generation.
Additionally, Mehta highlighted various leadership attributes, including sensemaking, which involves synthesising diverse information to navigate complexity effectively. He also stressed that care and compassion should be the core values for leaders. Contrary to the myth of the solitary great leader, he said, "The concept of a great leader is a myth; it is always the work of a great team."

Owning your space as a woman in creative
Speakers: Tahira Kashyap, writer and film director, and Atika Farooqui, actor
Writer and film director Tahira Kashyap spoke with moderator and fellow actor Atika Farooqui about her resilient journey to overcome personal and professional challenges. She stressed the dynamic nature of a woman's daily life, likening it to multiple hardware upgrades, and candidly referenced her books on womanhood and motherhood, drawing from her own experiences.
When questioned about her identity, Kashyap expressed that her sense of self is no longer tied to professional titles but rather to the relationships she values. She took pride in being known as a wife, mother, daughter, and Mrs. Kashyap, drawing attention to the meaningful connections that define her existence.
Throughout the discussion, she highlighted setbacks as opportunities for growth and reinvention. With a commitment to portraying dynamic female characters in her stories, she vowed to challenge stereotypes and drive narratives forward.   

"Success cannot exist without failure"
Speakers: Actors Vikrant Massey, Medha Shankr and Neha Dhupia
Featuring actors Vikrant Massey and Medha Shankr in conversation with fellow actor Neha Dhupia.  Massey drew from his 21-year journey in the industry, and explored the essence of adaptability, emphasising the inseparable link between success and failure.
He reflected, “Success cannot exist without failure. Out of 365 days in a year, in 300 you're off the mark, and only 65 are successes.” Massey recounted anecdotes from his recent project, '12th Fail', resonating with the film's themes of familial responsibility and the values embodied by Manoj Kumar's vision, the individual who inspired the movie.
Shankr, who relocated to Mumbai years ago, echoed Massey's perspective on embracing failure as a catalyst for personal growth. Despite uncertainties surrounding the film's reception, both actors prioritised authenticity over commercial success. Expressing a mutual commitment to future collaborations that explore diverse storytelling avenues, the duo showcased how resilience and adaptability are essential elements on the journey to success.

The Abby Awards 2024
The Abby Awards, a collaboration between The Advertising Club and One Show 2024 got 3,506 entries from 273 companies. Dheeraj Sinha, group CEO of India and South Asia, FCB and co-chair of the Awards Governing Council said, “We're thrilled to see a fantastic response from returning agencies, with VML, and McCann Worldgroup India, amongst others, making a comeback, along with many others. It's a near-complete reunion, with only a handful of agencies not joining us this year!”
The winners were: 
  • Grand Prix: EssenceMediacom for Airtel 5G Plus Ultimate Fans: 'Look Maa! I am on TV'
  • Publisher of the year: ABP Pvt. Ltd.
  • Media agency of the year: Wavemaker India


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