Omar Jamil, CEO Latitude blogs for Aurora from New Delhi
AdAsia 2011 opened last night with the Opening Gala at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi. The event kicked off with speeches from the Delhi Lt. Governor – the theme centred around peace, tolerance and inter-connectivity. The master of ceremonies was comedian actor Boman Irani – between introducing Madhukar Kamath, Dr Bhaskar Das, and others, Irani kept the audience entertained with jokes and wisecracks.
At a point early on in the evening, he invited the audience to introduce themselves – unsurprisingly, there were few takers, until the delegation from Nepal stepped up to the plate and sang a local Nepalese song.
The main focus of the evening was around entertainment – the evening featured two performances by the Zenith Dance Troup. The first performance a mix of South East Asian dances, and the second a ‘medley’ of dances from Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and the Punjab (yes, our very own Bhangra!).
Low point of the evening (for me, at least) was Boman Irani singing ‘We are the World’ (followed by Sinatra’s ‘My Way’).
High point was the closing performance by Ustad Taufiq Qureshi – brother of the legendary Ustad Zakir Hussain. The closest I can get to describing this electric percussion performance is that of a desi beat boxer, including a ‘conversation’ (‘spoken’ in beats) by Qureshi. The beat boxing was suddenly joined by a phenomenal percussion accompaniment… Qureshi closed by including the audience in the performance, asking us to look under our seats, where we found an assortment of instruments, ranging from drum sticks to ‘duflis’ to ‘ghungarus’. A truly fantastic interactive session which really brought the crowd to life.
I spoke with a few of the delegates who felt that while the evening was fantastic, it stretched on a bit. The danceperformances lacked the scale of previous AdAsia – one delegate mentioned told me, “It was like a school show.” And Qureshi’s performance ran over late.
The evening ended with a dinner a la ‘The Streets of Delhi’ – literally the streets of Delhi recreated in the hotel gardens.
Day One of the conference began with usual speeches – including one from Ms Ambika Soni, the Indian Minister of Information Broadcasting – other than the singing of the AdAsia ‘National Anthem’ and hoisting of the ‘Republic’ flag, the highlight of the morning was the ever-charming Shahrukh Khan, who hoisted the flag and then gave a wonderfulspeech on branding, using his own personality to illustrate. SRK then proceeded to entertain all with a dance, and short dialogues from ‘Devdas’ and ‘Don’.
The first keynote address was byRam Charan. Theme looking forward, towards the future – looking in from the outside. He highlighted the ability of social media to inform consumers, how this is leading to an incredibly fast pace of change in consumerism, pointing to AOL, Yahoo! and Google, describing the lifecycle of these companies and how consumers are now a part of the business model. Sitting in a hut in Bangalore and being able to affect consumer behaviour.
Talked about supposed transfer of FDI and transfer of know-how from West to East – said that instead the transfer is from North to South. Four shifts – from North to South – FDI will continue from North to South. In the south you have growth – you now have East to West FDI. India is doing it, so is China. Building/infrastructure development. Third trend is that countries in the south identify opportunities in the north because northern economies still large – resegmenting and realigning, but southern countries must remain cognizant of size. The keynote kind of lost me at this point: as one delegate said, “Keynotes are supposed to light the fire; this one is leaving everyone kind of cold.”
While waiting for the next session, spoke to a couple of delegates who again pointed out that this AdAsia lacked the scale and grandeur of previous AdAsia conferences – the most notable being the AdAsia in Jaipur. People also pointed out various glitches – again the morning sessions were all running late, SRK’s dance performance was cut short because the music wouldn’t play properly and more. By and large the feeling right now is one of disappointment – one major gripe is inadequate/insufficient seating.
Awaiting the next session – which is currently running about an hour behind. More to come…