With only a handful of international speakers such as Melaine Varley, chief strategy officerglobal, MEC; Norm Johnston, chief digital officer, Mindshare; Guy Hearn, chief innovation officer, Omnicom Media Group and Peter Riley, head of creative shop APAC, Facebook, the ad fest also played host to self-styled preachers such as Swami Paramatmananda Saraswati, founder, Arsha Vidya Mandir and DK Hari & Hema Hari, founders, Bharath Gyana research organisation that spreads awareness about Indian civilization. However, Arvind Sharma, president of Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAI), defended the choice of speakers saying that the list of speakers was created based on a survey among the last three years Goafest delegates. Everyone needs fresh content. For several years now the ad fest has had chief executives of different brands speaking at the seminar. This year the idea was to get people who are in the middle of action and have gained popularity due to their work, added Sharma.
The impact of last years controversies could be felt as the number of delegates attending the festival dropped from 3,000 to 1,700 this year. The organising committee tried to boost the sagging numbers by making a few changes in the original format as they stretched the show over three days as opposed to the two-day format followed earlier, packing it with knowledge seminars. Moreover, the by-invitation-only advertising conclave, held on the first day was open to all delegates. This gave everyone a chance to listen to clients such as Toshiba, PepsiCo, Marico, Britannia and HDFC Standard Life Insurance, talking about agency-client relationships. Sharma claims that despite a few agencies not attending the ad fest, it was a success as nearly 250 creative agencies and more than 60 media agencies participated this year.
However, it was difficult to ignore the absence of some of the big names. Major advertising agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, McCan Erickson, BBDO, Grey India, Creativeland Asia, Lowe Lintas and BBDO India gave it a miss leading to a big fall in the total number of entries. While in case of Media Abbysawards for excellence in media planningthe drop in number of entries was marginal, Creative Abbys the highlight of the annual fest - witnessed a nearly 50% plunge in the total number of entries from 4,300 last year to 2,700 this year. Print Craft is a category which has seen the maximum drop in the number of entries, from about 900 entries last year to approximately 200 entries this year. The other category to witness a huge fall in entries is print. Nonetheless, the introduction of new categories such as Publisher awards and Broadcaster awards apart from expansion of the digital category compensated for the decrease in the number of entries in other prominent categories, said Ajay Chandwani, chairman, Creative Abby Awards.
A few changes were also introduced in the judging process this year, as the organisers tried to keep the event clean and free from any kind of scandal. As part of the initiative, only the members of the Awards Governing Council (AGC) knew the names of the final winners, and even the jury members were kept in the dark. Pratap Bose, president of the Advertising Club (Ad Club) and chairman of the Awards Governing Council, said that even this year the festival received a few dodgy entries. We received three dodgy entries this year in the creative category and received six complaints this year. KPMG in India, the auditor, back-checked all the entries, which helped in getting rid of such kind of work, he added.
Along with flagging interest from the advertising fraternity, the advertising festival is facing tough competition from the Kyoorius D&AD Awards which has seen most of the countrys top advertising agencies backing it. We have approached all the agencies that have issues. But making drastic changes in the format, as these agencies want us to do, is not possible. While D&AD follows its own style when it comes to organising the award, we follow the pattern followed at Cannes Lions. For example, at Cannes each category is judged by people specialising in that particular area, that is, a category such as digital is judged by people who have knowledge in that area. But D&AD believes otherwise and says anyone can judge any category, said Chandwani.