Wavemaker's Gordon Domlija bats for diverse, inclusive and equitable ad marketplace

At the Pitch BrandTalk summit 2021, the APAC CEO of Wavemaker also mentioned that purpose is the core pillar of building and growing a brand

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 2, 2021 9:15 AM
Gordon Domlija

The rise of tech giants Google, Facebook and their near dominance of digital advertising business has had a tremendous impact on competition with weaker media platforms finding it difficult to survive in the hyper-competitive environment.

Speaking at Pitch BrandTalk 2021 summit, Wavemaker APAC CEO Gordon Domlija said that promoting diversity and inclusion through equitable distribution of ad monies is becoming increasingly important for brands as well as agencies. Domlija was answering a question as to why mall branding and promotions rank at the bottom of the pyramid for media agencies when it comes to ad allocation.

"The global drive of diversity, inclusion and equity covers everything, including the business world. It's an important step in terms of understanding how we direct that money and this is not just on agencies but on brands as well. A lot of marketers still believe that spending money on Facebook and Google is not going to go wrong," Domlija said.

He further elaborated, "For us, there is an education of how we spend and where we spend money to actually grow not just alternatives which is obviously beneficial for agencies and advertisers but also demonstrating that we are supporting other businesses. It is also about demonstrating that it is not just about these huge monolithic companies, and it is an absolutely critical part of the responsibility of brands, of agencies to demonstrate that this is what we are doing."

Brands and agencies can ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion by channelling money into alternative platforms and not just the dominant ones. "I am seeing this come through pitch requests that is coming from clients. How do you actually spend your money and where do you divert this, how do you promote diversity and equity and this is going to become increasingly important. Fur us, we have been pretty slow at tracking this, but you will see massive step change coming which is necessarily accelerated by what's happening in the world," he added.

Media agencies, he said, can ensure greater ROI (Return on Investment) by being agile and aware of the changes in the society. It is also important for agencies to keep a watch on the kind of new media channels that are emerging and the societal trends.

While giving his presentation, Domlija noted that the consumer confidence has eroded due to the pandemic. He also said that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation for marketers and brands.

He also said that building brands through purpose-driven advertising is the key to staying relevant in a cluttered market. "Purpose is the core pillar of building and growing the brand. It is easy to create relevant connection when you talk to people about things that matter to them. Brands that have purpose grow twice compared to ones that don't have purpose. Developing a purpose led brand leads to growth if we connect people with a deeper meaning," he stated.

Wavemaker, Domlija said, uses power of insights, imagination and ideas to help make brands matter. "We focus on these three things. Firstly, how do you connect purpose with audience. Secondly, thinking differently or understanding about how purchase behaviour is, what is the disruptor in the purchase behaviour or purchase journey of people in a category or brand. Thirdly, bringing brands to life through power of ideas," he noted.

Cadbury and Tata Tea, he said, are great examples of purpose-driven marketing executed well. In 2020, Cadbury had launched a Diwali campaign to promote more than 1800 small retailers. Cadbury used artificial intelligence to create India’s first hyper-personalized ad.

In 2014, Tata Tea had launched 'Power of 49' campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Launched as part of the 'Jaago Re' initiative, the campaign's aim was to awaken women, who form 49% of India’s voter base, to cast an informed and independent vote.

However, not all purpose-driven advertising has ended in success. Domlija mentioned the example of Dove which faced a lot of flak for depicting women’s body sizes in its new bottles. "Dove's bottle shapes offended many people. It shows that it is difficult to get purpose driven advertising to work. Functional advertising which is traditional and very quantified is so much more easy to get right," he said.

Domlija also cautioned that if brands don't see any tangible benefit in purpose-driven advertising it might push them the other way. "To build brands that matter, we need to work harder. There is a need to back purpose with meaningful innovation. There are some very worthy brands that are trying to jump on a bandwagon without creating any sort of distinction, or actual value, or tangible benefit for consumers," he remarked.


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