Arati Rao
Apr 09, 2011

Goafest 2011: “Be more Silicon Valley, less Madison Avenue”

In his session on Day 2, Neeraj Nayar, president, Contagious Communications, spoke of the ways advertising can change

Goafest 2011: “Be more Silicon Valley, less Madison Avenue”

For Neeraj Nayar, president, Contagious Communications, a quote from AA Milne’s ‘Winnie The Pooh’ connects to the present state of advertising: “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.” “This is like the ad model of the 1960s that is still being followed,” he said. “People today don’t need advertising, but people crave education, information, engagement, excitement and the experience.”

Nayar emphasised the importance of thinking 365 (days), and no longer just 360 (degrees). “You have to think editorially about engaging the consumer in real time,” he said. It’s also the age of the project, and not the campaign. “Audiences want more meaning and dialogue, for which projects are more fluid,” he said. As case studies, he showed the Volkwagen initiatives on, like ‘Speed Camera Lottery’, which rewards those who don’t speed, or the ‘Piano Staircase’ which encourages people to use the stairs by planting musical notes in them. 
Volkswagen ‘Piano Staircase’

Volkswagen Speed Camera Lottery

He also spoke about the Levi’s ‘Go Forth’ campaign. “The brand wasn’t as sexy as Diesel and was being undercut by Gap,” he explained. So the brand decided to go back to its roots with this campaign to aid the city of Braddock, which was going through distressed times.

The other thing, in the age of the digital revolution, is to “lean out of the frame”, says Nayar. “Give people something they want to talk about, about what’s in it for them,” he suggested, citing the example of Footlocker’s SneakerPedia campaign.

“The digital generation craves live experiences. Brands are a great place to give people a free ride,” says Nayar.
Engagement over reach is the new mantra. “Create networks of the unacquainted, around shared interests,” he said, playing a video of the launch of Bing which unveiled Jay-Z’s new book ‘Decoded’ with the aid of a digital book hunt.
Lastly, Nayar said he was a strong advocate of the ‘5 percent club’. “Be more Silicon Valley, less Madison Avenue,” he urged, with the example of a video of the Andes ‘Friend Recovery’ project. “Invest at least 5 percent of your budget in experimentation.” 
“Be useful, be relevant, be entertaining,” he concluded. “Don’t be afraid not to create advertising.” 
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