Power shifts in advertising.


The recent ranking of the most influential people by Brand Equity raised eyebrows and sent shockwaves thru the ranks of the industry. The veteran blackberry boys were giving way to apple tribes.

Two decades back armed with management degrees from the top institutes the double-breasted blue blazer brigade took firm control of the business from the erstwhile “angrezi hangover babu’s” of the post independent India. And the blazer brigade were the most powerful lot as they controlled the business of the businesses by working as strategic and marketing extensions of huge corporations.

What made this successful brigade to take a back seat? Why the suits were marginalized? What made creative guys to rise?

Well the answer lies partly in the changing business model and partly in the egoist reluctant to change CEO’s.  Why do I blame them?  Three decades ago when I started work in advertising as an untrained commercial artist, stumbled upon a book in a second hand bookstore titled  “12 benevolent dictators of advertising” the book dealt with how the legends of the industry were thrown out of their own shops unceremoniously.

And the moral of the story being: ownership does not give power, real power in advertising is the influence you have on the Brands business and how indispensible you become to the biggest brands of the agency. Most often the owners and the MBA managers mistake power to money control and designations therefore they spend all the time in managing money and holding control meeting. Before they even realize the power starts to shift to enterprising business heads or creative heads.

Its not surprising to see some of the legendary CEO’s being marginalized post de-bundling of creative agencies. When you had 15 channels to manage a general manager was more powerful today there is just creative and only products to be managed are Ideas.

With INS accreditation out of the window and monthly remuneration system is in, there is hardly any complex management is needed therefore more creatives are taking charge to manage ideas and agencies.

Hope one day the management schools will add this section of Idea management to their curriculum.

Why should we emulate Japan and not Brazil?


 

In 50’s & 60’s Indian advertising blindly carried forward or mimicked the British, 70’s saw the influence of the American advertising fueled by FMCG’s and 80’s witnessed self-discovery of Indianess with television opening new doors. And Indian creatives were also exposed to the world and somehow “Thai” advertising influenced many of us as it reflected our realities with heavy dose of emotion combined with insightful “Pandeyji” type humor. 90’s exposed us to the cutting edge competitiveness of “Awards” our English-speaking writers and art directors influenced by Neil French started to produce minimalistic crafty ads. The new millennium made us watch Brazil take the center stage with Marcello Serpa as their leader.

Brazil became a role model for Indian advertising creatives, Brazilian ads were packed with high voltage of entertainment and cleverness with impeccable craftsmanship. Brazilian creatives became superstars by winning loads of awards and admiration, and Indians wanting to emulate the formulae started to create pro-active one-off ads and in the bargain lost the originality of what we are as a race and what are were fast becoming.

If one were to introspect we as people are far more closer to Japanese than carefree Brazilians, we lack Japanese discipline agreed but we both have two things in common “Humanity and technology” a leg in the past and the other in the future. Infosys, TCS, Wipro and the inspired San Jose migrated geeks opened ambition and possibilities in the small town Indian MCA’s minds. Who were responsible for some of the most tech supported innovations around the world by writing and breaking codes. Sadly these geeks operating from the poverty stricken backyard garages of Vijayawada and Mysore, were not even recognized by our very own tech savvy digital wiz kids. Now imagine these code writers collaborating with creative minds like Agnello and Rajiv Rao to create life-changing ideas for eradication of illiteracy or infanticide.

Japanese creatives show us the way with Grand Prix winning “Yubari” case or this year’s Honda Motors Internavi “connecting lifelines”case. Honda’s reflex action within 20 hours of last year’s earthquake and tsunami rocking Japan put the country back on road to recovery by providing road information collected real-time via Intranavi navigational systems installed in the vehicles. They actually used the data on Google maps and visualized usable roads to public via Internet and Google maps. This is an excellent case of “Humanity and technology” coming together to solve a problem.

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This is what the future India can do with creativity and technology, to my mind it’s the technology powered with creativity has the power to change our country’s contradicting and contrasting problems. Now its in our hands where we want to aim our dum-dum bullet.

Did I say bullet train?