In advertising, it pays to play with fire: Tom Bernardin

Tom Bernardin, chairman and CEO, Leo Burnett Worldwide, was in Mumbai on his first visit to India. Last evening, he delivered a speech on ‘Wildfire: Ideas that Spread and Sell’

In India, despite all the talk of the new media, television and print continue to rule as far as advertising choices go. But Tom Bernardin, chairman and CEO, Leo Burnett Worldwide, who was in Mumbai on July 24, 2006, (incidentally, his first visit to India), said that this scenario will change in the next few months. It is already happening in other countries, as brands are increasingly taking risks by altering their approach according to the changing consumer behaviour.

Bernardin, who made his presentation along with Michelle Kristula-Green, president, Leo Burnett, Asia Pacific, said that brands need to experiment with what he described as ‘wildfire ideas’ and take risks more often. “In advertising, you don’t get burnt when you play with fire, you get burnt when you don’t,” he told the ad fraternity.

He supported his ‘new media’ theory with some statistics: According to a study, television viewing actually went down this year, for the first time in history. Also, television entries at Cannes this year were down by 2.7 per cent. He further said that those falling under the age of 25 spend more time on the Internet than on television.

“All this goes to prove that while the focus on television and print was rampant earlier, now, online advertising, mobile marketing, viral advertising, ambient media, innovative direct marketing, gaming and other such arenas pose the maximum opportunities for marketers,” Bernardin said.

Adding to that, Kristula-Green said that viral marketing, in particular, is an important area. “If you don’t understand your audience well, you’ll probably reach them through viral marketing,” she stated. She gave the example of the Axe Ravenstroke video, which marketed the brand in a unique manner. It unleashed a video purely on the Internet, which became a topic of debate for people. The video showed a spoof news reporter talking about the fake story of how Axe deodorant was sprayed over Ravenstroke town from an aeroplane and how beautiful women then raided the town.

Certain ads for Volkswagen made by the agency, Crispin Porter, were also released purely on the Web.

In fact, certain brands such as the Chevrolet Tahoe actually invited consumers to make a video for the brand.

Another astonishing example was that of the Pontiac. The car brand, at some point, was being perceived as lacking modern design. So, the brand innovated and came up with some new versions. In order to launch the new versions, each member of the audience at a ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ was given a box and, when asked to open it, each of them got a key to a free Pontiac. The result? An 11 per cent increase in sales, apart from a Promo Lion at Cannes.

Gaming, too, is a good way to tap people. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just teenagers, women over 18, too, are a large part of the gaming audience. In fact, 19 per cent of people over 50 years old claim to have played a video game in the past one year. Mobile marketing, too, should not be ignored. “Around 98 per cent of all music downloads in Japan are from mobile phones,” Green said.

Bernardin went on to shatter another theory – that award winning advertising doesn’t work in the market. As per a four-phase Leo Burnett study, it was discovered that 86 per cent of award winning advertising actually sells.

The event was organised by the Advertising Club of Bombay.

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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