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Will work closely with IBF and ISA to meet BARC deadlines: Ambi

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An advertising person constantly strives to connect market research data to insights to come up with a winning campaign and who better to understand it than MG Parameswaran aka Ambi. The brain behind the transformation of Ulka Advertising into Draftfcb Ulka Group (now FCB Ulka), the former IIT-ian with a sharp wit and a way with words knows his subject at the back of his hand.

The man, who has seven books to his credit in which he has penned down insights from his 35 year long working career in advertising, is the new president of Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).

The newly elected executive council will meet in next 10 days and as he takes charge for the year 2014-2015, Indiantelevision.com’s Meghna Sharma speaks to him on the key focus areas, awards and much more…

Excerpts…

What are the five things you will focus on as the new AAAI president?

The new elected executive council will meet to deliberate on what should be the key initiatives, but from the top of my head, I think we need to move on the following points with speed:

- AAAI will literally move to its new office in the next six months; this is a spacious office located mid-town. We will create facilities for our member agencies to use (for outstation agency members it can be a big boon).

- AAAI will endeavour to work closely with IBF and ISA to ensure that the BARC deadlines are met and we have a world-class television measurement system in place soon.

- AAAI will try to help member agencies face the challenges of the future; targeted seminars and workshop on the business of advertising will be a priority going forward; but first we will ascertain the demand for such programs.

- Talent development at the grassroot level will be a priority; we will see if we can leverage the online medium to help reach top class training to smaller cities and towns of our country.

- AAAI has played a vital role in the development of sister organisations; we will endeavour to build strong bridges to all the other industry organisations including ISA, IBF, INS, Ad Club, IAA, IMAI, Outdoor Association, Radio Association, Cinema Association etc.

To sum it up, we will ensure that AAAI serves the purpose of all its member agencies, big and small, in big cities and in small cities and help them stay vibrant and profitable, play a more meaningful role in helping their clients and the society at large.

In the next year, what will be the focus area – seminars or awards – for the organisation?

Awards were never the be-all and end-all of the AAAI. Unfortunately, that gets the maximum media coverage. Many things that AAAI does, like helping member agencies collect outstanding amounts from clients or helping media organisations collect their rightful dues are not as exciting to write and read about. Further, many of these are really in the private domain. AAAI is an industry body set up the help ad agencies do their business better, serve clients better and do well. Towards this end AAAI has held workshops, created forums and also hosted award shows. We will continue to do all that.

In the recent past, many objections have been raised regarding obscenity in advertisements. Do you think there is a need for stricter rules?

 All ads have to follow the norms laid down by society. AAAI was one of the founding partners of ASCI and I think ASCI, in the last few years has made its process a lot more efficient and effective. All the big advertisers have signed off that ASCI will have the last word. Similarly all media organisations have agreed to abide by the ASCI rulings.

Obscenity can come at you from any category, undergarments, perfumes etc. If readers feel any specific ad needs to be pulled off they should complain to ASCI. The process is well laid out on its website.

 Having said that, let me reiterate, an ad has to be measured against what is prevalent in society at large. At one time no Hindi movie showed a man and a woman kissing. That has become a norm today, and some heroes / heroines are vying to set new records. The society is also changing rapidly enabled by the rampant spread of digital medium. So our standards for measuring ads should also become more flexible. What was obscene 10 years ago may not be seen as obscene today. One needs to factor in the variable that consumers are not morons; they do see ads with a tinted pair of spectacles, especially ads that promise miraculous results, like deos.

Finally, it is ASCI’s turf to decide what they think is permissible and what is not.

Also, how do you plan to get back the lost glory of Indian awards?

Awards play a useful purpose to motivate young people to stay engaged in the advertising industry. There is nothing to beat the joy of receiving an award in front of your industry peers. AAAI will work closely with Ad Club to ensure that we have a transparent mechanism in the jury process. Efforts will be made to ensure all the key agencies participate in the Awards. Please remember the Abby Awards belongs to Ad Club and has a wonderful history backing it. That will not be allowed to fade away.

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