Advertising Agencies Association of India's (AAAI) Diamond Jubilee celebrations started with an inaugural session where some of the most eminent speakers shared interesting insights about the importance and innovative ways of advertising.
Srinivasan K Swamy, CEO, R K Swamy BBDO and President of AAAI, set the tone for the evening by delivering a welcome speech outlining the entire event and its significance.
Colvyn J Harris, CEO, JWT India and Chairman of the symposium, spoke about the challenges that the advertising industry would face. He said that when these challenges were realised fast they could be addressed more easily and efficiently.
According to Harris, consumer was king and introducing more products and services in each category was only strengthening the consumer's position. Consumers today are not passive buyers but co-creators in developing a product or even a service. The challenge for advertisers is to make a 30-second commercial last long even after the consumers have seen it.
In today's era of plenty in media, there is no shortage of channels and newspapers and society is fast turning hedonistic. Harris added that five forces that were shaping advertising were technology, clients, consumers, business model and the India challenge.
Technology, said Harris, was an investment for the advertising industry and an agency should define its business model that could either be broad or specialised.
Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary for Communication and Public Information, United Nations, delivered a special address on 'Promoting the United Nations, A Global Challenge'. The United Nations, he said, was a brand that needed to involve people in all its chores and missions and that it met its goals only because of people support.
This made UN's job a complex one as it worked with governments and NGOs from all over the world, Tharoor said, adding, "Building brands require consistency and clarity."
As UN works for people who need aid and also those who provide aid, its task is a mammoth one. He added that media and NGOs were indispensable for communicate UN's message to the world. UN's challenge is the breadth of products and services that it offers, clarifying what the UN really does and netting in the specific people who it wants to address.
Some of the ways that UN faces these challenges are having a simple but effective website and localising messages by communicating local concerns through local languages. UN's advantages, according to Tharoor, were its multi-cultural staff and its brand recognition that offered a range of terrific products.
Arun Adhikari, Managing Director, Hindustan Lever, delivered the keynote address on the changing but fast developing Indian market and FMCG's role in this diverse market. He said that as India was a low-income country, advertising's role was to make products interesting and exciting, India has two types of consumers – 'aspirers' who are urban, literate and skilled and are moving from self-denial to being indulgent, and ' strivers' who are rural, belong to the lower and lower middle income group, and are seeking value for money.
Advertising, he said, had a future full of opportunities in both these spectrums. According to Adhikari, India was an exciting market on the point of confluence. There are new emerging consumer classes, the market structure and dynamics are growing and modern trade is developing fast, thereby making the market more buoyant and the consumer more confident.
The inaugural address was by Union Minister of State for Tourism Renuka Chowdhry, who spoke about brand Incredible India that changed the face of Indian tourism. India, which is largely known all over the world as the land of elephants and snake charmers, had to be pulled out of the 'only mystical' image.
However, this image had to not be totally done away with but sustain it and also advertise an India that is modern. According to Chowdhry, incredible Indians made India incredible.
The Tourism Ministry advertised India as an exciting mix of places, people, experiences, and rich history. She felt that the world knows India based on what the media portrayed it to be.
Chowdhry also made a suggestion that advertisers should have one little social message to make rural Indians aware of the importance of clean water or water harvesting, on everything they advertise. She concluded by saying that India lived in her villages.