At the unveiling of the Pitch Madison Ad Report 2017 yesterday, Shantanu Khosla, MD, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Limited, graced the occasion as the chief guest. In his address, he stressed on the importance of responsible advertising. He felt that with the reach and the breadth of the messages developed advertising can have a huge impact not just on the brands but also on society as a whole. Khosla also observed how the industry often overlooks the ‘the extent of its impact.’ He said, “Unfortunately we are caught up with our day to day work pressure and I often see that we take the responsibility somehow as a constraint to create effective ideas. I believe in recognising and embracing responsible advertising and it will spark off even greater creativity and stronger ideas, helping the brand in the long run.”
In the same context he touched upon two areas: truthfulness in advertising and learnings and reinforcement of advertising on existing societal beliefs and behavioural norms. Elucidating on the former, Khosla believes that all advertising should strive to be truthful because it makes good business sense. He has noticed an increasing skepticism among consumers which he terms as ‘dangerous.’
“There is trust deficit. It’s our responsibility to address that. The goal is to create a long term loyal consumer and advertising is the key way to do it. We want to create strong brand equity, which will stand the test of time, after all, great brands last and create value in a couple of years, frankly for generations (to come). It’s all about creating powerful relationships between consumers and brands. But the real goal is the long-term regular relations with that loyal satisfying customer that stand the test of time,” he said.
Khosla also emphasised on building trust as consumers need to believe that the brand is working on making their life better. At this juncture, he explained how being truthful is relevant for advertising, “To build this trust the truth is absolutely essential. It is the foundation. This becomes even more important in today's fast- changing world where people are bombarded with messages. Consumers are looking for brands they can rely on to make simple and obvious shopping choices.”
Khosla then emphasised on how it’s equally important to recognise that advertising also helps create new norms in behaviour, not only leveraging but also at times strengthening how we are today by creating a leeway on how we will be tomorrow. He said, “This is a huge impact and power that advertising has and with it comes responsibility.”
At this point Khosla took a trip down memory lane enlightening the audience on how he convinced Doordarshan with relevant data and benefits of sanitary napkins (for women’s health) to advertise Whisper on television at a time when sanitary napkins was considered taboo. They accomplished to do that despite severe restrictions (including no-show of the product). He compared it with today’s scenario and explained his second point, as he added, “Today consumers find advertising of sanitary napkins normal. In fact, the government has a number of programs to further drive its usage. Whisper became the market leader and continues to grow till date. So it’s important for us to be aware that advertising can also strengthen the existing beliefs in behavioural norms. It’s said that people see behavioural being exhibited on advertising; it gives them justification to continue to behave that way. As advertisers we have a lot more broader impact than we often realise. It takes courage to use this power and bring positive change.”
Though impressed with the trends in this area when it comes to women empowerment, safety on the roads and general nutrition, Khosla pointed out that most changes are brought upon by external pressure and regulations. He went on to drive home his point that despite all the pressures and constraints, the industry should embrace this responsibility to see the powerful impact of advertising, as he said, “Our work collectively is far more important and has far greater impact than we ourselves realise. It’s important especially in a young transforming country like India.”