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First from the Firsts

First from the Firsts

Here are some of the most prominent people from our industry reliving their first Goafest experience. Nostalgic much?

Ashish Bhasin- CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Greater South and Chairman and CEO of India

“Has seen the fest grow exponentially from my first time till now”

I am glad Goafest is growing so much each year. It was a great start as we have always looked up to Cannes. So, Goafest was the first time we were doing something similar in India. From what it was to what it is now, the sheer quality and scale (of production, speakers, etc.), it has grown exponentially. We have started feeling international.

Sam Balsara- Chairman, Madison World

It was different and great fun indeed”

The memory of the first edition of Goafest is still vivid in my mind. It was at Park Hyatt, Goa. The setting was wonderful. I was there with my wife and daughters – Tanya and Lara. The Award shows took place on the beach on the sand with winners dancing in front of the stage. It was unique as far as award shows go and uniquely Goa. Also, there was a boat ride on the Mandovi for everyone. The organizers magnanimously picked up the cost for transportation, lodging, boarding, and delegate fees for all those under 30.

Babita Baruah, Managing Partner, WPP GTB India

“Fest of fantastic Memories”

My first GoaFest was pretty much being in the thick of things. I was part of the team that managed the show for two years with Colvyn Harris at the helm. It was an insider’s perspective and action all the way from meeting partners, venue, collaborate speaker line up, artworks, set mock ups, leading to the final awards evening. I haven’t been to GoaFest for the last couple of years but I remember it with fantastic memories of people, partners and what we managed together as the industry.

Rana Barua- Group CEO, Havas Group, India

“A super experience”

I was working as a marketing head of a radio channel when I first went to Goafest. It was the day when it dawned on me that I really miss advertising. I felt isolated and wanted to come back. I am glad it all has changed now, with a lot of media people attending the event too. It was definitely a super experience!

Mandeep Malhotra, Founding Partner & CEO, The Social Street

“Loved the positive and inquisitive energy of the fest”

Goafest has always been an awesome rekindling experience for me. Knowing the industry and bunch of fellow crazy people, it is a venue which gets you a feeling of camaraderie and the joy of sun and sand. I loved the positive and inquisitive energy of the fest. Sadly, won’t be attending this year as I’m attempting higher peaks to climb.

Suraj Nagappa, VP, Isobar India

“One should appreciate the positive experience you get at Goafest”

I feel that Goafest has not been able to create a concrete process in getting all the agencies across the country under one umbrella for the festival. Having said that, one should appreciate the positive experience you get at Goafest.   Over the years not much has changed in terms of look of the festival and yet it seems to me that its evolving in the right direction to become the most sought after fest in more ways than one. 

Abhinay Bhasin- Associate Director (South Asia) – Data Sciences, Dentsu Aegis Network

“Goafest – A stage of best thought leaders”

Goafest is a celebration of the industry’s finest talents and creativity and a rekindling of the spirit that reminds us why we do what we do. Over the years, it has been the stage of some of the best thought leaders and disruptive thinkers. I’m sure this year will be even better.

Naresh Gupta- Co-founder & CSO, Bang in the Middle

“The knowledge sessions were few and not open to all”

I have been to just one GoaFest, way back in 2008. This was the early time when the festival was still finding its feet. There was free beer all around, and there were enough and more tipsy executives around. Also, there was rain dance organized in the hot afternoon where the entire ad industry used to be on one stage. That one Goafest that I attended, the knowledge sessions were few and not open to all. The display area where the award entries were put up were generally deserted. The bar was always crowded. The award arena was always buzzing, but not with newer ideas or new topics to discuss. It was one long holiday, and that’s how it got treated.

Rajiv Dingra- Founder & CEO, WatConsult

“Meet the best minds in the industry”

The vibe at Goafest is one of a festival. Cheerful, celebratory and fun. And while the vibe is fun, there is immense amount of learning for anyone who attends Goafest for the first time with some really insightful talks. Networking is a bonus to the entire Goafest experience and brings together the best minds in the Advertising and Marketing industry.

Vikram Sakhuja- Group CEO Madison Media & OOH, Madison World

“The experience is rewarding”

My first experience was the very first Goafest where I came as a delegate with my friend Dr. Suchetan Pradhan. It was on the beach. I got into my swimming trunks, indulged in beach sports, beer, conferences, awards and all else that is Goafest. My subsequent trips have been as an organiser and rewarding but I haven’t entered the sea since.

Sidharth Rao- CEO & Co-founder, Webchutney

“The feeling after winning awards was surreal”

My first experience at these awards was before it moved to Goa. Back then, it used to be held at the Mahalakshmi Racecourse. And almost every agency participated. The atmosphere was eclectic with Ogilvy’s Tata Safari campaign sweeping the awards that night. In 2006, this was the first time we had participated and had somehow managed to afford to get 10 people to attend.

As digital categories went by, we had nothing to show for it and were disappointed. Our biggest client then was MakeMyTrip for which we had submitted two entries. MakeMyTrip’s co-founder and CMO, Sachin Bhatia had also joined us for the night. In the last category Interactive digital marketing – innovation, we went onto win our first silver and then the gold. It was surreal. From a little shop that does “good looking websites,” we became the goto viral marketing agency in India.

Vibhor Yadav, Creative Director, Isobar

” The entire beach transformed into an Advillage”

My first GoaFest was 9 years back, and it was also my first trip to Goa. The feeling was unbelievable – seeing all the gurus and baaps of Indian advertising at one place and that too in Goa. What else could a junior writer ask for! I remember listening to Andy Greenaway, the then Regional Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi, talk about the explosion of internet and how we need to stop broadcasting and need to start attracting. It was informative and fun. Also, those were the days when the entire beach transformed in to an Advillage. It was Cavelossim in 2010. The energy of the place, trust me, was contagious!

Madhura Ranade, Director-Business, Isobar India

” I was starry-eyed and full of hope”

My first experience in Goafest was as a young account executive in 2012 – starry-eyed and full of hope to be part of a major celebrated event in the advertising industry. For all young marketers it is a platform for those who want to learn, meet new people, exchange ideas and have fun. I remember being really excited to be in the same room as industry stalwarts, and watch greats from Coca Cola, Intel and giants like Google and Reliance speak about advertising excellence. While the excitement still continues to be at the same level or is probably even higher, I think over the last few years, Goafest has been revamped to ensure greater quality of speaker line-up, better presentation and a richer, more inclusive and interactive experience.

Priyanka Shah, Sr. Director Isobar India

” Been an extremely immersive learning experience”

Goa Fest has always been on the  bucket list for each advertising professional who aspires to make a career in media industry. I attended Goafest in 2012 which was a diverse learning experience for me and to see some of the great work put out by brands like Coca Cola,  Google, Cadbury Celebrations etc.

Apart from a great line-up of speakers I was also very impressed by the latest technology that was seamlessly integrated at the event and did manage to delight the audience experience. It’s a huge gathering of talented advertising youth professionals who get with them different point of views and cultures to make this event truly interactive and engaging .

Aakriti Sinha, Director-Isobar India

“It is a bag full of amazing memories, networking, friends and inspiration”

In many ways, I have had two first Goa fest experiences, both starkly different from each other (first as just a participating delegate for learning and second as a part of the team whose work has been shortlisted for various categories) and yet same – inspiring, fun and overwhelming! Being in the advertising industry, for any newcomer to be a part of Goa fest tops the checklist (including winning an award – make no mistake). I remember landing in Goa, running into all the lucky minions at the airport only… who had made it with their teams and were the ‘privileged ones’. Goafest at Zuri White Sand looked like a La La Land of advertising. We were welcomed with Goafest goodies (I still have them by the way) and were given the agenda for the next 3 days. The team then split and us minions headed to the much hyped rain-dance set up. All the advertising stalwarts just passing by or discussing in groups in and around us was intimidating, while I was just repeating to myself about how lucky and thankful I am for having made it!

I clearly remember Sir John Hegarty’s session, an interesting tetetete with AIB (yes, they were up and coming then and the influencer explosion was just taking shape), a panel discussion chaired by Piyush Pandey and ALL the award entries that were showcased which could give you a dose of inferiority complex, fill you with self-doubt but end up only inspiring you. Those 3 days are a roller-coaster of emotions especially if your work has been shortlisted in various categories and a lot depends if you will go with the coveted metals or not.

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