So what if we can not beat them in football?


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2013 is a very special year for Cannes lions as the festival completes sixty amazing years of celebrating creativity, India joined the party late but nonetheless quickly made an impact with Fevicol in late 90’s thanks to Piyush and his talented brother, Fevicol went on to become an icon for Indian creativity till Times of India and Agnello Dias took to the center stage. TOI and Agnello became synonymous with India creativity after winning a Grand Prix for Lead India same year Leo Burnett joined party with an incredible print campaign for Luxor with a record six lions including two golds. No one had ever expected India to out do that performance. With 2009 success Paddy emerged as a new star and soon teaming up with his onetime partner Agnello to launch TapRoot India.

TapRoot started playing a key role in taking Indian creativity forward, they not only had tremendous commercial success but have also been the torch bearers of Indian creativity, to draw a parallel one wondered what would happen if Piyush and his generation creatives were to retire? Well like in India cricket found the answers in Virat, Rohit, Shikhar, Raina and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. So who is in Indian Advertising after Piyush, Balki and Prasoon? My answer would be Agnello, Paddy, Kennu, Rajiv, Nitesh and Arun Iyer these boys have taken India forward while Paddy lead TapRoot charge of 6 lions Kennu/ Rajiv lead Ogilvy’s with a record 10 lions.

The fabulous India show at the sixtieth Cannes special raked in 32 lions and come close to beating Brazil in print. I am sure the generation next will take India to the top summit soon as young Brazilians creative leaders did after Marcello Serpa.

Super bowl: SuperSpecial-2013


This is the most anticipated event of American football for all professional football lovers across the world. For lesser mortals like me who would never trade his Cricket religion for any game in the world, this event indeed is special for not football but for advertising.

In good old times in India around “Ramanyan” time in doordarshan, one used too watch television for ads, perhaps those days in India have gone, in America this annual championship games are a replica of our “Buniad” days. People just love ads as much as the games.

Last year Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” swept the audience with some brilliant writing and an emotional Eastwood’s appearance.

I picked some commercials, which are making waves at this Kumbhmela of advertising:

 

  1. Taco Bell for the sheer audacity of using old folks sneaking out of an old age home to have night out full of fun. Great spot to watch and highly charming and engaging, it may remind you of infamous Lipton Tea.  (Remember old people sipping tea, while the song says look at all those young people sipping Lipton tea) or even the Switzerland tourism spot where the two old farmers decides to travel to Zurich and discover fun while visiting night clubs)
  2. Volkswagen “Get in. Get happy.” Beautifully written spot had its field day with racism controversies. Jamaican’ism is the reason for controversy and delight, to me its sheer delight to see almost Chris Gayle cheering the world. Brilliant one-liners like “turn your frown the other way” or “don’t be a no cloud on a sunny day” absolute delight.
  3. Budweiser “The Clydesdales- Brotherhood”: Very touchy, well-crafted film has won my heart, well told story of brotherhood between a colt and a young man. Spot ends with the brand inviting people to suggest a name for the young Clydesdale (powerful carriage horse)       

 

 

Some more spots worth mentioning are Samsung “The next big thing”, Mercedes “Soul”, Audi “Prom Night”. Check out on the YouTube.  A mix-bag of good, bad and the ugly this year. 

A billion rapists.


 

A muted billion

 

Each time a criminal been elected

A nation is been raped.

 

Each time a businessman extend a bribe

A nation is been raped.

 

Each time a commuter in a metro becomes a mute spectator to eve teasing

A nation is been raped.

 

Each time a biker jumps a red signal

A nation been raped.

 

Each time you employ a sixteen-year-old maidservant

A nation is been raped.

 

Each time you let a goonda vote for you

A nation is been raped.

 

Each time you state your caste

A nation is been raped.

 

Each time you visit a charted accountant to fudge a tax rule

A nation been raped.

 

Each time you wish you had a son

A nation is been raped.

 

Each time you silently loath a wrong by a government silently

A nation is been raped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create. Collaborate and Compete.


 

Advertising has become more complex today then ever before, there was a time when all channels of communications were controlled by advertising agencies but today advertising has gone through a significant change today we have more then two dozen specialist agencies specialized from creative planning to digital executions. Apart from loads of channels to communicate to the consumers have changed, people themselves have changed.

A recent study published in Times of India points the average age of the consumer had dropped dramatically, for instance an average car buyers age had come down from 45 to below 30. This change not only affects the target for marketing but it also changes the media planning. Hence one needs to look at the content of communication in the context of message consumption therefore it is extremely important for the communication content creators to understand the contextual targeting. The moral of this story is if the creative and media planning or digital planning agencies do not collaborate then how the hell are they going to create a relevant campaign?

 

 

 

In this ever-evolving complex world everything is linked to everything and not everyone can be experts in everything. Super specializations are hear to stay and the intelligence lies in learning from each other and working as a team even if the team you are supposed to work with, belongs to a competing holding company. If a creative agency can collaborate with a film production company, which also works with competing agencies can happen with out any hesitation, then why not collaborate with another competing small agency on a project in the interest of a brand?

Bigger and traditional creative agencies can learn a thing or two from modern design companies which have learned to co-create and collaborate with technology companies for starters take a look at the design winners from Cannes this year. Small and nimble agencies have realized this early enough and are raking in now. Now it’s the turn of the biggies.

We all are witnessing the results of coalition government with out any collaboration. I urge all the communications channels to come together and get to learn from each other and march ahead into the new age communication era.

After all the solo sulking days have gone, as my friend Agnello puts it “jo tera hai wo mera hai”,

 

 

 

Gandhi vs. Anna.


Anna is a simple man, so was Gandhi.

Anna started by changing himself and then his village so did Gandhi.

Anna preaches non-violence, so has Gandhi.

Anna is a stubborn man, so was Gandhi.

Anna rallied young India, so did Gandhi.

Unfortunately the comparisons stop here.

Anna is a Gandhian but not a Gandhi. I respect Anna for his honesty, simplicity, his stubbornness, intent and his peaceful methods. Leaders are always born out of adversity, when India is going through her worst leadership integrity crisis, Anna took upon himself to rally people against corrupt politics and society, a simple, quite Gandhian turned into an agent of people’s conscience.

Anna’s success came because of young India taking to streets, a movement fueled by anger and helplessness of young men and women, who silently witnessed the powerful leaders and businessmen shamelessly looting their treasury.

When corruption reached parliament, when policemen started to rape and molest little girls, when army men stoop to steal wealth, when politicians blatantly amass disproportionate wealth, When educated entrepreneurs cook-up account books, when Baba’s hide rooms full of gold and silver and when temple incomes bulge more then a state’s. You know it’s only a matter of time for a catharsis and indeed Anna became the fountainhead of this revolt.

After Jaiprakash Narayan no other leader mustered as much support as Anna. Jaiprakash Narayan succeeded in changing the government because he supported a newly formed cleaner party with leaders of intent and integrity. The agenda before the nation was clear: vote out the Nazist congress party, people understood and implemented. When people empathize with issues they need an action point and Jaiprakash Narayan provided one.

Mahatma Gandhi too understands this human truth like any other successful leaders in the history, Gandhi always gave an action point, be it making salt or burning British made cloths or asking the mighty British to “Quite India”. Any mass movement should have an actionable end. Even the recent “Occupy Wall Street” had a definitive action point to just occupy Wall Street. Simple enough for people to understand and execute.

Anna should go beyond appealing to people to come onto the streets to protest. He must give an action point, if one were to say “ Vote for Lokpal or Quit parliament” and if one were to give the agenda of pushing every local MP to vote or resign, there would have been an action plan for restless young Indians to execute.

I believe Anna will become a true heir of Gandhiji, if he becomes as shrewd thinker and as clear visionary as Mahatma is.

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?