A roller-coaster year

Written by fe Bureau | Updated: Dec 29 2009, 05:44am hrs
The year 2009 started on a sombre note for the advertising industry globally. Right at the beginning of the year, several reports predicted the industry to grow at a much slower pace. In India, growth predictions ranged from 2% to 5% against the sharp double digit growth the industry had seen in the previous years. The second half of the year did see a reversal in fortunes but the real impact of it on the industry has yet to be measured in real terms.

Big spenders of the recent years such as finance, automobile, and real estate cut down their ad budgets heavily during the year. The silver lining, however, was the consistent performance of sectors such as the fast moving consumer goods, consumer electronics and telecom. This, coupled with the general elections that took place during April-May and the 20-over cricket bonanza the Indian Premier League, helped media platforms stay afloat.

Heres a snapshot of all the major advertising headlines that created waves in India and globally.

The Continuum

The trend of veteran agency hands branching out on their own continued in 2009. The most prominent launch of the year was TapRoot India, set up by well know creative directors Agnello Dias and Santosh Padhi.

Health continued to be the focus area of food and beverages companies. The snacks segment particularly saw a lot many new brands making an entry with a healthy tag. Marico, Parle and Frito-Lay were among the top players that sustained their launches with high decibel advertising campaigns. The biggest move of the year happened at Vodafone Essar. The companys marketing director, Harit Nagpal, moved to the parent company in the UK in a new role within the marketing function.

Consumer electronics manufacturer Mircs decision to bury its two-decade old iconic mascot, The Devil, was one of the most regretted events this year.

Crime and Punishment

Around 50 advertisements released by various companies this year were either modified or withdrawn after the industry watchdog, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) took stern action against on complaints received from various quarters. Between January and September this year, ASCI received 110 complaints against; of these 53 were upheld. The data for the last quarter has yet to come in.

The Election Effect

With an estimated advertising budget of nearly Rs 10,000 crore, the general elections 2009 acted as a steroid for the media and advertising industry. This year most political parties launched 360-degree campaigns targeting new as well as the old media. To tap the young voters, parties launched an online offensive with dedicated websites, viral campaigns, blogs and e-mailers. The Congress, according to industry estimates, spent around Rs150 crore on media; the account was managed by Crayons and JWT India.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led extensive promotional activities via mobile service operators besides TV and print. Another media that got saw much action during the elections was radio, where political ads debuted for the first time after the Election Commission allowed radio to be used for electioneering for the first time. Overall, the general elections are expected to have generated revenues in excess of Rs500 crore.

The Nano Effect

With a nano budget of Rs 5 crore, Tata Motors launched the most awaited car of the yearTata Nano. Surprisingly, the company completely avoided the traditional route of advertising, especially television, to promote its new car. The biggest challenge for its advertising agency Rediffusion Y&R was to create a big buzz around Nano in a category where advertising budgets are typically between Rs 15 and Rs 30 crore. For Nano, the agency used unconventional mediums like web search, viral marketing and innovative public relations-driven campaigns.

Other initiatives included online games, merchandise and accessories like Nano branded T-shirts, key chains, teddy bears and watches. Print played an important role. From small news sections called Nano news in newspapers to the countdown to the final day of the launch, Tata Motors used this platform extensively and it did achieve superb results.

Can(nes) For Sure!

From the smaller number of entries to the reduced size of the delegations, signs of the global financial meltdown were for all to see at the Cannes Advertising Festival this year. According to the organisers, the festival received 22,652 entries from 86 countries this year, down by nearly 20% from 2008. Entries from India dropped from 1100 in 2008 to 982 in 2009.

The number of jurors from India, however, rose from nine in 2008 to 11 in 2009. Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman and regional executive creative director, McCann Erickson Asia Pacific became the first Indian to be selected as part of the Titanium and Integrated Lions jury and Prema Sagar, principal and founder, Genesis Burson-Masteller was named a juror in the public relations Lions category. India brought home 23 metals this time.

Tiger in the Woods

Following a minor car accident, ace golfer Tiger Woods life turned topsy-turvy. And with that, the brand Tiger Woods took a steep nosedive. As news about a number of extramarital affairs surfaced, the golfer saw his commercial endorsements vanishing into thin air. Brands including Accenture, Nike, Gillette, AT&T Inc, Gatorade that had Woods as their brand ambassador quickly dropped him. It is estimated that Woods earned nearly $100 million a year through endorsements.