'The Block IV': Deepa Kakkar unblocks ills, frills of ideating

MUMBAI: How do you describe a red lacy G-string underwear in advertising terms? "Covers just about the bare essential and reveals all. A one line brief is all about that."

Thus acclaimed creative consultant Deepa Kakkar introduced session four of 'The Block' - the 10 session creative workshop hosted by the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).


Focusing on how to be a creative director and the next step thereon, Kakkar took the gathering of young advertising minds through a journey which reiterated the essence and ingredients of a good ad.

She began with the brief, and said that it should be as tantalising as the red G-string, which promises to stimulate the creative team.

Getting the audience involved while restating her point of how difficult it is to write a one-line brief, she made everybody write a line on how one would sell themselves, if their ad was being placed in a matrimonial column.

She then touched upon how one needs to focus on delivering for the brand and the importance of stepping away from one's personal likes and dislikes.

"Is it Pamela Anderson's or Jennifer Lopez's?"

Nobody got it. But what Kakkar meant by posing the question was, "Is the ad an original or a fake?" She said very often you hear an interesting jingle or a different feel and look or a unique tag line, that becomes the unique selling point (USP) of the ad.

"So is it Craftsmanship or is it really an idea"

The difference between good execution and an original thought is a very significant factor in the designing of an ad. Sometimes people confuse an idea with execution.

"Is it insolent?"

'There's nothing official about it' - the Pepsi series is a perfect example to validate the above statement. With Pepsi and Coca-cola constantly at each others throats, insolence was Pepsi's way of tackling their ad campaign in response to Coca-Cola's 'The official drink'

Her take on brand wars was also very apt, "To say I am good because he is bad is not a very nice way of stating I am good."

Moving on to the argument of whether ads should be logical, she said ideas could be logical, but logic most often killed the idea. For instance, the Kelvinator ads which pegged its campaign on the ultimate cooling effect ( teeth chattering, musical shivering of the man).

"Is it surprising?"

Does the ad force a person to think of something in a different way? Also the fact that ads need to be entertaining, as one switches on the TV to be entertained, so if ads can do that, it is truly brilliant.

"Is it like a rubber band?"

Does the idea have the capacity to stretch over all mediums? Can it communicate the theme of the brand in the same manner? For instance the Fevicol series, which managed to stick to the same theme in print, radio and TV.

"Is it like French fries and tomato ketchup?"

Does the idea have that kind of compatibility with the brand? Eg - The Kit Kat series - Have a break, have a Kit Kat, or the thanda series which also has so much relevance to the product and the brand.

"Is it like choosing a watermelon?"

Is it one's gut feel that gives one the idea as to whether the campaign will work or not, like the vendor on the road who chooses a watermelon for you.

"Is it love or lust?"

Is the ad only flirting with the brand and just a one night stand or is it a long term relationship that will emerge when the idea marries the brand. For instance, the Raymond ads which follow the same theme for years.

"This is my Mommy!"

Like one's mother can only be one's and nobody else's, so there is a strong sense of ownership, similarly has the ad got that kind of ownership with its brand? The Smirnoff ad for instance (looking through the bottle) no one can take it away from them. Also the ad was excellent in terms of relevance with the product and brand.

"Good is the enemy of great," she says and when one is satisfied with good, one will never be able to attain greatness.

"Are we confusing ideas with information?"

Kakkar narrated a story wherein a blind man with a plaque card states,"I am blind" fetched no coins in comparison to "It is spring and I am blind" which makes a definite emotional connection with the passer by. So information by itself, does not quantify into being a good ad.

Kakkar has also created and patented a creative process called "The Oyster Principle"; to arrive at a branding idea. She says like a pearl is created from the grit or the sand particles that come into the oyster, the idea should also evolve from the insight that the brand offers.

The days of a single effective 24/8 print ad or a 30 sec commercial is no more looks at as a good branding strategy. One needs to create an idea which will sustain the brand for a longer period.

So the long of the short of it is, as a creative director one needs to focus on what will work for the brand as well as overlook over the other aspects of ad making as well. To sum it up in Kakkar's words, "A creative director is like a compass, with one arm at the centre and the rotating around the the circumference overlooking the entire gamut."

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