Cannes Lions: Sometimes you can change the world just by tickling it a bit - Sonal Dabral

Dabral, Group Chief Creative Officer & Vice Chairman at Ogilvy India, spoke about the importance of humour in advertising

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Updated: Jun 22, 2018 8:43 AM

"We’re taking ourselves too seriously," says Sonal Dabral, Group Chief Creative Officer & Vice Chairman at Ogilvy India, as he opens his session at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018 on 'Has advertising lost its sense of humour’. Chaired by Emma Wilkie, MD, Gunn Report, Dabral was one of the speakers at the discussion around advertising becoming too serious and if it has stopped making people laugh.

Advocating the need to bring humour back into advertising, Dabral feels there is an atmosphere of too much of "political correctness."

"We’re reacting really fast and there is this atmosphere of political correctness. Everyone is becoming too caged! As marketers and creative people we have to be really aware of those sensitivities and you may have to be politically correct too but we have to create a communication around the brand, let it not stifle so much that every time when you're bringing an ad or communication, it’s just purposeful for the sake of being purposeful or just lofty for the sake of being lofty even when it doesn't suit the brand," says Dabral.

Dabral substantiated his point by playing the ads created by his agency for brand Pidilite. He claims these ads are the finest examples of using humour in creativity. "We’ve been handling this client for three decades now. And each of their products are based on humour. Sometimes it is observational humour, sometimes nuanced. And at times it is regional based humour or over-the-top depending on the product we’re talking about,” he explained.

Going deeper into the issue of loss of humor from advertisements, Dabral said, the problem perhaps lies in the fact that people, companies and brands have started taking themselves too seriously. "So much so that we have forgotten our place. We have forgotten that there are bigger things than ourselves. Bigger things than brands," he added.

The digital age where people have to react really fast has caged them. "Everyone starts thinking that if I create a piece of communication, will it offend this region or community. At times, as advertisers we have to be really careful about whom not to offend, which takes the humour away from the communication," he added.

Dabral also spoke about the need to balance purpose driven advertising and humour. "There has been a flu of purpose-driven advertising. Purpose is great. Brands should have a purpose but with a scheme of things. Every time, every ad may not need to change the world. Sometimes you can change the world just by tickling it a bit. Even a small joke or laugh takes humanity forward which is something we keep forgetting. It is the fastest way of connecting with somebody and deepening relationships. We see a flood of purpose-driven advertising which is happening. I say, have a purpose but look for ways in which it can be delivered differently," he concluded.

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