Ads that challenge cultural orthodoxy, create new crowd culture win hearts: Rohit Ohri

Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO of FCB India, was speaking at the e4m '40 Under 40 Summit'

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 13, 2021 8:55 AM  | 3 min read
rohit ohri

The emotional connection with consumers matters a lot in advertising, especially the digital one where consumers have the power to decide whether they want to watch or skip something, says Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO of FCB India. 

“Most brands think that digital ad content is a vestige of the past, like old TV film reformatted to the digital age. But that is not the case. The digital world gives consumers the power to decide what they want to watch and what not. Therefore, understanding and establishing emotional connect with the customers is very important in the digital age,” Ohri noted. 

He was speaking at the e4m “40 Under 40 Summit” on Friday in Delhi. 

Explaining the methods, Ohri said, “Most brands seek to bring cheer in the eye of consumers through some social messages such as bringing old aged people. However, the best ads are those which challenge cultural orthodoxy.”

He added that brands have to link themselves with the culture and orthodoxy of the community they target. 

Ohri showcased two digital campaigns that challenged the cultural orthodoxy and sought to create a new crowd culture. 

The first one was for Times of India based on the Sindur-Khela tradition of Bengal which bars widows and single women and trans. The ad campaign showed how the women of Bengal embraced these socially secluded communities of women and put the vermillion on their foreheads on Sindur-khela day that falls during the biggest festival in the region -- Durga puja. 

“Using centuries-old tradition as a platform, the ad sought to create a new progressive culture. Such ads are like evangelists who are able to access the people at the periphery and build emotional connections. The ad portrayed that Bengalis are progressive and the crowd adopted the message,” Ohri noted. 

Instead of obsessing about the digital platform, we must focus on the locus of digital power and how we can build a crowd culture through the brand, he advises. 

Explaining the four core principles behind creating a crowd culture, he said, “The brands must map the cultural orthodoxy of that area where they want to connect with the consumers. Then they have to locate the cultural opportunity to stand at the other end which is the progressive one. Your authenticity and genuineness will thus create a bridge between you and the people who are progressive in their thoughts creating their emotional connection with the brand. This will propagate the brand naturally.”

Another ad campaign that Ohri presented was based on anaemia among women that was launched during the Dhanteras. 

Shot in a jewellery store, the ad campaign “This Dhanteras invest in iron” was thought-provoking as it challenged the cultural orthodoxy of women who buy gold ornaments but don’t care much about another crucial metal iron that is needed to make their body strong. 

“The campaign shot in the jewellery store with edible iron jewellery highlighted the orthodoxy and also created the opportunity to promote iron. It portrayed that women beautify themselves instead of fortifying their meal with iron”, Ohri explained to the audience. 

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