Babita's Blog: Breaking convention on tradition

Are we bold enough to experiment on traditional media, asks the author

Oct 09, 2017 04:52:00 AM | Article | Babita Baruah

Almost 21 years in advertising.
Or whatever term we use to redefine the world of communication today.
The learning curve has been steep.
New ideas. Breaking formats. 
Engagement is not just an activation word.
“Experience” pops up in the lexicon like the familiar child next door, peering through the window when she senses something exciting.
Top 10 Most Watched.
Top 20 Most Loved.
The list goes on every month with the expected and much deserved applause.
Likes. Loves. Shares.
This is where things come to a pulsating stop. Or a slowdown.
Because the license to all of this, in most cases, is still on digital.
If a film made for digital sees early hit rates, there is that last minute scurry to draw up a media plan and the immediate account management requisition for “20 or 30 second edit for TV”, to the horror of the creators.
I ask myself this often.
Why do we constrain television or print, termed traditional media, when they are just another screen or canvas?
What stops us from airing an engagement idea on TV?
Or, anything that cannot be made into the “animatic”, for that matter.
Some of the most powerful communication that have changed the world view at times have been documentaries, for instance. 
That makes for fantastic viewing, conversation and even a re-think.
Research is usually commissioned on films meant for TV.
Digital escapes the dreaded scores and traffic lights.
(Makes me realise that none of these terms even apply to digital films).
The time spent on analysing, dissecting, getting approvals, re-approvals on that one film spot is significantly more than any other idea on any other medium.
TV needs to sell.
Digital can entertain.
We see the growing tidal wave on digital every day.
We acknowledge that ideas have to be mobile out to truly find relevance.
Yet, these channels, for want of a better word, still get the residue budget, also termed as one which is de-risked.
The fallout.
Brilliant ideas find place only in the last column of the excel sheet.
Maybe second last.
Feedback to agency partners is that they need to think integrated solutions.
But most of this see life only in the presentation deck and hack sessions.
In an industry where the word bold is loved and revered, but stands behind bars in final plans, we will still slot TV as the primary medium with the biggest bite of the pie.
Which makes sense when it comes to measurement and the size of investment.
What doesn’t really make sense is the perception of what can be the asset on TV.
Research agencies need to show us how an unconventional idea can be tested.
Ad tracks need to figure this out.
Numbers speak. And gives confidence.
Unless we allow ourselves the freedom to explore and experiment on traditional media, bright ideas and brilliant talent will always find a second place in the sun.
Strong impact is when people outside the industry start talking.
Feeling the power of a strong idea that positively impacts the brand, sales, shares, profitability.
That’s the business we are in.
There are some brilliant ones out there which keeps all of us and me going.
But are there enough?
Traditional media does not mean traditional thinking.
It can be the best channel to create disruption.
(The author is managing partner at WPP GTB India. The views expressed are the author’s independent views as an ad professional and do not reflect the organisation’s viewpoint)