Amidst the hustle-bustle of the preparations for Goafest 2012 which kicks off two days from now, we caught up with Arvind Sharma, chairman of Goafest committee and chairman, India sub-continent, Leo Burnett. Sharma looks relaxed with everything working according to plan. In an exclusive interview to FE’s Payal Khandelwal, Sharma talks about the idea behind new initiatives such as the Marketing Wizards, Grand Prix for all the verticals, and inclusion of South Asian countries. Edited excerpts:
What was the idea behind introducing Marketing Wizards? How has the response been from clients?
Some clients have been coming to Goafest as delegates and as speakers at the Advertising Conclave. But this year, it is a major priority to get more clients at Goafest. There are about 70 client organisations and 150 of their employees will come under the Marketing Wizards programme. They would be associated with Goafest in two ways: We have invited clients to be the voice of the audience at the knowledge seminars. Senior clients can draw inferences about what is being talked about and partly raise counter arguments. So these clients would be the heads and hearts of the audience. Second, while senior executives from the clients’ side have travelled widely and have the necessary exposure, the younger one don’t get the same opportunities. Goafest would provide exposure, challenge and opportunity to them.
How has participation from other countries been so far?
While politics of the sub-continent is a challenge, the culture is not. The logic behind getting them involved is the cultural similarities that we share. We are getting delegates and entries from across South Asia. We have created a category ‘Best of South Asia’ for all the verticals.
What was the idea behind introducing Grand Prix for all the nine verticals this year?
There was a time when disciplines such as design, digital, media innovation (apart from the vanilla stuff) were something for the future. We have decided that the time has come to give these disciplines a much bigger stage. These disciplines have the capacity to win Grand Prixs. We are hoping that GPs will raise the stature of outstanding professionals in these areas, some of whom would be specialist agencies and some would be specialist people from larger agencies.
We will award a Grand Prix only if an entry is completely worth it. It will be a source of inspiration which will catalyze and inspire people in different disciplines.
You have said that Goafest will be ?a lot more digital? this year than ever before? Can you give us some examples.
We have created the Facebook page and Twitter handle for Goafest this year. We are working out a way to live-stream knowledge seminars, media conclave, etc. This is as far as the marketing part of it goes. We have got an outstanding speaker from Youtube ? Lucas Watson. The theme for the conclave is ?Ideas for impacting the full circle? which talks about how creating preference for a brand on TV, print, etc is not enough.
Every year, there’s a call for clarity in the rankings of the agencies. How will you take care of this at Goafest 2012?
There was a big debate with the awards council about this but we finally decided that it is a contest of ideas and not a contest of agencies. A contest of agencies can create all kinds of questions such as importance of scale versus quality and number of entries as a factor of budget, etc. So we have decided to let all great ideas be celebrated. That would be the focus and thus no agency rankings.
Was there anything last year that you would want to see different at this year’s Goafest?
Last year, the awards, seminars, conclave all went okay. But we have identified more opportunities. As far as the conclave is concerned, I expect it to rise a few notches higher this year. All the speakers with their vision of the way business is going will make it an excellent conversation. Our challenge is to keep what is working (which is 95% of it) and we will take the 5% forward and make it better.