Regional advertising in India has two facets: advertising created by ‘national’ agencies and released in regional media; advertising created by local agencies and released largely in regional media. Both these aspects have their issues. In a diverse country like India, it is very difficult to cut across regional language barriers and other cultural nuances. Less said about the regional dubbing the better. Sometimes an advertising idea with a pan-Indian appeal will suffer because of atrocious dubbing that loses consumer connect and sets up distance. Those sitting in Mumbai or Delhi and creating a national campaign are often constrained by lack of knowledge about regional markets. Can’t really blame them as they will relate to cultural aspects they grew up with or have been exposed to. Regional advertising for many in Mumbai & Delhi agencies means someone speaking in heavily accented Hindi or portraying some such stereotypes. Yet, regional advertising has a huge potential in India; in large markets like the US, this trend is seen in the form of Hispanic ads and strong regional ad agencies. Some of the work coming out of agencies based in smaller cities in the US is outstanding. Cutting edge work is not the purview of Madison Avenue or other big city agencies. I have been a big fan of the work coming out of Sukle, a Denver-based agency.
Regional ads in India, on the other hand, have their own sets of issues. The ads they produce may have local connect but very often lack finesse in both the idea and execution. It could partly be due to budget constraints but mostly budget is not the issue – skill set is. The talented folks from smaller cities usually move to the big agency in the metros. Take a look at local advertising (through cable channels, local print media, radio & outdoor) and the amount of basic, non-idea driven advertising, produced crassly is staggering. Yes, there have been exceptions. Some of the work coming out of Chennai & Kolkata for local brands is extremely good (though some clients go to Mumbai to get it produced). I remember the ad for Leo’s Coffee which featured A R Rahman’s (before he came into films) jingle and Arvind Swamy in the lead. The jingle carried the ad alright but in those days when all the ‘good’ ads were Mumbai-produced this was a breath of fresh air. Today too, there is some good work coming out of the non-metro agencies, but more of an exception.
In this context, it is heartening to see the efforts from The Local Network, a Kochi-based ad agency. They are ‘bound by what we call the local connect‘ and believe that what keeps them going is their ‘love towards all things local‘. Their work portfolio includes work with a solid idea behind it and crafted with finesse. A rarity in regional advertising.
Agency: The Local Network
Of course, the trend is largely dependent on local business thriving in smaller cities and brands being created over there. In Kochi they have the jewellery brands to give the local agencies a fillip. I hope regional business booms and more Local Network’s emerge.