IndustrySpeak: Inspirational advertising – the lesser, the better

IndustrySpeak: Inspirational advertising – the lesser, the better

Author | Nitin Sharma | Friday, Oct 03,2008 8:43 AM

IndustrySpeak: Inspirational advertising – the lesser, the better

The word ‘inspiration’ is much flogged in the film industry. With several Bollywood films having been ‘inspired’ by Hollywood movies, the word has become akin to plagiarism. But what does inspiration mean in advertising?

The concept of inspirational advertising began with companies wanting consumers to take pro-active decisions to purchase their brands. According to some ad gurus, there has to be a long history behind a brand for it to come up with an inspirational theme and make it work. However, there are some who are of the opinion that any brand with a clear objective of communication can take the inspirational route.

An inspirational campaign in recent recall is that of the Lead India campaign by JWT India for The Times of India. As is known, the campaign was so successful that it brought India its first ever Grand Prix in the Integrated Category at Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2008.

Other ads that come to mind are Nike, Idea, Salaam Bombay, the Humara Bajaj commercial, Apple, and Honda ads, among others. Experts, however, feel that there are only a handful of these inspirational ads that drive the consumers to not only take a call-to-action, but also make them loyal to the brands.

Experts also caution against over-utilising inspirational themes as it would dilute the theme itself.

So what is inspirational?

Considering the dearth of such ads, exchange4media spoke to the advertising fraternity to give their lowdown on ‘inspirational’ as a theme in the Indian ad world.

KV Sridhar, NCD, Leo Burnett, said, “Any category or brand can have an inspirational ad, but for that, the brand needs to have a long history of goodwill, pedigree and value attached to it. It needs to be selfless and inspire people with what they do. They are almost like the Nehrus and the Gandhis of the past. Inspiration as a theme would lose its mark if over-utilised.”

Giving his take on ‘inspirational’, Agnello Dias, Chief Creative Officer, JWT India, said, “Any communication that creates an urge to do something is inspirational. It doesn’t always have to be for a greater common good or aimed at changing the world, it could simply be to get fit. Like any other advertising theme, inspiration, too, has the same challenges, as the same defiant white piece of paper dares you to put some thing down on it.

Given the current economic slowdown, there comes an opportunity for brands to create some sort of inspiration in their campaigns. Commenting on this, Dias said, “Maybe a growth tonic can talk about holding one’s head high.”

Media buyer and specialist and President, Mudra Max, Chandradeep Mitra, opined, “For a campaign to support an inspirational theme and be successful, it needs to have a synergy between an honest brand and its message. A lot of time, many ad campaigns have tried to play around with the theme, but have failed to get the kind of response that they were looking for, mainly because the brand was not big enough to take up the cause or have a connect with the entire nation and create an empathy with the consumers at large. Examples of a successful inspirational advertising have been few and it’s best that they remain the same, because the moment you will see five or six inspirational ads running at the same time, then inspiration as a theme will lose out its mark.”

Addressing the current economic depression as an opportunity for a financial sector brand to drive an inspirational campaign, Mitra added, “Looking at the current scenario, if any brand that has a tangible solution and can tap the financial uncertainty and provide hope in times of anxiety, then it can surely be categorised into an inspirational advertising. Then again, one needs to find the right opportunity and the right time to find the right mix where there is a sync between the brand, its context and the right national mood.”

Mukesh Manik, M.I.C., EncycloMedia Networks Pvt Ltd, however, differed on longevity of a brand’s history in the market. He noted, “An old brand has an association with its TG, but a new brand will get more results out of an inspirational campaign than an old brand. The old brand will have an association, for example, brands like Tata and Godrej have a relationship of trust with their TG, and if they were to come up with an inspirational theme, they might not get the same mileage as a new brand would. Idea is one such brand that has been able to both inspire the nation at large and ring in the cash registers.”

Giving his own definition, Manish Bhatt, Senior Vice President & Executive Creative Director, Contract Advertising, said, “Any advertising that goes beyond demonstrating and serving the functional benefits of the product/ brand and goes beyond functionality to inspire and engage a consumer and inspires them to choose a brand over its competitors would qualify as an inspirational ad. And so, for an ad campaign to be inspirational, it need not be old or new, but come from the heart of both the agency and the client, which is rare and good for the category.”

The onus was on the agency to come up with an inspirational theme, asserted Rajesh Mehta, Director Marketing - South Asia, Western Union. He added, “The client can only come up with a brief, it is the agency that holds the forte as it has the know-how of whether the brief will suit the inspirational theme and be in sync with the communication strategy that the brand needs to up its ante among its peers.”

“I am sure that everybody would love to have a campaign that cuts across the nation, and motivates and inspires consumers. But then, not all brands can gel well with the theme,” Mehta pointed out.

Inspirational advertising as a theme could be used for any category per se and be successful, but only if it is in syncs with the brand and conveys a nationalist viewpoint that strikes with the cord of the masses. However, both brands and clients need to be selective, rather then getting ‘inspired’ to go the Bollywood way by overdoing the theme to death.

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