Despite being the base for auto majors like Ford, a hub for IT activity and the Mecca of retailing, there has been much consternation over whether Chennai continues to be a key feature on the advertising map. A recent Business Today seminar got some perspectives.
From being accused of lacking in creativity, the industry in Chennai has been viewed to be disorganized and not very competitive.
Some of the panelists at BT Crossfire, held in Chennai on 7th August, believed that all is not wrong and the ad industry in Chennai is a victim of perceptions. Absence of big brands being one of them. The campaign that Chennaites are seeing a lot these days is the Hutch campaign. Though highly visible and successful in generating a huge subscriber base within two months of its release, it doesn't owe its origins to Chennai. Srivivasan Swamy of RKSwamy BBDO doesn't believe that Chennai is lacking in big brands however. Says Swamy, "Chennai has Sara Lee, TTK, Sundaram, CavinKare, Ford and many others, who are big advertisers". He also added that since Chennai sees more activity that Bangalore does, it couldn't have fallen off the advertising map.
But Ravi Santhanam, CEO, Club Mahindra Holidays believes that advertising in Chennai never existed in the first place. He also explained that it didn't matter if Chennai was not strong from the advertising perspective, as location was not a source of competitive advertising. But he added that Chennai needed to be on the marketing map of India. He explained further saying, "The retail scene in Chennai is most evolved, so that is what should be focussed upon in Chennai."
Santhanam uses outside resources for advertising added, "Close attention should also be given to Direct Marketing and CRM, as there is a lot more to marketing that chasing billboards and television slots". According to him, the key lies in finding what is right for Chennai. Ajay Vidyasagar, CEO Vijay TV, supported him and said, "You need to be behave as the market wants you to." Speaking about high profile brands, he said there were a lot of region specific brands that people beyond Chennai fail to recognize. He elucidated with the example of Idayam oil that spends close to 18 crores on advertising.
But despite all opposing views, everyone agreed that Chennai presented a fantastic consumer proposition and maybe in time, a marketing scene that works best for Chennai will replace the wrong perceptions.