Archive for the ‘ advertising ’ Category

Get paid to live in the past.


Have you ever heard about a profession that pays you to relive the memories of your childhood and of  bygone days?

Well advertising does.

Advertising planners and creatives thrive and make a living by generating insights and using them judiciously and at times generously for the brands. “Insights” are nothing but homegrown truths, which people often forgotten about or truths, which are hidden deep, down their minds and you re-cognate them once reminded.

True insights, always get instant nods when heard, for instance if I were to say “daughters are the best source of learning for mothers” I would get an instant approval because this makes you to think and dig into your own life experiences and infer the truth. This rediscovery of human truth engages consumers in the context of product’s purpose in their life. This engagement creates affinity, love, bond and loyalty towards the brand.

Therefore the people who can generate and know how to use them are the richest souls in advertising.

Than the inquisitive question “ How does one get to an insight? .

Simple. Re-live your past. Sit down, relax and memorize your childhood, about that sexy aunt, nosy teacher, wicked old man next door, one-eyed police officer, peep holes, watering holes, crush on your English teacher, bikini babes or hunks (I am not a sexist), you end up with a rich source of experiences from which you can pluck relevant insights.

Here are some great insights brands\people used:

British airways: Children walk to school and run back home. (How true!)

Jureeporn Thaidumrong ECD of JEH United of Bangkok used “ Women feel safer when there is bright light” (How true!)

McDonald’s used “How painful it is to be a six-year-old.” (How true)

Linda Locke RCD Leo Burnett Singapore used for Breast cancer foundation: “Only if women were to look at their breast as often as men do”( How true)

Our very own Indian brands use: HDFC Life “Self respect” – Mc Donalds “ Bapp ka Zamane ka damm” – Complan “Latak ne se height nahi badegi” – SBI “ hera ko kya pata, pahen ne walle ki umar?” – Asian paints” Har ghar kuch kaheta hai”.

All the above insights are generated from some ones life experience, one could imagine Jureeporn being a women could have observed when husbands come home late, wife’s prefer to keep all the lights burning.

Love living in the past? Welcome home.

Why expat creative officers do not work in India?



It is not by ­­­accident that Indian advertising had very few expats or even none I must say given our size and importance of our market post liberalization. Compare this with countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines or even Japan, China or Korea all of them are equally sensitive to their culture and people. Why is that expat CD’s thrive in those countries? Why do global companies push for expats for local markets? I can understand expats doing global jobs, which are different from the local ones.

As I was saying in my earlier blogs, India is not one country, it’s several. It is extremely difficult even an Indian and a Telugu like me to understand the Punjabi and Corgi nuances, imagine a Manipuri creative director understanding the difference between a Palghat and Salem mindset. Now imagine an Australian or a half German trying to write for “chloromint alpenliebe ” or getting the “karwa chauth” sentiment right.

We may argue that good advertising is all about Ideas and universal emotions, and indeed they are. The difference I am pointing is the difference between “Slumdog” vs. “3 Idiots” vs. “Dabangg” vs. “Enthiran” vs. “Shankarabharanam”. I have not even mentioned or even aware of the relevance of Bengali, Marathi, Bhojpuri or Kannada films in the popular culture of our country. The one great thing Indian Creative leaders posses in abundance is patience. Apart from universal insights we patiently dig out local, cultural, regional, social economical, gender, ideological insights to connect with this 1.2 billion disconnected people.

My submission is simple. India is a complex country even for Indian to understand and it’s unfair to expect an expat to understand and connect with this country in an 18 months window. Even Mark Tully took many years to know this country.

Imagine a Balki or a Piyush or a Prasoon being replaced with an expat.

“Famous brands make creatives famous.”


Young creative people often shy away from working on big brands, it is becoming extremely difficult to attract good talent to work on country’s biggest brands. The reason being: You have to work with-in a given box, younger ones wants the freedom to think freely and fit brands to their ideas than the other way round. The discipline of brief, research and listening to consumers/ people is too much of a bore these days to youngsters. I like the freshness and energy youth brings to the table but hate the indiscipline which tags along.

There are few reasons why young creatives should work on big brands:

  1. Piyush: Cadbury’s, Fevicol, Luna, SBI, Ponds, Asian Paints and Perfetti
  2. Balki: Pepsodent, Fair & Lovely, Surf, Idea and Bajaj
  3. Prasoon Joshi: Coca Cola, Perfetti-Happydent
  4. Agnello Dias: Rin, Thums Up, Nike, Sony, Indian Oil and Times of India
  5. Rajiv Rao: Hutch, Vodafone and Zoo zoo’s.
  6. Madhu Bhandari: Fair & Lovely, Pepsodent, J
  7. Priti Nair: Axe, Balbir Pasha, Clinic, Surf and Green Ply
  8. Ravi Deshpande : Cadbury’s, Shoppers Shop and Asian Paints
  9. Chax: Brooke Bond, J&J, Airtel, Docomo and Indian Oil
  10. Abhajit Awasti : Cadbury’s, ITC, Asian Paints, Limca, Sprite and Perfetti.

Imagine if these legends were not to work on the brands they worked. would they be as famous as they are today? Big brands give you big canvas and big bucks. What else you need to be famous?. All these humble creative people ( I have known all of them for several decades now) have given there lives and have sacrificed personal time to work on big brands and I guarantee you they have the same appetite even today.

It’s a wonderful feeling when you see the brands you worked on are the brands people love and you have a little part in making them lovable.

“Bollywood the ugly caterpillar.”


Bollywood is going through a metamorphosis, what dominated in sixties was emotional melodramas and patriotic themes to seventies restlessness for social justices lead to the creation of “angry young-man” and eighties saw the emergence of romance  and optimism with new parallel cinema thrown in. Nineties saw the global settings of Bollywood reflecting the success of Indians abroad and Bollywood started setting stories rather than songs abroad. And last decade dominated by Khans and KJo ( Karan Johar) took Bollywood stories to aspirations of living the dreams in an escapist land. Reality took a nose dive, it was all about Indian sentiments set in designer ware.

Thanks to multiplex revolution in urban India, cinema took a serious U turn, powered by younger and more saner breed wanting to take Bollywood out of long hibernation. After Ray’s and Benegal’s and Marchant’s and Jabwalla’s India cinema virtually went into an hibernation till “Lagan” came along.

Today after “Udan” and “Peepli Live” one can say that the ugly caterpillar is morphing into a beautiful butterfly.

India is not one country.


Contrary to popular belief India is not one country. Its several.

22 official languages , 28 states and 7 union territories, 12 different cuisine types, more than half-a-dozen religions, Thousands of dialects. Its like putting Europe and Africa together and term them as one country. Nothing Indian about India for example there is no Indian food but there is Punjabi, Rajasthani, Andhra, Bengali and so on, similarly there no one Indian style of wedding, each state has its own way. What binds this huge diverse nation? It’s not language, its nor religion, it’s not food, it’s not culture. Its common shared values, wisdom and aspirations.

People may follow the same religion but the rituals are different, north Indian women fast for the prosperity of her husband during Diwali south Indian women do the same two months before, its difficult to talk to entire nation in a single breath.  There are close to 500 satellite TV channels in the country. Tamilians have a choice of over 45 channels. Apart from the language, food and cultural differences there are economic and social divide marked by income and caste systems. It’s too complex to deal with.

Imagine the plight of national brands present across the country, how can they communicate with its consumers with a single language commercial? How many languages can you dub? How many versions can you shoot with different cast and costume? Can you run a french commercial across europe and africa? will the British accept German news dubbed in english? Why should the Telugu’s accept a hindi commercial dubbed in Telugu while there are watching original Telugu programming on television?

When will the Indian marketers understand and act? Local brands discovered this chink , armed with local stars, celebrities and native knowledge, started pushing big brands out of consideration. Only few exceptional brands may survive this brutal national and local divide.

If a local market is important than the brand must invest in creating the local content , other wise just run the German ad, who cares? As the game is shifting to smaller towns and rural areas of the country, brands must tag along as locals than outsiders.

Who says India is one country and all Indians are identical ?

Growth in real India is for real now.



Emerging economies are providing the growth to the world GDP than the developed ones is a fact known to all. In fact it’s the emerging markets who miraculously helped the recovery of the world economy. Ditto is true to India, while urban markets are saturated like the developed ones its the rural markets which have become the growth engines in many a sectors. FMCG to Automobiles to Durables to Telecom every sector is looking towards the hinterland.

With 20% plus growth in FMCG, Unilever is believed to be investing heavily by recruiting rural sales force and by increasing retail presence, according to a recent report DTH sales contribution from rural is as high as 60%, talk to any marketer the same story. What does all this mean? are we prepared to this shift of consumer mindset?

Sheer change in numbers are mind-boggling from a mere 200 million urban middle class to almost 700 million heartland’s new consumer class. The stimulus package for rural employment which is close to $8.5 billion is what I believe is doing the trick. For the first time in independent India’s history government is really infusing money into rural system. In next couple of years you will witness real India emerging with gigantic consumption, to illustrate whats in store; look at the rural BPO’s in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh which are significantly cheaper because of low overheads and infrastructure cost.  Now look at the economic and consumption impact of education sector’s growth. What “Bangalore” did to urban India is what “Kizhanur village” is going to do to rural India.

In short education and employment with infusion of money by government is bridging the gap between the villages and cities. Imagine 700 million mobile phones ringing at the same time, and now imagine the cash registers..

The pace at which life in a smaller town is changing is unbelievable, young guys are the changing agents powered with education, a mobile phone connection and exposure to big city ambitions are influencing the mindset of elders. This changing India is difficult to understand as this India is diverse and deep.

iPhone drawing collection-1


Why do people pay more?


This day and age even brands have become commodities, middle class invasion from the BRIC nations especially  China and India forced the world to give cheep and best products. This lead to a discount warfare, literally eroding margins. Holding on to margins and costumer’s loyalty had become the new change. The more you discount your brand the more margins gets eroded along with its brand equity & loyalty.

How do you get out of this rut? ask brands like Apple & Coca Cola. There are two reasons why people pay premium: 1. Aesthetics. 2. Emotions. Now look at any brand in the world which commands a price or image premium would hang on to one of the above.

Selling aesthetics. Take fashion, lifestyle or technology brands and look at the successful ones they all manage the aesthetics very well right from the product design to positioning to merchandising there will be a consistent visual or sensory appeal which goes beyond rational reasoning. While products and technologies are commodities in the market, esthetics commands premium and the consumers are willing to pay a little to a lot for this differential. Remember its next to impossible to create product differentials which makes sense to the consumers. Apple, Gucci, Armani, Swatch, Samsung, Ferrari, Puma, Fendi, D&G and more follow this path.

Building an emotional bond. Zippo to Harley Davidson to Cadbury to Coke to McDonald’s to Mercedes to J&J to Whisper their are many brands who find an emotional purpose in your life. Why do grown up men cry when they lose there Zippo? why do people kill themselves to own a Harley? why do we forgive even if there are worms spotted in your Dairy Milk Chocolate? why do we put money in a bank which just went bust? An emotional bond with the consumers buys blind faith, loyalty and willingness to pay more.

Neither Apple sells technology nor Cadbury sells glass and half of milk.

Why Piyush Pandey is the greatest Indian Ad-man ever?


Piyush Pandey was recently been conferred AAAI lifetime achievement award, an honor usually reserved for retirees. Piyush is still a practicing creative person in short a working legend. He is Indian advertising’s greatest, I will place him above Subhas Ghosal, Alyque Padamsee and Mohammed Khan for simple reasons: he single-handedly changed the target audience from elite British Indians to middle class heartland bharatvasi’s. And also for putting Indian advertising amongst the global greats. (I had the privilege of working with all the above legends except Piyush.)

Above all he is one of the greatest human beings I have met in my career, what can you say? In this pseudo advertising and corporate world, where people hesitate to thank there wife for being an inspiration and support in public, this man brings his mother to the ceremony and proudly introduces her to all honchos present. I always admired people who do not hesitate to show respect for parents and family in public. I can not think of any other Ad-man doing that.

Piyush is a large-hearted man, loves his life enjoys every moment with a hearty laughter. I have never seen him crib about anything. This is what gets reflected in his work and also in his agency, always enjoys and celebrate life. As we at Burnett believe that “creativity has the power to transform human behavior” Piyush showered enough creativity to change the way common people behaved in this country, right from “Luna” finding a place in middle class India to nation celebrating the success of “Pappu” with Cadbury Dairy Milk to Wah! Sunil Babu To Asian Paints to celebrating real life characters in Favicol.

He changed the way Indians looked at advertising, he had created many stars, gave new vocabulary, made people love advertising more than television programming. I can go on and on as an insider what he had done to the Industry and why he deserved the award and this blog.

Hamlet Cigar. One of the greatest ads ever.


Martin Scorsese Directs New Chanel Cologne Ad


Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese lends his talents to Chanel to create a commercial for their new men’s cologne, Bleu de Chanel.

Following the classic Scorsese model, a rebellious young actor, played by French actor Gaspard Ulliel (of ‘Hannibal Rising’), refuses to conform to expectations and falls in love with a woman who fuels his work with passion and turmoil.

All that’s missing is the famous Copacabana Nightclub sequence from ‘Goodfellas,’ along with much of his signature violence, though we guess that wouldn’t be appropriate for a cologne ad. Watch It:

Scorsese’s Bleu de Chanel commercial is the latest example of the fashion world tapping famous names to direct their commercials — or “short films,” as the companies have begun calling them. Gucci recently released a preview of the 3-D ad for their new fragrance Gucci Guilty starring Evan Rachel Wood and directed by Frank Miller of ‘Sin City’ fame. The full “film” will make its debut on the MTV Video Music Awards on September 12.

Louis Vuitton tapped director Zoé Cassavetes for a short called ‘Hide and Seek,’ for which she took Vuitton’s summer designs on a romp through London. And Sofia Coppola directed an ad for Dior’s fragrance Miss Dior Cherie, and is rumored to have recently shot yet another for the luxury fashion house with Natalie Portman, a company spokesmodel.

Interestingly, this isn’t Scorsese’s first short: He shot Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ video in 1987; the full-length clip runs 16 minutes, but was edited down substantially for television.

Considering that he’s directed 17 actors to Oscar-nominated performances, a role in a Scorcese film is coveted in Hollywood, and Ulliel feels similarly. “Martin Scorsese is a director whom I’ve admired for a long time,” he says. “I see him as one of the great masters of contemporary filmmaking. Throughout the five days of work, he overflowed with energy and enthusiasm and achieved something that truly stands out from other fragrance commercials.”

source:By The Editors of StyleList

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