Usage of short messaging service (SMS) language has grown beyond mobile phones to include other communication mediums like email, chat, etc. While there is no specific grammar for the language, some of the words are understood universally, and there are others which are frequently misinterpreted. Over the years, advertising has influenced popular culture as much as the other way around.
In such a scenario, Campaign India spoke with a few industry people to understand the usage of this lingo in mainstream advertising and whether we will see a growing trend in this context. While most of them agree that the language is suited for young audiences, some of them had their reservations about its usage in mainstream communication.
Sabuj Sengupta, associate vice president and senior creative director, JWT India feels that SMS lingo is a very urban phenomenon. “It is very important for brands to have engaging communication and I feel that it will never be able to capture the brand’s thoughts completely. If the communication is directed only towards the youth, it is a fine idea but I have my reservations about its usage for mass audiences,” he explained.
Sharing a similar point of view, D Ramakrishna, founder, Cartwheel Creatives, said, “SMS language can be used to have a better connect with the young audiences as they are constantly using it as part of their daily lingo. Moreover, this kind of differentiated communication breaks the clutter as the differently used words grab more eyeballs, especially in the OOH space which is a crowded medium.”
Kiran Khalap, founder, Chlorophyll Communications points out that the language is adopted not just by the marketers, but also by others including schools, pop-singers and even parents. “The language has to be used with audiences who understand it,” he added.On his reservations about the use of sms lingo in advertising today, Ambarish Ray, vice president, Metal Communications said, “If you are talking about a core audience that has been brought up in an SMS generation, then you may very well have an interesting conversation with them through it. But, at times marketers and advertisers are generally very quick to follow trends before evaluating them completely. If the language is used such wherein using ‘clr’ instead of ‘colour’ or ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ then automatically the brand shall be perceived and translated as youth, which is not the right definition in my opinion.”
Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India also questioned the relevance of using SMS language in brand communication today.
He explained, “I would like to understand the reason for the use. If it is to connect with the youth by using the language they use, in my opinion it’s not so exciting - as you are just mimicking the language and not giving any fresh twist to it.”
Sabuj Sengupta, associate vice president and senior creative director, JWT India
“If the communication is directed only to the youth, it is a fine idea but I have my reservations about its usage for mass audiences. If one is spending so much money on airtime and other mediums, I feel it is not a great idea. Since we cannot have two different sets of communication going around for the same brand, I feel usage of this form of language can be avoided. I believe that unless there is a specific need for the brand to communicate in this form, such instances can be avoided.”
Kiran Khalap, founder, Chlorophyll Communications
“The language has to be used with audiences who understand it. Just as Hindi written using Roman letters can be understood only by bilingual and mostly urban audiences, sms language is better understood by the texting and sexting generation. ;-)”
D Ramakrishna, founder, Cartwheel Creatives
“SMS language can be used to have a better connect with young audiences as they are constantly using it as part of their daily lingo. Moreover, this kind of differentiated communication breaks the clutter as the differently used words grab more eyeballs, especially in the OOH space which is a crowded medium. Having said that, the communication has to be thought-through, relevant and match the audience profile of the brand. Otherwise, it is not a path to follow. Additionally, in a fast paced generation, the language also helps in delivering short and crisp communication.”
Ambarish Ray, vice president, Metal Communications
“If the language is used such wherein using ‘clr’ instead of colour or ‘u’ instead of you then automatically the brand shall be perceived and translated as youth, which is not the right definition in my opinion. I am not very sure if you just drop vowels and experiment with alphabets and think that it is a new language you are giving birth to which can work universally across brand categories and audiences, I have my personal reservations about it. I don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach has ever worked for anyone in advertising, film-making or book writing.”
Josy Paul, chairman and national creative director, BBDO India
“The ‘Indian-isation’ of English in the 80s by FMCG brands was fresh at that time and was a bold move by them to embrace street language in mainstream advertising. However, its use in advertising will become exciting only when there’s a fresh take on it. For instance, when something new is added to it or there’s a new way of looking at it or if you change the medium from text to sound. Else it will feel like the headline was sent as a quickie SMS by an absentee copywriter who is trying to get a persistent account executive off his back!”