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There’s a need to vehemently safeguard the traditional ATL business: Prantik Dutta

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There’s a need to vehemently safeguard the traditional ATL business: Prantik Dutta

According to Prantik Dutta, Vice President - Creative Support and Production, Cheil India, the journey for last three decades has not been smooth at all. In an exclusive interaction with exchange4media, Dutta shares his insights on the core challenges faced by the ad creative fraternity, and what’s the way forward.

How have the dynamics of the advertising industry changed in terms of creativity?

Yes, I know when one talks about the changes and the shifting dynamics within a field in any industry, generally one gets an affirmative answer such as: “Of course, there were obstacles that challenged the growth, but the inevitable changes were embraced and systems updated so as to meet the modern needs of the industry”. To me that is not a novel notion, rather it is a routine factor for all those industries which have been affected in last thirty years or so. In fact, some of them have suffered an untimely demise in the light of their questionable functionality in the business. This sort of a threatened position is very real to the 2+2=4 department, to the studio and the production department in an ad agency.

What were the challenges faced by the industry? How has the industry managed to deal with them?

There have been such threats, related turmoil, technological changes, business objective changes, changes in the style of advertising, mergers, changes in media etc. But this significant function of an ATL advertising is, in my opinion, energetically alive and stable enough to provide ample support to the main function of an agency. I distinctly remember the day ITC put up a flagship brand visual on a billboard overhead a busy Delhi road and people from various ad agencies came specifically to see, for it was the first of its kind: a jumbo-sized, digitally-printed outdoor visual. The first color ad in a newspaper with its subsequent excitement is another memory ingrained in my mind as is the recollection of the unparalleled joy of the people across the printing industry on the appearance of the first ad that had UV coating to enhance gloss.  And believe me, surprising as it may sound similar rumors of the death of the field in the coming five years had been doing the rounds. 

The first assured blow came in the early 90s in a format called the television commercial which resulted in the declining glory of the Studio Production Department. Cabin sizes of Production Heads suffered spatial diminution compared to other HODs. Perhaps, I envisaged a challenge in what was seen as a threat and with the potent strength of that thrill, we survived. Again. Undoubtedly gratitude has to be offered to the various and innumerable newspaper/ magazine readers and the shoppers who still used to believe in the information written on a leaflet or provided on billboards.

What do you think of the rise of digital?

The recent past has witnessed a massive increase on Digital ad spends. Personally, I think this will definitely lead the advertising scenario into a different arena altogether, but professionally there is a need to vehemently safeguard the traditional ATL business. The simple reason for this is that I believe that the essence of a press ad, the communicative possibilities of a print poster offer an organic earthiness as compared to the synthetic framework of the digital world.

So, what is the way forward?

The challenge, therefore, is to keep print advertising alive and running through the addition of new means and values to the basic advertising process. The question, in corollary, is of ‘how’ and ‘when’. Perhaps the road ahead will offer arduous terrain but there are ways and means to tackle it.

To grow and empathize with the new trends, all means of innovation in the form of different media, printing processes, technological amelioration and every possible and instrumental feature under the sun should be embraced. For instance, an innovative POSM can conspicuously attract more consumers. A prime example of the same is perhaps the Samsung Curved TV dangler where the POSM item itself represented the unique feature of the product in the actual curved format of the Triangular Dangler. Secondly, with massive technological improvements in production of newspaper ads one can hope that the originality of print advertising will remain for more years to come. One need only compare a contemporary print ad with one that is a decade old and the aforementioned point can be substantiated. Yes, we do take care of our press ads separately and that is why any Samsung press ad looks noticeably better in terms of production: last year’s Samsung S5 handset launch ads wherein a range of work was done for the treatment of the gold color with significant results in terms of customer satisfaction prove the versatility of print media. Perhaps, as a country we are yet to surpass the glittering object on tangible paper, which serves as the better deal for this field.

Hence, the science of Studio and Production that is indispensable to the creative endeavour shall remain staunch in its own right for many years to come.


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