Advertisers should continually reinvent

NEW DELHI: In a world of so many choices, it is important for advertisers and corporates to continually reinvent ideas to reach out to the new generation, and also use social media through the Internet for this purpose.

This was the general consensus at the 27th AdAsia held in India after a period of eight years and attended by over 1200 delegates from India and 25 countries.

On the concluding day, Pepsico chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi cautioned those in the advertising and marketing business that the uncertainties in the corporate world could only be overcome if one could adapt suitably to face the future.

She said that the corporate world today faced a crisis of leadership, of governance, and of expectations.

The corporate leaders therefore have to lead for ‘today and tomorrow at the same time‘ - that is, keep an eye on the horizon even as one planned for the present. Similarly, one has to be ambitious, attract and tap the right talent and make sure that it stayed with you, and the leaders have to be ‘super visible‘ - they should be available to all their employees and not sit in ivory towers and give orders.

She said creativity and adaptability are the answers to uncertainty, and referred to working in an atmosphere of connective autonomy.
Referring to her own brand, she said that the way to sell globally is to innovate and so while Lays is a popular Pepsico brand, it is marketed in different countries with local flavours.

Nooyi was addressing the concluding session of AdAsia 2011.

Talking about the theme - "Uncertainty: The New Certainty" - Mudra Group MD and Group CEO and AdAsia 2011 chairman Madhukar kamath said that it underlines the dynamic world that is currently at an inflection point witnessing a realignment of global economic leadership. Post the global meltdown, Asia leads the world on the path of recovery, thus attracting attention from the world over.

Earlier, Saatchi and Saatchi creative chairman Robert Senior said there have to be certain change in strategy to be in the advertising and marketing business in ‘the age of now‘. Thus, attention had to be substituted by participation, inform by inspire, interpretation with interaction, return on investment with return on involvement, and pumping markets with creating movements.

Speaking on the pursuit of Big Ideas in the Age of Now, he said the consumer today lives in a VUCA world: he is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The advertiser has to change that attitude to being vibrant, unreal, crazy and astounding.

Noting that ideas can be the prism of hope, he said the real skill lay in seeing the point in an idea and then nurturing it with speed, agility, and news desk mentality.

He said at the outset that he is particularly impressed by the optimism among the advertising fraternity in India, as compared to Europe. The advertisers know what their consumers expected from them.

In another session where he interacted with lyricist and McCann Worldgroup India‘s chairman and CEO Prasoon Joshi, Coca Cola Company EVP and chief marketing and commercial officer Joseph Tripodi said large companies tend to be very conservative and often do not take risks. In his company, he has encouraged a policy where one would put 70 per cent of his money where he know it would pay, 20 per cent to innovate off that 70 per cent, and 10 per cent just innovate with new ideas. Thus, it would not matter too much if that 10 per cent failed.

There is also need to take some risk and take some challenges, part of which is trying to create popular culture.

He said it is important to understand the brand and create love for it. Coca Cola did this with the help of inspirational and operational marketers.
He said the aim was to create both love and value for the brand as well as the product. Consumers demanded value for their time and attention and wanted entertainment, and portability. For all this, evolution was mandatory.

For his brand, he said the focus was on storytelling and there has been a link with the liquid being sold.

Furthermore, he said in reply to a question that value for him meant shared dividends and this was the reason for Coca Cola to endorse causes. He gave several examples of how this had been done by showing short film clips. There is need to market certain global values as commonalities are growing all over the world with ‘Internet being the great democratiser‘ which made everything ‘glocal‘. People like to connect with each other and therefore Coke has also used the social media for this purpose since it is a natural human behaviour to share.

But it was necessary to earn the trust of the local people. One cannot let the hype get ahead of the reality and therefore the nature of Corporate Social Responsibility has changed with the non-governmental organisations not just wanting cheques. They want commitment and not mere promises, and wanted that the corporate house should be transparent. Therefore one has to work to earn the trust of the consumer and the NGO.

Answering a question, he said that flavour extensions in Coke were only aimed at catering to local populations.

In a session on how to navigate through in the face of media fragmentation, Citi Head of Global Marketing (Consumer) Bob O‘Leary said new technologies demand new choices and new behaviours and it is important to rise to the occasion.

OMD Worldwide CMD Mainardo de Nardis said it is necessary to capture the imagination of the people through the right beliefs.

Maxus Worldwide CEO Kelly Clark said that it is important to keep creative talent motivated and challenged, and excited about their work. People can be brought in from various fields but have to be kept in the company by appreciating the impact of their work.

The importance of reinventing oneself was driven home again in a discussion on building brands in a trust deficit world. All the speakers stressed the need to be able convince the people about brands.

Moderating the session, author Deepa Prahlad said technology is changing everything and affecting the metaphors of brand marketing. Therefore advertisers and brands have to change.

Engine and WCRS President Robin Wight was clear that brands were created to avoid too much of brain work by the consumer who should be able to recognise what he wanted by seeing a brand. The decline in trust is because the consumer often did not want to use brain power. The Internet and social interactions could help to rebuild that trust, he said. Peer-to-peer marketing through social networking is a great tool, he said.

Bharti AXA Life Insurance CEO Sandeep Ghosh said people expect proof rather than promises, and showed two commercials of his company to prove this point. But leadership also matter, he added.

Ford India president and managing director Michael Boneham said one has to re-invent brands to separate oneself from competitors. For example, he said his cars have added features like a Bluetooth to become different. He also believed in consumers talking to consumers and therefore his company has avoided brand ambassadors.

GroupM CEO South Asia Vikram Sakhuja said a major problem is that with too many choices, one live in an attention deficit world. Therefore, psychological equity is as important as brand equity. Digital tools could help engage the consumer and build trust. There is need to evolve with the consumer, and brands should never talk down to consumers.

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