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Chronicle on the 1st iMedia Brand Summit, Goa
Chronicle on the 1st iMedia Brand Summit, Goa
By: Sunil Punjabi

Networkplay has always been at the forefront of bringing to the market various clutter breaking and unique properties that lead to fuelling the growth of the Digital ecosystem. Change, which is one of the three terms that Networkplay uses as its tagline (Convergence, Continuum, Change) that signifies the ethos of the company is always sought after at Networkplay and change is what Networkplay would like to bring about in the way digital is looked at in the Indian market today. It is with this very thought in mind that Networkplay first brought LinkedIn to India, then launched the DTH platform with three partners (Airtel, Videocon and Sun) and then brought ad:tech to quench the Digital marketers’ thirst for meaningful conversations in the Digital space and to get a whole range of sellers and buyers together in a three day expo.

Not wanting to stop at that, Networkplay also entered into a JV with iMedia Communications, Inc., a sister concern of DMG World Media, (which gave us ad:tech) and launched, a trade portal for connecting the marketing community and under the same banner concluded (successfully at that), India’s first iMedia Brand Summit in Goa.

Which is what this blog is all about – iMedia Brand Summit, Goa. The first of its kind in India, held in the scenic and the very beautiful Grand Hyatt, Goa between the 21st and 23rd of September, 2011.

Work began a few months in advance after Namita, Jaswant and I went to Bali to see how the event is conducted worldwide. We brought the same learning and format to India and work began in full swing for the same. We got an eminent board of advisors in place including luminaries like LK Gupta of LG, Virginia Sharma of IBM, Arun Sharma of Airtel and many other illustrious veterans from the industry. In a pre-event advisory board meeting, the content for the Summit was discussed and soon thereafter finalised with the help of Paul Beckley of DMG World Media.

To cut a long story short, within two months, we managed to piece together the event with superb contribution from Namita Ved, Jaswant Singh, Ampreet Singh, Isha Shah, Aakanksha Zariwala, Senthilkumar Rajappan, Ankur Dasgupta, and Chandni Mehta. The co-ordination with which the entire event was put together and executed left me awed with my jaw hanging.

Day One in Goa, which was the 20th of September was spent in going over last minute details to ensure that the team hadn’t overlooked anything.

Day Two in Goa, which was the 21st of September, was when the Summit began. Everyone was expectantly waiting for the delegates to arrive and getting jittery about meeting the numbers for the ice-breaker so when the first coach came in from the airport, it was like a wave of fresh air. And then when it rained, it poured. By the time the ice-breaker started, we had a good 80+ people in already.

One-Minute Match Up: This is what the ice-breaker was called. It, as we kept saying to everyone, is a professional version of speed dating. The one-minute match up is to speed dating what LinkedIn is to Facebook. As expected it was a buzzing session with sellers moving from one chair to the other and talking to new marketers all the time. Sure, we had to keep forcing people to move and sure people complained that one minute is too little but hey! That’s the format. And you know about it. Do make your pitches accordingly. All in all, it was a fantastic session appreciated by buyers and sellers alike.

Day one also had a keynote panel moderated by Ram, followed by networking dinner.

Then over the next two days we had some wonderful key notes by Haresh Khoobchandani, Joe Nguyen and Alan Schulman. We also two breakfast presentations by and Google and we had a few snapshot presentations by various other people.

On Day Two, we also had the recreation session where we had the Wine and Cheese tasting session, Volleyball and the Pool Party. Volleyball and the pool party, which are the two that I attended were a complete riot. After an initial reluctance on part of people to go for Volleyball, when people did go, it was a huge success. Everyone was very participative and everyone had a lot of fun. And then after being there for a few rounds, we also went to attend the pool party. There were some people in the pool playing with a ball, there were some people who were getting pictures clicked using the various props (wigs, moustaches, glasses, eye patches, hats and caps) and there was a singer on the guitar. After a while, a couple of buyers joined in and we all started singing various songs. Notably, LK Gupta of LG and Ashish Sahni of Apollo Munich sang a few Kishore Kumar songs and livened up the atmosphere. Of course, I joined in too.

Again after the dinner on Day two, we assembled outside the bar where Krishnan Chatterjee of HCL got on the guitar, Ankur on the tabla and all of us singing. What a fun evening that was. It went on late into the night when the bar had a small space that worked as our dance floor and where everyone shook a leg.

Day three was of course a bit loaded with presentations including the 10 minute innovation presentations. IBIBO made a very interesting presentation and also got LK Gupta to sing again, which was fun. At one point, due to paucity of time, I almost didn’t get to make my presentation. But a bit of jugglery enabled that too and I got to showcase our DTH capability and also our Travel Vertical.

Day three also had a feedback session for buyers and the comments that we got for the session were overwhelming. Everyone was happy with the interactions, the people, the formats, everything. True, there was a small concern about some of the content which was a blatant sales pitch by some sponsors but oh well! You can’t win ‘em all. One small snag was the unavailability of Vodafone Network, which made tweeting difficult.

The day ended with a Hawaiian Theme party and once again there was an Emcee who made everyone play games and there were two exotic dancers who did the Samba, belly dancing, etc that was I am sure a treat for the men folk at least.

Goa being Goa, the food that we had there was awesome to say the least, particularly the sea food. On Saturday morning, which was time for us to leave the beautiful Grand Hyatt, with its oh-so comfortable rooms and the opulence, we didn’t want to. Such was the charm and the euphoria of the event. But we did return and here I am, trying to capture the essence in words. Till the next iMedia Summit, which I promise will be bigger and better.