Mumbai Capital

Utterly Butterly Foolicious take on advertising

AnantRangaswami  

Last week, Outlook did a cover story on advertising, headlined ‘Utterly Butterly Foolicious’. The writer of the piece has taken a few thousand words ripping the industry apart, wondering whether it could retain its ‘lost mojo’.

In his litany of complaints, the writer highlights a ‘squeeze’ on creativity, weak client-agency relationships and lack of talent.

Money, he says, is not a problem. “The Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook report projected the ad market to reach Rs 42,234 crore in 2016,” he says. And that’s where the root of his poor understanding of the business can be found.

The Rs 42,234 crore refers to the money spent on media, and does not refer to the money spent on the creative business at all.

The business has evolved over the years, recognising the increased complexities. Media buying and planning, creative, digital, social, OOH and experiential are all specialist skills, and the birth of specialist agencies is testimony to the need that the marketer feels for special advice and consultancy. None of the fees paid to these disciplines is considered in the Rs 42,234 crore.

There’s more fooliciousness. Referring to the Abbys (he mistakenly calls it Goafest), he says that “it’s all very ego-massaging and self-congratulatory; this year, an incredible 419 awards were handed out. (Last year, there were 318). The Oscars, the most- watched award show globally, are given in just 25 categories.”

That’s not comparing apples to oranges, that’s comparing apples to jeans or condoms. The comparison is, to be gentle, odious. Please compare the numbers with the Cannes Lions fest. Last year, Ogilvy (worldwide) alone won 123 Lions.

Referring to scam ads and problems with the jury at the Abbys, Mr Bobb, the writer, should know that scam ads and jury problems crop up at the best festivals across the world, not just in Goa. Ads are withdrawn for plagiarism even at Cannes, not just at the Abbys.

But back to the mojo, the alleged loss of creativity, the use of celebrities and the alleged collapse in client-agency relationships. The last episode of Storyboard featured two exclusive campaigns, one for Tata Sky and the other for MakeMyTrip. The lead story of the show was the use of virtual reality by Tata Tiago.

All three have stories to tell.

The Tata Sky campaign — 12 commercials at last count, and growing — underlines the extraordinary relationship between Tata Sky and Ogilvy. The two have been partners since Tata Sky launched in India. Harit Nagpal, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Tata Sky, was earlier the MD of Vodafone (not Vodaphone, Mr Bobb). Vodafone and Ogilvy have worked as partners from the day mobile telephony came to India, so much for weak client-agency relationships. Is the Tata Sky campaign creative? The harshest jury, the consumers, think so, based on what one sees on social media.

MakeMyTrip uses celebrities Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, and the use of the celebrities by the ad agency Publicis India is what makes the campaign entertaining. Take a look at it.

Now we come to the killer — the Tata Tiago campaign. The campaign, ‘distributed’ through three editions of The Times of India and involving Happy Finish, Soho Square, Lodestar and Wizcraft allows consumers to test drive the new car from the comfort of their drawing rooms. To ‘drive’ the car, consumers need to download an app. Print+TV+Tech+Digital+Mobile. Is this creative? Is this effective? Ask Tata Motors the questions.

The last few years have witnessed advertising doing more than just selling. Brands, through ads, are forcing conversations about problems and issues in Indian society, most noticeably in the areas of gender equality, hygiene and corruption. Look at work for Tanishq, Tata Tea, Fastrack, Dainik Bhaskar , Lifebuoy and Dettol, to name a few.

Advertising hasn’t lost any mojo. If anything, as the older talent yields to the new, the mojo is being energised as the digital native adds creative value to the ideas of the senior creatives, the digital immigrants.

Good ideas are becoming better ideas. Good advertising has become better advertising. Ask the marketers, who invest Rs 42,234 crore on the back of these ideas.

The writer is Editor, Storyboard

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 12:40:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/business/utterly-butterly-foolicious-take-on-advertising/article8518626.ece

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