The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) recently kickstarted the countdown to Goafest 2023 that is scheduled to be held between 24 and 26 May. The association held a curtain raiser in Mumbai unveiling the festival’s theme ‘The Future of Creativity’. The event witnessed participation from agencies, advertisers, brands and media owners.
Speaking at the Goafest 2023 curtain raiser, Prasanth Kumar, president, Advertising Agencies Association of India and CEO, South Asia GroupM said, “Goafest is known to unite India and South Asia’s creative economy. While we often discussed the future of creativity, this year’s edition of Goafest will be synonymous to it. With a stellar line-up of speakers, must-attend masterclasses, and celebration-worthy evenings, we look forward to meeting our industry folks at Goafest, shortly.”
Along with the 16th edition of the festival, the 54th edition of the “The Abby Awards” will also be held which are often compared to the Oscars of the Indian ad world.
New awards, food for thought for young executives
Apart from driving meaningful discussions around the future of creativity in the age of artificial intelligence (AI), AAAI is also taking baby steps into making the Goafest more relevant for younger industry talent. For instance, there is a new category called ‘Young Maverick’ which will recognise the outstanding work done by a young talent under the age of 30 years.
Rana Barua, group CEO, Havas Group India & chairman, The Abbys Award Governing Council notes that this year marks the 54th Abby. “This is also the second year of the Abby One Show association, which has become stronger. We have introduced a new category called Young Maverick - an under 30 awards. And we have three international jury chairs this year: Nick Law, creative chairperson, Accenture Song, Wesley Ter Haar, co-founder, Media Monks and Mandie Van Der Merwe, chief creative officer, Dentsu Sydney Australia,” he adds.
Apparently, apart from a separate award category, the committee is also promising three-days of extensive panel discussions and sessions for the young talent.
Anupriya Acharya, South Asia CEO of Publicis Groupe who is also a part of the Governing Council for Goafest 2023 highlights that Goafest reflects cultural shifts and contemporary topics within advertising and brings to the forefront topical issues and trends within the industry.
“There are engaging panel discussions, masterclasses, seminars, opportunities for talent to interact with the icons of the business and vice-versa, and rich discourse, and exchange of ideas. And so while everyone gains from it, the festival is even more relevant for the new generation of professionals and practitioners,” she notes.
Spike in entries, more agencies to participate
International jury and a spike in the entries are also keeping the organising committee's spirits up. Barua shares that the council has received a record number of entries this year, surpassing the 3,221 entries of 2022.
“However, the bigger achievement is that we have been successful in welcoming back key players like McCann Worldgroup, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group, Wunderman Thompson, Creativeland Asia and many others,” he notes.
It is to be noted that Goafest has been marred with controversies in the past with agencies' work creating stir to top agencies pulling out of Abbys at the last minute.
In 2013, JWT India (now Wunderman Thompson India) created a set of three ads for Ford Figo without the client’s approval, uploaded them online, and entered the work in the Creative Abby competition at Goafest. It was after their appearance at Goafest that the ads blew up the Internet. The ad featured famous personalities with over-sexualised caricatures of women bound and gagged in the car's boot.
Read More: Goafest 2023: Mullen LoweLintas, Wunderman Thompson, McCann make a comeback at the festival
While the industry was reeling from this shock, Publicis Groupe India’s agency Leo Burnett pulled two entries, which were part of its campaign for Tata Salt Lite, from the radio category. The agency had not submitted the mandatory letter of approval from the client for the campaign to be entered in the competition. BBDO India and DDB Mudra's campaign for Electrolux also came under scanner. The Omnicom-owned creative agencies were charged with plagiarism.
Ogilvy India and independent shop Creativeland Asia decided to not send entries for the Abbys at Goafest anymore. McCann Worldgroup India followed suit. The agency returned and left again.
Ajay Kakar, a managing committee member of The Advertising Club and co-chair of The Abbys Award Governing Council, believes that both Goafest and Abby Awards properties have evolved over the years based on the feedback received from the industry. Many agencies that are sitting on the fence actually come on board to be at the Abbys this year.
"Mullen Lowe Lintas Group has chosen to make a come-back to creative awards in India, with the Abby Awards, selectively, through a few campaigns. Likewise, we also have McCann and Wunderman Thomson who have come back to the Abbys. When you see the number of partaking companies, you will realise that these agencies and companies are moving away from the pecking order as a motivation for entries. Instead of sheer volumes, they are choosing to enter their best work," he notes.
Kakar feels that over the years Abbys has also become a testing ground for international award success because entries that win Abby tend to do well globally as well.
"We have noticed that for many agencies the Abbys has also become a testing ground for future success at international awards. Last year we could see a correlation between work that won at the Abbys, and then went on to also win at Cannes and the One Show," he shares.