Independent thinking in 2011's ad biz

2011 will be remembered as the year when ‘the Kolaveri Di effect’ and ‘Annagiri’ showed the ad industry several new ways to engage people

e4m by Deepika Bhardwaj
Updated: Jan 11, 2012 1:02 PM
Independent thinking in 2011's ad biz

The year 2011 marked the beginning of a new decade and also the beginning of a new change that is set to permeate in every sphere of communication. 2011 was a year of the rise of the independent agencies. Taproot India, Creativeland Asia, Law & Kenneth made sure that the bells kept ringing from January until December with awards, pitch wins and their amazing work. Omnicom’s buyout of Mudra sparked a fight, which is going to be much more aggressive in India in the years to come. ICC World Cup followed by the IPL was a treat for advertisers. Anna Hazare’s campaigns rocked every possible corridor, touched every person and succeeded in driving the point that engaging the country for a cause its people stands for and making noise about it will be more important in creating a movement than mere awareness of it.

This will also go down as the year when across the world, the power moved into the hands of the consumers who then went on to decide the destiny of the brands they like or hate. The industry grew a healthy double digit growth, but rising interest rates, the constant inflationary pressure and also the weakening of the rupee depressed the overall sentiment.

And to recall the milestones…

Year of the independent
Some of the biggest campaigns of the year 2011 came from the independent agencies and they continued to surpass expectations and silence the critics.

“Courage, agility, ambition and youth formed a potent combination in the 2011 march of the independent brigade. Agencies like Taproot, Creativeland Asia and Law & Kenneth took the battle right up to the big heavies, infusing a fresh air in a business, which is supposed to be all about change,” said Anil K Nair, Managing Partner at Digital Law & Kenneth.

It was a year which saw ability take over scale, believes Dheeraj Sinha, Regional Planning Director, Bates. He added, “The success of start-ups brought back the belief in individuals and personal abilities of people. It demonstrated that ideas were still more important than implementation scale.”

Idea impact
Ideas that had an impact in every possible way on brand image, results and bottom lines took centre stage in 2011.

“Today, neither the size of the agency nor the scope or even the geographic reach of the agency makes a difference to clients. The difference they are looking for is really in the people. Do they bring the experience, knowledge and insight that will make a big impact in their organisation's results and bottomline? This is the biggest milestone of 2011, which is apparent from the number of new relationships that have started in the year,” reflected Dhunji Wadia, President, Everest Brand Solutions.

Acts and not ads
Anna Hazare’s ‘India Against Corruption’ has undoubtedly been declared as the campaign of the year 2011, not only by spectators, but also by industry stalwarts. “The biggest brand building in the country in 2011 was Anna Hazare and the civil society movement that happened outside the industry. There is much to learn from such mass connections being made with such speed. The idea of ‘relevance’ to the audience in messaging needs to be brought back centre stage,” felt Shekar Swamy, Group CEO, RK Swamy, BBDO.
Not only did the campaign do the biggest brand building, it also moved every Indian. “Anna made the common man more sensitive to public issues and more importantly, empowered him that he too can do something. People don’t want to listen, they want to get involved and brands will need to appreciate this need to engage,” pointed out Alok Agrawal, COO, Cheil Worldwide Southwest Asia.
Year of virals and flashmobs
If digital is the word, ‘Kolaveri’ is the synonym for it for the year 2011. After Anna, it was Kolaveri, which again came from outside the industry, that broke all records of digital influence. “Even the honourable Ratan Tata was bemused by the Kolaveri syndrome. The inexplicable piece of musical gibberish took the country by storm, breaking through cultural and linguistic barriers like a proverbial Marina beach tsunami. It brought alive the power of digital,” noted Digital Law & Kenneth’s Nair.

Calling it the ‘Kolaveri Di effect’, Cheil Worldwide’s Agrawal said, “Social media is not niche anymore. And in India, messages jump wires. A popular Internet phenomenon quickly jumps on to mainstream media. 2011 is the year when technology driven communication has found mainstream.”

Flashmobs in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi also kept the digital inhabitants glued. Surprisingly, these were not brand motivated attempts.

Power of one
Coke Studio, KBC’s ‘Har Insaan Chhota Nahi Hota’, Aviva’s Wall of Education campaigns reiterated the power of oneness of mediums - breakthrough approaches to both creative ideas as well as innovative media placements. “Coke Studio demonstrated the power of an advertiser - The Coca-Cola Company, an advertising agency - Leo Burnett, and a couple of channels - MTV and Colors, getting together. What was produced together was media content, advertising, digital marketing and a model for local activation - all rolled into one. Coke Studio content has been downloaded in tens of millions by consumers on the net. That’s the kind of numbers mass marketers need to start fully believing in, the power of digital. And today, Coke Studio events are being held at the smallest of towns across the country,” elaborated Arvind Sharma, Chairman, Leo Burnett.

2011 in history
To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward - Margaret Fairless Barber

To sum up, we asked industry leaders on how 2011 will be marked in history in the books of advertising. Here’s what they had to say:

Shekar Swamy: “A year where the industry seems to have matured a bit more and settled down to a routine pace.”

Arvind Sharma: “A year when a number of forces, years in the making, came together.”

Dheeraj Sinha: “The year of the nimble and the brave.”

Anil K Nair: “A year when technology finally managed to break loose the vice-like grip and control that marketers had over the process of communication and the content of it. A year when across the world, the power moved into the hands of the consumers.”

Alok Agrawal: “A year of re-arrangement, complexity. Traditional media spends moving to new areas of marketing.”

Dhunji Wadia: “Awakening of the conscience of the common person through the ongoing ‘Annagiri’ campaign.”

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