Key Learnings from Goafest 2024 – Embracing Adaptability

     – Ujaya Shakya –

This year, Goafest 2024 moved from its traditional home in Goa to Mumbai. As South Asia’s premier celebration of creativity and innovation, the festival adopted the theme ‘The Age of Adaptability’. Held from May 29 to May 31, at The Westin Mumbai, the event featured inspiring speakers and sessions focused on how to navigate growth through adversity and the importance of adaptability in a constantly changing market.

The festival began with a keynote speech by Harit Nagpal, CEO of Tata Play, titled ‘Adapt To Thrive Not Just Survive’, emphasising the need for adaptability to thrive. Sanjiv Mehta, Executive Chairman of L Catterton India, led a session on ‘Navigating The Age Of Adaptability’, focusing on leadership elements like vision, flexibility and purpose.

During the Goafest, I also had the privilege of conducting a MasterClass on ‘Unlocking Market Potential – Open Your Eyes to Nepal’. In this session, I focused on a significant aspect of modern Nepal: its youthful population. With 72% of its inhabitants under the age of 35, this demographic is playing a crucial role in shaping the country’s future with their ambition and energy. Many young Nepalis are not only venturing abroad as migrant workers but also pursuing higher education to learn best practices, reflecting their aspirations for both personal and national growth. This resilient spirit was notably evident after the 2015 earthquake, showcasing their strong commitment to rebuilding the nation. This youthfulness is also exemplified in the leadership of Kathmandu, where Mayor Balen Shah, a 34-year-old rapper, and Deputy Mayor Sunita Dangol, a 31-year-old biotechnologist and activist, were elected. Their leadership symbolises openness to positive change highlighting the potential of youth to drive progress. For brands aiming to connect with the Nepali market, understanding this dynamic youthful landscape is crucial. Successful brands align themselves with causes and movements that resonate with national pride and youth culture, tapping into the energetic and forward-thinking mindset of young Nepalis.

Here are your top 10 key learnings from Goafest 2024, focusing on the importance of adapting to new realities with a forward-thinking approach:

1. Strategic Planning to Understand Human Truth
Reestablish the strong tradition of strategic planning by deeply understanding human truths and translating these insights into creative ideas and robust media strategies. This approach ensures that brand campaigns resonate on a deeper level with their audiences.

2. Embrace Technological Disruptions 
Acknowledge that technological advancements like PCs, the internet, mobile phones, social media and now AI, have simplified our lives despite initial disruptions. Future disruptions will occur faster than anticipated, so it is essential to stay prepared and adaptable.

3. Cultivate Youthful Work Culture 
For advertising agencies to remain relevant, they must create an environment where younger people feel comfortable and can thrive. This involves evaluating and potentially updating existing structures to meet the needs of a younger workforce, fostering fresh perspectives.

4. Decentralise Creativity 
Encourage the democratisation of creativity within agencies to foster a more dynamic and innovative work culture. Decentralising creativity allows diverse ideas to contribute to more engaging campaigns.

5. Maintain Agility 
Modern advertising agencies should maintain agility and a youthful spirit to keep up with the rapidly changing client needs. This involves being flexible and quick to adapt to new trends, technologies and consumer behaviours.

6. Focus on Value Creation
Move beyond merely creating social media posts and focus on delivering value to clients, similar to consulting firms. This means setting budgets based on the tangible value brought to client’s businesses, ensuring that marketing efforts directly contribute to business growth.

7. Train Teams for Quick Research 
Equip teams to conduct smaller research before client meetings to provide valuable insights. Additionally, train younger team members in hypothesis testing. They should be able to develop well-informed points of view. This enhances their strategic thinking and improves client communication skills, ensuring they can confidently present data-driven insights along with their recommendations.

8. Leverage Tech Solutions Beyond Regular Media Approaches
Integrate technology solutions with regular media strategies to help clients optimise their spending and drive business growth. This comprehensive approach ensures that marketing efforts leverage the strengths of both digital and legacy media. Focus on idea-centric strategies tailored to the brand’s objectives, ensuring that every campaign aligns with the business goals. This synergy of technology and traditional media provides a holistic view of the market landscape, enhancing the effectiveness of marketing initiatives.

9. Acknowledge Inclusivity 
Understand that Gen Z sees gender as more open to different identities. Use this perspective to break stereotypes creating inclusive relatable content. This approach not only resonates with Gen Z but also enhances brand loyalty by reflecting their values and fostering a deeper connection with the audience.

10. Prioritise Adaptability 
Embrace adaptability as a core value, understanding that it is essential for thriving in today’s industry landscape. This involves being open to new ideas and continuously learning and evolving to stay ahead. Stay receptive to fresh perspectives, ready to adjust strategies.

Goafest 2024 highlighted the critical need for innovation, adaptability and a forward-thinking approach in the advertising industry. A big shoutout to Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), Ad Club of India and all my advertising friends for organising such an impactful event. It was wonderful to reconnect with everyone and reflect on our learnings. The event served as a reminder for us to stay flexible, welcome change and constantly evolve to stay ahead in this dynamic industry where things are always shifting.

Mr. Ujaya Shakya is founder of Outreach and author of Brandsutra.

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