When Coca-Cola walked out of the country (in 1977), it was not just the bottles that disappeared, it was an ‘idea’ that vanished. Coke sold the idea of fun and enjoyment at social gatherings and not just bottled carbonated beverages. A third of a century later, Coca-Cola is selling happiness while the product remains the same.
‘Ideas’ are the currency of advertising. Advertising agencies remain relevant today because we generate ideas for our clients' brands. The power of these ideas is immense. They build brands, move people and influence them to support causes and take action.
Seen from a reach and frequency perspective, building brands can be a long process requiring several years of hard work. But a magical idea can create a brand and etch it in the minds of the populace almost over night.
Consider the phenomenon called Earth Hour. The idea at the heart of the movement was simple. This planet has always provided for our every single need. And how do we pay back? Just stop using electricity for one hour, essentially making it as simple as turning off a switch. The idea was so infectious that more than a billion people participated in the movement across the globe last year. Something which the world had never seen before.
“The Marlboro Man” changed the cigarette for all of posterity from tobacco sticks in a box to a lifestyle choice. Nike’s “Just Do It” immortalised the spirit of the athlete. Lux’s claim of knowing the secret to the beauty of superstars changed the place of soaps in our minds and hearts. McDonald's happy price menu made a chain of foreign restaurants into a regular eating place for Indians. 'Taste the thunder' made a strong cola into a symbol of masculinity. 'Aam admi ko kya mila' changed a government. 'Incredible India' created a new global tourist destination.
These ideas redefined not just brands but also entire categories and human behaviour. Transforming human behaviour is one of the greatest challenges that advertisers and agencies face today, and ideas are the most powerful and potent tools that can help us achieve this.
To take this industry to even greater heights we need to celebrate these ideas. Goafest 2012 is a platform where we are looking forward to celebrate the magic of ideas.
Arvind Sharma is chairman, Goafest 2012 Organising Committee. Goafest 2012 will take place from 19-21 April.