The most powerful thing in advertising today is authenticity: Sam Balsara

Balsara opened up on the third leg of the Jiyo Parsi campaign, the creative strategy employed, whether advertising can really help save a community and more

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 8:04 AM
Sam Balsara

The third leg of the Jiyo Parsi campaign conceptualised by ad veteran Sam Balsara’s Madison was unveiled on December 20. While the first phase of Campaign launched in 2013, sought to sensitise Parsis about the gravity of the problem and it did this in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek manner, phase II campaign took on an aggressive task and highlighted the not so pleasant consequences of not getting married or having at least two children; conversely stressing the happiness that family life could provide especially as one advances in age.

Balsara, Chairman, Madison World in a chat with exchange4media opened up on the third leg of the campaign, the creative strategy employed, whether advertising can really help save a community and more.

The creative cut

Balsara revealed the core insight really was that young Parsis tend to be awkward initiating a conversation around certain issues. So the agency ideated that they should tackle this impediment by suggesting some ice-breakers they can use. “And so, we’ve created these humorous lines which borrows heavily on Parsi culture and food.” ‘You’re as sweet as lagan nu custard. Speaking of lagans, will you marry me?’ - one of the ads reads.

He added, “Our creative strategy really was to talk to youngsters and appeal to them. We had to think of an interesting way to reach out to them and not sermonise. We said lets capitalise on our idiocracies and let’s make fun of ourselves. But at the same time, we didn’t want everybody to have a good laugh and go home but we wanted people to internalise the message. “ 

Can advertising really save a community?

Answering the question, Balsara shared, “There is an increase in birth-rate of around 18 per cent directly because of Jiyo Parsi campaigns. It is a big achievement. I’ve been working in advertising and marketing for more than 40 years but this campaign has been more satisfying than anything I’ve done in advertising before. Jiyo Parsi has now become a campaign that Madison is most famous for.”

Controversies, communication and authenticity

He acknowledged that while Phase 1 of the campaign had its share of controversies attached to it but still did well. Balsara also spoke about how the communication went on to evolve. “The first phase of the campaign played a huge role in making Jiyo Parsi a household name. We thought the next one should be a little more serious and the messaging should be stronger. We felt that we should be less apologetic about our messaging and let the message be direct and hard-hitting. “ 

“Phase 1 wasn’t without its criticism but that’s what kept the campaign the alive and helped our cause,” Balsara added and disclosed that all the people seen in the campaign were real people and didn’t use any models so that they can be identified with. Reiterating that authenticity in advertising is key, he said, “What has been increasingly important in our advertising business for a campaign to succeed is authenticity. In olden days, you will see girls in ads that look almost perfect. And then Dove came up as a breath of fresh air and spoke about how it is unreal. So the most powerful thing in advertising today is authenticity,” he remarked.

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