Ashish Bhasin, President, Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), talks about how Goafest is an ode to the industry, honoring the creative geniuses and pioneering works across brands and media houses.
Agency Reporter: You have been a Goafest regular. How has the event evolved?
Ashish Bhasin: It has been growing year on year. In fact, it has also changed its complexion. So what used to be dominated by a few 5-7 Bombay-based agencies, now has 350+ agencies, publishers and other organizations from all over that participate. The number of participating agencies has grown enormously in the past few years. Earlier, the participation was more from Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore-based agencies. Now, it has spread out more geographically. We now witness people from all over the country, including relatively smaller cities, which is definitely a great sign.
Also, a lot of small agencies (Digital, Event & PR) mark their presence. Hence, the whole complexion of the game has got a lot more democratized, in that sense. It is no longer the purview of a few.
Additionally, since Goafest has a highly subsidized rate for under 30, the young population attending it is growing.
The other change I see if that Goafest is engaging people more digitally. So whether it is the app or social media platforms, the whole digital engagement has significantly improved.
I am also very happy to see that there is a focus on the environment. It is our responsibility to make the world a better place. So, in the last few years, this also seems to have picked up with a green partner, and I hope it continues. It is always good to see the evolution as per changing times, particularly the digital focus.
AR: The primary objective of Goafest was to celebrate traditional advertising. Now, with digital at its peak, you are recognizing its importance too. What are your observations on that?
AB: During the day, there are sessions from eminent speakers, who are not just from advertising but allied fields too. On the festival part, sharing knowledge and celebrating excellence in creativity is the objective.
With digital agencies now becoming important, it is a natural consequence that the number of digital entries is increasing. And because digital is not just the purview of 4-5 large agencies, participation of these smaller digital agencies is growing evidently too. There are so many small agencies who send in their entries and who have their delegates attend Goafest. That’s great to see from my perspective.
AR: How do you see Goafest emerging as a strong knowledge platform?
AB: Nakul Chopra (Chairman of Goafest 2019) and Jaideep Gandhi (who chairs the Knowledge Seminars) have been most instrumental with improving the event for many years now. Every year, they are building upon it.
Goafest is not just a great opportunity to learn from advertising people talking about advertising, but also to gain some fresh perspectives from future looking people and great leaders.
So, we should always have our minds open to every aspect and not just look down a narrow road (agency-related environment in that sense). And to me, that’s a big gain!
AR: Do you feel Goafest is driving inclusivity between marketers, agencies and publishers?
AB: Originally, it was purely a festival of creativity, largely entered by creative and media agencies. It has now become lot more inclusive because digital has been included, which is a reflection of today’s time. The publishers and broadcasters have also started coming in. In that sense, it has definitely become more inclusive.
But I do hope it continues to be a celebration of creativity. Where this creativity emanates from is less important (it could be an agency/ publisher/ marketer).
AR: Each year, a few of the agencies remain absent from Goafest. What do you think they miss out on?
AB: Yes, a few agencies do miss out on the Goafest but I particularly feel bad for their youngsters because they miss out on the opportunity to showcase their good work. On the awards part, it is a big high for the younger people to be recognized in the industry’s largest award show in India.
On the festival part, particularly in the last 2-3 years, there has been a great lineup of speakers from diverse backgrounds, which the absentees miss out on, too.
Additionally, there’s a lot of interaction and learning that happens during the event. Now there are workshops too. Hence, a loss particularly for the youngsters.
AR: What are your expectations from Goafest 2019?
AB: Given that Nakul is the Chairman, I am sure it will be bigger, better and very exciting. I think there will be more use of technology and digital this time.
Each year, Goafest has surpassed itself in terms of production values. What started off with a festival outdoors, to a small stage, to incorporating the latest trends in production, and also keeping the environment of Goa in mind, makes me look forward to the event.
I am also looking forward to seeing some of the best speakers from across fields, global and Indian, as well as witnessing some great work, because ultimately it is the celebration of creativity.
It is that time of the year when the whole industry comes together at one place and interacts with each other, sharing camaraderie and goodwill. So, looking forward to that as well!
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