After witnessing yet another edition of Goafest, organised by the AAAI and The Advertising Club Bombay, I have no problem in saying that there is still enormous scope for improvement. But to say that alone would be blatantly unfair to all that was right at the only industry run festival of its kind, and the people behind it.
Let me recall a few things here. As was pointed out to me by another journalist on the sidelines of Goafest this year, it offers the time and space to meet several people one may have completely lost touch with, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. A conversation on a company scouting for a digital head and the package involved may remind you of a forgotten friend on the look-out for an assignment after slaving at an agency for several years. A long-pending drink that never happened with someone you started your career with, or one with a complete stranger for that matter, who will no longer be a stranger by next year’s fest, Goafest offers the closest experience to the Cannes Lions. Only, it offers a larger contingent of ‘friends and family’ from India.
Even with the many people one interacts with through the year, Goafest offers the casual atmosphere to unwind, and the event seems to have been carefully curated for people to network as much as absorb the rich content. On both fronts, let me reiterate that there is scope for improvement, while underlining that organisers haven’t done badly this year.
From Arjuna Ranatunga to Karan Johar, there was no dearth of star power. And for creative firepower, one had Balki (albeit more as a filmmaker) and Piyush Pandey (in attendance), but the one inspirational global creative leader from advertising was perhaps missed. Faceboook’s O’Hare was brilliant with his presentation on what one could do on the social network, but the wish list void remains. To be fair, we had the world’s youngest CEO of a top network in Carter Murray, and several others who offered more than ample food for thought. If three top notch marketers kicked off proceedings, Reliance Industries’ Raghu Raman, recounting instances from his days in the Indian Army and Natgrid, was a befitting closing act for a national event that is going further.
The Indian advertising festival has gotten better. Yet, it has the opportunity to disruptively arrive on the scene again next year. I believe the seeds have been sown with the multiple interactions with industry at different levels initiated by the organising committee. Reaching out to the industry now, right after Goafest, and listening to the issues that matter to those who attended and those who didn’t would help, in my humble opinion.
We may or may not have an ‘Agency of the Year’ awarded in 2017, we may or may not be told the points calibration for Grand Prix, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Yet, Goafest remains a festival to look forward to. It has a reason to exist beyond its flagship Abby awards, much like the Cannes International Advertising Festival stands for much more than the coveted Lions it awards.
One thing we could possibly expect is more next gen hands getting involved hands-on in shaping the event. The powers that be have initiated the transition and showed the intent, while displaying the grace that is becoming of industry statesmen. After grooming the next rung to run the show, they must hand over to them the industry's inheritance, Goafest.