IMPACT Annv Spl: Kurien Mathews on essential elements of an ad

Kurien Mathews, Metal Communications, feels an ad has to have only one central, big idea. But there are also essential elements an ad can’t miss.

e4m by Kurien Mathews
Updated: Dec 2, 2011 7:30 AM
IMPACT Annv Spl:  Kurien Mathews on essential elements of an ad

In my viewpoint, an ad has to have only one central, big idea. Having said that, there are probably seven essential elements that an ad cannot miss (maybe more, maybe less, but since this is the 7th anniversary of Impact, I have attempted to keep it at seven. And what the hell, seven is my lucky number anyway!)
The idea, of course, has to be central, and these seven elements need to bind them together. So here is my list:

The first of course is the big idea itself. There are too many ads out there that are just statements of what the brand wishes to say about itself. Or worse still, what a client thinks is a good thing to state. You have many clients these days who I believe say, I am the client, just do as I say. Then why on earth did that client appoint a creative partner in the first place?

Second, try and be original. Some people lift because they think no one will notice. Many others do simply because they are much too lazy. One of my friends forwarded this thread recently from a Facebook conversation he had initiated a year ago:
Advertising would have us believe that ….
• All little boys with glasses are cute, named Rahul
• Housewives smile and respond pleasantly when asked about daily chores and brands like Harpic
• Drinking one brand of sugared soda makes us incredibly smart while the other brand makes us incredibly unsmart
• Saif and Kareena are always trying to impress each other
• Cine idols and sport icons know everything about everything
• Smart men and women wear overalls and paint their homes themselves
• Sachin Tendulkar is actually concerned about cement brands
• Cute kids can get away with murder. Cute women use oil-free hair oils. Cute men play with cute kids near the washing machine while cute women make pasta for lunch
• People wear ironed, coordinated pajama sets to bed, and wake up fantastically groomed and brush their teeth
• Anyone can be a college dude with a broad strap sling bag. Even SRK
• Executives in pin stripes do a high five in front of their laptops when a deal is struck.
• Clearly, too many people are doing too much of the same thing for our own community to make comments like that.

Third, evoke an emotion. Shock, humour, surprise, lump in throat … sometimes (cautiously) even fear.

Fourth, create empathy. Understand your audience, and speak to them in the language, tone, style that they can relate to.

Fifth, reflect culture. With all our diversity it is easy to get carried away. What is true in Amritsar may not necessarily be true in Chikmagalur.

Sixth, be bold. Don’t be afraid to buy (or sell) a piece of work just because it makes people uncomfortable. Many of Bill Bernbach’s work would have never seen the light of day if played safe.

Seventh, don’t treat your consumer like an idiot. Enough said about that, but Ogilvy’s diktat remains relevant as ever.
When you’ve got all that together, here is an eighth one, for good luck: don’t be sloppy. Pay attention to all the small things. When all the little details are taken care of, it has the ability to transform an ad from being good to great.

(Kurien Mathews, Chairman and MD, Metal Communications and Director, Rage Communications.)


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