Priti Nair on how 2019 lacked great advertising

Updated: January 3, 2020 10:21:10 AM

The struggle to recall a great ad from 2019 is real

Priti Nair, director, Curry NationPriti Nair, director, Curry Nation

Honestly speaking, when I look back and try to think of the ads I have seen in 2019, the only ad that comes to my mind is one in which Ajay Devgn is throwing kesar at me throughout the World Cup and IPL. I struggled to recall the brand name though; searched on Google and realised it is Vimal.

Maybe I am growing old and my memory is fading. Or maybe this is what is happening today with advertising viewing — the impatience, the short-term memory, non-involvement. It is a disease that is spreading quickly. There was a time when it was easy to name a few memorable ads; today, one struggles to remember.

Uneventful year
I have seen ads that are forwarded to me by people either because they have a social message or a really funny joke, as well as those long two-minute videos made for YouTube. On television, all you see are ads from non-risk-taking brands that are either devoid of a storyline or have been cut erratically for an edited version.

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Where are the marketers who delighted us with their TVCs, when we did not mind our entertainment getting interrupted to watch a good ad? When I was asked to pick out some of the best ads of 2019, I could have easily searched for them online and reviewed them, but that would be dishonest. Because the fact remains that I can’t remember any ad that I liked or any that has made a difference to advertising. Even if I were to admit that I don’t watch too much TV, it is undeniable that the path-breaking, iconic ads of yesteryear are missing.

The long indulgent ones on YouTube are usually irresponsible about the brand. In 2019, more and more brands are picking up larger social issues. The most popular ones being reclaiming your life from the daily grind, women empowerment, same gender relationships and religious divide. There is nothing wrong with that; advertising should reflect social trends and, in fact, create progressive communication to strengthen the trend. However, everything is rendered in the same manner and tone.

Hence, it is becoming very difficult to name the brand even if you recall the ad — it is a catch-22! That is how the medium works, and a brand needs to be subtly woven into the ad. No new brand has been created with truly great advertising in 2019. The Swiggys and Amazons have been created with their offerings, and later strengthened with advertising for salience. So, the big question is: how do we crack it?

Time to review
Perhaps, it is time to relook at advertising, at marketing through advertising, media and research that waves the green flag for advertising, and even the way we look at digital content.

How can the same principles still apply when the viewing/ watching dynamics have changed?
This is not the advertising industry’s fault; it is a whole bunch of different people who are tying up your hands, making you step backwards rather than forward, because the market has changed, and the business is under pressure.

I am told that I am from the city and there is a bunch of people out there in the smaller towns still stuck in time, watching television exactly the way they have been for decades. So, at least for them, we should aim to create advertisements that are as daring and entertaining as they were, not so long ago.

The author is director of Curry Nation

Read Also: Ashish Bhasin of Dentsu Aegis on how digital will solidify its position as an important medium in 2020

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