Capturing the right creative mantra

Written by Geeta Rao | Updated: Jul 28 2005, 05:30am hrs
Once every six months, the marketing and advertising fraternity likes to indulge in some introspection, which is part self-flagellation and part celebration. The sessions usually leave one discontented by their brevity, but the effort to gauge where we are going as an industry is always a laudable one. The diamond jubilee celebrations of the Advertising Agencies Association of India last week was one such forum. The occasion was worthy of the cheer60 years of the 3As of I, as it is fondly called.

The organisers chose to present an overview of communication within specific sectors FMCG, retail, services, the evolving lingua franca of the technology and convergence economy, and, finally, the search for the elusive creative mantra which, to borrow from Tolkeins mythology, would prove to be that one ring that binds them all, one ring that finds them all.

So what did we, as an industry, predict

Prediction one: The attention economy is the new reality: Andy Robertson, worldwide CEO, BBDO, said communication needed a new shorthand to grab and interest the consumer in short bursts. Speed, action and relevance were some of the things it would have to gear itself for, if it wants to remotely interest the serial monotas-ker as she talks on her mobile, sends emails, and does homework all at once. And this isnt the future. Ask any urban mom.

Prediction two: Media independents will morph into 360 degree advertising agencies: Ranjan Kapur, country manager, WPP, predicted that the real threat to the agency structure would come from cash-rich media agencies who needed an effortless move to integrate backward and offer full service to clients. The unbundling of the media department could, in retrospect, be advertisings Achilles heel. We are already seeing the partnership of creative boutiques and media agencies, so Mr Kapurs prediction is probably a good reality check for us.

Prediction three: The bite-sized economy is here to stay: Cavin Kares C Ranganathan is a man with a mission. Bite-sized products will show significantly higher growth said the man who changed the rules of the FMCG sector when he launched shampoos in sachets. For him, the Re 1 sachet is not the right bite anymore. The Re 1 sachet is a big bite. We have to find the new right bite. And his right bite, right now, is the 50p sachet, which he hopes to right-size further. He says he has managed to do this without cannibalising his Re 1 sachet.

Echoing Mr Ranganathan was Maricos Saugata Gupta, who urged advertisers and manufacturers to look for in-your-purse brands for the modern woman. Increasingly, delivery formats will influence consumer choices, rather than traditional brand-building.

Prediction four: McCanns John Cahill predicted that health optimism would be the great driver of the estimated trillion-dollar healthcare industry. Physicans will now be team leaders, not paternalistic doyens, and the empowered and informed consumer/patient will be part of the team. From health to wellness to well-being, the emphasis will be on building effective brand communication discipline.

Prediction five: Hectic lifestyles will dictate the shape of the retail economyVivek Mohan, MD, Abbot Labs, estimated that the worldwide retail industry was $7 trillion. The retail revolution in India will focus on matching the needs of hectic lifestyles. This will put huge pressures on service as well as quality. Attention, events, novelty and hang-out convenience will need to be conceptualised anew, and delivered in easy-to-digest communication bytes.

Prediction six: Only the truly creative will survive. No rocket science here, just a recognition of the fact that the need to look for unpredictable and entertaining solutions will remain even as things change.

Where does this leave advertising. In the long run, we are not dead, we are rejuvenated, reinvented and refreshed. Advertising continues with a certain ersatz to do what it has to do. Except that we need to recognise the field of ideas has grown to encompass the media as well as the message. Sometimes, the delivery mechanism is the idea, as in bite-sized packs, sometimes the medium is the idea, especially in convergence technology. To look for ideas and for communication entry points and use them in ways that will surprise and delight the consumer, will be greatest challenge of the future.

The writer is CEO Paradigm Shift, and creative advisor Saatchi & Saatchi Advt