Dainik Bhaskar's Unmetro Conclave, held in Gurgaon, to discuss the potential in tier II and tier III towns, witnessed participation from the creative head honcho of Lowe Lintas - Arun Iyer. The session, chaired by afaqs! deputy editor Ashwini Gangal, aimed to explore what an unmetro consumer looks like, through the lens of an adman.
"The first one being 'downmarket'," he rued, adding that there is high handling from brands when it comes to small town consumers, always urging agencies to keep the communication 'simple'. There is a lot of convincing done by an agency if English or even a Hinglish tagline is to be used in a commercial targeted at small towns.
Iyer, however, admitted that agencies factor in the 'unmetro' angle while designing a brand campaign. Idea is a classic example, as the company's major business comes from non-metro cities and towns.
"The power of thought remains unaffected. We try and incorporate local elements in terms of casting, location of shoot and the tone with which the character will speak in the ad," he explained, adding that the ad never alienates the metro consumer.
But, do ad agencies operating in the metro cities really understand an 'unmetro consumer'? Iyer believes they do and, sometimes, agencies are guilty of 'over analysis'.
"We must remember that a lot of young creative minds working on brand campaigns hail from small towns and have a fair understanding of consumer mindsets," he stated, adding that there are marketing clichés, like a typical small town India is often equated with a village from Uttar Pradesh.
"Our Gondappa film breaks such clichés, having been set in a village in Madurai," he added.
Iyer cited the example of a campaign for Star Sports for the IPL tournament 'Kanna, Keep Calm', which connects with consumers on a pan-India level. Also, when it comes to language why can't an international brand like Rado advertise in a beautiful copy written by Gulzar, he questioned.
"We tend to think a campaign is no longer classy if it is written in a local language," he remarked.
He points out that there is a grave injustice done to TV commercials when they are dubbed in regional languages. There is hardly any focus on getting the copy right for these dubbed ads. Brands also hand over the ads to their regional sales managers, who are clueless about the creative justice.
Iyer gave a comparative perspective on how a metro client's brief differs from a non-metro one.
According to him, there is a certain level of cockiness in an unmetro client as these markets are in focus. The marketers from smaller towns are far more confident when it comes to what kind of communication to put out, as compared to metro clients. However, their briefs are unstructured.
Apart from this, there is an 'old world charm' about small-town clients, he said. "They are courteous and very hospitable. There is a simmering ambition amongst them to stay at par with their metro counterparts, when it comes to technology and staying updated with information," he added.
In order to ensure fair representation of talent from across the country, Lintas has tied -up with 16 Universities last year, to hire creative talent.