Cannes 2010: Remembering the golden era of British advertising: Piyush Pandey

By Prajjal Saha , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 22, 2010
Senior admen from around the world spoke about what went wrong with British advertising. The panel included Piyush Pandey, executive chairman, Ogilvy India

In the last session of Day 2 at Cannes, senior admen from around the world discussed the golden days of UK's advertising, and the reasons for its decline. The panel also included Piyush Pandey, executive chairman, Ogilvy India.

Pandey gave a few interesting reasons for referring to the past era as the good old days of British advertising. According to him, advertising respected the audience's intelligence. Apart from being informative, the communication was engaging, entertaining, and even provocative at times.

The defining element of that era was that real work was done for real brands and for real people, which is why those ads are remembered even today, he added. The use of British humour, too, contributed to the success of British advertising in that era.

William Eccleshare, president and CEO International, Clear Channel, continued the conversation by recalling the golden era of British advertising. "Today, the work has become more international than national," he said. In the last 10-15 years, British advertising has lost all its defining characteristics, he added.

Adam Kean, joint executive creative director, Publicis London delved deeper into the reasons behind the decline of British advertising, and referred to it as "madness". He said, "It is all razzmatazz, and copying Hollywood was the biggest mistake." The only thing that British advertising wanted was to tell stories and that too, without listening to the consumer.

Pandey then confessed that British advertising had taught the world to respect the cultural route. He advised that today, people need to go back to the same route. However, this was not unique to British advertising; rather, it was elementary for advertising in any part of the world.

Pandey also attributed the decline of British advertising to the fact that the older generation did not hand the baton to the next generation properly. Besides, he added that when life changes fast, people need to adapt rapidly, which did not happen with British advertising.

Pandey also commented on the media-creative divide, which had started in the UK. He said he was an advocate of the demerger of the two departments, which would be good for the advertising industry. To that, Kean of Publicis London said that it was not necessary to merge. Rather, there should be integrated, specialised communication tools, which would help both the departments to work in tandem.

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