Asia Brand Congress 2008: A creative view on engaging the consumer

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | September 29, 2008
Ravi Deshpande of Contract, R Balakrishnan of Lowe and Josy Paul of BBDO India shared what they have observed about engaging consumers and inspiring them

On & #BANNER1 & # the second day of the Asia Brand Congress 2008, advertising gurus shared their knowledge on how to communicate a brand that connects with, engages and inspires audiences.

Ravi Deshpande, chairman and chief creative officer, Contract Advertising, put it in a straightforward manner. He said the one thing that connects with, engages and inspires audiences is a good idea. And an idea is good only when it cuts through everything to reach the consumer's heart.

"In order to connect with the mindsets of people around the world, you must learn what their aspirations are, what their psyche is, what their outlook is. You must know about their lifestyle so that you can connect with them on the same wavelength," said Deshpande.

A good idea happens when the idea is principally honest. The truth and honesty must emanate from the brand as well. The example he cited here was the Honda 'Hate Something Change Something' campaign. (

A good idea isn't just about competing with other good ads any more, but about winning over highly engaging distractions such as malls, iPods, the Internet and other new media. Certain factors that enable striking a chord with the consumer are entertainment (humour), good music and real, believable people. As an example to press home his point, Deshpande played the Shera Ceiling Board TV commercial. (

R Balakrishnan, national creative director, Lowe, attempted to decipher what advertising does to a brand. He then said that he himself did not know. He told the audience about a conversation he'd had with the marketing team of a certain client. The client told him that he didn't need to sell the product - all he had to do was soften up the consumer.

"Most brands have too many 'must haves', a certain tone of voice, etc.," said Balki, as Balakrishnan is known in ad circles. He pointed to the work Lowe does for telecom player Idea. The idea for the brand is to have a new idea each time.

"All the ideas for Idea can be individually used as a brand thought for some other brand, whether it is the caste war campaign or the recent education for the underprivileged," said Balki. The tagline for Idea, 'What an Idea!', remains the same, but it has nothing to do with the campaign that may be running, he said.

The element that keeps the brand alive is that there is no predictability to its campaigns. Balki said the joy in advertising exists in not having a long term idea, but in coming up with a new idea every three or four months. This excitement brings about engagement and inspiration among consumers.

Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer at BBDO India, discussed at length the place that advertising has achieved in everyday life. "Advertising has become a product beyond the brand. It has become a part of everyday conversation. Where once jokes, rumours and gossip were conversation starters, today, advertising has become an ice breaker," said an enthusiastic Paul.

He shared his observations about where the frontiers of advertising are going. He played the Cadbury Gorilla ad. ( Though not a regular Cadbury communication, the client went ahead with the bizarre commercial because sales were dipping in Europe and the brand needed to get back its youth factor. The brand changed agencies and brought Fallon on board for the ad, which spread like wildfire over the Internet through YouTube.

Paul said brands are organic in nature. He explained, "I believe that like water, brands need to go with the flow. And when the client channels this flow, instead of controlling it, it makes for a winning situation."

The next point that Paul made was the emergence of new media and how they enhance a campaign. An Argentinean telecom company, Arnet, wanted to increase the number of registrations that it had. It took the public appeal route and the response was humongous. A series of about six ads comprised the campaign.

This idea of mixing the brand with different kinds of media brings about a reinvention of the brand. "We are all DJs here to mix and remix," said Paul. Closer home, Sunsilk, which was losing its charm with the wave of new entrants in its segment, bounced back when it connected to the younger audience with Sunsilk

The Asia Brand Congress 2008 was presented by Times Now. Reliance Consumer Finance and Airtel were the sponsors of the event.