It's that time of the year when the advertising fraternity gets together to celebrate top creative work, network with industry fellows and party hard.
Goafest 2014 may be over a month late due to the Lok Sabha elections but the excitement is palpable.
Over 1,700 delegates have registered for three days of fun, frolic and gyaan to be held at Goa's Grand Hyatt hotel.
So are the organisers ready to meet everyone's expectations?
Srinivasan K Swamy, chairman of the Goafest 2014 organising committee, said, "You are never ready for a big programme like this till the last minute. Preparations are on in full swing. And people will definitely find it difficult to choose between sessions."
Top faces from the advertising and marketing fields have been invited to speak to delegates on a variety of topics. The theme for this year - 'Brand Baaja Baaraat' - indicates that everyone will celebrate and have fun. However in the midst of the celebrations, one cannot overlook the fact that top agencies like Ogilvy & Mather and Leo Burnett have chosen to stay away from participating in the flagship Creative Abby awards.
Is a drop in the number of entries a cause for worry? Arvind Sharma, president, Advertising Agencies Association of India and former chairman and CEO India Subcontinent at Leo Burnett said, "The number of entries has dropped as large creative agencies have decided not to be a part of it. However, the numbers are still high. This festival has always recognised categories which are becoming important like the digital entries and they have doubled this year."
The mood though is of optimism. Said Rana Barua, CEO, Contract Advertising: "I am not going this time though I wish them all the best. My only wish remains that all the agencies come together. It's sad for the industry that only half of them are coming. There are a lot of agencies which are not participating but my hope remains to see them all together."
It is estimated that Goafest 2014 has received around 2,700 entries which include 2,000 for Creative and Digital and 619 for Media Abby. To ensure there is no encore of controversies in this edition, the organisers have streamlined the judging process.
"Clearly there was a lot more to be done to ensure the awards were conducted and judged in a fair manner. This we have achieved. We've got pretty much everything right in terms of judging processes and putting out the shortlists in the public domain," said Pratap Bose, president, The Advertising Club and chairman of the Awards Governing Council.
In the seventh year, the Goafest has clearly grown over the years as Bobby Pawar, chief creative Officer, South Asia, Publicis puts it, "It has gone beyond advertising. Digital, media and broadcast are also a part of it. It has got the right direction catering to many areas of the marketing. As far as my expectations are concerned, we want to see some sparkling creative work. Hopefully, I don't get disappointed."
"I believe that one is a student from cradle to cortege and in that context, knowledge seminars of the likes of Goafest are indeed useful. Over the years, we have had some great speakers from diverse expertise areas and it has been engaging," said Nagesh Alai, Group chairman, FCBUlka and a former AAAI president, adding: "AAAI has built a great equity with Goafest over the years and it is a great forum for mind over matter. The partnership with Ad Club for the Abby awards is an added value. One hopes that youngsters take full advantage of it and not just soak in the sun and sea."
Did the fact that the D&AD-backed Kyoorius Advertising to be held within a fortnight of Goafest impact the participation at the Abby? According to Bose, "Each has its space". "In many countries, there are many awards and many, many award shows," he said.
Meanwhile, Swamy promises that the Goafest 2014 will be three days well-spent. "Wonderful content, wonderful fun time, wonderful award nights, wonderful parties… overall a good experience."
—In arrangement with MxMIndia