INMA 2009: If it does not jingle, then it's not an innovation

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media | August 28, 2009
The second session on the first day focussed on the importance of innovation for the growth of advertising revenue

The third Annual South Asia Conference of the International News media Marketing Association (INMA) is being held in New Delhi, with the theme of 'Solutions: Building audiences, revenues and our futures in a challenging environment'.

The second session of Day 1, titled 'If it does not jingle, then it's not an innovation', was moderated by Bhaskar Das, executive president, The Times of India. The panellists for the session were: Punitha Arumugam, group CEO, Madison Media Group; Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia and Emerging Market Leader, Starcom Mediavest Group; Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal, India and Sudha Natrajan, president and CEO, Lintas Media Group.

& #BANNER1 & #

The discussion aimed to seek replies to questions such as: Is innovation the mantra for newspapers to increase their share of advertising? What innovations can be explored? How much (innovation) is too much?

Das started the discussion by asking Sinha about his views on innovation in media. Sinha replied, "If you want a more sustained result, it cannot happen with classical innovation. Citing the example of Amul hoardings, he said, "Amul has been doing it for 30 years now. Is that an innovation? I don't think so."

He added, "Though this practice can help break through the clutter, it might not result in getting the desired response for the brand. Sustainable advertising is what clicks usually."

Arumugam seconded Sinha, "Innovation doesn't build a brand, but helps grab eyeballs." She added that the relevance of an innovation is high when the advertiser is looking at getting immediate results, not for long-term results. "Innovations are required to make an immediate impact. It's an effort to make your brand stand out from the thousand other brands competing for eyeballs," she said.

She cited an example of innovation done by the group when UTI changed its name to Axis. The group had tied up with Mid-Day for this innovation. On the day when the change in the bank's name was announced, it was communicated by changing the size of the tabloid to broadsheet for a day.

According to Natrajan, innovation can be defined as something that can bring in measurable value to the brand and is more than vanilla advertising. "In the last four to five years, the industry has become mature and more and more brands are opening up to the idea of innovative advertising," she added.

Kiran emphasised that there are two forms of innovation -- tactical and strategic. "If you don't do things differently, you won't sustain in the market. While we are increasingly adopting tactical innovation, strategic innovation is largely missing," he said.

Natrajan believes that more can be achieved in less time by innovation. She stressed that when only reaching out to the audience is the motive, advertising works; but when looking at touching them or creating an emotional connect, innovation is the key. "Integrity of the idea is innovation."

The discussion moved to whether one size fits all in the case of innovative advertising. Though everyone maintained that the crux of the campaign needs to be the same in all media, the execution might differ. Kiran gave the example of ZooZoos. The way it was adapted on screen was completely different from the way it was adapted on Facebook and mobile games. "All the executions were different. Since there is hardly any difference in the products, it all depends on how you market or position them," he added.

Citing another example of Aircel, the telecom brand, he showed how the use of innovative marketing helped the brand expand its base from seven to 15 circles in a short span. He explained that the company had tied up with Facebook for voice messages. Another tie-up with leading news channels in India saw the anchors of the shows welcoming Aircel in the middle of their bulletins. The cherry on the cake was the front-page disruption on The Times of India. "The awareness of the brand grew from a mere four per cent to a steady 41 per cent in just four months," he added.

Das raised the point that though advertisers might like innovation, readers get irritated with it and ultimately, it's the newspaper that bears the flak. He asked the panellists on how to tackle this challenge, which readers largely consider as selling the soul of a newspaper.

Stating it as a matter of fact, Kiran said, "When the newspapers decided to take up advertising, they made a choice. While I respect the sensibility of the readers, I believe that they won't stop reading the papers because of one day of irritation."

Kiran added that though a mobile or internet user has the freedom of ignoring the innovation, a newspaper reader cannot ignore a disruptive advertisement. "In such cases, it's the constraint of the format that does not give the choice of which ad to see."

For the record, INMA is a provider of global practices and marketing ideas for newspaper companies looking to grow amid the changing market scenario. With more than 1,500 members in around 80 countries, INMA produces magazines, newsletters, conferences, reports, awards competitions, and other services. Based in Dallas, the association has offices in New Delhi and Antwerp.