Babita Baruah
Nov 02, 2011

Babita's Blog: To Kannes* Via Kanpur

Babita Baruah, vice president and client services director, JWT Delhi, dissuades from wearing consumer hats and urges all to go beyond the 'focus group' mindset

Babita's Blog: To Kannes* Via Kanpur

Fresh from a short and sweet break to a country rich in culture and history, I have realized how important it is to feel the pulse of the people and understand what really ticks and kicks.

The question is: who do we create advertising for?

What is that one vision we have in mind?

Is it Kannes, which is good and ambitious?

Or is it Kanpur, where the people we write for do look at life from a different lens altogether?

This is an age old debate and refrains can be heard in almost every client agency meeting with scripts on the table.

“This is good work guys, but too evolved.”

“It is very different  and clutterbreaking but the consumer out there will find it too complicated.”

The BUTs in every comment bring us back to the drawing board again and again, dotted with tussles between creativity and made-for-Indian consumers, which reach a frenetic high and result in “quick focus groups”.

We mumble and grumble if the consumer does not see the magic in the work that has driven us crazy with delight.

"This is a very poor recruitment."

Truth is – clients do scale down work. And we see it every day.

Lowest Common Denominator rules. Risks are minimised when the brand shares are at stake.

Another Truth is that we also witness some fantastic work in the industry that rock the classes and the masses and also win accolades in forums.

How are these campaigns cracked?

Maybe it starts off with a genuine respect and understanding of the people we are creating them for.

We can’t stare at a “behenji” or pooh pooh at “small town folks” and then create magic in their lives.

Are focus groups the only time we see them?

Do we ever watch the tv shows they swear by?  Do we know of the street food? The gallis and gaalis?  The  chupa chupi love affairs?  The stern patriarch and  bold-with-dreams daughter conversations? The changing dynamics and roles in the neo nuclear families with a joint-family mindset? The auto rickshaw rides? Bus queues? Choice  and use of mobile phones? Sunday football or cricket?  The housewife’s juggle between budget and family happiness? The local bank? Fashion? (And it’s not just short kurtis)

The passion and pain points that touch their lives everyday?

The ones who do create magic!

Finally, it’s not about wearing consumer hats and shoes. They never fit.

It’s about being one of them and appreciating their lives.

With work that resonates strongly, Kannes can’t be far behind.

(And if it still is, maybe it needs a strong relook)

*Kannes has been spelled with a “K” intentionally to stand for all top awards and not specifically Cannes.

The views expressed here are the author's independent  and personal views and have no bearing on the organisation.


Campaign India