Real time Creativity.


World is changing every nano second. Internet made it possible to live live. Every word you utter can spread like wildfire. Recently a tweet forced a minister resign, it takes few seconds to trend globally.

The original real-time communication was word of mouth. Religion used this form to perfection and then the kings; in the modern-day with Internet it became viral and buzz marketing. Now live is the name of the game live news in the aircrafts, live tweets from the space, live television on the mobile phones, live web cams stream videos from 2940 cities across the world from 4835 cams.

What can one possibly do with this live world today apart from tweeting and chatting? Leo Burnett Chicago came up with a creative idea: They created “David on Demand” . First ever Internet controlled human being. Take a look at the video:

We all have been talking about social media and how could one leverage this for building brands? There were theories about the possibilities but no cases to demonstrate until last year when Crispin Porter & Bogusky came up with this Cannes titanium winning idea, check the video:

Creativity has the power to change the way we consume the new technologies, above cases are shinning examples of how imaginatively one can use the Internet video streaming and twitter.

StorySelling.


Dream Merchants to storysellers, advertising creatives made the distance. As television gained popularity, it took little time to realize that viewers are interested in entertainment and not messages. This reinvention has its inspirations drawn from the human history, a simple insight of humans being exploited by religious preachers,  travellers, wise men and grand parents: People are interested in stories than preachings, events or even morals.

Epics like “Ramayan” or even “Panchatantra” amply demonstrate the apetite for stories. Take bedtime stories for example, when a kid does something wrong we wait till its bedtime to narrate a moral story. Good moral stories are like a homeopathic pills, while the sugar coating is entertainment and medicine is the moral. This enlightenment of short Panchatantra type moral stories lead to powerful 60 seconds stories in advertising.

Here is one such advertising story I love the most, This story was written by Agnello Dias while he was with Leo Burnett six years ago. Agnello has always been a story teller but he seldom used the skills in television, this time around my nagging and pushing him has resulted in this epic story for Times of India.

When DNA launched its paper in Mumbai, Times of India wanted to reiterate the paper’s rich and long association with the country, with a brief like that, one would have fallen into dramatizing rich historic events, but Agnello came up with a brilliant observation about news papers, that they bring-in good and bad news with the same emotions. True. Look at the classified columns, you’ll see an obituary ad next to celebrating birth of a child ad. These observations lead Agnello to write story of this newspaper delivering good and bad news to the same family.

Finally it’s all about telling a great story in the simplest manner with a great insight or an observation thrown in. Whether you are writing a novel, short story, feature film or even  a 60 second spot, the rules are the same: set up a conflict and resolve them in an inspiring way.

No wonder we still love homeopathic pills.

Neil French. King of good times.


Neil French. The most colorful advertising creative man the world has ever seen at least this part of the world. Pole dancers to sexist comments to brilliant writing to scam ads to bull fighting to cigars, he has given it all. Advertising’s very own bad boy quietly settled for a Dad’s post. I was fortunate enough to spend couple of days with this legend at Shanghai last year.

I have always admired his guts, audacity, cleverness and above all his craft, as an art director having worked with someone of the best Indian writers like Biwas Sen, Chax, Kersey Katrak, Mohammed Khan, Ivan Arthur, Balki and Agnello Dias, still feel some dissatisfaction of not working with Neil. At least I cherished the moments spent with him in China. I hate the sexist and blunt rude man in him at the same time love his simple frankness. He loves his live, work and women. His passion for writing and dismissiveness both are equally infectious if you listen to him long enough.

The time I spent with him was like a movie trailer , I witnessed him autographing on the breast of a young chinese ad professional to his Cigar chewing arrogant command for respect look to insights into his work to his obsession to play online monopoly to an anxious dad worried for his son being left alone at a friends place. I got to see the man up close delivering all emotions.

Talking about his sexist remarks on a fellow CD at WPP, which forced him to step down as worldwide creative director and have had the grace to accept that his sense of humour not going well with the community. Couple of years later found support in Asian creative icon Jureeporn who attributed her success to his encouragement of women creatives in Asia.

Two of my favorite campaigns:

XO Beer.

To prove a point to clients who think that print as a medium is not suited for FMCG and beer. So he went on to create a brand called “XO” which never existed in real life and even created fake packaging. He broke every beer advertising rule, no pouring shots, no drinking shots, no sexy women, no expensive cars, no mouth watering defrosted glass with froth. The campaign became a rage and people flocked to the shops and bars only to discover that the brand never existed and it was a private lesson taught in public. You need guts and audacity to think and implement a campaign like that. Hats off.

Chivas Regal.

When Johnny Walker was a market leader, Chivas considered to be cheap and therefore selling less in a status driven market. The obvious decision was to increase the price but along with it came a super confident tone of voice almost bordering on arrogance did the trick and Chivas became No:1. In case if have not read the line it says : “If you don’t recognise it, you’ve probably not ready for it” and what you see below is a bottle without the label.  Absolutely Audacious.

Lessons from this master’s life are: when you enjoy your life and live fearlessly you tend to come up with brillent ideas. True. when you are on a roll you tend to engage people in a more charming way than when you are down.

As they say “French” knows how to live life king size.

“Indian print slipped into coma a decade ago.”


Shocking but true. What is keeping print advertising art alive is the pro-active\pro-award work. Once most loved advertising medium is dying and helplessly staring into nothingness, hopelessly waiting for a miraculous recovery. Who can kindle the hope? Kindle? Or will the Apple’s of the world pad-up for the revival of written word?

Kindle and our very own Chetan Bhaghat are bringing readers back or if I may say so, bringing a newer generation of readers. My children never read “Tower of silence” or “Hobbit” or “Watership down”; they don’t look up to Ann Rand or Hermann Hesse. Only newspaper they are interested is Bombay Times.

Reading books or for that matter any printed word is becoming rarest of rare things to happen, if they do happen than, that’s the day papa’s like me celebrate. While multi-screen revolution and evolution may keep words alive and evolve, what about print advertising? Do we need to get satisfied with sale and escort services ads? Will the sleeping beauty called print resting in coma move any muscle someday? Or will it rest in the book of Eli?


Once brands and issues use to put forth compelling and persuasive arguments like the ones Agnello Dias does for “Aman ke Asha” or Mohammad Khan’s argument for a price hike of 50 paisa for Kingston cigarettes or Adrian Homes Insurance ads or Bill Bernbach’s logic for Jewish Rye. The art of writing persuasive copy is gone, most of the copy writing in print today is salesman copy written by writers with content copy mind-set.

Once a client and a media agency head in a drunken state told me that print can’t deliver emotions therefore we are using print as informative or reminder medium. Hence there are no theme ads scheduled. I almost cried “ Get your heads checked ***holes” like in dreams only I could hear my voice.

When Mohammad Khan advertised for “Vadilal” readers licked the pictures of the ice-cream, when Ajit Patel shot a Premier Padmini, thousands of cars rolled out of the shelves, Elsie Nanji went to jail for Action shoes. Passionate writers and art directors sold many emotions in print.

Chetan Bhaghat, Agnello Dias and Kindle’s of the world are the only hope to make printed word to talk again.

Sameness syndrome.


Same to same. Ditto. Copy that. Identical similarity. Monotony. Repetition. Parity. Par. Oneness. At the least sameness have more than a dozen synonyms. Will you second that?

Sameness is a modern-day disease we all suffer from. Nearly 25 years back when I started to travel aboard, each airport, each city and its taxies, signage, people, architecture, food and currency every thing use to look, feel and smell different.

There was a visible difference between a Singapore and a Shanghai and a San Jose. London cabs to Kolkata trams to Mumbai taxies to Tokyo’s bullet trains, transport had it’s own identity in the culture of the cities.

Not long ago Paris, Zürich, Bangkok, Beijing and New Delhi were free of ugly-looking glass buildings. Today, if you take a drive on the freeways of Gurgaon, New Delhi, it feels like you are driving in the downtown of San Jose. The Hyderabad, New Delhi and Beijing airports look identical all built recently.

This sameness is every where, 50 years ago there was only one denim brand called Levi’s which sported, five pockets with rivets today there are close to 100,000 brands. We all look the same, talk the same, wear the same, smell the same even feel the same in this mass production \consumption\ pirated \ keep up with Jones \ unison era.

Not just brand identities and product designs even cities, cultures and values are been cloned today.

“ Sameness is the mother of disgust, variety the cure”

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.