Jaipur is bracing up for its second Diwali this year. Only this time the colourful lanterns are replaced by glow signs as admen from across Asia converge on the city for a four-day congress, AdAsia 2003, from Tuesday.
After being transported in 45 deluxe coaches from Delhi through Saturday and Sunday, the 1,250 delegates brushed padded shoulders with royalty at a dinner at the city palace.
The dinner with the Maharaja of Jaipur had all the elements of a royal welcome: caparisoned elephants, camels and entertainment on the palace lawns.
Says Ramesh Narayan, chairman, planning committee, Ad Asia 2003: "We would like to ensure that the tradition of Indian hospitality is reflected through and through. We are going the extra mile to ensure that the delegates are taken good care of."
However, Indian admen -- over half the delegates -- are looking forward to the action in the days to come. Rajeev Agarwal, managing director, Bates India, hopes to "listen to some world-class and outstanding speakers".
Agarwal is particularly eager to hear Ricardo Semler, president of Semco, the Brazilian marine and food-processing machinery manufacturer famous for creating the world's most unusual workplace. At Semco, workers choose their bosses.
For Madhukar Kamath, managing director and chief executive officer of Mudra, which has sent the biggest Indian delegation of 21, it is the interesting mix of speakers -- from sociologists to industry leaders -- that makes Ad Asia 2003 worthwhile.
While Indian corporate chiefs like Kumar Mangalam Birla, Mukesh Ambani and Manvinder Singh 'Vindi' Banga are expected to address the gathering, the list of delegates also contains names like Gautam Singhania, Vikram Kirloskar and P N Dhoot.
After 21 years, India is hosting AdAsia, touted as the biggest advertising event in the Asia-Pacific.
Some of the international speakers include marketing guru Jack Trout, management professor C K Prahalad and former global head of McKinsey Rajat Gupta.
So what is going to be the impact of AdAsia 2003 on Indian advertising? A senior adman comments, "I would rather wait for the end of the event to answer this one."
- The delegates are equally divided between admen, advertisers and media.
- The largest foreign delegation is from South Korea. Its 59 members include executives from Samsung and LG.
- China is participating for the first time in AdAsia since it began in 1958 in Japan.