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Asia Brand Congress 2007: Of great ideas and borrowed realities

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Asia Brand Congress 2007: Of great ideas and borrowed realities

The post-lunch session at the Asia Brand Congress 2007 gave particular importance to sections like creativity, branding and marketing in the present world scenario where multiple media are being used to drive across the communication.

Speaking about the ‘New Media Buzz - Secrets of a successful viral branding campaign’, the session chairman, Anurag Batra, Editor-in-chief and Publisher, exchange4media Group, observed that the effectiveness of mass media is under question. “We are living in an era of partial attention syndrome that is spread across all age groups. Hence, it is very important to understand how to create media intimacy in today’s mass-media offerings.”

Noting that social media offerings are increasing on the Internet, with content delivery on mobile phones also on the rise, Batra further explained how corporate and brands are beginning to understand the impact of the medium. “In the digital domain and particularly for viral marketing, brands need to understand that they have to make their content interesting and have branding efficiently on it,” he added.

Ashish Bhargava, Head-Marketing, Marico Limited, pointed out that viral marketing could give more width to the brand. Stressing on the need to use mass media campaigns along with viral campaigns, he heralded the present age as the ‘Digital Age’. Patrick Stahle, CEO-APAC, Aegis Media, was of the opinion that brands will be made and destroyed by the Internet. Explaining with examples of international brands, Stahle presented the various methods needed for a successful viral campaign. Hilmy Cader, CEO, MTI Consulting (Global), attempted to present a neutral perspective on the topic by elaborating on the five mega brand trends.

‘Reality’ and ‘ideas’ were the two buzzwords at a session where the gurus of advertising came together to discuss the changing trends in consumerism and the demands on creativity in advertising. While Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman-Regional Creative Director, South and South-East Asia, McCann Erickson, talked about several aspects that he thought would not change in Indian advertising, R Balakrishnan (Balki), National Creative Director, Lowe, emphasised that marketers played a much bigger role in influencing trends. The chairman of the session was Rohit Sharma, COO, Zapak Digital Entertainment, and he discussed the most important characteristics and behaviours of today’s consumer.

Sharma explained that consumers today believed in convergence, and that they have more access to information with the digitalised landscape at their disposal. He further said that today was an age of ‘screenagers’ with people carrying iPods and high-end mobile phones and other digitalised equipment. “Gaming is huge in India with the worldwide market estimated to be more than $35 billion,” he remarked. Sharma pointed that the Indian consumer today was health conscious, he wanted customised products and services, spent more time at home, and took short holidays out of his professional career and work.

Esther Lee, CEO, Euro RSCG, North America, took over from Sharma and explained the core principles that drive creative excellence. “Select a big idea, achieve IMC objectives, have an engagement strategy and create a meeting ground for your customers,” she said. Lee further emphasised on the need to have an approach of ‘advocacy’ in the business of creative advertising, rather than message delivery and relevance. She also spoke about the importance of creating cultures while thinking of a branding strategy for a product or a service.

It was after Lee’s presentation that Joshi and Balki shared their views on consumerism and the demands on creativity in advertising. In his presentation, Joshi said that there were several aspects of consumerism that had changed, but for him there were a few traits in consumers that hadn’t changed at all. “The emotional touch, the bonding among friends and families, and the love for our culture would remain the same,” he said. Joshi further pointed that the ‘reflection of reality’ was an important aspect for marketers to look at, as Indian consumers reacted more towards reality-oriented shows, ads or even movies. “It is important for a creative person to know whether to borrow reality or show the reality,” he said.

Talking about the new face of the interactive consumer and user-generated content, Joshi said that consumers had always generated content, but today, because of advancement in technology, they were doing it easily through different platforms. He pointed that there were a lot of user-generated ads uploaded on YouTube. Though most of them are spoofs, Joshi pointed that they were all reality-based.

In his presentation, Balki emphasised that marketers played a bigger role in determining the trends in consumerism. “It is the marketers who create ideas, and these ideas if turned into action in an appropriate manner, changes consumers’ mindset, creating newer trends,” he said. Balki gave several examples of his agency Lowe that successfully created shifts in the consumers’ perception through different and innovative ideas. Surf Excel’s ‘Daag achche hain’ campaign and Bajaj were some examples that he gave corroborating his point.

The next post-lunch session was on ‘Brand Equity’ – appreciating the worth of the most valuable asset, i.e., the brand. A S Ramchander, Executive Director, Castrol India Ltd, and Aditya Gooptu, Vice President-Marketing, Godfrey Philips India Ltd, were the speakers for the session. Ramchander cited Castrol’s success story and talked about how brand equity could be built. On the other hand, Gooptu explored the scope of brand extensions and its complexities.

(With inputs from Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy)


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