Despite talk of the splendid growth befalling the Indian economy, it is a fact that the high growth rate that India has witnessed in the last five years still does not match those of many developed and developing countries. The Business Conclave at GoaFest 2010 discussed some key issues related to the topic of ‘growth’ and brought to fore the point of relooking the way advertising is being practiced in India. The session on ‘Time to Grow - Brand and Creativity’ delved on questions such as despite India being a developing market, are our brands growing fast enough? Is creativity rising to the occasion to drive and grow brands, and what do the advertisers feel about the happenings in the marketplace?
Putting across his point of view, Piyush Mathur, MD, Nielsen, South Asia, said, “I see 2009 as a pit-stop in a car race, where one stops to change tyres and then resumes the race. So, the need is to identify the growth drivers of the future. Primarily, in future I see a need to look at state as countries, which means that there will be more regional media consumption and, therefore, a need for targeted and segmented advertising. Right now, most consumption happens out of urban India, but one is overlooking the huge potential that rural India offers.”
Of Indo-vation and Brand Tracks…
Mathur interestingly used the term ‘Indo-vation’ – innovation coming out of India, and explained it with an example, wherein an ATM machine is equipped to read a thumb impression that gives a voice instruction, thus making the ATM machine accessible to the illiterate population of India. He firmly pointed out that there was a need for Indo-vation in content, format and distribution in the future.
Presenting an emerging story from Brand Tracks, Shiv Moulee, Chief Client Officer and Director Global Solutions Board, Millward Brown, talked about the fragmentation in market with the decline in consumer engagement. He said, “One needs to consider that are we obsessing about the attention decline and forgetting why we need that in the first place. There is also the fact that the nature of engagement is changing – different, dynamic, popular, best deal, rational affinity and emotional affinity. There is a need for brands to create a unique space so that they stand out from the rest.”
He further said that the key to make ads be remembered by all was essentially to be true to the core of the brand. He stressed, “It’s not about the execution or a campaign, but the concept which should be the focus.”
According to Rajaram Narayan, VP - Hair Care & Lakme Event, HUL, “As brands grow, advertising will need to compete with different levers of growth for different tasks – promotion, pricing, production and packaging, distribution, in-store execution, besides creative execution. If creativity is predictable, it can be matched. Creativity is not effectiveness, but is critical for effectiveness.”
Bharat Darshan by train, anyone?
Piyush Pandey of Ogilvy & Mather made a plea to the fraternity that instead of blowing up money on creating ads that would bring a metal or two, “there is a need to get the people to do some real soul-searching like a two-month Bharat Darshan by train, which will help in bringing out some real creativity that would make advertising sensible.”
He added, “I don’t think that we are serious in believing that advertising should help in selling more. The client, too, does not believe in allowing creativity to grow. One gives three weeks to research agencies to get the numbers, but wants a compelling creative in just one week. This has to change.”
Ending the session, Arun Tadanki, CEO, Yahoo! India, talked about Digital - the missing link in the advertiser’s armoury. He said, “There are many incorrect perceptions about this (digital) medium. It’s seen as a niche medium, but the figures say that the Internet user population in India is thrice that of people who read English newspapers and the spend on the latter is almost Rs 6,700 crore. Another perception is that Internet is for the SEC A urban youth, but numbers say that two-third of Internet users in India are beyond the metros and do not primarily include those from SEC A.”
He attributed inertia to be the main reason for this medium not being used to its maximum. “It’s been done in the past, hence people are doing it despite the fact that a large number of their potential customers are online. In the case of the auto industry, 80 per cent of test drive is done by Internet users, but the amount spent by this category on digital advertising is just 3 per cent,” he said. Tadanki also stressed upon the sub-optimal allocation of budget to this medium, which is restricting the impact of this medium and its creativity.
Overall, the session discussed the need to explore untapped opportunity like increasing access to rural areas and more. The opportunity exists as the GDP is growing at a steady rate; there are no two ways about it. Also, the consumer landscape is changing and one needs to understand that and use the medium that is relevant to that changing population. Currently, there is a myopic view of advertising that needs to be changed, and most importantly, to find a balance between creativity and marketability as advertising is after all a commercial art.