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Aspiration: A walk down memory lane

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Aspiration: A walk down memory lane

It was the era of 1980s that saw the dawn of the most interesting marketing concept of consumer aspiration. International players began to test Indian waters, creativity at new advertising agencies created new aspirations, and Indians learned not to feel bad about feeling good.

Winds of change began in 1982. It was the year of Asian games in New Delhi which showcased India’s ability to host an international event, and was the year of springboard for the creation of a nationwide television network. Television coverage increased from 25 per cent to 74 per cent of the population between 1980 and 1989. TV also opened new window to a more attractive lifestyle.

In 1984, Rajiv Gandhi became India’s sixth Prime Minister and brought in the Ray Bans and Reeboks. He set in motion the first turn of the telecom revolution with the creation of MTNL in 1986, Public Call Offices (PCOs) took telephony to rural areas, the grip that the ‘Licence Raj’ had on the nation’s economic throat was loosened somewhat. Taxes and tariffs on computers, airlines and others were reduced and businesses and individuals were allowed freer imports. As a result of lower income and corporate tax rates, people had more money in their pockets.

A host of new products, both Indian and international, were launched during this period. New cars (Maruti), new bikes (Hero-Honda, Ind-Suzuki, Kawasaki-Bajaj) and new washing machines (Videocon) tempted the consumer. Among the consumer products, Titan watches commenced operations in 1987 and Pepsi entered India by the end of the 1980s.

Advertising agencies got new business; many agencies were launched as the opportunities in a new market-oriented economy beckoned. Mohammed Khan started Enterprise, Ashok Kurien started Ambience and Mudra became the first corporate Indian agency, launched by Reliance industries. By the end of the decade, India could bring down the curtain on its socialist constraints. In the meanwhile, aspirations stopped being a bad word.

Brands today know to build an aspiration that is close to reality and that’s why consumers today are ready to experiment with the brand offerings. Communication industry is now seeing a massive developmental explosion. Aspirations, thereby, have become the pulse of this dynamic industry making it the most vibrant one.

The above insight is from the book Adkatha, The Story of Indian Advertising. Late Bal Mundkur, Founder of Ulka Advertising and Gerson da Cunha, Ex-Chief of Lintas and Communications Advisor to various Central Ministries, got together in late 2010 to put together the best of the best work from Indian advertising which was never seen or heard before. While Mundkur rose the necessary funding, Da Cunha took charge of the content. They roped in Anand Halve and Anita Sarkar to write the book. The result is a beautiful coffee table creation, lavishly illustrated – a mirror of the profession and business through the decades.

Compiled by Priyanka Nair

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