Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia and president of the Spikes Asia craft jury, spoke about the various regional nuances and value systems that are a part of Indian culture and, in turn, influence the advertising in this market. His advice for creatives creating communication for India was simple- observe the local people keenly which will allow for rich local insights to emerge and in turn make the communication more appealing. “Follow the people, not the awards,” was his advice.
Pandey showcased some of the best of Indian advertising in his presentation, elaborating on each ad by giving a brief description of how each linked back to some key local Indian insight.
He shared campaigns like Perfetti Van Melle’s Happydent (McCann Erickson), Nike Cricket (JWT), Asian Paints’ Apcolite (O&M) and The Times of India’s A Day in the life of Chennai (JWT) as examples of work that had drawn their success from having zeroed in, on key local cues.
He detailed how the Happydent commercial besides taking a humourous route to make the point about shiny teeth, also served to make a social comment about feudalism in Indian history. ToI’s A day in the life of Chennai campaign drew inspiration from the chaotic, film industry obsessed Chennai culture.
Pandey said that the rustic, raw energy that India possesses is evident in commercials like the Fevicol bus and carpenter commercial. Joint families, Pandey said, was another source of inspiration. Here, he gave the example of M-Seal, Axis Bank and State Bank of India among others, each of which used joint families and their attendant humour as the backdrop to their story.
Pandey admitted, on a number of occasions during his speech, that many a time he had drawn inspiration from his own large family to create advertising.
Superstitions and beliefs were another source of inspiration, as he shared work across brands like Cadbury’s (where the belief that one must offer people sweets at a happy moment, to sweeten their jealousy), Surf Excel (where the global idea of ‘dirt is good’ was adapted locally by drawing from the Indian belief that hiccups can be stopped by instilling shock), Motorola (which drew inspiration from the Indian value system that constantly asks whether one is doing enough to justify what salary they get).
The turn of phrase that is typical to Indian culture is another source of inspiration. Pandey said Coca Cola’s ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’ was an example of this, where the cola company wanted to own the term Thanda (which means cold in Hindi; because in India, most people ask for ‘cold drinks’ rather than soft drinks when they want a Cola).
Pandey added that Indian advertising has successfully been used to make a light hearted social comment about Indian life. The Times of India’s original ‘A day in the life’ was a good example of that, which pokes fun at the corruption that often takes place in getting official governmental work done.