Ananya Roy
Advertising

The ‘emotional quotient’ in Indian advertising

Indian advertising gurus are of the opinion that it’s easier to sell a brand through emotional connects, even in drab categories such as cement or a money transfer service

Electric switches have become a symbol of sensuality. Cement is a carrier of legacy. And even a money transfer service can strengthen familial bonds. Thanks to television commercials, which are full of emotion, even in categories as drab as construction material, adhesives, banking, automobiles and money transfer.

Is this the only way left to connect with Indian consumers? Can’t Indian advertisers be more rational?

Piyush Pandey, chairman, O&M India, states: “Ninety nine per cent of the decisions in life are not rational. Besides, liking something is an emotional statement anyway. So, one needs to make the communication for any product or service work towards establishing a connect with the audience.”

It’s true that there are certain products that need an emotional connect with the consumers. But does it make sense to use sentiments in a low-involvement category such as cement, where the purchase decision should be driven by rational thought?

“Of course,” says Preeti Nair, executive creative director, Lowe. “In emotional ads made for such categories, the core functionality of the product comes through the emotion.”

Nair adds, “Unlike in the cities, a majority of people in small towns get their houses constructed themselves. There, the purchase decision for a certain brand of cement will, in all probability, be influenced by the emotion used in its advertising – humour or strengthening of family bonds. Emotion is just the right way to go in such low-involvement categories.”

Josy Paul, national chairman and creative head, rmg david, however, does not see emotionality in ads as a stand-out concept. “The basis of all emotional ads, and of life, is emotional blackmail. Emotion is also the fastest way to make things go your way. If you talk about a grandfather thinking ahead and imagining his grandson living in the same house after years (as in a recent cement TVC), it is not about selling the product, but the larger cause of the grandson using the same house, which has a legacy attached to it.”

Would it be correct to say, then, that Indians are emotional as a race?

“Emotionality is not a trait exclusive to Indians, a human being is a human being anywhere,” says Pandey of O&M. “However, the inclination to sell something on the peg of emotionality should depend on the nature of the product or service.”

Nair of Lowe is of the opinion that Indians succumb more to emotions than people abroad. “About 70 per cent of advertising abroad uses humour. Here, it is one of the two, humour or sentiment,” she explains.

There is the cultural difference factor as well. Says Paul of rmg david, “While I would not say that people in advanced societies are not sentimental about relationships, I see a closer connect between families and friends in developing countries. Therefore, sentimental, humorous or any other type of emotional advertising finds greater space in the latter.”

It is, however, interesting to know that while there is a greater chance of emotional ads working for the family-centric audience in India, the ideas for such ads rarely come from the client, as most advertisers put it.

Pandey of O&M quips jocularly, “It’s not that. I’d say smart clients suggest the emote route; the rest who take their products too seriously, don’t!”

Paul of rmg david concludes: “It all depends on the idea. The client wants an ad that increases the desirability of his brand. Whether it uses emotion or not is of no importance then.”

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