As we bid adieu to 2023, our reporters express their unvarnished desires for the coming year.
Wish you a very Happy New Year!
We hope you had a restful year-end break. As we settle back into the known comfort of the hustle, we — the afaqs! edit team — have drawn up our New Year wishlist. Consider this our love letter to you, the trailblazers of the advertising, marketing and media worlds.
2023 was quite the year. Some campaigns wowed us, we admired some brave and edgy work by brands and agencies, and we followed every twist and turn of the media sector filled with the same trepidation we have when we are reading a thrilling mystery novel.
In 2024 we, along with you, want to imagine the possibilities that lie ahead of all of us.
What’s in our wishlist, you ask? A mix of innovation, re-imagination, and inclusive collaboration.
We are hoping for a landscape that is not just about selling products but creating experiences that entertain and resonate.
Advertisements had jingles. Today, they have noise.
Ask me about my favourite ones; my mind and heart travel over a decade into the past to remember them. The present company, unfortunately, does not impress much.
There was Keith Sequeira dancing to Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya for Raymond’s Sangeet ad from RK Swamy BBDO; the brand’s tune on the saxophone was nothing short of an orchestral high. (The former is not a jingle, neither is the latter, but you know what I mean.)
Uff. These are ads and the tunes you remember, not the thousands of 10-seconders begging you to scan, buy, order, and click.
Song and dance unite the country more than anything, so enough of consumerism hell, entertain us.
Also, to all creative and marketing folks, go ahead and be naughty this year; speak your mind rather than the publicist’s script; everybody secretly wants you to do it.
Collaboration for better measurement
"Collaboration is vital," Geet Lulla, vice president - sales and head - Asia Pacific, Comscore, said at a panel discussion on integrated measurement at the recently held afaqs! The Future of News 2023. He said the real challenge lies in aligning stakeholders.
If there is one thing that needs to change in the media industry, I would say it has to be more collaboration for better measurement systems. Every channel seems to claim that it is the number one in the genre. As a sector, there needs to be introspection on whether this race to be number one is taking the whole genre to rock bottom.
If all channels are to come together, along with other stakeholders, the dream of having an integrated measurement system can be a reality. It will help the medium attract more advertisers and offer better-quality content to viewers.
As a reporter covering the Media beat, it will help to have more transparent viewership data. Currently, reporting on viewership trends is like walking on thin ice. It inevitably invites the ire of several channels. All stakeholders should sit down to negotiate to devise a measurement system that benefits all. It will foster healthy competition. Meanwhile, it will suffice if television news channels stop making leadership claims based on thinly sliced data.
Virality is not influence
The lines between a celebrity and an influencer are being blurred, and it shows. It’s one thing to see Virat Kohli put on a shirt that he wants me to buy, and I actually might. But if the same brand wants to then go on and partner with an ‘influencer’, who has only become popular out of pure notoriety, then I’m keeping my bucks. You can keep your shirt.
Truth is, the path to fame was a filtered, drawn-out process in the past. Now a viral reel or a provocative opinion can land people a million clicks. But it is all fun and games for brands who want to leverage such virality until the said ‘influencer’ ends up saying or doing something out of pocket. Then, the partnership seems less like a collab, and more like a toxic relationship wearing it down. Get it? Got it? Good.
Wasted celeb power
There was a surge of celebrity endorsements in 2023, but not all were effective or memorable. In 2024 I would like to see brands use compelling scripts alongside star power.
Brands like Bisleri (Deepika Padukone), Zoya (Sonam Kapoor), and The Sleep Company (Anil Kapoor) have leaned solely on celebrity appeal, resulting in forgettable campaigns. In contrast, Myntra (Ranbir Kapoor and Kiara Advani) and KitKat (Anushka Sharma) have successfully coupled celebrity influence with a strong creative angle, resonating with the audience.
Given India’s affinity for storytelling, I believe it is time for brands to go beyond mere endorsements and embrace the potency of a well-crafted storyline enriched by celebrity charisma.
Offline retail innovations
Traditionally, offline retail has been perceived as a point of sale only. In 2024 and beyond I wish to see a transformation of offline retail and hope brands turn it into a powerful marketing tool.
While the landscape of marketing has evolved on the digital front, few have leveraged the true power of offline retail to engage with the consumer at the point of sale.
Notably, in 2023, some brands did innovate and include retail outlets to market themselves. Examples include iD Fresh Food, which introduced the tech-driven Shelf Bay-breaker to promote its coffee products, Svami’s introduction of a new beverage sold in sneaker retail store Superkicks, and SUGAR’s implementation of virtual try-ons in physical stores.
Looking ahead, I am eager to witness an upsurge in retail innovations across various categories of brands.
Tasteful use of CGI and AI
In 2023, we saw brands across categories integrate AI into their campaigns. While brands and agencies are still exploring all the limitless possibilities of AI in advertising, does the use of AI also mean the ads will always land? In 2024, I would love to see campaigns where AI is integrated more tastefully rather than just being treated like a checkbox to be ticked off.
Secondly, while CGI ads and banners were cool to watch, I wonder if they find traction anywhere else than LinkedIn and a handful of Instagram pages. Every brand on the block dropped a CGI banner or poster, however, most CGI work we saw in 2023 was on social media rather than on actual banners or posters.
But, we did see some interesting use cases of print and outdoor media in campaigns. In 2024 I would love to see the trend and creativity in this space continue.
Bring back story-telling and catchy jingles
I miss the old ads that felt like mini-stories! Remember the KitKat ad with singing squirrels? Or Kajol dancing for Alpenliebe because a monkey told her to? Those were fun, right?
I wish ads in 2024 are more about cool stories and catchy music. Also, including animals using animation, without any harm to the real ones. Those 12-15 years old ads didn't have smart tech but still, they were so awesome. Like the one where a kid flies up to a crow for revenge with Big Babool gum, that was epic!
I hope they bring back ads that tell tales, make us grin and stick in our heads. Instead of all the fancy stuff, just focus on good stories that make us feel something. With how far animation has come, the possibilities are endless.