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Restriction leads to Innovation: Prasoon Joshi gives Spikes a debate

18-September-2009
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Restriction leads to Innovation: Prasoon Joshi gives Spikes a debate

Unlike the Cannes debate, where the panel completely agreed on the points made, the Spikes debate at least gave the audience what they were told it would – a debate. The only point here was that the debate had nothing to do with the topic ‘Is Asian Creativity up to the Task’. The panel in fact questioned the subject itself.

The mix of speakers included Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman and Regional ECD APAC, McCann Erickson; Chris Thomas, Chairman & CEO, BBDO APAC; Derek Yeo, Marketing Head, Tiger Airways; Nayantara Bali, VP, Male Grooming Asia, Procter & Gamble; and Tim Isaac, Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather, APAC.

Derek Yeo remarked, “I have never seen a conversation on whether the UK or the US creativity is up to the task, so how can anyone ask that about Asia. I don’t think that is a fair question to begin with.” Agreeing with this, Tim Isaac said that, in fact, in the last year, from seven Asian countries, there were nine that had become a part of the top 20 most creative markets. And India had grown higher in its position in the list.

Prasoon Joshi agreed and took it from there, “In fact, I find it ridiculous when people say that in the last 5-6 years, Indian creativity has come of age. Are you saying that a country with thousands of years of culture did not have any creativity in its ways before that? The only thing that has happened is that Indian creative professionals have only made their ways more palatable to the west, and that is not necessarily good.”

Joshi went on to state that that by changing our own ways to suit the way the Western world was thinking had the danger of Asian creativity losing its edge and uniqueness. Nayantara Bali added here, “It is true that Asia is very creative and genetically, the talent in the market is inclined to think in a certain unique manner. The question is how do we harness this creativity now.”

The panel argued and debated on whether advertising professionals were looking at creativity in the right light. Where Joshi called advertising a form of art, Yeo stated that advertising was not meant to be entertaining, it was supposed to be informative and hence, achieving client objective. Thomas got on to this side of the debate, too, and said that while he agreed advertising was a commercial exercise, and not art form of any kind, today, the game was about entertaining and hence engaging the consumer.

The panel went to and fro on various points, but the one subject where everyone agreed on was that the Asian mindset was inherently suited to see recession or limitation as another reason to innovate. Bali agreed with this and informed that that was how P&G was thinking. She said, “We are experimenting more than ever before. And when there is an exciting idea that comes across, we even find the way to move monies.”

Joshi observed, “We have been brought up with the mindset that if you don’t have a resource, find a way to cope with it. The recession has only made us think out of the box more. However, this is the time that also tests the relation between an agency and advertiser and whether truly the two are partners. Advertisers have to find a way to trust their agencies and take them into confidence. The strength of the relation would be a deciding factor to survive the trusting times.”

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