Missing: Indian advertising history for young professionals

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Ask an average 25-year old advertising or marketing professional in India if they have heard of Ravi Gupta, Mohammed Khan, Kersy Katrak, Suresh Mullick or Alyque Padamsee and chances are that responses will be in the negative. My point is this: new entrants to the field of advertising & marketing are not taught anything about the history of Indian advertising.

If someone chooses to make a career in architecture wouldn’t the curriculum and the ‘system’ automatically showcase the work of masters in the field? Why is it an exception with advertising? Books such as ‘Adkatha The Story Of Indian Advertising, ‘A History of Indian Advertising in Ten-and-a-half Chapters‘ and ‘Nawabs, Nudes, Noodles: India through 50 Years of Advertising‘ are great references for a ‘student’ of Indian advertising. But it’s not practical to expect everyone who joins the advertising stream to have access to these book or have them added as part of their degree courses.

Image source: AdKatha

What’s the relevance of knowing how a business problem was tackled by advertising in the 90s in today’s digital world which is so different, you ask? Well, the fundamental principles of marketing & advertising will remain the same forever – be it in the print advertising era or the digital one. The media & marketing context may have been different in the past decades but fundamentally brands were still trying to gain consumer attention, be relevant and convey their message in an interesting manner using the strength of the platform they were advertised in.

The craft of copywriting & art direction (especially the former) is something young professionals of today can learn from. While one sees the occasionally witty one liner in social media (be it a tweet or an Instagram post) the art of writing for print, especially long form copy is a lost art.

So what can be done? The ad industry bodies can create an internet archive of the history of Indian advertising, with profiles people and agencies who contributed significantly to its growth over the years and showcase some of the best work. Collecting work from decades ago maybe a challenge but am sure it can be done. If agencies can find time & resources to work on website projects with an eye for awards, they sure can put tech & design to good use to come up with an Ad Industry Archive of India.

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