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On creativity and limitations with Piyush Pandey, Subhash Kamath, and Rohit Kumar Singh

Day one of Goafest 2022 had the three folks discuss creativity, influencers, and data.

Day one of Goafest 2022 threw up an interesting session on creativity and its limitations. On the line were Rohit Kumar Singh - Secretary (CA) - Ministry of Consumer Affairs & Food Distribution in Conversation with Piyush Pandey – Chairman of Global Creative Ogilvy Worldwide & Executive Chairman, Ogilvy India.

Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI, moderated the session.

On creativity’s limitations:

Kamath: Creativity likes boundaries, we use words like "pushing the envelope", "thinking outside the box", and "flying off the edge", creativity likes to explore newer places and yet consumer protection does require some responsibility, and guardrails. Does this create a conflict?

Singh: "I don't think there's any conflict here" replied Singh. As long as creativity is not misleading the consumers and is fun and pushes the product to be sold and is generating more eyeballs, it's fine. But, when it crosses the boundary of misleading the consumer, that's where we would like to intervene.

Pandey: Each one of us is a commercial artist... someone is paying for it and you have to do justice for it. Somebody is paying for the product, you've to do justice to them. Creativity has its boundaries, you want to raise the bar but you can't dump out the stadium and crush somebody else. If you cannot show any piece of communication to your family then you can't show it to anybody else's family.

On priorities of the consumers’ protectors

Singh: We're keeping an eye on misleading claims. Examples: Toothpaste brand said we are number one in the world, we asked how. We had a shirt company claiming immunity against Corona, a spectacle company says wear my specs, your eyesight will improve. This is misleading. The second is on bait advertising; get this for 50 paise, get this for Rs 1, it's not acceptable.

The vulnerable consumer

Kamath: Consumer interest is rising but they're more vulnerable because their data is being mined and that mining of insights is leading to performance marketing and targeted marketing.

Singh: Data Protection Bill is in the parliament and will get passed next month and it defines what kind of boundaries can be shared by e-comm players or others. Last month, I issued notices to Ola and Uber over their unfair algorithm that calculates fares. Also, calls about e-comm players had grown from 8 per cent to 44 per cent in the last 4-5 years.

SK: Influencer marketing is growing exceptionally in the country, those who mislead but considering their vast number, you can't have one sweeping stroke for all of them.

Singh: There's a difference between a celebrity and an endorser. I refer to FTC and EU guidelines... it's a cat and mouse game, a policeman is just a critic, artist is the thief, we've to keep the consumers protected,

Pandey: Harness creative minds, pay handsome salaries or help them build businesses... industry will grow, the country will grow.

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