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Ads today not afraid of mirroring society, going beyond 30-sec visuals, says Sainath Saraban

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Ads today not afraid of mirroring society, going beyond 30-sec visuals, says Sainath Saraban

Leo Burnett’s National Creative Director, Sainath Saraban, speaks to exchange4media about industry trends, challenges and its future.

What is Leo Burnett all about? How has the journey in India been so far? Where does India stand in the global scheme of things?

We started off as Chaitra, became Chaitra Leo Burnett, and now we are Leo Burnett. There are some massive local and global clients driving the business. We are an agency that believes in relationships. We are the ones who created the Marlboro man way back, and that relationship still stands today. Brands like P&G and McDonald’s have extended their global brand in India through Leo Burnett. India has always been a strong focus point. We get a lot of say in global matters. A lot of investments and buyouts are happening in India. We are doing some great work on activation.

What is your growth strategy in terms of creative innovation?

Creative is about one thing—surprising your consumer. It’s about telling a good story via any medium you choose. I agree that the world of technology is rapidly changing, but that cannot compromise your storytelling. One cannot forget that one is talking to human beings. The medium has to be relevant. I can’t use a medium for the sake of using that medium. We need to understand what kind of an audience we are looking at and understand the demographic, and then we need to create a medium around that. More than keeping abreast with technology, which of course we must, it’s about knowing which solution fits what challenge. For creative innovation to actually work, every day has to be research. Research happens both consciously and unconsciously.

What are the top trends emerging in the industry today?

Firstly, the story-telling format has become longer. As an admaker, during the larger part of my tenure, I was restricted to 30-40 second videos. The cross pollination that has happened has been amazing, thanks to online penetration. Secondly, genuine stories are being told. That is nothing new, but these formats are now being accepted by a larger audience. Today, more emotions are being expressed, and consumer connect is coming to the forefront. Thirdly, societal mirroring is growing very strong. Previously, we used to create a beautiful world, and people used to try and copy that. Now, we are not afraid of mirroring the society, and talk freely about social taboos. It is fantastic to see that brands are now able to have that conversation with consumers.

Which advertising medium has the most potential to grow in today’s market?

Online is a winner here. What’s sad about print and radio today is that they have become announcer mediums. No one is having fun on them anymore. TV is expensive, but one cannot ignore the medium. At a certain level, online relies heavily on TV. At the end of the day, for the Indian audience, larger part of entertainment comes from television. And to be relevant in this medium, the advertising needs to be as interactive as possible.

What are the biggest challenges that you face? Where do you see the industry going forward?

The biggest challenge is maintaining focus. It is a very volatile market. Every day you face challenges. Every day you are faced with the dilemma of just making money out taking risk and going creative. We take pride in what we put out there, and aim to grow as an organisation while being relevant for the consumer. We also face the challenge of actually meeting all the needs of our clients. The client has more needs than what he has 10-15 years ago. At the same time, we need to justify the consumer’s attention. There is a strong sense of cross pollination that needs to exist going forward. Mobile and optimisation of all screens are other major challenges.

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