‘Experiments with social disobedience’- an unabashedly honest book

With a plethora of books on the marketing and advertising arena being unveiled, the biggest reason this one shines is for the brutal candour with which it is told

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 8:54 AM

BBDO India has time and again reinforced the power and dynamic of social movements and their implications on brands. The agency has always been one to defy societal norms and infuse the ad-world with a fresh perspective with their ‘social disobedience’. So recently when team BBDO bid farewell to Ajai Jhala who has spent a decade as the CEO of the agency, they took the opportunity to unveil their book titled ‘Experiments with social disobedience’. The book is a reflection of principles discovered and documented by Jhala and Josy Paul, Chairman and CCO, BBDO India.

This one essays BBDO India’s case-studies of how the concept of ‘social disobedience’ not only helped them create work that was contrarian to others, but also create larger social movements. It rightly encapsulates how social disobedience is the first revolution of Indian advertising. From striking at the very heart of patriarchy with Whisper’s Touch The Pickle, to creating a movement that incited women to getting men stop being lazy and better groomed for Gillette, the agency’s learning is well-documented and they leave you intrigued.

An aspect covered extensively through this book is about how brands need to step up to help people reshape society. “Brands have a higher role. It’s about letting the artist in you become an activist,” it reads.

If you've ever pondered over what makes BBDO's 'Share the Load' for Ariel one of the most effective ads in the world, this book answers your questions. Citing an example of the BBDO India’s stellar work for Ariel, it documents how when the agency was tasked with creating communication on the stain that the brand can wipe off, they chose to speak about the stain on the fabric of society.

Elaborating on their belief in making acts not ads, it portrays how action is not dependent on any language and is understood by different sets of people in the same way. It reaffirms the idea that the key lies in activating consumers by making them engage with brands through actions. “We don’t start with a script. We start with a social context,” the book says and essays how today’s consumers are more cognisant of context over content.

Overall, the book packs in invigorating examples of creative advertisements with actionable tips. Its easy-to-read and absorb writing style is consistent with the overall theories on opting for context over content and ‘social disobedience’. “Brands have not ventured beyond pleasing Indian consumers,” reads a quote from the book. Needless to say that with a plethora of books on the marketing and advertising arena being unveiled everyday, the biggest reason this one shines is for the brutal candour with which it is told.

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