Television & movies still cost-effective media for advertisers: Omnicom's Birkin

MUMBAI: Omnicom vice chairman Michael Birkin does not believe that fragmentation of media has cut down the importance of television and movies as advertising platforms in India. "I still believe that TV and movies offer an extremely cost-effective way to build brands. Interactive and digital marketing are areas where India can contribute massively," he said, while also emphasising on the role of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in advertising.


Birkin, who was speaking at the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) symposium - 'The Future of Advertising,' pointed out that India's growing economy was a good sign for advertising professionals. "The total advertising spend grew tremendously last year. From an odd 4000 brands, India now boasts of 13,000 brands. Over the last 10 years, the number of television channels grew from 24 to an exciting 280, catering to 100 million TV homes," he said.

The afternoon session of the symposium saw three high-profile advertising professionals dwelling on three different spheres of the subject matter. These included JWT India chief creative officer Bruce Matchett, Vahid Associates executive principal and chief brand futurist Vahid Mehrinfar and Birkin.



Birkin listed out some key areas India needed to work on to improve its performance within the next six months. He singled out 'talent' as a major issue that is worrying India. "There is an awful lot of demand in the service industry and we have a very few good people to do it. That is a real stumbling block. We need to find out right people and provide them the right framework. This is an issue India need to resolve collectively."

Another area he identified as critical to the whole process was 'brand development'. "Creating and developing ideas are not enough.

You should be brave enough to implement the ideas," he said. According to Birkin, India's handling of the intellectual property rights issue is also absolutely critical. He called for strict governmental initiatives to resolve and streamline the issue.


Birkin asked Indian advertising firms to see domestic and MNC brands in the same light. "To have a strong local presence, agencies should service domestic brand as well. China has done this and here in India also we have to adopt the same," he said. Birkin also spoke about the significance of sports and technology in advertising. He also asked India's business community to have a re-look at measurability and accountability. "Measuring effectiveness of advertising is not in anyone's interest. Looks like even the client doesn't want to do it," he said.

Speaking on 'Concept of futurity', Vahid Mehrinfar disagreed with the concept of 'immortal brands'. "Brand immortality is a myth. They are like trees which die standing up. Actually, brands and organisations are in a state of prolonged death. There is only a constant quest for longevity. The game is all about the fight for the future. We in fact postpone the mortality by scripting the most favourable story," he said adding that the key word for the futuristic vision is 'intuition'.

According to Mehrinfar, the solution lies in building icons for people to walk up to. He stressed on the need to design product culture to keep the show going. Explaining the theory of 'Constructive Eye Vision', Mehrinfar said the distance between the brand lens and the audience should be reduced as it would help the product to expand it reach. "Getting it closer to the audience means less spends from the clients. Closer to the brand lense, wider the market share," he said.

Speaking on the futuristic trends, Mehrinfar adds, "Now it is all about benchmarking over bench-trending. Time setting over trend setting. This is what Bill Gates and Google are doing at present. Forecasting the future and plan your game accordingly."Future is a place that hasn't been messed up yet. Let us keep it beautiful and at the same time profitable," Mehrinfar said.

Bruce Matchett, during his session, explained some of the unconventional methods he has successfully practiced to groom what is called the 'out of the box' ideas. He explained the magic scribble pads can do for creativity. "Whenever an idea strikes you or you notice something remarkably creative, note them down on a note pad and they stay with you." He stressed on the significant role interactivity can play in bringing effective feedback. "Rather than interacting with the agency people to get feedback on your product, go out on the street and interview the real public who actually uses your product using a video camera. That will serve the purpose better," he said.

On obtaining the best creative talent, Matchett suggested looking at different places for the answers. According to him, asking an architect to do the visualisation or asking a fashion photographer to shoot a certain scene will bring in wonderful results.

Matchett summed up asking the creative professionals to follow their heart and try to do all kinds of crazy things when it comes to creativity. "Fortune favours the brave," he reminded.

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