As the advertising and marketing community aims to focus more on speed results, growth, rationality and the belief that technology can change everything, Aditya Kanthy, CEO and MD, DDB Mudra Group, shared how he has to be careful before uttering the words - emotion, doubt, slow and long term.
Stating that these words are actually what creates real impact, he said, “At least in a conversation about responsibility, scale, inclusion and experience, I might get away with the argument that technology is simply not enough. This is if you’re serious about making a difference in the world in a meaningful way."
However, Kanthy agreed that in the world of brands, technology can play a remarkable role, but an even better one, if applied to the lenses of culture, stories and values.
With a few examples of his agency’s work, Kanthy explained how brands can build trust.
First up was Johnson’s Baby, a brand that is always associated with the birth of a baby. Even then, the brand’s existence was threatened with a crisis at a point in time.
He shared how instead of getting defensive, the brand looked inward, took responsibility and faced up to the scrutiny of mums. “The fact is that you cannot spin your way out of a mother’s doubt with just ad spends."
Where technology stands
When asked about where technology is, in the face of businesses, he said, “Technology is a means to an end. Go back to first principles like what your brand and business objectives are and understand how buying happens. Try not to complicate the process.”
He added that while technology is available and measurement metrics can be used, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be used.
Nevertheless, highlighting where technology might help, he stated, “There’s a lot of value that comes from engaging with tech seriously. The balance of going back to the basics of brand and business building works and applying that filter every time you’re having a discussion helps, regardless of any aspect of business, whether technology or otherwise.”
Comparison of technology
Kanthy explained that there wasn’t a hierarchy between content, media, or technology, and added that advertisers and marketers should not lose sight of the big picture.
“There is a lot of value in content, creativity and storytelling and we must be careful not to undermine it because that’s what does damage to businesses,” he said.
How technology combined with empathy worked for DDB Mudra
Continuing the chatter about Johnson’s Baby, Kanthy shared how the agency worked towards getting back the consumer’s trust. “We had to go back to the product, re-formulate it and create a space where mothers could come together, with a simple admission about the need to change and a pressure test through a programme called ‘Turn to Learn’, which spoke about the products’ ingredients, with complete transparency.”
He added that it took the brand and his agency 12 quarters of hard work before it finally came out better and stronger.
“Tech did create the space to have different conversations, with an opportunity to bring mothers together. However, it was our humility of facing up to our responsibility, which made the difference, he added.”
Kanthy also stated that honesty, humility and patience were ingredients, just as important as digital ads, targeted ads and technology.
Kanthy followed this with work from the agency.
He shared how these campaigns had technology play a significant role in helping the protagonists access tech-enabled platforms which changed their lives.
Empathy over results
“Measurability is a curse if enough attention isn’t paid to what’s being measured. The facts that drive long term and profitable growth are hard to quantify. We need the space for it in our minds more than in our hearts, because it’s good for business,” said Kanthy, before ending his talk with a piece of advice to all the tech players in the country.
“When you unleash technology, do consider drawing on the well of human emotion - vulnerability and passion. Only then will technology truly help the world rise,” he said.