Indian creative people need to get out of the comfort zone to create benchmarks: Pandey

MUMBAI: Yesterday morning's ad symposium organised by AAAI, saw Ogilvy chairman and NCD, Piyush Pandey talk about pushing the creative boundaries. He expressed disappointment that India was not producing enough of the kind of work that might be expected form a country that has so many talented people.

"In India there are lots of excuses for poor communication work. One of them is that my sales are good. The other is that my client servicing guy is an idiot. The third is that the client does not know anything. We need to look at life differently instead of resorting to the same old clichés. This means moving outside the comfort zone even if it means talking ten times to the client. It is worth it if you really believe that your idea will make a difference to how the client's work gets projected."

To illustrate his point, he gave examples from previous decades starting from 1955 from different countries. In one ad for Chevrolet, a couple is seen as moving smoothly across rough terrain enjoying a comfortable ride. The vehicle is not seen. The brilliance of this is that it is only at the end does one realise that the smooth ride was made possible because of Chevrolet. "I wonder whether car brand marketers have ever thought about showing the smooth ride that their product gives customers without actually showing a car. Unfortunately, the notion is that viewers always want to see the inside of a car."

Another example of looking at a product differently was a Pepsi commercial. The aim was to show how big a one litre bottle is. The cliché is to show a group of hyperactive youth having a blast. This ad though showed a young child struggling to cope with the bottle. First he finds it difficult to handle. Then he uses a straw but things only improve when he sits on a very high chair. "I am sure that there are creative people sitting in this room and saying to themselves "Hey, I could have done that."



An idea can be pretty simple. It needs lots of passion to see it through and before that alertness and a willingness to be less lazy, says Pandey.He adds,."After all in previous decades creative people would have had less resources at their disposal. Another innovative ad is a classic example of looking at life differently. In the TVC a boy takes a mint from his pocket. He pretends to offer it to a baby elephant but as the baby elephant approaches the boy naughtily put the mint in his mouth. When the elephant is grown up he sees the boy who has grown into a man put a mint in his mouth and chew it. The elephant gives the man a whack across the face. After all elephants can remember.Unfortunately, brand managers are more concerned about what is in the mint"

One ad that broke clichés according to Pandey was a whiskey ad. Usually whiskey ads always show a reunion between friends and there is this big balcony. This ad though, showed one man sitting with a whiskey bottle. As soon as he takes a sip he breaks into a song. The ads for the US beer brand, Budweiser, which coined the catch phrase 'What's Up' were another bold stab at looking at things differently.

Basically ,a man phones someone while drinking a beer and watching a match on TV. When the phone is picked up he yells," What's Up." This activity is then repeated among a group of people. "This kind of creative work is possible if we shake ourselves out of a state of complacency and indifference. To use a cricket phrase we must look beyond the 30 yard circle if we want to reach the boundary."


Meanwhile, Phillips consumer business head, D. Siva Kumar, spoke about brands and factors they need to keep in mind for the future. He said, that the meaning of a brand which is being a time saving device and a simplified choice in a crowded market has not changed. However, the way of looking at how brands should be managed has changed. At one time business people in the late 1980's and early 1990's became greedy. "Consumers were taken for granted and cost inefficiencies were parked next to brands. Today things are very different. There has been a cost inefficiency shakeout in every brand. Premium on brands have been cut. Marlboro cut its prices around a decade back by 40 per cent.New business models have come in. Computer maker, Dell, for instance has cut out the middleman. It is imperative that brands do not play around with quality. That is why Hersheys has been such a strong performer in Standard and Poor's indices over the decades."

He also said that changing technology is proving to be a challenge. There are cases where mobile phones are equipped with cameras which are rarely used. As the cost of technology goes up you will companies cooperating in joint efforts like the Phillips and LG JV in Korea. There is also the unique challenge for consumer electronic makers like DVDs, colour TVs. This is that there has been a steady price erosion. DVD prices in India have been halved in the past few years, colour TVs have come down by 33 per cent. This means that every day, brand premiums have to be reevaluated. Supply chain has to be precisely managed. Wrong stock planning can lead to stock devaluation. In the future, you will have at one end purely customized brands. This means that they are exclusive and there is huge desire for them. At the other end is the confident no worries choice brand. It is about value superiority and being ethical. There wil increasingly be fashion utility crossovers. For instance fashion is already being built into cars.

In the future, trust will command a brand premium. This will have to be gained from advertising, PR,is what the net says. Also what NGOs and financial people have to say will be important. The fact that what is good for NGOs may not be good for financial planners and vice versa is something that brand markets will have to cope with. Perhaps what is the important thing for brands in the future is that they anticipate what the consumer is thinking.

Basically be proactive instead of reactive. Products will do themselves a huge favour if they can anticipate the needs and aspirations of the consumers. He gave the example of the Nokia user interface for mobile phones as an example of a company staying ahead instead of only reacting after listening to the consumer.

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