Campaign India Team
Dec 28, 2010

The Big Debate: The good, bad and ugly of Indian Advertising: Ajay Kakar

As part of our year-end special, we reproduce the thoughts shared by industry captains on the good, the bad and the ugly of Indian advertising, in conversations with Campaign India. Read what Ajay Kakar, Chief marketing officer, financial services, Aditya Birla Group, had to say.

The Big Debate: The good, bad and ugly of Indian Advertising: Ajay Kakar

Agencies can play a vital role in brands

What’s good is that brands are going beyond mere product propositions and are now adopting and promoting socially relevant themes

Statutory Disclosure:

I have spent nearly 15 years at the advertising agency end and am now on the client side for the last 5 odd years. Having been at both ends, today I am penning a few first-thoughts and views - not only as a Marketer, but also a strong believer and proponent of the vital role that ad agencies can play in the birth and well-being of a Brand.

The Good (in no particular order):

  • The best the world has to offer, now at our doorsteps – as a Consumer, I now have access to the biggest and best brands from around the world. And as a Marketer too, I have access to the biggest and best agency partners
  • The FMCG era is now behind us. New categories have emerged as large spenders and are flourishing
  • The ‘new media’ – providing us many more ways to reach out to our customer and engage with him
  • Agencies having Creative at the helm
  • Brands going beyond mere product propositions – now adopting and promoting socially relevant themes
  • The power of the Indian consumer - global brands customizing their offer to Indian needs and tastes
  • The power that platforms like social marketing and digital platforms offer us
  • World-class production values and quality – originating from India

The Bad (in no particular order)

  • The loss of an entire generation of ‘gray hair’ from advertising agencies (freshness at the cost of experience)
  • The power of social media yet not being harnessed to its fullest, from a Brand/Consumer perspective 
  • Long time no see – meaningful and effective use of the print media/power of copy
  • The going overboard with celebrities – to their benefit and often the loss of the Brand
  • The 30 second syndrome – TV/mass media is often seen as the first and only solution to all needs
  • The execution getting far more attention than the ‘idea’
  • Are we creating Brands in the true sense, or are we depending heavily/solely on pure advertising/mass media to do the task
  • The number of pitches being called for. The reasons for which they are being called. The number of agencies that agree to pitch
  • The mismatch between the campaigns that win creative awards and those that win for effectiveness
  • The annual debate on leaking of results – and no solution in sight, yet

The Ugly (in no particular order

  • The gap between our potential and our performance at Cannes, especially in categories like PR, Direct, Media and Cyber
  • The extent to which Awards consume our time, effort and money
  • The gap between the potential and actual role we play in the lives of Marketers/Brands
  • The non alignment between the KRAs of the client and agency
  • The long-standing attempt and efforts to go ‘upstream’ like the “McKinseys” and no light visible at the end of this long tunnel
  • The long-standing debate on Scam advertising and the long eluding solution/consensus/industry pov
  • No end to the debate on “We are being paid peanuts/We are getting monkeys”
  • What stops agencies from delivering on their true potential – such that they can demand and get the remuneration they deserve
  • The long-standing debate on what we deserve vs. what we get – and no ‘putting-foot-down’ decisions we hear of
  • The long overdue need for the ‘advertising’ industry to convert itself to a Communications industry/a Brand industry
  • We take ourselves/our industry a bit too seriously 
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