Several broadcasters are likely to give Goafest 2008, the Indian advertising industry’s annual awards event, a miss this year.
Some are still brooding six months after the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) did not back the broadcasters on their decision to levy a 25% surcharge on all ad rates because of rising operational costs.
ISA had threatened its members would take legal action if their ads were pulled off air because of their refusal to accept the proposed levy.
Key broadcasters, including Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, Star India Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) and Television Eighteen India Ltd (TV18), say they are not planning to attend. In some cases, they are sending token representatives rather than the usual heavyweights who attend the event, which has been a must seen type of annual event.
Celebrating ad excellence: Some of the winners of Goafest 2007. The annual event is considered the largest ad industry festival in Asia
“They (agencies) made us look like villains in front of advertisers. We feel the ad industry could have handled the matter properly,” said a senior official from Zee Entertainment, who didn’t want to be identified.
But others say this tension is only illustrative of a shift that was already under way.
As the industry matures, more industry events are popping up, such as the Effies, Ad Asia, Asia–Pacific Ad Fair, and events by bodies such as the World Federation of Advertisers and the International Advertising Association.
This is pushing companies to prioritize.
“Ten years ago, there were just a few award functions that the industry would attend. Only the stalwarts would actually get to go to Cannes and the like,” said Ramesh Narayan, founder of Canco Advertising Pvt. Ltd. “Today, the industry has so many regional as well as international events to choose from that I would not be surprised that they are now focusing their time and resources on events that can actually bring value to them.”
Senior management from many Indian media companies are likely to be in Washington, DC for the 41st International Advertising Association World Congress starting on 6 April. Likely participants include Pradeep Guha and Joy Chakraborthy from Zee India, Raj Nayak, Hemant Arora and Rohit Gopakumar from NDTV Media, Avinash Pandey from Star News, I. Venkat, formerly associated with the Eenadu Group, and G. Krishnan from TV Today Network Ltd.
This rethinking of attending the Goafest, which has been considered the largest ad industry festival in Asia, comes as India’s two industry bodies—the Advertising Club of Bombay and AAAI—join hands to host the event.
But some broadcasters say that isn’t incentive enough, noting the event still focuses largely on the creative side of the business. In the past, broadcasters would attend the festival in large groups and would participate by sponsoring events, and lunches or dinners as a goodwill measure.
“Judging by what happened (with the ad levy issue), there is very little goodwill coming our way,” said a senior official from Star India on the condition of anonymity.
“Over the last few years, it has always been the media companies that sponsor the ABBY Awards. So, we really have to question why they are not participating in full force this year,” said Canco Advertising’s Narayan.
Times Global Broadcasting Co. Ltd and TV Today Network are the major broadcasters that have chosen to sponsor events at Goafest this year. Both companies are likely to announce the revamp of their channels.
Others, such as NDTV and TV18 said they were busy attending their own annual conclaves or retreats around this time. Plus, “you have to work at some point”, said a senior official from NDTV on condition of anonymity.
Sony Entertainment Television was likely to send a few representatives to the event.
AAAI, for its part, said it is concerned that several broadcasters would choose to skip the ad industry event, considering that the organizers are trying to ensure that the media conclave is “relevant” to all those attending.
“We would have liked all the constituents of the industry to attend since we all have to work together,” said Madhukar Kamath, president of AAAI. “It would be unfortunate that they can’t make it…perhaps we have not paid adequate attention to check their availability,” he added.