Shahid Hussain
Jun 24, 2024

The changing face of advertising campaigns in India

We are in an age where consumers pay brands not to show ads, and at the same time give access to every brand to show ads.

Brands that can drive interesting narratives through powerful storytelling still rule the consumer's mindspace. Image source: Freepik
Brands that can drive interesting narratives through powerful storytelling still rule the consumer's mindspace. Image source: Freepik

India's advertising scene is experiencing a mutant-level evolution. Being ‘on your toes’ is an understatement, and yes, everything is being done! Oh, wait, except this.

Gone are the days when ads were limited to catchy jingles and ‘Hema-Rekha-Sushma-Jaya’ kind of TV commercials. The touch points were defined, and the creative directors drank malt and smoked cigars.

Things have got really fancy in the last couple of decades. You zoom in to your phone screen to check cricket scores, and there is a banner ad hiding between the numbers. The moment you notice the ad, the ad explains, ‘I spy’.

You want to close your eyes, and a brand is doing some AI-drama to push ads when your eyes are closed. How would you escape as a consumer?

Simple. You can’t.

We are in an age where you pay brands not to show ads, and at the same time give access to every brand to show ads. You are no more the audience, you are the ‘target’.

Change, it is afoot

Today, advertising in India is a dynamic mix of digital innovation, influencer charm, regional flavors, and a good dose of social consciousness. The game is changing, and there is enough excitement going around.

Print, TV, and radio used to be the backbone of Indian advertising. They have got serious competition now.

With over 600 million internet users, India’s digital playground is bustling. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube are where the magic is happening.

Now a food delivery app or a content streaming platform knows how to tickle your funny bone while making you crave for either biryani or ‘Stranger Things’ at midnight. Their cheeky and relatable social media posts, peppered with puns and memes, have made them a household name.

The life of the campaigns is short-lived for sure. This is the new reality. A day, or a week max. But that’s okay. By the time you are creating your next nut, the audience is already munching on kacha badam.

Bringing out the big guns

Technology is the new black in advertising. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are not just buzzwords; they are the tools that are redefining the way brands connect with consumers.

Many of the e-commerce brands are revolutionising customer shopping experience with their AR feature, allowing buyers to virtually try on products before they hit that ‘Buy now’ button.

You might be tempted to ask where does an advertising campaign fit in this? Well, if King Leonidas was a creative director today, he would have hollered, ‘This is advertising’ and kicked all the planning slides out.

Today’s consumers, especially the younger crowd, want to know that the brands they support stand for something. Social issues, environmental concerns, and ethical practices are now front and center in many advertising campaigns.

From the age of ‘Jaago Re’ and ‘Share the Load’ to ‘EatQual’ and ‘Good Luck Girls’, consumers want to associate with the brands that echo their inner voices. Many campaigns these days, do more than sell products—they build brand loyalty and make a real impact.

Bring storytelling back again

Some things have not changed though. In the pursuit of making the most of the medium, many advertisers and marketers are forgetting the power of a wonderful story. No matter what the attention span is today, an average audience still wants to be entertained. They still cry on Diwali long-format content pieces.

Storytelling remains the key. Brands that are able to drive interesting narratives through powerful storytelling are still ruling the mindspaces of consumers. Look at the Amul Girl, the commentator of the modern times.

The number of planners may have reduced in agencies, but insights can never go out of fashion. The campaigns you will remember, even today, are the ones that are driven by powerful human insights and brought together with interesting product truth. Since consumer behaviour and consumption patterns are changing, new insights are also observed.

Brands are getting smarter, campaigns are getting more engaging, and the audience is more connected than ever before. Whether it is through a witty tweet, a heartwarming regional ad, or a purpose-driven campaign, the goal remains the same—to connect with the consumer in a more personal and meaningful way.

Shahid Hussain, national creative director/head of BEI Confluence




Campaign India

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