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Creative bites | Deccan Herald


Who Says What’s Right? And who says what’s wrong? Doesn’t everything we do have two groups of people with two views, if not many more? That’s the simple argument when it comes to creative work that is criticized and trolled. None of this is right. None of this is wrong. At least not for everyone out there who see the advertisement. Advertising is certainly a creative work that has far-reaching implications for the fortunes of a brand. If you look at the history of advertising and the iconic brands it has created around the world and in India, you can understand the real monetary and commercial value of good advertising.

Advertising therefore contributes a lot to the products and services we sell. It adds value, fizz, and pizzazz to the boring old product and boring old service. Advertising must therefore always strive to do something different. There are teas and teas, but the advertisement for one tea may not look like the advertisement for another. And once one tea brand has actually embarked on a path, other brands must find their own new path to the consumer’s heart. And that unleashes the creative process in the game.

Now, for the past three weeks, this very creative process is in full swing, just before the Deepavali Christmas season, a bitter bite unleashed controversy. We had Fabindia trolling and chewing to the bone as there are disputes on social media that the company knowingly identified as its Deepavali Collection “Jashn-e-Riwaaz“. When the social media attendees got behind the brand and its logic, a clean and detailed distribution of their promotional graphics was made, and there was a big buzz that the female models weren’t wearing bindis. And that was festival advertising, after all. And therefore tend to be negativity. Let’s remember that during a festival, people’s passion may be at its peak. The effect of each affront is taken much deeper. This then was the story of every brand that has been trolled and criticized in the recent past.

As for Fabindia, it has bitten a lot of brands, now and before. CEAT Tires were asked tough questions about its Aamir Khan-led promotion and the “no”
Crackers on the Streets “a kind of news format. And then came the controversy over the Sabyasachi Royal Bengal Mangal Sutra. In this creative work there are models wearing this creation and there is a certain amount of skin. The objection here is that the brand has ventured from the sacred to the sensual. At this point the judging panel has not yet decided, and Sabyasachi’s offer may have the best type of advertising it could ever aim for with a limited advertising budget. And that is surely the benefit and side effect of all controversy.

The potholes of differentiation

Just as the dust settled on the CEAT Tires advertisement, Dabur decides to feature a same-sex couple in its fem-bleaching commercial. That has now
further clouded the water before Dabur withdrew the offending piece of communication. Well what’s offensive? And who does it offend? Which part of which creative execution offends whom? In reality, each of these means of communication is offensive to a number of people and equally exciting to a different group of people. One thing to note is the fact that there are two (if not more) groups of people in the large Indian market. The market is a myriad of people with different beliefs and different approaches to everything that moves the pot of these belief systems. Advertising needs to watch out for these potholes of differentiation.

The whole subject that is being moved today is really nothing new. People have always had different views and opinions on literally everything, including advertising. The difference is that we live in the age of social media. And social media is no longer a niche. Literally everyone is on social media. Social media created a democracy of comments. We live in an “instant comment” market. Nothing is filtered. Everything is given and said. And that’s good, isn’t it? In a way, this is the final revival of the right to be
Comment, if that’s a right at all.

Then what is the solution to the whole thing?

Brands need to be careful. Do not stir the saucepan unless you are convinced you are doing the right thing. Even if you stir the pot, stick to the pot and don’t give up your creative path too soon. Brands have to be careful not to touch two topics. Religion and politics. Both strains tend to share a lot more than any other. Why share The ethos of a brand must be to unite, not to separate.

Yes, brands have to do the different and ostensibly progressive. Brands have to make the decision of whether to keep up with their greatest crowd
Consumer or with the niche? Brands also have to decide where they want to be with their consumers, one step ahead or one step behind? Do brands have to push the limits of a progressive society? Do brands have to try to “wake up” in a market that hasn’t “woken up” yet? Or do brands have to wait and do something completely different for the time being?

The answer is really blowing in the wind. In the wind of dissent, arguments, noise and even more arguments, for now.

(The author is a Bengaluru based brand strategy expert and advisor and can be reached at harishbijoor@hotmail.com.)


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