Babita Baruah
Sep 05, 2012

Babita’s Blog: There are some things money can’t buy

Babita Baruah, executive business director, JWT, writes about the relevance of ‘Shared Value’ in advertising

Babita’s Blog: There are some things money can’t buy


Was talking to some students the other day on “Creating Value”.

What do we pay for a memory? A holiday with our parents?  The wedding ring?  The Sunday morning getaways? How do we put a value to what we value as individuals? Or society?

Like all such sessions, as midnight oil burnt away on Googling and skimming books and pieces, I came up with great examples on the concept of “Shared Value” which is gaining ground steadily amongst corporate corridors.

For the very few uninitiated, if there are any, Shared Value is a seamless merge of business and social good.

For the ones who treat this as a niggle and a requirement on the brand, such initiatives are quickly tucked away as “Corporate Social Responsibility”.

But Shared Value goes far beyond ‘Save the Tigers’ and ‘Adopting Villages’.

Shared Value is creeping into the mainstream.

As consumers talk, deliberate, share and become active evangelists and critics of the brand, they are looking for more than just a consumption solution.

The question is not just – what difference does it make to my life?

It is about - what difference does it make to OUR lives?

For instance, the BMW Guggenheim  Labs - a mobile lab travelling around the world to inspire innovative ideas on urban life.  Or Adidas partnering Grameen Bank to manufacture low cost shoes in Bangladesh.

Pull back to the industry and advertising.

Does “Shared Value” seeded in a campaign actually work better? Make the message more relevant?

Some quick thoughts scribbled down here.

A life insight that resonates rather than just a brand insight.

Moving from a device or product benefit to what it does to make a difference in everyday moments.

From narrow focus to broadening the lens.

Filtering the core of the brief to see how close we can achieve a social value.

This potentially is debatable.

There have been cases where moving away from the brand dilutes the message.

The much abused “freight section” looks miserably out of place in the format we are used to, when we talk about larger life stories. Unless the brand is an intangible.

Shorter edits, more frequency drives mean even more product zeroing in.

And yes, some would rightly argue that advertising is also not a social do gooder- we are about fun, entertainment, clutterbreak.

However, we have seen some great pieces of work that have managed to bridge this gap in both thought and execution.

It’s a tough balance.

And more importantly, lacks believers in the very concept.

So we still have CSR and specialised cells within agencies.

The going is good so far, with or without Shared Value.

But we cannot run away from the fact that the best economic value is one that also creates social value. And that, this concept is here to stay.

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

Campaign India

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