Should marketers be careful about where they advertise?

By Chumki Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 27, 2008
Canopies provided to roadside vendors - not all of them legal - are a common sight in many towns. Should marketers be responsible about where they advertise?

Canopies & #BANNER1 & # provided to roadside vendors - not all of them legal - are a common sight in many towns. Should marketers be responsible about where they advertise? afaqs! finds outů

Vikrant Ramachandra

Vice-president, brand marketing, Tata AIG Life
The all-pervasive nature of our unique individual entrepreneurship is most visible on the streets of our large cities. Streetside 'paanwalas', food stalls and vegetable stalls are all not illegal and most have municipal licences to operate.

These entrepreneurs indeed define our culture. The operating margins are minuscule and profit is often calculated in fractions (without spreadsheets or calculators). For them to make a capital investment in the form of umbrellas will indeed be a stretch and it is heartening to see corporations extending their support to these marginal entrepreneurs.

Moreover, these umbrellas aren't permanent structures. And more often than not, the medium is the message. It offers the shopkeepers a temporary seasonal shelter with a well manufactured umbrella, which is easily taken down, with a clean fašade.

Such shelters portray the vision of a company that cares and one that extends support.

Atul S Nath
CEO and managing partner, Candid Marketing
In an ideal context, each marketer and advertiser should be directly responsible for the route they use for their advertising. Unfortunately, the context and society itself is so terribly tainted that the marketers cut corners and take shortcuts to achieve marketing and sales goals in the short term.

Just like each of us, as individuals, make a choice on ethics and propriety, each marketer and corporate citizen needs to make a choice on where he draws the line.

Many large marketers are indeed taking the lead on this and taking a stand that they will not participate in any marketing programmes that involve any form of graft payments, for instance.

Unfortunately, the majority of the marketers - much like society at large - has a very 'chalta hai' attitude in this area.

Unless the consumer makes these marketers hurt, this attitude is unlikely to change for the majority. Marketers with vision and an eye on the future should take a lead on this and make themselves and their teams or agencies responsible for the execution of their marketing campaigns. And, at the same time, ensure that these campaigns stay not just well within the law, but also within the lines of propriety.

Anand Chakravarthy
Vice-president, marketing, Big FM
Brand building is not just an outcome of brand communication, but also every brand interaction with consumers. So, advertisers have to take cognisance of not just what they are communicating, but the vehicles they use for the communication as well.

Coming to the specific issue of umbrellas provided to 'paanwalas' and roadside stalls, it does not encourage illegal businesses in any way. Brands cannot control this.

During seasons when the need for umbrellas is essential, brands can make a positive difference to consumers who use these stalls, by providing them with umbrellas. This is consumer friendly and serves a positive purpose. There are other issues, such as the use of illegal hoardings by brands, which are not consumer centric or good for the city. It is here that brands can demonstrate more responsible behaviour.