What’s Goa’s advertising scene like?

India’s smallest state Goa hosts the biggest advertising festival in the country, the Goafest. However, when it comes to its own advertising industry, things are a bit different.

By  Priyanka NairMay 26, 2023 12:29 PM
What’s Goa’s advertising scene like?
Post the pandemic, the average traveller in Goa has changed, she said. “For the longest time, Goans thought the foreigners had the purchasing power, which is true to some extent. However, that has changed in the last couple of years. A lot of Indian travellers are big spenders. Today, the specialty restaurants of Goa cater to the Indian traveller because they are all for experimentation,” Gunjan Bakshi added.(Representative Image: Mayur Deshpande via Unsplash)

In 2017, Zafar Rais, who runs the independent digital marketing agency MindShift Interactive, thought doing business out of Goa would be a good idea. Rais’ agency works closely with brands in the hospitality industry, and a bunch of hotels wanted to experiment with social media. This was way before brands caught on to Instagram Reels, Stories, and the Wes Anderson trend (under which users create content pieces similar to the cinematic style of the film maker).

For an agency like MindShift, Goa looked like a wise move because the market was ripe, said Rais. He and his team worked with a number of brands and took about two years to understand the market, before taking the decision to set up shop in Goa. A few months later, the pandemic hit the shores.

Rais told Storyboard18 that working with brands virtually didn’t really impact their work. In fact, it was easy to adapt to, he said. Currently, MindShift Interactive’s Goa office services brands like DoubleTree by Hilton (Panaji, Goa), Taj Cidade de Goa, The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, and a host of other brands. Located in the quaint village of Aldona, MindShift has made Goa its home. According to Rais, “Goa offers that ideal work-life balance that metro city dwellers are looking for.”

That’s exactly why Prashanth Challapalli left Mumbai to set up a creative outfit in Goa.

WFG (Work-From-Goa)

In December 2020, just after travel restrictions had eased, Challapalli visited Goa to unwind. He met a friend who took him to quaint corners of the state. Challapalli liked the vibe.

Today, Challapalli’s digital marketing outfit Gravity Integrated is located in Parra, a quiet corner of the state. Gravity’s 15-member team has worked on projects for companies Diageo, Dell Technologies, and General Mills, among others.

The agency tried working with local brands, but Challapalli said that it didn’t make commercial sense.

“A lot of freelancers have moved to Goa. It has worked well for them. Local brands here run on tight marketing budgets and collaborate with freelancers because it works well. For an agency like ours, the ambitions are different,” he explained.

Rais has similar views. He said that Goa is price-sensitive, and that’s why many agencies have come and gone over the years

Moving away from the Susegad vibe

Located in the colourful and eclectic Latin quarters of Fontainhas in Panjim is Vedro, a restaurant by VRSM Enterprises. The company’s second restaurant, Village 36, is located in Assagao. The company’s chief operations officer Gunjan Bakshi moved to Goa six years ago and didn’t think a village like Assagao would transform the food scene of the state.

Post the pandemic, the average traveller in Goa has changed, she said. “For the longest time, Goans thought the foreigners had the purchasing power, which is true to some extent. However, that has changed in the last couple of years. A lot of Indian travellers are big spenders. Today, the specialty restaurants of Goa cater to the Indian traveller because they are all for experimentation,” she added.

Bakshi is of the opinion that Goa is moving away from the Susegad vibe. A concept that is associated with the culture of Goa. It is derived from the Portuguese word sossegado ('quiet'), which is often viewed as the relaxed, laid-back attitude towards life that is said to have existed historically in the former Portuguese territory. Today, Indian tourists are demanding service. However, many aren’t happy with these cultural changes.

Bakshi outsources her advertising work to agencies in Mumbai. “Creative professionals who have moved here are chasing the slow-life. They want to keep client pressures at bay. This doesn’t work for brands like ours, which is why we prefer working with hyperactive agencies, which are mainly in metros,” she added.

Goa hosts one of the biggest advertising festivals in the country, the Goafest. In a state that attracts agencies from all over to celebrate creativity, it will be interesting to see how local creative shops find new avenues to grow and shape the advertising business in the coming years.

Agency On Map is Storyboard18's series that will feature agencies and the advertising culture of various regions of India. We see how creative shops there are attracting work and talent.

First Published on May 26, 2023 12:26 PM

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