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Big idea vs. right strategy

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Big idea vs. right strategy

The force of a Volkswagen’s tiny Darth Vader, the magic of Axe fallen angels, Happydent’s montage of folks with fluorescent teeth or the invasion of Vodafone’s Zoozoos makes us truly believe the words of David Ogilvy – “It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”

However, the intriguing question is what’s that mysterious big idea that gives a strong brand connect. A big idea is a compelling thought or a defining belief with the power to change the way people perceive a brand and generate tangible business value that endures over time and works across channels. Some believe that big ideas should necessarily be expensive but it’s the art of thinking smaller, smarter and simpler with the ability to solve the right problem at the right time. People often get euphoric and confuse anything new to a big idea, however, the power of a big idea is to entertain, amuse, delight and surprise rather than mindless repetition of identical thinking. One cannot ignore that while strategies exist for a commercial purpose, they live in a cultural space that is constantly changing and it becomes more interesting when there are a lot of ideas rather than one consistent idea.

According to Rohit Ohri, Executive Chairman, Dentsu India Group, in communication terms, a good idea always works because you may have the best strategy but if the idea is rotten, then the purpose is not solved. He feels that an idea takes the strategy to a consumer.

It is often said that it is the right strategy that breaks the tyranny of a big idea. It is not always important to come up with a big idea but it is important to see how they are executed. The role of a strategy is to find out the right path to deliver the message to the targeted customers. It helps in placing a relevant message to the right people at the right time. The right strategy helps in finding a way to place the big idea in front of the consumers. Hence, the mind-boggling question is ‘What’s more important – A big idea or a right strategy?’

Manish Bhatt, Founder-Director, Scarecrow Communications shared that a great strategy is a prerequisite of a big idea. The fundamental task of creativity in advertising is to make the idea more interesting and consumable for consumers. Keeping the strategic direction in mind, it is the task of a creative person to simplify the big idea. “A great strategy increases the length, economy and utility of a big idea,” said Bhatt. According to him, sometimes the product and the strategy itself is great and consumable, and can be at par with a great idea.

Experts also believe that creative icons behind a big idea are good strategic planners also. The work of these creative guns always has a strategy embedded in it.

Swati Bhattacharya, National Creative Director, JWT said, “An idea only becomes big when it rides on the right strategy. So one cannot choose between the two, they often live together.” She stated that once the first layer of ‘enjoyability’ is peeled off, there is a great insight and then comes the whole marketing function.

Be it large-scale celebrations with Cadbury’s ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye’ or strengthening the friendship bond with Airtel’s ‘Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai’, the campaigns have been clutter-breaking because of the presence of big ideas backed by a great strategy. Charles Victor, National Creative Director, Law & Kenneth said that it all comes down to a creative product that works well for the client. “I don’t think there is any great creative product that hasn’t got a great strategy behind it.”

He added, “A good way to measure this is to look at the end product that works great for a client and consumer.  We need a combination of both and most definitely not one devoid of the other.”

Experts believe that earlier most of the advertising agencies did not have a formal planning function and creation of a campaign happened between the client, account management and the creative teams. The teams involved shared the tasks and came up with the right strategy. When markets got cluttered, consumer insight became important and it was imperative to understand the needs of the rapidly changing consumer to make the communication effective. It gave birth to the need of a specialised planning function in every agency.

Sonal Dabral, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra said, “Comparison between big idea and the right strategy is a moot point and an irrelevant argument. It’s not one versus the other; the fact is that one can't exist without the other. Right strategy is where it all begins and without it there can never be a big idea. Most good creative people are also naturally good strategic thinkers, so in cases where the big idea comes ‘under a shower’, a strong strategy is always at the source of it even if it’s not been formally put down on paper.”

He added, “Sharp, effective ideas will only come out of creative minds if the right strategy has been fed into them.”

With the advent of technology and increased proliferation of smartphones, tablets and PCs, the needs of consumer are changing constantly. Today, agencies have to come out with sharp innovative ideas on the digital platform also to fulfill the desires of the consumers.

Sudhir Nair, Senior Vice President and Head – Grey Digital explained what works on the digital platform. He said, “It’s a complete balance that one should look at when it comes to campaigns. To give an example, the objective behind the ‘Anything for Jetta’ campaign was to create a buzz with the right kind of audience and make it the biggest digital launch. In terms of strategy, we felt we chose the right kind of audience. Though, the idea was simple but it fitted well with the objective of the campaign.” He also added that earlier technology was not a very big criterion but today, every campaign has a digital leg to it.

Hence, a brand cannot solely ride on a big idea or a right strategy in advertising. A judicious mix of both has always led to some of the most beautiful work. A successful campaign can be crafted only when an interesting strategy meets a differentiating piece of creative work. 

Kranti Gada joined the family business at Shemaroo in 2006 after a successful stint of over two years in marketing at Pepsi Co. She has been associated with the company for 12 years.

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