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AdAsia - The Return of the Congress
AdAsia - The Return of the Congress
By: Anish Sadanandan

The West has always been an influence on Asia, or to narrow it down a little, India. Everything from clothing to vehicles originated in the West and gradually made its way to our country. These days we even celebrate Halloween in India as if it is a part of our tradition. So much so, that soon enough kids might start trick-or-treating around houses, and people like us would have to sit inside homes, not opening doors as we were frugal enough to not buy chocolates. The point that I am trying to get at is that the West has truly been influential in shaping our continent in one way or the other, but something that started there and really took off here was commercial advertising.

The American Hare and the Asian Tortoise

So we all know that Aesop fable, but the fable was made into a legend by none other than the great David Ogilvy. Mr. Ogilvy, at the Asian Advertising Conference (now nicknamed AdAsia) at New Delhi in 1982, simply called the Americans the hare and the Asians a tortoise. That was 1982, where creative directors of various companies would not consider Asians as the best people to make something creative, to make something that stood out. However, as the years passed, the hare rested and the tortoise caught up. Today, Asians are taking their advertisements, or creativity to put it in a way, to Clio. Has the tortoise edged past the hare?


Started in 1954 as the Asian Advertising Conference to boost the Asian advertising market, AdAsia has come a long way in helping the advertising community. And after an eight year hiatus, the Conference has come back to India. To put things into perspective, AdAsia coming to New Delhi again is like Metallica coming to Gurgaon; only difference being of course that AdAsia will happen. It is a 4 day event which kicked off on 31st October, and ends on the 3rd of November.

To sum up the magnanimity of this event, I would simply like to quote the Chairperson of AdAsia 2011, and the group CEO and MD, Mudra Group, Madhukar Kamath:

“With unprecedented tectonic changes impacting the way one does business, AdAsia 2011 is a platform which not only chronicles the changes, but also provides a glimpse of what opportunities and challenges await us."

Over the four days, the event will see 45 keynote speakers, out of which 8 will be Indians. This prestigious list also includes Indira Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo., amongst others.

'Uncertainty: The New Certainty'

With so many speakers from across the globe to address various concerns, the uncertainty existing right now may no longer be. More than anything else, the conference being held in India should encourage Indians in the field to get the best out of it and learn more. Only then may we have an ecosystem that will thrive, and not end up making consumers watch ads which have a model coming out of the water in a bikini promoting a cement company. As tempted as I may be to use that cement, I am still disgusted at the idea of such ads coming out in such day and age.

AdAsia definitely stands to change the mindset about a lot of things in the industry, and they are mostly going to be welcome changes. One can only wait and watch how soon the end consumer will start seeing these changes. With the Asian tortoise slowly creeping towards the finish line ahead of the American hare, thanks largely to AdAsia, will we soon see America celebrating Diwali?