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Mad ad world needs to get madder!

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MUMBAI: We all know it's a mad ad world out there. But, going by what was said at the concluding day of FICCI Frames in Mumbai today, it looks like the ad industry stalwarts wanted the ad world to get a whole lot madder!

And why not? Ads are what give us relief from the tear-jerkers one sees on television day in and day out. Advertising is all about creating innovative methods that help in connecting with the target audience without pushing the message too hard. The wackier the messages the better is the retention and brand recall.

Top ad industry honchos like Madison Communications CMD Sam Balsara, McCann-Erickson Regional Creative Director South and Southeast Asia Prasoon Joshi, Leo Burnett National Creative Director KV 'Pops' Sridhar, Lowe executive creative director R Balakrishnan (Balki) and ad and theatre personality Bharat Dabholkar had the audience in splits with their wacky sense of humour (a must in the ad world) during a session aptly titled 'It's a mad ad world.'

Although there seemed to be a bit of nitpicking among some of the panellists, the consensus remained that the ad world needs to get a whole lot wackier than it already is. Other requirements of a good ad which, while connecting to the consumer, would also drive the brand message home; was a mix of emotions, satire and sensitivity coupled with, yet again, a liberal dose of humour.

Joshi said, "There is a misconception among people that ad men are Wacky but nobody really knows the rougher side of advertising. It's not an ad mad world, it is a maddening world where one has to constantly struggle for new ideas."

He pointed out that insight was very important when creating an ad. Citing examples of Babool toothpaste and Pears soap, Joshi said the ads for these brands were made with ideas borrowed from real life situations. He also noted that India was one country where audio cues were very important and hence the use of a good background score in an ad can do wonders for the brand.

"It is difficult to get an insight all the time and when you don't, you tend to take the third dimension and exaggerate in the ads. But people have given us the licence to exaggerate and we deliver the message in a subliminal way," said Joshi.

Sridhar, on the other hand, said there were two parts to an advertising mind. One, use what you have learnt in the first 15 years of your life in advertising, which will bring in the element of innocence to see things without any malice in the message, and then to use the enthusiasm, simplicity and curiosity to know more, which you had in the first 15 years of your life.

"By using this, complex messages can be delivered in an emphatic way while connecting with people. Sheer entertainment cannot take you where you want to go. Treat your consumers as children by telling them your story in a simple way," said Sridhar.

Citing the example of the latest McDonald's ads, which stressed the cheap prices menu, Sridhar drove home the point that it was important to know the mindset of the target audience and make the communication accordingly.

"There are no rules in advertising and hence no one way that ads need to be made. People want to see interesting things. I dispute every theory there is about advertising," emphasised Balki.

An interesting point he made was that since Indians are driven by sorrow and tear-jerkers, be it in the movies or the soaps that are aired on TV, admen should also cash in on it and go the teary way in their ads, he added.

Countering the point that Joshi made, Balki said one should try and connect with the consumer irrationally rather than borrowing from their lives. "Give back something new to the consumer. An advertiser should lead the consumer, not follow him," held Balki.

Nonsense needs to become the cult and that's the way forward in the mad world of advertising. He also said in advertising, theories change every year and that's the way to evolve.

Again countering a point Joshi made, Balki said it was wrong to say that one should depend on audio cues to send the message to people. "Indians have a lot of visual appeal too and as an advertising community, we need to be receptive to change," he concluded.

When asked by Balsara whether he was serious about what he said about ads going the tear-jearker way, Balki stressed that he was very serious because he firmly believed that Indians are driven by emotions and drama.

The man behind the evergreen, smart and sassy Amul ads-Dabholkar-feigned nervousness on being asked to speak and also managed a few digs at himself! He drove home the point that while making an ad one shouldn't keep in mind what is being said, but whom they are saying it to. "Creativity works in advertising and great ideas don't require too much money to be pumped in," he said.

All in all, a great session with the wacky minds of the industry, which works hard to take the brand message across to the consumer. Whether via humour, visuals, audio or sentiments. it's their call!

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