afaqs!

Partha Sinha: Hoping for big bang in media spends

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi and Mumbai | In Advertising | February 10, 2011

About a decade ago we did a workshop where we handed out a tube of multipurpose balm to a bunch of agency people and asked them to create ads without a brief. The teams came up with different, clever ideas but there was one common theme. Every idea had something to do with sex.

Some were sexual innuendos; others had oblique references to private parts and so on. We realised that if there is one thing that comes naturally to this industry it's cheap sex talk. What I am really excited about in 2011 is that there's a chance of cheap sex talk getting legitimised.

Rakhi Sawant and Big Boss have already paved the way for that on prime time television. I think the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) should take up this issue with the I&B ministry. It will spare a lot of agencies the trauma of trying to come up with an idea. It will make every piece of advertising popular (I am told that Sawant's gutter-level sexual banter generates high TRPs) and grant advertising the right to claim cultural authority.

The benefits are manifold, the purpose is obvious and the fitment is fantastic - though ASCI may need to change its name to ASSCI (Advertising Sub-standard Council of India). But that's a small price to pay for the big benefit that will accrue to the industry.

The other broad themes I'm looking forward to in 2011:

I was told that the CEOs of many agencies were actually made to work during the recession. This is not only unfair but also cruel. Now that we are back in the thick of a growth economy I am looking forward to them being free of these mundane responsibilities and come back to their original party-and-interview routine.

In 2010 we didn't witness any big plagiarism. That's a shame. We must do justice to the fame we were gaining. I am looking for a few big ones in 2011 - something that can belong to the big league. Something like the 'Wake up Thailand' coffee campaign adapted for an Indian tea brand.

In a recession, media spend goes down. That has made the industry strategically weak. I am hoping that 2011 brings back big media spend with a bang. So that we as an industry can boast of cutting-edge strategies like repeating mediocre commercials ad nauseam till people are forced to remember it or pushing saliency to the level of fear psychosis.

I am, of course, looking forward to more 'digitisation' of agencies. I am hoping that by the end of 2011 all delivery boys in the agency will have Twitter accounts. I am hoping all senior people will fill up the screens of their company-provided iPhones and iPads with free game downloads from the app store and not play brick breakers on their Blackberry any more. I am looking forward to a digital leap in 2011.

I am looking forward to awards regaining their original glory. Awards got entangled in the web of fairness, democracy and audit. I am hoping that, in 2011, awards become large hearted again - the people in power should get their friends to vote for their own work. That's not only simple but does justice to the tradition of awards. We have started seeing early signs of that and that is why, in 2011, I am looking forward to the return of the 'tradition' of awards.

With so many things to look forward to, there's nothing that I am worried or scared about in 2011. We are all going to be good. We are all marching towards a great self-congratulatory year - Hope 2011.

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