Campaign India Team
Mar 05, 2013

Babita’s blog: One Conversation. One Nation.

Can advertising reflect a larger goal of nation building in its vision?

Babita’s blog: One Conversation. One Nation.

Nation building and advertising. Feels like an audacious thought.

Potentially calls for shrieking laughter or sneers from those who feel they are doing ‘serious’ work contributing to the nation and it’s GDP. Or is this as impossible as it seems on first glance?

Two things inspired me to write this. One, when a dear friend spoke about this as a possibility to me the other day. And two, the fact that across the world, the one thing that is in common are oral folklore tales that have been shared for generations and loved and remembered. They are the thread that still connect us to people across centuries.

Conversations are a potential glue for a nation around a virtual campfire.

My mind has been a spiral of thoughts bombarding against each other. The logic of it. The unlogic of it. Definitely food for a blog for the industry, so here goes.

With seamless connectivity sparking off conversations, we are talking more, sharing more, critiquing more. We discuss trending topics online and offline, we share, we dance to common music, we refer to news and views and add to the domino effect, giving it a massive multiplier leg. Increasingly even celebrities, sports icons, artists are dropping their veil of mysticism and jumping onto the talk of the town (read nation) with a wise or witty tweet or #hashtag.

The audacious thought germinates from here.

Our work, which has the power to inspire citizens to spend and consume, to change behaviour and influence attitude, is a potential conversation point. Social media comments on brands and creative are not just from the immediate stakeholders and friends, but from society at large. My guest lectures in colleges lead me to many such interactions and even debates on work which has the power to generate a debate. The sessions become much more interactive, we laugh more, we refute and fight more, but we also bond. Much more.

That’s the power of storytelling and conversations which connect with our lives.

Jonah Sachs, in Winning the Story Wars, says, “The ability to dream up and spread solutions lives or dies in the ability to tell great stories that inspire people to think differently. Nothing is more urgent than that right now.”

Brands and creativity that spark off conversations across the nation do have common threads and are not hard to miss. The top ten brand campaigns that Bing or Google throw up are not very different.

They have a larger story. Helps us reconnect and relive what drives us through ages - the hero, the underdog, success, happiness, a resolution.

They position the brand or the cause as an integral part of life and not leave it at objectification.

Marketing as ‘Performance Art’. What the CMO of Microsoft India spoke about the other day at a Marketing Summit. That we listen “with our defences down” when communication becomes a performance art. And that “the power of a story is in retelling”.

People. Planet. Profit. Ensuring that all three objectives are met. Today’s media ecosystem allows us to create engagement and interaction like never before. And most of the revolutionary campaigns leverage this.

Advocate new thinking. Or nudge us to rethink. By connecting the brand truth with a real human emotion.

Maybe, we can be audacious here. Reflect a larger goal of nation building in our vision.

After all, the janitor at NASA did tell the young President: “Sir, I'm helping to put a man on the moon.”

(The views expressed are the author's independent views as an ad professional and do not reflect the organisation's viewpoint.)

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