Martin Sorrell, Amitabh Bachchan, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke at the IAA World Congress

Punit Goenka, President, IAA India opened the first session of the convention followed by Srinivasan Swamy, Chairman & World President of IAA Global introducing the theme ‘Brand Dharma’

IAA World congress

The 44th edition of the International Advertising Association World Congress took off in Kochi on Wednesday. A host of close to 40 speakers from around the world including the likes of Sir Martin Sorrell, innovation expert Tim Reid, Amitabh Bachchan, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Boston Consulting Group Chairman - Hans Paul Burkner, Skype co-creator - Jonas Kjellberg, Nandan Nilekan, Alibaba CEO - Chris Tung would grace the three day convention.

Punit Goenka, President at the India chapter of IAA opened the first session of the convention followed by Srinivasan Swamy, Chairman and World President of the International Advertising Association (IAA) Global who introduced the theme of the convention ‘Brand Dharma’ and discussed the journey of advertising and the need to protect freedom of commercial speech in the present times.

Goenka, in his opening address, stressed on the ‘Brand Dharma’ theme of the World Congress as the basic principle a brand should follow, to connect with its customers and society at large. He said “what matters at the end of the day is the deep connect a brand establishes with the audience and the language, dialects in which the brand speaks with the audience. Also, how purely and honestly does the brand believe in the culture and value system of the audience."

Advocating self-regulation in advertising, Swamy broke down the to-dos of IAA for the convention. “We at the IAA are constantly trying to update and upgrade according to the needs of the time. We are ready to provide professional development for people needing to update their knowledge. We are looking at nurturing exposing young talent to best in class curriculum that prepares them for tomorrow. We want to inspire people to take action on societal issues and solve business challenges and promote the relevance of advertising as the engine of economic growth,” said Swamy.

Elaborating on self-regulation Swamy said, “IAA would step in and promote the law makers more concrete proposals for self-regulation based on wider consultation in the industry. IAA would also present a case that the interest of the consumer is better served with certain safeguards on data piracy, rather than stringent regulations.”

However, it was actor Amitabh Bachchan, who stole the show with his presentation of the theme of the convention Brand Dharma in the inaugural session. “I am the face of close to 24 brands and while I cannot prevent them from existing in the market I do not advertise alcohol or tobacco-that is dharma for me. Dharma of a brand is to ideate, develop a vision, and formulate a policy and code of conduct and know that there are only two ways to go about-grow or perish. Existence of competition has acted in favour of the consumers because that has led to continual improvement of a product,” said Bachchan.

Expressing his joy about the growth of indigenous brands Bachchan explained his perspective on the brands he promotes. “When I say kuch din toh guzaro Gujarat mein or do boond zindagi ke, I don’t sell Gujarat or polio prevention dosage. The brand here is social justice. The product here performs what its label claim - that is the kind of brand dharma I believe in,” added Bachchan.

Engaging the convention attendees in a quick meditation session Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said the society is moving into a whole new era where people do not observe what they preach. “People making video games do not want their children to play it. But that shouldn’t be the case. The universal ethics to operate in the market is very simple to follow. What you do not want your vendors to do to you do not do it to your customers,” he said.

IAA is a globally-focused integrated advertising trade association with membership representing advertising agencies and the media. The IAA comprises corporate members, organizational members, educational affiliates, as well as 56 Chapters with individual members and young professionals from 76 countries including the top 10 economies in the world. lAA is 80 years’ old and is headquartered in New York.

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