Since the beginning, I have a strong love-hate relationship with Goafest. I was quick to find faults, compare with others, share suggestions, demanding some changes and yes to appreciate good things or I have enjoyed my affair with it as a sponsor, delegate, disrupter, publisher, winner, jury member and in my own small way tried to push participation in publisher Abby’s. And here I come again for the nth time not missing a single year. This time I visit it as an independent representing ‘Intradia World of Brand and Marketing advisory and Training’ & ‘MXMIndia’ where I write a Wednesday Column.
My involvement with Goafest primarily has been as a delegate representing highly dynamic Dainik Bhaskar Group (DBG). The 2016 edition gives me an opportunity to walk down memory lane. It was always an event of importance and focus in the Indian A&M industry. It happened in April but is yet to fix a week. Unlike some big festival across the globe, you can still not be sure about Goafest as to which Thursday of April will it start in 2017.
At DBG templates have a short life, SOPs mutate fast and ‘let repeat the activity’ is never an answer. So every year, Goafest was a new start. The first task for marketing was to justify the fest participation internally. The brand was on the lookout for a differential interaction with delegates. Nothing was fixed, including the list of delegate to attend.
At the start, DBG sent few delegate to the fest. Complaints of DBG people spending more time at the shack with beer and fish than in knowledge seminar echoed back. Questions about fest functional utility, possible association and sponsorship were discussed.
Finally it was agreed that Goafest was best to meet informally people you anyway meet in business. May be you could set up meetings in coming days and if possible make a few new contacts. It remained predominately media and creative. Lack of client participation was observed and seen as a weakness. It will be a new chapter to just discuss the internal discussions on the subject, suffice to say short of a ‘Visiting Cards collection contest’, everything else was done.
The brand then graduated to being a seminar sponsor. One area where it always seemed unjustified investment. Goafest in the initial years has never been able to answer a sponsor’s basic question ‘What’s in it for me’. Personally, other than Discovery, Times Now, IBM, HT, GOOGLE and may be Malayala Manorama, no other brand registered. The sponsorship agenda was buried for sometime.
Now sponsors are better supported. The brand associations are not clutter-breaking but brands like Times Now, Colors and Discovery get strongly associated. In my view sponsorship works as aggregator and continuous presence, the Colors model is the best example of it. Sporadic sponsorship is never the answer. Or one can see sponsorship as the brands contribution to the industry. The amplification for sponsor brand can still be bettered.
DBG then sponsored Goafest newsletter brought by ‘E4M’. If my memory serves me right, it then sponsored the newsletter by ‘Afaqs’ before it decided to bring out its own special newsletter ‘Dainik Bhaskar Goafest’ (DBGFNL) in a true magazine style.
The task-force for DBGFNL changed every year. It was drawn from different editions of the newspaper. Most of these passionate team members had no past experience of covering media and advertising events but they were fast learners and great experimenters. DBGFNL was class content delivered early morning much before the trade publications. It was there in the hotel rooms, restaurants and lobby of hotels where delegates stayed. It was also distributed at the venue. I remember it surprising many with the only 3-D issue in one of those years.
My team members like Neha Mavani, Shailey Tatia, Nidhi Dagga, Dipty, Mamta Ranasaria, Preema, Sheela, Rajesh Pajni along with Mansi Dabral (freelance) Raghuram (edit) and Rakesh ( Circulation) did wonderfully well. They worked hard and partied harder. The edit- visualiser and production teams from different centres across India supported us well.
DBGFNL was off agenda when the fest management team hiked their fee for distribution. Anyway to organise and bring out an edition with the single printing press in Goa was time and cost-inefficient. Additionally the cost of the team stationed in Goa was high and the readers did not get too engaged with the product.
The ‘No SOP no Template’ attitude of DBG sprung another surprise on Goafest, the often commented upon ‘Passport’ Party. For readers it will help to understand that at that time Goafest was really a two-day Friday-Saturday event. Thursday used to be an invitee-only Industry Conclave. The truth is that lot of young delegates came on Thursday afternoon and had nothing planned for the evening. This gap was identified and for them DBG created a party some 20 mm away from fest venue for Thursday evening. It became known as Passport Party as the invitee (in form of a passport) was handed to delegates when they were exiting the airport, railway station or checking in at the hotels. Akshay Jain did a fabulous job. There were vehicles at pre-defined hotels and checkpoints at designated time to whisk them away to the party that went till late in the night.
The fun was when Jagdip Bakshi while closing the Industry Conclave and breaking for the dinner announced ‘Dainik Bhaskar is doing a Guerrilla event, they are trying to hijack the evening, there is some Passport Party organised by them, I will request people not to encourage it and not participate. I was at the Conclave and this gave us some great unasked for publicity. Many delegates of industry conclave showed interest and we immediately arranged for dedicated vehicles to transport them to Passport Party.
Goafest was fun for another reason. It allowed the team to create some humorous ads that the brand would not have otherwise allowed. All this was possible under the justified cover of the Goafest ambience and feel. It was understood that the ‘advertising’ fest crowd was far open and you need to be a lot cheekier in your communication at the fest to stand out.
So, from the single colour t-shirts so as not to get lost in the Kumbh of Indian advertising, to using them as message board – many things were experimented. Yes, there were many such things that on a normal day would not been accepted within the brand culture? Here, I am sharing a few visual from that time. It was not a case of split personality but more like DBG operating with ‘Horses for the courses’ vision.
Oh, no way one can forget Beaches, Beer and ‘Bang for the buck’ at the Casino during the fest. Long live, Goafest