As I enter the Grand Hyatt for Goafest 2023, myriad thoughts flash through my mind.
A trip to Goa with Srinivasan Swamy and Arvind Sharma in what seems to be an age ago, where Swamy is not at all happy with the Triple A awards for creative excellence which were being run by the AAAI. And was wondering why the apex body of advertising agencies couldn't have an award better than the Abby awards which were run by the Advertising Club.
We met the Chief Minister and Swamy got his buy-in to hold an advertising festival on the beach. In his characteristic style he even asked the Government for money.
The Abby awards have always been very close to my heart. I was made Chairman of the Abby Awards Judging Committee (circa 1997), when Kaushik Roy as Chairman of the Abby Awards Function Committee completely turned around the look and feel of the event and made it something to look forward to.
After that I was closely involved with the Abby awards with two terms as the President of the Advertising Club and then two terms as Awards Function Committee Chair when Pradeep Guha was President of the Advertising Club. And then two terms (more recently) as Chairman of the Abby Awards Governing Council. As a Past President of the AAAI as well, I was delighted when the AAAI and the Ad Club decided to run the Goafest together with a clear-cut division of duties.
The AdClub retained the control over the judging process and all the drama that goes with it and the AAAI handled the knowledge seminars and the Goafest event itself.
I was heartbroken when Lintas pulled out of the Abby awards. I recall a long telephone call with Balki where he graciously and politely said he was not upset over the judging process, but very firmly refused to reconsider his decision to pull out.
A period of upheaval and ups and downs followed with AAAI even 'advising' it's member agencies not to participate in the Ad Clubs' Abby awards.
Then of course, even though Goafest sorted out the primary inter-industry issue, judging remained a roller coaster with its pulls and tugs for places on the jury and trauma over how to deal with 'scam' advertising.
After all that stormy background, this year's Goafest is special because of a few points.
Lintas is back. When I asked a senior person as to what made them return, I was told it was to express solidarity with the industry. A wonderful explanation, if any.
In fact most agencies are participating in this celebration of creative excellence and that's the way it should be.
Equally this year's Goafest sees the coming together of all the major industry associations. AAAI, Advertising Club, IAA, ASCI. And that warms my heart.
Kudos to Prasanth Kumar, Jaideep Gandhi, Vikram Sakhuja and Mohit Joshi for getting these industry bodies together and also ensuring a good speaker line-up.
And congratulations to Partha Sinha, Rana Barua and Ajay Kakkar for ensuring a good judging process.
Yes, the presence of One Show seems to have made a positive difference to the entire festival. I hope one day a completely Indian award will rule. But I guess we are part of the global village now.
And so the show begins shortly and hopefully it will end with a "they all lived happily ever after"...
(The author is Founder, Canco Advertising. Views are personal.)