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Advertising executives get freebies

March 14, 2007 14:10 IST
After clients, advertising agencies are now offering freebies, well, to their own men. If  the Advertising Agencies Association of India has its way, 800 delegates will be heading to Goa for a three-day advertising festival free of cost. And this offer is reserved for advertising executives under the age of 30.

Goafest, Indian advertising's version of Cannes, will take place by April-end and the AAAI is also hoping that delegates pour in from every corner of the country. The focus is especially beyond Mumbai and New Delhi, the hubs of Indian advertising.

"Advertising professionals from smaller locations like Chandigarh or Coimbatore never get to interact with industry bigwigs at one platform. The Goafest offers them a fun environment to celebrate creativity and meet top industry executives," said Jagdip Bakshi, CEO, Contract Advertising.

He is also present on the organising committee of the festival. Like every advertising offer, even this has a catch - delegates need to pay a registration fee of Rs 5,200. But, the AAAI is funding the travel, accommodation and food   

The AAAI wants to get the young excited about advertising. "Advertising has lost its gloss to other sunrise industries like retail and new media," admits Bakshi. A talent crunch has hit the profession, agrees another industry veteran.

Existing hotspots like Mumbai and Delhi also are a costly source of talent, particularly for advertising, which has been suffering a margin-crunch for years. Then, the past also proves that good talent exists beyond the advertising hubs.

For instance, top creative directors in Indian advertising like Leo Burnett's K V Sridhar, Lowe's Balki, McCann's Prasoon Joshi or Ogilvy's Piyush Pandey do not originally belong to Mumbai, India's ad capital or even New Delhi. In fact, Joshi wears his small-town origins as a badge. But the opportunity is also the industry's biggest challenge.

At last year's inaugural edition of the Goafest, close to 84 per cent of the 1,125 delegates were from the North of which 65 per cent were alone from the West zone. And the   East zone comprised just one per cent of delegates - a comedown if you consider that Kolkata was at one point of time the advertising capital of India.  

The AAAI has already launched a television campaign across the country to popularise the ad festival and is hoping that it hits the target audience.

Prasad Sangameshwaran in Mumbai