Why inviting Baba Ramdev to Goafest is a bad call...

By Sanjeev Kotnala , Intradia, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 04, 2018
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Read on to know the author's arguments.

Baba Ramdev is a speaker at Goafest. The industry demonstrates a lack of collectivism and self-respect with this selection. I am raising my voice because others have decided to conveniently remain silent. I must share with my well-wishers, the reason for my proposed blackband protest against Baba Ramdev, a keynote speaker at Goafest which will commence on April 5, 2018 (tomorrow).

Sanjeev Kotnala Sanjeev Kotnala

The fest is the annual event organised by the AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) and The Advertising Club. I am surprised that no one else sees it this way and is seeking an explanation for what I think is a serious oversight by our industry leaders.

It is a demonstration of isolation and fragmentation in our industry. We fail to appreciate collectivism. We tolerate people in power who don't subscribe to the guidelines of self-regulation emerging out of collective wisdom. Were they not supposed to be size, category and celebrity-agnostic?

We will never see a Nirav Modi or a Vijay Mallya speaking at a banking conference celebrating stringent banking security measures. So why then, is Baba Ramdev invited to the celebration of creativity?

Baba Ramdev has demonstrated incredible consistency in challenging the collective wisdom of the fraternity. His organisation, Patanjali, has frequently flouted advertising guidelines. Last January, 25 out of 33 ads by the company, were termed misleading by the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India). They have challenged the ASCI's authority and have called it unconstitutional.

Though headed by smart, well-intending seniors who have worked across industry bodies, we live a cocooned life of isolated celebration. We rarely demonstrate a feeling of togetherness. We must try and put the collective health of the industry before the glitter of an individual. Goafest, in my view, is one such occasion.

At a time when we, as an industry, should stand together and strengthen the ASCI, we are celebrating Baba Ramdev. What is the signal we are sending out? I have no questions for the yogi-turned-businessman who has shown such a lack of confidence in the collective self-regulation of the advertising industry.

He has re-written many rules of marketing and advertising. He has made MBAs, marketing gurus and consultants re-think their strategies. He has taken on the might of the MNCs in the dynamic marketplace and succeeded.

There is respect for what he has achieved. However, there is no reason for him to speak at the Kumbhmela of Indian advertising, a festival of ethics and morality in the business.

I see no reason why associations like the IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation), ISA (Indian Society of Advertisers), AdClub, AAAI, INS (Indian Newspaper Society) and IAA (International Advertising Association, India Chapter) should not support the ASCI.

To show your support for the ASCI, wear white. Share your picture on social media with the hashtags - #ProudOfASCI #Livegoafest.

(The author is an independent brand marketing and management advisor)

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