Are you a follower or a thought leader? We have often asked ourselves this question and though we would like to be the latter we most often end up being the follower. In most cases it's the fear of failure, and when it's not, it's the case of finding an excuse for the same. Excuses like ‘do you have data that will ensure this idea will work’. If you do find that data, you are most definitely a follower.
Most brand managers in India are too weak to make the first move. The herd mentality is too engrained into our core. I have often wondered whilst judging various international awards, when will be the day when we will have the judges in awe of an innovation or a first that has come out of India. Whilst we might not have data to back a never-been-done-before idea, we do have examples that those that have relied on the basic merit of the thought have ensured those ideas will generate a greater mind-space and any other brands that replicate the thought will be a mere me-too.
You might find it pretty easy to come up with examples of great thought in Indian advertising on traditional media, but would struggle to come up with a handful of innovations in the promotional and digital space. Thankfully, we are in the midst of a digital revolution in the country and brands are beginning to see the merit in being first off the block. But why is it so difficult to do so?
For one, I believe the quantifiable nature of the medium works as a disadvantage here. How many people have seen/engaged with the idea and what is my ROI? The fact that the medium can track every individual with regards to time spent to where he or she is located, somehow adds a lot more responsibility on a brand manager's shoulders because if the campaign does not become a success, his decision comes under scrutiny. Somehow if the data on a campaign is rather ambiguous and not precise, the risk of failure automatically decreases (and we all know how).
So the need of the hour is to make data on digital campaigns a lot more complicated and ambiguous. NAH!
With the advent of social media though, the medium (not deliberately) has made data a lot more complicated. For example, if I share a brand campaign on my Facebook and I have a thousand friends, how many of my friends have seen/engaged in the same? If any of my friends share them, how do I track how many of his friends have seen it? You can go by a probability fixed by industry experts, but that number will vary based on the kind of content. So now it all comes down to exciting content and innovative engagements and if you are the first to deliver the same the chances for a greater audience is much better.
Which poses the question again - Are you a follower or a thought leader?
I believe it is imperative for us to be thought leaders in the digital space. As technology evolves, the window of opportunity to capitalise on a certain kind of innovation might just come with an expiry date. One needs to be swift in executing these innovations without compromising the essence of the idea. If the idea or innovation is good, don't be afraid to think of the same in a large scale. If you are the first to introduce the idea, it is best that the whole world is informed about the same rather than a handful.
Here’s an innovation and a great idea executed by SapientNitro Digital Media. It's too bad that it was done in a contained environment. I would have loved to see this idea taken to another level with user interaction or contribution. But the thought is brilliant and executed to perfection. Let’s hope we get to see a lot more innovations in the year to come.
Carlton D’Silva is the chief creative officer at Hungama Digital Media and has spent over 15 years in the digital space. He takes insult when you call the digital medium new media…15 years should be old enough! Find him on twitter @TheWordOfGawd