POLL ADVERTISING A GREAT WAY TO STUDY CONSUMERS: PRASOON
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