While the first session of exchange4media.com Conclave, Bangalore offered a platform for the fate and fortunes of the regional media to be discussed, the second session witnessed the advertising and marketing fraternity lock horns on ‘How do you get the best out of advertising?’
The six-member-panel was a meeting ground for some of the who’s who of the industry. While Ravi Naware, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC Foods, Samuel Selvakumar, CEO (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu), Hutch, and Naveen Chopra, GM – Marketing, Britannia, brought in the client’s perspective, Ravi Kiran, MD (South and West India), Starcom Worldwide, and Prasoon Joshi, National Creative Director, McCann Erickson, brought with them the agency’s side of the story.
Harish Bijoor, moderator for both the Bangalore sessions, opened Session Two by breaking down the topic and bringing up associated issues. “Advertising is getting more compulsive,” he said, tagging today’s pop culture to it. He added that any debate on the effectiveness of advertising ought to study both the creative and strategic side of the business.
“Advertising is also cyclic. We need to move from massification to de-massification,” he said, noting the revival of one-on-one advertising. In his opening note he also addressed the need for credibility to be brought back into advertising even as its new roles are constantly emerging.
Building on this vein, Selvakumar stressed on the need for brands to look beyond what they can do for the customer. “The real issue today is for us to see what the consumer wants us to do and deliver,” he observed. Also promoting the back-to-basics viewpoint, he added that simplicity in communication was the key essence to be achieved and maintained for a successful campaign.
Taking the discussion a step ahead, Joshi said: “In recent times the focus has shifted from long-term brand building to short-term gains.” He noted that perhaps the failure of several brands in building an efficient marketing and distribution chain had placed undue pressure on advertising.
Dwelling on the challenges faced by the creative agency, Joshi said, “Much of the world is uncomfortable with creative people as everyone is on the look out for a readymade success formula and fail to realise that what works for one brand may not work for another.”
Listing out a number of changes in belief that have found acceptance over the years by agencies, Kiran highlighted the constant need to upgrade one’s insight into the consumer’s mind. In one of the instances put up, he said: “Earlier, we all believed that a brand had a story to tell which the consumer ought to listen. Today, this has changed. Now we focus on the consumer’s life and want to know what she does and believes.”
Touching upon yet another associated issue, Chopra questioned, “Do we really know what advertising should deliver? Should the campaign lead to a larger marketshare? Or change the perception of a brand? Or is it aimed at category development? Are we really clear about what we want?”
He added that advertising works only when one has confidence in the brand, the agency and more importantly, when the brief given to the agency is clear. “Clarity in the brief does not mean telling the agency what we want, but also specifying what we don’t want,” he said.
Seconding this, Naware said that a group effort was essential to gain a deep insight into the consumers’ mind. Quoting the example of one of ITC products, he described how research on consumer insight helped pick out the right differentiation with which the right target audience could be approached.
While the discussion started with an evident agency versus client divide, it eventually led to a unanimous acceptance of the panel that the best way forward was to work as a team with many of the panelists stressing on the importance of trust and acceptance. In his summation, Bijoor spoke of how the way forward for most brands would be the rural market and the importance of applying consumer research into this new and emerging category.
After Delhi and Bangalore, exchange4media.com Conclave 2004’s next destination is Mumbai where it is scheduled for May 7.