The previous edition of Goafest was the 15th. Not unremarkable for an event started by an industry association (AAAI) that grew into a partnership with another to host the prestigious Abbys (The Advertising Club). The festival and the advertising and media fraternity owe every person who has contributed to making this a reality since its origins. Why this is important becomes evident when you speak with delegates from large and small organisations who travel from across the country (and beyond) bearing the summer sun.
For the young and the old from advertising, media and marketing, Goafest remains the go-to destination and source of inspiration, networking and recognition. It takes its pride of place as an industry-owned and run event, a rarity across the world. The all-encompassing and inclusive extravaganza that Goafest has evolved to become, is rightfully the Indian ad industry’s pride. But over the last two years, it has reclaimed its glory – and then some.
This congregation may have moved from the tents of Zuri to a concrete conference venue and even lost its way at one point, but it bounced back. Last year in particular marked a show of intent. 2023 is proof that it is future proof.
The theme centred on creativity on the lines of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a statement. While embracing publishers and broadcasters with focused awards to recognise their creativity, while acknowledging that AI and data are now central to the industry’s functioning, the overarching theme must always be centred on creativity. Creativity is applicable anywhere, only more so across the marketing and media ecosystem. Owning creativity is critical for Goafest and that is exactly what the minds that made the decisions have done.
The continuing partnership with The One Show is another feather in the cap of the Abbys, and hence Goafest. As a juror of the first edition of the gender sensitivity category, I can vouch for the systems in place to ensure fair play even before the One Show came in. The partnership was a bold and necessary move last year to up the stature of the Abbys further. What happened to the Abbys at some point in the past was unfortunate but was blown way out of proportion. But that is well and truly in the past. Conversations with industry stakeholders show that the One Show association has significantly elevated the profile of the Abbys. And while the Abbys are now central to Goafest, winning one at this advertising carnival makes it even more special for many.
That MullenLowe Lintas Group is an entrant this year is an ecstasy shot in the arm for Abbys and Goafest. This is historic, as journalists who have sought former Lintas honcho Balki’s opinion several times on the subject will tell you. It may even be a token participation, but it is a huge development. The return of other large agencies to the fray is equally significant.
The mood in the media, which accounts for the bulk of sponsorships for advertising events, is not the most upbeat. But then necessity is the mother of invention and in the case of Goafest, intervention. A slew of sponsors not seen before will be looking for RoI at Goafest 2023, one learns, thanks to concerted efforts of industry leaders.
Since its start, Goafest has stood testimony to the fact that the advertising and media fraternity, and multiple stakeholders within each, can stand together despite differences. The involvement of the IAA, AFAA and ASCI at Goafest 2023 is heartwarming. The first edition of IAA’s Olive Crowns was hosted at Goafest. ASCI is no stranger to the fest either. But as these industry bodies actively and visibly partner Goafest, all of them rise as one.
When an industry stands together, it has arrived.
(The author is Co-founder and Group Consulting Editor, Uplift Medianews4u, independent marketing consultant and columnist. Views are personal.)