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‘Advertising is about two ears and one mouth – in that order’

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‘Advertising is about two ears and one mouth – in that order’

It was an exciting day at exchange4media to have two international advertising stalwarts - Jack Klues and David Kenny - guest edit the website and interact with the team here on April 2, 2009. Both have been keenly following the Indian market for long and have some very interesting observations to share about the Indian market as well as the global scenario.

Starting off the interaction with the team here, David Kenny, Managing Partner, VivaKi, said, "The world was becoming more complicated with the individual wanting to have the individual media, individual expression, individual community and individual sources of communication, individual ways to entertain themselves and individual dialects and language. And at the same time there are so many more ways to communicate."

He added, "We think, therefore, the whole world of advertising has to change - not to be creative in media, but to actually start with people even before products to serve the people. And our goal in VivaKi is to bring the tools so we can understand people better, understand their families, understand what communities they belonged to, how they entertained themselves, where they get their information, how they educate themselves, what they love and what they don't. That determines the media that they are using, and after that you decide what is useful to them."

"And increasingly, and even in the digital world, we see search growing faster than display because it is the place where the person has the most control, and what we really want to do is provide more service to people," Kenny added.

Turning advertising upside down

According to him, "The global economy has had a big problem that itself is caused by advertising, because in some parts of the world, people were encouraged to spend more than they make, and this caused a kind of problem. I think that needs to change. There is no way we can keep doing that. If we can change it, then we can only give people things they need and they want, and we have to really know the people and then bring the products to them."

Commenting further, he said, "This is going to turn advertising upside down, because this is first the whole people plan, then the media plan is done, and only after that come the creatives for the people to be wanting them more. That will be a big change. And the Gold and Silver and Bronze of the future should not be determined by peers, but by what people buy. We are trying to really understand people and give ourselves the tools to do that. That is our underlying philosophy and why we have put together all of our digital, promotional and media agencies to give us the tool set to understanding the people and that will give direction our colleagues in the creative side."

Jack Klues, Managing Partner, VivaKi, added here, "Last time when I was here to introduce IMX, I remember saying that in a market where GroupM is obviously so sizeable, probably the obvious decision for us to be a challenger brand to redefine the dimensions of scale and that our relationship was going to be different with the media owners. And now, roughly two years later - and little did I know what VivaKi was going to be - Vivaki is in that same spirit, it is also redefining scale as a challenger and creating win-win deal structures for media owners, but our hope is to create opportunities between our clients, facilitators, having a role in media owners to where I think we will use the scale we have as a basis for that relationship - it's going to show in different ways, and hopefully will show across platforms, which is another principle that David and I believe strongly in. So, I think we are still on that redefinition of scale and I think it is an even more interesting perspective than what it was when I was here a couple of years ago."

The 'big idea' Vs the 'relevant idea'

Posing a question to the distinguished visitors, Amit Agnihotri, Co-founder and Director, exchange4media, asked, "The traditional advertising planning process started with a brief from the client, then it went on to servicing, the creative and then it landed on the media planner's or buyer's desk. You have obviously turned the pyramid upside down. Whatever we have seen that works in advertising is 'the Big Idea'. Does this approach allow you, where you've got the numbers first, as in the media is presenting the numbers, and creatives coming in later, is there a conflict?"

Kenny replied, "In order to turn upside down, we had to know how people are feeling. We are starting with a real, visceral, emotional, understanding of people before we get to our own efforts about the media. We have built such a tool that actually starts with personal media, with blogs, we are listening to what people care about, which is a big change for us in everything that we think. We are not so much of big believers in that 'Big Idea' and I think what you are describing is a little rejection of our plan. People want something that is a little more personal and we believe we have to actually create big brands from lots of focused relevant ideas. We are trying to create relevance."

He added, "In the current industry structure there is too much advertising today, take for example television, where there are something like 18 minutes of advertising per hour of programming, people can't absorb it. So, we want to be more relevant. Small and more valuable interactions are much better than mass. So, we want to find the relevant ideas and then get enough relevant people to create that market share."


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