Chitralekha Group’s Mitrajit Bhattacharya tweeted this morning: “A good keynote sets the tone for any good summit & @amitabhk87 did just the same with his address yday”.
He was right, as was IAA Silver Jubilee Summit chairman Pradeep Guha who noted at the end of the keynote, that this was the best presentation he had seen from a bureaucrat. A veteran editor took that further rather, proclaiming that this was the best presentation, ever, at an advertising conference.
Pradeep Guha, Shah Rukh Khan and Srinivasan Swamy
The keynote speaker at the conference which got underway on 3 September in Kochi was Amitabh Kant, secretary, Industrial Policy and Promotion, government of India, the department driving the ‘Make in India’ programme and the man credited as the driving force behind the ‘Incredible India’ campaign.
As news agencies reported from his talk, Kant reflected on the untapped potential of tourism and what other State tourism boards can learn from Kerala, the first State to seize the initiative with ‘God’s Own Country’.
Government work is often associated with mediocrity, he said, adding that for the Kerala campaign, he chose to work with the very best. The first film for the branding exercise was created by Santosh Sivan. But advertising had to be matched by what was on ground, he underlined several times in the course of the presentation. Hence the job was to revisit infrastructure on the ground to make sure it lived up to the promise of the powerful ‘God’s Own Country’ premise.
“Branding is not about advertising... It's important to build a brand that converges with what's on ground,” said Kant.
The task with Incredible India was more challenging than branding a market with one attraction, revealed the speaker, given that it was a multi-product destination. Adlanders he credited for their contribution to the ‘Incredible India’ campaign included V Sunil, Piyush Pandey and Bharat Bala.
He left the audience with an important message: Brand India will rise if India continues to grow.
It was not all serious business on day one of the summit. A packed auditorium with a significant number of students from across the country experienced the adrenaline rush that comes with star power, as guest of honour Shah Rukh Khan took stage. With his inimitable charm and wit, the ‘Badshah of Bollywood’ floored the young and the not-so-young.
“I’d like to thank you for my learnings, and I can’t thank you enough for my earnings,” said Khan, addressing adland.
On the theme of disruption, he noted that the digital transformation was making the world more equal, and the opportunity therein, and said: “My belief is that the next big star will not be from the film world or TV world, but will be from the digital world.”
Is that a prophecy ahead of its time? Time will tell.