The future of advertising is bright, but wrought with challenges on the way. This was the message that emanated as Michael Birkin concluded his speech in the afternoon session of the AAAI’s Diamond Jubliee Symposium.
While the post-lunch session began with Vahid Mehrinfar, Executive Principal and Chief Brand Futurist, Vahid Associates; Executive Principal, Idea, Lowe Contexture, Bahrain making a presentation that dealt with ‘Concept of Futurity’, it was followed by an insightful, D-I-Y kind of workshop on ‘Out of the Box: Switching the light bulb on’ by Bruce Matchett, Chief Creative Officer, JWT India. The concluding presentation was made by Michael Birkin,- Vice Chairman, Omnicom who made an attempt to look at ‘The Future of Advertising’.
“‘Brand Immortality’ does not exist and as brand consultants what we do is to only postpone the death of the brand or extend its longevity,” Mehrinfar remarked. According to him, the whole concept of brand building was all about first giving birth to the brand and then ensuring that the longest script for its longevity was implemented.
He had words of praise for Indian creative minds and only lamented the fact that they did not know how to package their brilliant ideas very well. The key word, according to this speaker who is also a painter, was ‘Customer Expectations’. He justified by saying that even the concept of co-creation with customers needed to first figure out the expectations of customers, which were fortunately very objective. Some other key insights he enriched the audience with included “Trend setting should be done along with time setting. There is no time for evolution – there is a need to invent it.”
With regard to the future, Mehrinfar said that future marketing should be all about conveying the right intent and creation of an aura around the product.
In Bruce Matchett’s presentation, which was easily a Do-it-yourself workshop on creativity, one could find many valuable tips to evoke the creative cells. He recommended scribbling ideas, thoughts and expressions and encouraged working with new people.
Knowing that sharing thoughts and ideas with people from agencies did not help give a fresh feedback, he also insisted on meeting new people and asking for their views and opinions. Matchett was all for much-needed breaks if one was overstressed and also had a penchant for good music, which, according to him, could sometimes give just the inspiration one needed.
Further, he advised everyone to keep the spirit going and recommended having two sets of people in an agency – initiators of new ideas and deliverers of those ideas. “Avoid sitting on a fence,” warned Matchett and his concluding lines were relevant, too, “Follow your heart as fortune favours the brave.”
Michael Birkin minced no words in admitting that there was a shortage of the right kind of talent in India. While the economy was on an upswing and many other factors like young population, export growth, etc, were conducive, there was a need, according to Birkin, for the government to speed up the FDI entry into India.
Birkin held the view that convergence and technological innovations were just tools that enabled people do their work better and faster and hence, saw no threat for the television commercial owing to broadband at all.
The merits and cost-effectiveness of the medium is the key issue. “Owing to overselling of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) it failed and did not deliver as expected,” remarked Birkin. The Vice-Chairman of Omnicom foresaw that there would be many new emerging markets and set of advertisers.
He added, “Infrastructure in cities like Mumbai and Delhi also is an issue that needs to be addressed and while measurability and accountability will be the rule of the day, one should never forget that after all, they are just tools and not an end in themselves.”
Concluding his speech, Birkin said that since good ideas and creative thoughts needed good talent, and that was one area that demanded immediate attention. While there was no issue of the quality of Indian professionals, the concern was that it was not there in adequate numbers.
In a nutshell, Birkin sees a future of advertising that is quite bright, but also filled with quite a few challenges on the way.