2011 – the year that was

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2011 was a forgettable year for most: economic woes, natural disasters, death of so many business & entertainment icons…the list was quite endless. For the Indian advertising industry it was quite an eventful year – a lot of discussion centered around the high profile work and growth of smaller, independent agencies [Taproot, Happy, Scarecrow] the movement of some senior level agency folks and the acquisition by international holding companies. In terms of creative, several TV campaigns stood out for me:

Airtel’s ‘had friend zaroori hota hai’: aside from the hummable jingle, I think the universal appeal of the insight was the reason behind the success of the campaign. Whether you are 20, 25 or 45 your circle of friends is likely to have one of each kind as described in the ad. The short follow up ads beautifully carried forward the main campaign idea- the humor, casting in the ‘missed call’ one was classic.

Ceat: I thought this was an under-celebrated campaign. I read somewhere that the original’Born Tough’ idea for the brand was given up because it was felt that the conditions of our roads have improved so much that the tough nature of a tyre is no longer a differentiator. Hmm. I doubt if that’s true. Neverthless, the central idea of there being several idiots out on the road was a refreshing new insight.

Tanishq: loved the casting and use of Amitabh Bachchan & Jaya in this campaign. Also loved the ‘missing diamonds’  interpretation on the web.

I am sure I have missed out several stand out creatives of last year – do comment in. Aside from TV, there isn’t much that’s refreshingly new in print, radio or digital. There was a time when Times of India’s Sunday Review was the showcase for beautifully written & crafted print ads. Nowadays, the ‘innovation’ in print is limited to vertical pull out ads or taking over an entire newspaper. At least going by the radio spots one gets to hear on FM Radio, the craft is relegated to a DIY spot: almost every spot.

‘Hey have you heard of [brand]? It’s got [features]. But wait…where are you going? I am going to buy [brand]‘

On Digital, there was interesting work on Volkswagen Jetta, Snexy, Tanishq and Titan HTSE [mobile application]. But when it came to Facebook & Twitter, most brands seem to follow the tried & tested route. Facebook fan pages are filled with polls, quizzes, contests, prizes and so on. And seems to be working well for most brands, going by the likes, comments and fan count. But I wish we see something like the Olla condoms or the Holidays without Internet work for Swiss Tourism this year with Facebook. In the west seems to be a far great experimentation, scale of idea & execution and use of technology [3D projections, Augmented Reality] in the digital space- which is yet to be seen in India.

As an aside, the media focus on the industry was limited to reporting about movements of senior creative people, agency account wins & losses and award shows, trade events. If you were to ask an agency CEO what the burning issues facing the industry are, chances are agency remuneration, attracting & retaining talent, improving Digital skills are likely to feature. But unfortunately such topics are left to be mentioned in one off posts in trade magazines. I wish the far serious issues facing the advertising industry would get centre stage in the public eye this year. And it takes both the advertising industry and media to come together to do so.

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  1. Hi!

    Print innovation, Volkswagen use of light sensitive chips..the talking newspaper idea was nice i think. Was much talked about amongst people around i noticed so. Also, seems it increased awareness levels by upto 4 times.
    Plus within digital i found their usage of linkedin for recommendations very interesting.

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