Ramesh Narayan

Spirited sessions

Ramesh Narayan | Updated on June 05, 2014 Published on June 05, 2014

Love song Marketers sing for agency folks after a session that saw many points of view

Animated debates and vibrant presentations marked a GoaFest that almost did not happen

Remember, this was the GoaFest that was never to happen.

There was talk about who was not participating, postponements and the doomsday pundits revelled in the uncertainty.

Then it all came together. A new venue, new dates at the end of May, and a repositioning as something more than just an awards event.

OK, I reached a day late and therefore missed the opening night with the Russian blondes, Bollywood masala and non-stop Jalwa. Day 2 had the Conclave and I was really glad it was opened up to all the delegates. We really need to get the younger crowd into every event the industry organises. An impressive line-up of CMOs spoke about what they expected from their agencies. It almost sounded too good to be true. Deepika Warrier of Pepsi, Anuradha Narasimhan of Britannia and Sanjay Tripathy of HDFC Standard Life, to name a few, spoke passionately about the need to work as one team. They stressed the importance of forgetting the duality of “client vs. agency” and nostalgically reminisced about the time when they could interact with just one agency or one team which would take care of all their needs.

There seemed to be a common grouse about the obvious challenges that arise when one client deals with multiple agencies for one job. Imagine a conference room where you had an advertising agency, a media agency, a PR agency, a digital agency, a reputation-management agency, a market research agency all being briefed on one job. A large conference room was de rigueur. One got the impression that there was a more than a little over-specialisation that the experts who blindly followed the foreign diktats and “un-bundled” had not envisioned. Now with strong satraps managing profitable unbundled pieces of the company, it looks like all the king’s men wouldn’t be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

That did not stop Shekhar from getting up and asking the speakers why they didn’t opt for an integrated agency instead of bemoaning the disintegrated situation. The replies were far from convincing. And suddenly one of the speakers almost spoilt the warm and mellow mood they had created by saying they preferred having ‘one throat to choke”. Aha, the fist in mail beneath the velvet glove!

On the whole, I will say the choice of speakers was very good and they all delivered great content.

The statutory Sadhu (after the AdAsia 2011 I notice that saffron is a must at most advertising seminars) Paramatmananda Swami garnered the loudest applause. Looks like our industry is crying out for some spiritual succour. The Haris of Bharath Gyan with their own version of Brand India, which was basically a well-researched walk down history extolling the highlights of Brand Bharat, were really interesting. They needed more time to tell us what really went wrong after all that greatness.

Of course, I would have preferred if they didn’t have the rain dance when active seminar sessions were on, but that can be taken care of next time. And then, of course, there were the awards. The presentation of the first Abbys underlined the need for rehearsals and a script for the enthusiastic MC.

The closing night got it right.

When the bugles have blown and the drums have rolled, we will have to acknowledge that that it needed the determination, goodwill and untiring efforts of one man to ensure that the GoaFest did not die out. The same man who started the GoaFest. Srinivasan (Sundar) Swamy, take a bow!

(Ramesh Narayan is a veteran ad man and has played leadership roles in associations such as the Advertising Club, the Advertising Agencies Association of India,Asian Federation of Advertising Associations and the IAA).

Published on June 05, 2014
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