POLL AD­VER­TIS­ING A GREAT WAY TO STUDY CON­SUMERS: PRA­SOON

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Ad agency McCann In­dia was ad­judged the Agency of the Year at the Effie Awards on Fri­day, for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year. Some of the big­gest agen­cies in the coun­try — Ogilvy (run­ner-up and win­ner Grand Effie for its Fe­vikwik cam­paign), J Wal­ter Thomp­son and DDB World­wide — took part. The Effie Awards has emerged as a strong al­ter­na­tive to the Ab­bies. McCann’s In­dia Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer and Asia-Pa­cific Chair­man PRA­SOON JOSHI tells Viveat Susan Pinto how ad­ver­tis­ing in the run-up to the elec­tions is likely to pan out. Edited ex­cerpts:

The fight be­tween McCann and Ogilvy at the (Effie) awards was close. At one stage, Ogilvy even over­took McCann on the leader board. What clicked for McCann in the end?

I was sure of the work for some of our clients such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Mastercard and Paytm. We have been win­ning awards on a reg­u­lar ba­sis for these clients. I think, this year, we added di­men­sion with some of our newer ac­counts such as Ikea, where we used tech­nol­ogy to com­mu­ni­cate the mes­sage of a store launch, cre­ated an en­gag­ing ad cam­paign et al. We also worked for the tourism and so­cial sec­tors such as “In­cred­i­ble In­dia”, on cam­paigns on skill de­vel­op­ment and for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion. This was again a new di­men­sion we were adding to our body of work. In all, the width of work was greater this year, which helped us bag the “Agency of the Year” tro­phy for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year.

Where do you stand in the ef­fec­tive­ness ver­sus creativ­ity de­bate in ad­ver­tis­ing? In the past few years, most agen­cies have been en­ter­ing work in the Effies, skip­ping the Ab­bies. Your take.

I don’t get into this de­bate at all. How­ever, there was a time when the Ab­bies could strike a bal­ance be­tween pop­u­lar cul­ture and cre­ative work. It stood for the best in ad­ver­tis­ing. To­day, the Effie Awards are do­ing that. I don’t see a prob­lem with it. The clients are lov­ing it, and so are the agen­cies. Ev­ery era will have awards that will strike a bal­ance be­tween pop­u­lar cul­ture and good work. We sim­ply have to ac­cept it and move on.

Will this mean that McCann will give Goafest a miss this year, and fo­cus on get­ting even bet­ter at the Effies?

We are al­ready fo­cus­ing on the Effies, which is why we bagged “Agency of the Year” for two years in a row. We will con­tinue to put our ef­fort in award shows that make a dif­fer­ence. You have to un­der­stand that there are a num­ber of award shows around. We have to ju­di­ciously en­ter our work, and see how it adds value to us — whether lo­cal or in­ter­na­tional ad shows. Let me add here that I have no prob­lem with award shows that are purely in­dul­gent for cre­ative peo­ple. But it has to be focused. The award has to clearly de­fine it­self and stick to it even if it is in­dul­gent. While the Goafest does start out with good in­ten­tions, I think try­ing to be some­thing for ev­ery­one tends to do it in. Peo­ple are left con­fused and won­der­ing what the show is all about and, thus, it be­comes less cov­eted in the process.

The gen­eral elec­tions are around the corner. What are you and your agency do­ing for the polls this year, given that you were in­volved with ad­ver­tis­ing for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014?

We have not been ap­proached by any­one so far. So, I have no up­date to of­fer on that front. At a broader level though, elec­tion ad­ver­tis­ing is a great time to study the con­sumers’ mind, and to un­der­stand where the na­tion is headed, and what peo­ple ex­pect of it and its lead­ers. It is a cel­e­bra­tion of democ­racy and I would love to in­ter­act with peo­ple. It will be a huge learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me.

But how dif­fer­ent is this elec­tion likely to be from the last one from an ad­ver­tis­ing point of view?

Very dif­fer­ent. Last time, there was an in­cum­bent and a challenger. This year, the roles have been re­versed. The challenger is the in­cum­bent and the ones rul­ing then are now the chal­lengers. So, the re­al­i­ties have changed and so have the elec­torate’s ex­pec­ta­tions. Peo­ple to­day are far more ac­tive on the so­cial me­dia than they were five years ago, and, there­fore, are far more in­formed. Fake news has also grown, so the chal­lenges are greater for com­mu­ni­ca­tors in this en­vi­ron­ment. How­ever, I do see a healthy use of all me­dia dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tion this year. I don’t think the power of print or tele­vi­sion will di­min­ish de­spite the grow­ing use of so­cial me­dia.

I DO SEE A HEALTHY USE OF ALL ME­DIA DUR­ING THE GEN­ERAL ELEC­TIONS THIS YEAR. I DON’T THINK THE POWER OF PRINT OR TELE­VI­SION WILL DI­MIN­ISH DE­SPITE THE GROW­ING USE OF SO­CIAL ME­DIA

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