First let’s get the bad news out of the way. So what’s the worst that can happen? No bonuses, no new recruitments, no expense paid lunches, pay cuts, pink slips. Okay, alright, let’s not begin with the very worst.
Is this the best time to be in this industry? I, for one, certainly think so.
Sometimes, the best way to cut fat is to go on a diet and do some heavy duty running.
This is the time when the solution to all marketing problems will cease to be a TVC and a print adapt. This is the time for solutions.
Newer solutions with more teeth and these may not even be expensive media solutions. Bigger challenges, newer thinking. If that doesn’t sound exciting already, we may be here for all the wrong reasons.
This is the time when marketers can make stronger connections with their consumers. While most would be tempted to play it left-brained in times like these and expound on why PuF is better than what-have-you’s and why a free wrist watch would make more sense than the competitors’ sweepstakes, this really is the time for the challenger brands to get ahead. While others may do some shy pussyfooting, the brave ones can forge ahead when the noise and competitor confidence is low. Give customers like us an idea for us to believe in. Something that gives us belief and positivity. Even if it is a shoe. Or a portable musical device.
This is the time when all that alpha male hormones really kick in.
Consider this, isn’t this whole thing really a panic of confidence. The GDP growth rate is still a healthy 7 plus. A figure that still would make most Europeans / Americans drool. Inflation, demand, or savings. All the figures are so healthy that you’d wonder.
So, the sub-prime jargon apart, what’s the problem really?
Now for the really juicy part. Another recession, another continent. People on that continent discovered that the demand for all the premium FMCG’s actually went up in the time of the slowdown. Premium soaps, hair gels, lipsticks, salad dressings and many such, grew unexpectedly while there was blue murder happening on the bourses. There was a merry carnival on. Just as unexpectedly, when the dark clouds cleared out, so did the sales of these products.
Many expoundings later, the most plausible explanation was deemed to be the idea that people will always need to feel good about themselves. They will always have to have a reward system to get their endorphins going. When the moneys were tight and they couldn’t afford the real luxuries like bigger cars, houses, watches, they still rewarded themselves, with whatever fit into their slimmer budgets.
So people were always indulging themselves. Good things were always getting bought. Some more than the others. When life gives you lemons, why not make some lemonade?
If the demand for advertising space is low, the media costs are going to come down. Juicy part number 2...More bang for your buck. All this while the noise in your category may actually have thinned out. Can you bravely go ahead and increase share of voice and share of mind while others are hibernating and wondering.
For all the people who were around when it happened the last time around the mid-nineties, congratulations folks, you are still around. And those who weren’t, rejoice, coz like the other lot, you too will live to see another day.
(Ashish Khazanchi is national creative director, Publicis Ambience)