STATIC change. The meaning of ‘static’ is constant as well as what results in a tingling feeling when charged by electricity. Change, also used in the term, is change and the only thing constant is change. So interpret at will, as 2014 saw the nation electrified as a new government was sworn in, bringing new hope, and yet the media and entertainment industry was perhaps a bit static. With growth being a ‘change’.
Classic marketing rocked; research and targeted messaging won
The 2014 elections was the signature event of India with much hype, anxiety and expectations. Most news media got it wrong. Does it make you wonder then how reliable are they for reflecting the mood and choice of India when what seemed most obvious, was a surprise for most? All the news, the polls, the debates, the noise – the sheer hysteria was deafening. Did anyone pause and wonder that what is an average Indian’s source of daily information could be so off? The praise and hype in reporting that followed is unparalleled in recent times. I understand the credit goes to path breaking research and targeted messaging – the under belly of savvy marketing which influenced consumer choice.
Infinite power in the hand
To a person from Mars, it may seem to have been a year of telephone gadgets, With each claiming revolutionary technology and outsmarting its way to the consumer. Beats the fizz pouring from any beverage and before you can decipher the claim of an ad, you have bought a new phone. So some smart, intuitive oriented, telepathic marketing is the new tool. They say it’s all digital, but it’s a new ‘baba’ or ‘genie’ who is the biggest influencer of new, cool gadgets and choices. The handheld is the consumer’s power centre, wallet, info-store and more permanent than a spouse.
Perhaps the year truly belonged to the consumer who has changed her way of shopping. Be it farm fresh tomatoes or a bright new salwaar kameez or the new green car or the latest book, it’s now online. When it comes to buying, selling and buying again, its now online and not with the ‘kabadiwala’. The typical “we don’t shop like that” consumer is now here in India. The smart retailer is adopting with its own online fronts or is becoming a delivery source or simply locking up (music stores). Shopping habits have changed, not just the mode, but its impulse; its reuse and its comparative. Shopaholic India is here!
Woes of the old woo
But the traditional way of wooing this consumer has paradoxically remained unchanged, with TV and print advertising dominating the share of woo. Even the giant search engines and e-whatevers chase the consumer via long-winded TV spots; mega size print ads and what not. It’s just that the consumer has moved to new ways of doing things, but media woo remains central to classic media. We are now lagging behind the consumer and the one who has created a new field/ platform or “way of wooing” (WoW) is the one who is ahead of the curve.
Whose tube is it?
On the new tube it’s fashionable to unleash long winded woos and to develop “cost-effective” (read cheap) communication stimuli, as a mark of marketing smart. The movie guys are ahead, as they spend millions of bucks on their content and then millions announcing their premiere on the new tube and getting fans hooked and the R100-crore club sold. Brands are still to catch up. It’s content that works and when communication adopts the avatar of content it will outshine across all tubes. The short 30 is under threat.
But the league that set the fashion is sports! Be it ‘catch me if you can’ or ‘kick the ball a little harder’, moviedom and sports have become one and the new sports leagues are quite a rage across the cities. It’s a smart move to flood an empty stadium and create shorter formats for the attention deficient. Revival of old passions in new forms and getting the young acquainted with forgotten sports are the additional benefits. Endorsements will certainly catch up soon. The 22-yard came may be under threat now but, at least, the new format gets people on the streets and on the grounds. May there be more.
With all of the change around, belief remained central. Good things will happen. Better days are ahead. Be patient, we can sense the change. We now believe ourselves. Will we just be happy with this static change, where we believe there is change but in reality there is not? Inflation, unemployment, social crime…all the same! But belief is it will change. Weather or not, the last
two digits will change.
Year ending articles suffer the same fate. They do not change, just review what transpired in the last 12 months, tongue-in-cheek.
By Sunil Lulla
The author is chairman and managing director, Grey Group India.