Eyeballing 2012

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SummaryUneven creative output marked the year gone by. If there was anything new, it was that telecom gave away its pride of place in Indian advertising to internet start-ups.

Uneven creative output marked the year gone by. If there was anything new, it was that telecom gave away its pride of place in Indian advertising to internet start-ups

It wasn't the best of times. It wasn’t the worst of times. In terms of advertising output, 2012 was the kind of year that did not distinguish itself in any particular way that history might want to look back upon and smile. It is true that advertising goes through these cycles of creativity, where suddenly some new burst of energy, either in the form of a exciting category, new media forms, a new way of seeing understanding consumers, unconventional influences that take creative work to hitherto unexplored areas, or the influx of fresh talent, comes in and sets a new course for creative output. In the last few years, we have seen some evidence of this — we have gone through spikes in the quality of creative work from time to time because of a combination of the above factors. The year 2011 for instance had some blockbuster campaigns — Airtel's Har ek friend zaroori hota hai and Cadbury’s Shubh Aarambh come readily to mind. The year 2012 has nothing equivalent to offer — neither in terms of scale nor freshness.

In terms of what is new, perhaps it is the moving away of telecom as a category that defines the centre of gravity in advertising, leaving behind a vacuum of sorts. That is not to say that telecom has been absent this year, but the combination of business pressures on the category combined with a certain amount of creative fatigue seems to have taken a toll. Airtel’s follow-up campaign Jo tera hai woh mera hai was competent but seemed to rely too much on its predecessor to stand out on its own. Vodafone’s post-pug-post-zoozoos campaign featuring a crochety old man and a young teenager was just about average. Idea’s idea of cross-religious celebrations was, in keeping with its last few efforts, more than a little contrived. Its most recent Honey Bunny campaign, while executed with a degree of self-consciousness, seems to come from a fresher place and looks poised to do well. Tata DoCoMo might have missed the mark with Ranbir Kapoor as an old man, but its ‘incomplete stories’ effort was significantly better; its problem, of course, is to settle on a brand idea that has any resonance

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