the ancient Chinese proverb goes - May you live in interesting
times! 2012 was certainly an interesting year. Worsening
economic conditions caused India's GDP growth rate to
fall dramatically and its credit rating to be downgraded
(much has been written about its causes and remedies).
The telecom industry survived the impact of an unprecedented
cancellation of 122 licenses. Clients approached life
with what is euphemistically called 'cautious optimism'.
In the middle of all this action, there were a number
of good campaigns and a number of unorthodox marketing
initiatives - Goafest is round the corner and we'll
celebrate these soon. These included an unlikely one
by Arvind Kejriwal. I was amused that his party's name
came out of a slogan I had written for the 2004 Congress
election campaign, 'Aam Aadmi ko kya Mila?'
one of these topics is worthy of a piece in itself.
However, in this piece I am writing about a new perspective.
A perspective derived from a very unique situation that
my industry colleagues put me in. I was requested to
perform three industry level roles - each one of them
probably a whole job in itself. The roles were that
of the President of Advertising Agencies Association
of India (AAAI), Chairman of Advertising Standards Council
of India (ASCI) and a member of Readership Studies Council
of India (RSCI).
the last several years, the broad view that industry
bodies have been taking was that they represent special
interest groups and they must confront associations
and institutions which represent other groups. This
philosophy has merits - it is fair and legitimate that
all sections of the industry aggressively push their
viewpoints and interests. However, demerits of this
approach should be equally obvious. If every association
is locked into an inflexible position of self interest,
you only have deadlocks and 'cliffs'. 2012 was a year
where my colleagues across associations, took a U-turn
on this mindset. We were able to resolve a number of
deadlocks that had dogged the industry for years.
Bureau of Circulation (ABC), promoters of erstwhile
National Readership Survey (NRS), and Media Research
Users Council (MRUC), owners of Indian Readership Survey
(IRS), not only came together but actually agreed on
all the improvements that were required in readership
studies. They agreed on major methodological issues.
They even agreed on choice of a new research agency
to conduct the new IRS.
the TV measurement front, Indian Broadcasting Foundation
(IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and AAAI
actually signed an agreement to create the Broadcast
Audience Research Council (BARC). And surprise surprise!
Everyone agreed on the choice of the technical committee
chairman! Hopefully, BARC will now move forward and
deliver us a new TV audience measurement system in around
few years ago, an attempt to introduce digitisation
under the name of Conditional Access System (CAS) in
metros failed miserably. One of the reported reasons
for the failure was that under CAS, measurement data
is bound to be unstable for some weeks which resulted
in unexpected winners. The winners tried to make the
most of their weekly bonanzas and the losers retaliated
by withdrawing support for CAS. AAAI, IBF and ISA, looking
at the big picture, agreed to suspend release of audience
measurement data for a few weeks. Of course, the then
Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Mrs. Ambika
Soni's role in making digitisation possible has been
recognised across the country. However, the role that
the three associations collectively played to ensure
successful implementation of this law has been critical.
On regulation of advertising content, similar positive
and collaborative dialogues are under way between ASCI
and various other institutions.
Various institutions and industry associations do represent
interests of various segments of the society and business.
However, in 2012, the wisdom that segments cannot improve
their lots unless the whole improves, is the wisdom
that prevailed. I fervently hope that this will continue
to be the industry's mindset as we move forward to address
many issues that the society at large and the industry
face moving ahead.
some definite signals and many forecasts optimistic
of a better year ahead, I eagerly look forward to 2013.
I believe that it will not just be an interesting year
but a year of growth and progress for all of us. Wishing
everyone a happy 2013!