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BW Businessworld

The Good, The Ad And 2017

Don’t hassle your agencies to be rational all the time — don’t ask them to hammer home, manufacturing features. Let them tell stories to the consumer

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I am in advertising”, has always had perverse responses from people. The cynics respond with, “Ah… You are into bull****ing people”. Some also come up and say, “Accha, you sell people dreams”. The celebrity mongers exclaim with stars in their eyes, “So, have you met Katrina Kaif?” And the rest of the ignorant lot say, “Wow! Nice. So, you get to hang with models the whole day?’

Then, there are the young, smart ones who say, “Well, everyone just hangs around and smokes, then they come up with bad English taglines, and strange inane humour. What is the point of 11 years of perfecting one’s English and then coming up with a phrase like ‘Make in India’?

And yet, one has to concede, we live in ‘chalu’ times. Reams of finely crafted body copy, with Quink ink almost seem outdated. We have become Bollywoodised, hai na? Sell to the lowest common denominator. Keep the message short and snappy. The English writers of yore, wrote English. And the Hindi blokes crafted the national bhasha. Sadly now a new language called Hinglish has invaded our vocabularies. ‘Hungry kya?” and ‘Yeh dil maange more!”, are considered landmark taglines. Also, the relentless rhyming words have overwhelmed us. Even the BJP fell prey with ‘Ab ki baar...Modi sarkar’ as their election slogan.

So, in an attempt to include the upwardly mobile Bihari in the same net as the Bomabyite, we have concocted a new language. Of which, English has a small role to play. And then, instead of investing in the idea, boom, it is gone in the next annual year.

I yearn for the big idea — one that is powerful not to be vulnerable to changing marketing managers and arrogant creative men, who want to add their ‘chaap’ to the brand promise and creative product.

Sure, we sell dreams. We sell hope, we sell sex appeal, we sell aspiration, we sell confidence. But I am also hoping that in the future we sell more stories.
Not features in a motorcyle, but what that two-wheeler means to its rider as status.

And tell the consumer a story… not hammer him over the head with a sledgehammer of hard sell.

Sadly we are inundated with celebrity endorsements. Amitabh Bachchan, recommends everything from agarbattis to arid Kutch. Shah Rukh Khan walks in and out of a room in a tuxedo, recommending some paint brand — I can’t for the life of me recall the name, but I can remember vividly, the Asian paints emotional promise of “Har Ghar Kuch Kehtha Hai”. Come on, ye marketers, you sure you want to spend your hard-earned dosh on a Bollywood star instead of investing in a big idea. And a memorable long lasting ‘line’.

“When you are writing an ad, always talk to one person,” my mentor Kersy Katrak taught me. “Arrey, janaab, the consumer is your wife. Stop her, submerge her, sell her, ya, okay, seduce her — finally she decides everything — for your kids, for your kitchen, whether be it Kelloggs or Kissan.

So, you need to stop her with your message. Not just a funny phrase. A promise. A brand promise told with wit and wisdom.

My other teacher Kiran Khalap taught me that great brands sell an emotional benefit, not a feature produced in the factory.

Come on, 2017! We have the big budgets. We need big ideas, not big stars. I want a return to the unhurried — everything doesn’t need to be SELL, SELL, SELL.

And clients out there, here is a message for you: Let ideas fly. Don’t hassle your agencies to be rational all the time — don’t ask them to hammer home, manufacturing features. Allow them to tell stories to the consumer. The customer wants to engage in brand conversations.

The right brain is functioning brilliantly, now let the left kick in.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Rahul DaCunha

The author is Managing Director, DaCunha Communications

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