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Move over creative ideas, move in contagious ideas: Richard Pinder

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | June 12, 2009
The new leader of the Publicis Worldwide, Richard Pinder shares his thoughts on fast moving conversations

Richard Pinder, chief operating officer, Publicis Worldwide, in his recent visit to India after taking up sole leadership of the Publicis Network, shared a few revealing insights about how, in the age of utmost technology, only conversations can take an idea ahead.

The speed at which conversations are moving, said Pinder, is unfathomable and that has been achieved because of technology in the form of the Internet, social networking and SMS. It is this speed which, according to him, needs to be put to good use by brands and advertisers to create effective campaigns centred on consumer conversations about the brand.

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He substantiated his statement with examples. The first among these was Cadbury's Crème Egg - a chocolate that was available only for three months in the UK and buzz needed to be created for the same. Publicis came up with the 'Here today. Goo tomorrow' campaign as the chocolate egg was filled with a gooey creamy centre. The outdoor and commercials cascaded a consumer response where consumers uploaded videos of how they could get the 'goo' out.

On the final day of the Crème Egg season, the commercial read 'Gooing gooing. Gone!'.

Pinder added that advice and recommendations have always been one of the strongest influencers and always will be. In another example to highlight the speed at which conversations happen today, Pinder cited the example of the fall of Joseph Estrada, the President of Philippines. A simple text message sent out by a single individual to 10 of his friends turned into a mass rally that demanded that the president resign.

Similarly, Obama's use of the Internet through his website and social networking set the pace for the conversations that happened about him in and around the USA.

Hence, said Pinder, "The marketing imperative for today is to manage consumer conversations about brands." It is necessary to ensure that positive conversations are much more than the negative ones. Pinder added that studies indicate that recommended brands show four times the growth compared to the others.

Before HP's 'The computer is personal again' campaign, laptops were just boring grey boxes. However, following the campaign, the conversation steered to how laptops were imperative and the consumer needed to have the best one. Fast food brand Maggi, too, was an example in point, where, after 25 years of the brand's presence in India, one time young consumers are the mothers of new consumers today - and each of them have a Maggi story to tell.

"Brands must have a leadership point of view," stressed Pinder. Moving up from being a passive part of consumer conversations, a brand must steer the conversation with its communication. Examples of such brands are Coca-Cola, Apple and Toyota. The conversations will happen only when the idea moves beyond being creative to being contagious, said Pinder.

In order to create contagious ideas, one needs to test ideas, and this is only the simple part. The hard part is achieving conversation speed through a TV commercial.

Pinder ended his presentation by chalking out what agencies need to pay close attention to. He said that one needs to listen to the kind of conversations that take place about a brand - and listen every day. Secondly, he said, agencies should find out whether or not a brand has a leadership point of view. Finally, each time one sees a new concept, does one think that it's co-creatable, does it have a story and will it make for great conversation?