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Guest Column: Forecasts for advertising in 2017: Vivek Rao, Law & Kenneth, Saatchi & Saatchi

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Guest Column:  Forecasts for advertising in 2017: Vivek Rao, Law & Kenneth, Saatchi & Saatchi

Vivek Rao, Chief Creative Officer, (North), Law & Kenneth, Saatchi & Saatchi, shares certain trends and patterns which we will get to see in the advertising domain this year.

Is winter finally coming? - Well, ever since this ominous statement (or its slight alteration) was uttered in the cult series Game of Thrones, people were curious to know what would really happen. Unfortunately fantasy has frequently been snapping ties from Advertising for some time now, so it’s safe to assume that the events of November 8 probably won’t be as calamitous as the Whitewalkers preying of the Night’s Watch. Or will it?

DeMo has certainly given not just the common man, but corporates, industrialists, bankers and financiers restless nights too. While I’m no economist, quite a few of my ex-colleagues now plying their skills in other network agencies have pretty much echoed what we’d been hearing too. That clients are clearly reviewing and revising their numbers and the crunch is being felt at the marketing end of things (Read Advertising).  

So is 2017 to be a write off year for advertising then? Not at all. If memory serves me right, one of advertising’s greatest sons Leo Burnett actually started his agency during the Great Economic Depression in the 1930s. The lesson there was that in adversity there is opportunity too.

Similarly as a creative I’d like to believe that this year will actually see inventiveness and innovation put on their pads to take guard against the client’s expectations and challenges. With each rupee being expected to stretch further than ever, it means that every communication piece will be scrutinised, debated and screened harder than airport security checks to pass through. What that does do however is provide the agencies a seamless necessity for collaboration between the various faculties. Digital, PR, experiential, activation and every other department should sail on that boat together.

While most agencies have kept the blueprint of collaboration handy on PPT slides during credential presentations, I feel if ever there was time for divisions to be hacked down it is now. It will lead to more daring, game changing solutions for clients and will be the boost that advertising so desperately needs. It’s not as if marketers are going to happily smile and accept all the ideas and solutions like Mannah from heaven but they will see a marked difference. And chances are, with a combined effort, we are more likely to see the big question mark after those 3 dreaded alphabets - ROI, fade faster too.

Make no mistake; it won’t be an easy ride. For I can already hear one question inside the heads of these various division head honchos – Who is to lead this preposterous suggestion of a collaboration? I suspect once we work our way around that, the rest of the apprehensions and concerns will work themselves out rather easily.

As a Creative Head, I know that every time we’ve collaborated with other divisions on some campaigns and projects, the experience has been exciting and quite frankly a great learning too. The collective expertise brings in perspectives that are fresh, stimulating and often it can only keep getting better.

From the marketing perspective, I would imagine the clients too will be casting the crystal ball aside and keeping a firm eye on pie charts instead. Smart, inventive and focused mediums combined with innovative activities will and should take centre stage. It’s possible that the big budgeted 60 second Gorilla Scale TVCs may be relegated to the back benches.

Even as I write this, we’ve heard about the BCCI having their wings clipped. In fact, that does leave a huge question mark about their Golden Goose – the IPL! I don’t think it will be scrapped but its legendary status of India’s biggest marketing festival is likely to take a beating. Hopefully I’m wrong on this one.

Yes, the never ending fund tap for startups will flow a lot slower. Sectors like automobiles, consumer durables, lifestyle et al will have their sales staff get receding hairlines. Even the legendary incidents of Kolkata Lalas sending money in gunny sacks to Bollywood Celebs / producers may stop and stutter, but Advertising? Here’s something to consider - I bet the number of Effies entries at the end of the year is gonna go up by 9 per cent. Not a bad winter, isn’t it?

(The author is Chief Creative Officer (North), Law & Kenneth, Saatchi & Saatchi)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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