Words


From the time that human beings moved from sign language to speaking, words have become the most important form of expression. Communication has been the key to the process of human evolution. Sure there have been other factors that have also led to the evolution but communication has been the most important. Most of the inventions would have failed if there was not a communication channel to help reach out to masses.

When it is about communication, can the conversation about advertising be far behind? 🙂

Advertising helped the masses in getting to know new products, new technologies, new ideas. Stuff that was relevant for them. Of course advertising moved from mere information dissemination to more evolved approach of plugging a need gap, creating a desire, making people buy something which had lot more attached to it than pure functionality.

But this post is not about advertising or communication. It is about words. Words that string together to form a sentence. A sentence that communicates what we feel, what we like, what we don’t life, express our point of view.

Long back when there was no internet, no social media, no communication apps, we relied on speaking face to face. For long distance, there was post – Inland letters for regular updates, written pages in an envelope about detailed stuff, love letters, fights, breakups. Everything had a ritual to it. Everything had anticipation. That waiting for the postman to arrive or checking the mailbox as soon as you got home. That first reading of the letter quickly. Then taking time to read it the second time. Pondering over words on the page. Trying to visualise what the person at the other end was feeling when writing. Lovers treasured the letters and visited them over and over. When a break up happened, a bonfire was made of the letters. The letters were burnt but memories remained.

Cut to 21st century. We still communicate. More rapidly than ever before. We type and hit send. And the fact that it is all instant (try this sometime. How long do you wait, how often do you go over what you have typed before pressing send), has meant that we don’t much bother about what the words can do. We don’t pay attention to the language or even to specific words. Words that may cause hurt, anger, love, misunderstanding. There is no crossing out once ‘send’ button has been pressed (of course apps are looking at building a recall feature – high time). The problem is that receiver too reads the messages instantly and reacts instantly. We say people have become more expressive today with all the fancy stuff they can do with emoticons and emojis. I say we have lost the art of communicating. Art of using the right words. Art of pondering over what we really want to communicate.

Back when we used to write, we would go over what we had written again and again. At times tear the sheet if we felt it sounded wrong. There was a clarity of thought. For the sender and for receiver. Not anymore.

Considering that we now ‘talk’ less and text more – love happens on text, proposing happens on text, sex happens on text, break up happens on text… we don’t think too much before typing and sending the message. We do not think of the impact words can have on the person who gets the message. Even when we read the message, we read the words. We do not try to read the intent behind the words. We do not visualise person’s state of mind when he/she was typing out the message.

It is a pity though. For someone who loves words, loves what they can do, it saddens me to see what we are doing to them. Not just in personal communication, but even in the profession I am in. The art of writing. The art of persuasive words has disappeared. It has disappeared because we don’t have the craft. The client doesn’t want too many words. The evolved consumer thinks in terms of number of characters rather than sentences. Thinks in terms of emojis. So we also need to communicate the same way.

We don’t read enough therefore we do not have the vocabulary to express well enough.

This though doesn’t matter so much. We get what we deserve. Of special concern is breakdown of communication between two individuals and that really is the sad part of being in the digital era.

Hail the 6 Seconds Ad


It was bound to happen. And already I have read enough articles on how 2018 is going to be year of 6 seconds ad.

There is enough research being done to drive home the point that this format works. “Format” is how we look at communication.

This post is like a continuation for my previous post about desire.

We are now ready to pander to instant gratification. One article called this format “snackable content”. Needless to say that someone who has spent years in communication and someone who is not a great lover of instant gratification, I am left aghast.

Long copy ads died when TV became the big thing. Have been in enough client meetings where “nobody reads copy. Cut it short” was a refrain.

Been in enough media discussions where the 30” film was questioned. Reach and OTS vs a story being told. 30” became 20” and then 15”. Even for a launch! Of course this process was driven by high cost of a spot and limited money to be spent.

And now 6”! Driven by Google and Facebook. Supposedly meant for Millennials and Gen Z. They have a very short attention span you see. So if you can’t get into their head in a short span, they will never consider your brand!

What happened to all the conversation about content being the king?? If you have a content worthy enough to watch, who will not watch it?? After all these same millennials and Gen Z spend hours and hours on binge watching. See that is where the difference is. People don’t want to wait anymore from one week to the next to watch the next episode. They want it all. And if you have a story to tell that they can relate to, why 30”, they will spend hours.

Driven by market pressures, research, unique claims, we stopped telling a story. And people stopped watching the ads and looked for ways to skip.

Yes long format worked for a while in Digital space but we got too caught up in trying to be interesting. It became the story and a extremely stretched brand connect.

If the attention span of viewers and consumers has gone down, we are responsible for it. It has become a vicious cycle. We put out crap that people don’t want to watch. People are not watching so we call it attention deficit and therefore shorter and shorter formats. Shorter the format, less story to tell. At some point it will go back to one slide that says the brand name and that’s it! A cinema slide.

Process of evolution is what most will call. Getting into consumer’s head any which we can will be the support. There will be a mad rush to make 6” videos till some new format comes along.

But 2018 is round the corner so lets hail the birth of the new format and get excited about it. Orgasmic even at our expertise to create videos in that format. 🙂

Pluggin our work again


Our International Fleet Review campaign for Indian Navy is on air. Proud to have been part of the team that worked on the campaign and made it happen in less than two weeks.

I was there only in spirit 🙂 but wish was on that deck or inside the submarine.

Take a look if you would like. Everything has been shot in less than a week. I have pasted here two of the four films.

 

 

 

 

Dad Bod!


So I have cancelled my Gym membership.

Had Chole Bhature for breakfast.

Lunch should be curry from Kareem’s (more oil than curry)

Few beers and fried fish to round off the day

Finally I don’t have to worry about the little paunch that I have (ok so I think it is LITTLE).

Going by the articles I have read about Dad Bods, I fit in so well to that description of Dad Bod – “A nice balance between beer gut and working out” So I can stop spending money on gym and all the trappings which come with it.

Ok just kidding.. am not gonna do any of that. As always the internet frenzy has latched on to another topic. Not driven by any brand (as yet or maybe after the discussion reaches a certain point, a brand will be revealed as the one who engineered the discussion), Dad Bod is a perfect male version of “the real woman” ïnner beauty”etc etc. which some brands keep talking about. If women don’t have to keep themselves lean (am saying lean and not thin), they don’t have to put on make up to look good and everything that showcases the inner beauty is more important, then why can’t men have the same thing. Why shave, why look lean and fit like the models in various commercials. After all that is not the real man.

Real man is sprawled on the couch, beer  in hand, chips on the table and glued to sports channel. So the real woman should not have a problem with the real man 😛

So let’s celebrate the real man.. The Dad Bod!

Will stay away from all the stuff that was said about how women actually fall more for the dad bods… it is like a deo saying spray it on and watch the angels fall.. a myth

The toothpaste war


Asked  50 people if they were impacted in any way by the war between Colgate and Pepsodent. And if it will change their decision in any way the next time they were buying a toothpaste.

No one gives a damn. :))

Most actually had to pause and remember which toothpaste they use.

So much for percentages and guarantee!

Anything is possible


Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue
Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two quotes from Don Draper of Mad Men to start this post and to make a point:

 

“People want to be told what to do so badly that they will listen to anyone”

 

“What you call love was invented by guys like me… to sell nylons”

 

The more I see of the advertising today, am increasingly getting convinced that agencies (and the client) and still living their lives in the Madison Avenue of the 60’s. You can sell anything as long as you play on the fear or insecurity of the people. Or play on their lack of self belief…

 

When growing up, there are brands that tell you how you can be more intelligent than the rest… taller than the rest… sharper than the rest.. (wonder what happens if theoretically everyone was to consume these brands! how will the comparison happen??)

 

As you grow older, there are writing instruments that tell you how you can write the perfect paper in double-quick time etc.

 

And then the fun starts… If you had not consumed the stuff that would make you intelligent and taller and sharper while growing up.. do not lose hope… There is a chewing gum I think which will make the big idea pop up in your head… there is a carbonated drink… gulp it down and you are ready to conquer all your fears… A cola which makes you do crazy stunts… And now the latest Josh Cola – Pepsi Atom! Seriously… if one were to consume all of this… why worry if at birth your IQ was bordering around stupid!

 

And not to forget.. all the deos (my pet peeve) who can get the girls fawning over you… or if only you can learn the art of picking up a fallen book (remember to wear Raymonds)… attracting the girls is a breeze…

 

And things don’t end there.. If for some reason you did not take care of your skin while you were young… there are miracles waiting for you beyond the 30… Forever young they will keep you…

 

Of course I have been part of this profession for more than 20 years but some of the stuff I see now.. makes me question what we do… A decade and half back… Pepsi used to be fun.. as my advertising guru used to say… the communication was a surrogate for actual consumption of the drink… there was a an irreverence about it because after all.. cola or any carbonated drink is completely irreverent.. don’t get philosophical…

 

Same thing with alcohol advertising – Johnny Walker keep walking or Teacher’s achievement awards or many such initiatives… seriously? And yeah.. that reminds me.. this weekend Bacardi Breezer had a fun-filled evening for the families in our complex… The problem with that… Kids were taking part in all the fun… and 12/13 year olds talking about how they wish they could have a breezer! Way to go Bacardi… catch them young

 

But enough… advertising will not change because consumers and their insecurities wont and as long as there are enough insecure people on this planet…

 

 

 

A day for all days


So heard on the radio the other day… “This raksha bandhan, gift your sister a flat.. discounts up to 1.5L” and in the newspapers there were special raksha bandhan menus at different restaurants and pubs. And since the “friendship day” followed soon enough, there were menus for partying with your best friend or friends… The thing is, there is nothing special about these menus, some of the dishes from their regular menu are packaged and priced And nope, there was no ad from a property dealer to gift a flat to a friend (damn! could have become best friend with somebody if he would have gifted me a flat). Not to forget the “friendship bands” (economies of scale this year since raksha bandhan was four days before friendship day so left over rakhis could be recycled as bands for friends)

Now the communication is full of Independence day offers. All about freedom and stuff.. a few from real estate and soon to follow will be hypermarkets and not to forget the restaurants. Then there will be Id and we will soon be moving into more such days to reach the day which starts the “day fever”… no it’s not new year (remember it’s the eve)… but Valentine’s day! where you don’t love your partner if you don’t buy her a diamond, a tv, a microwave, a car, a….. Just like all the stuff you are supposed to buy to show you care for mother, father or daughter on their respective days (apart from their birthdays).

There is always some day or the other to make people buy to either prove something or celebrate (republic day, independence day… each day of the diwali festival, durga puja, onam, pongal, durga puja…) seriously!!

The one day that the commercial establishments have not be able to crack really is 2nd October. But am sure… 100 years from now when that generation cannot connect with Mahatma Gandhi as a person and he has been turned into God, there will be a day to buy something. But hang on… Khadi Gramudyog does that! buy khadi!

I think in the future, the extra day of leap year should be devoted to celebrate a day for all these days and collectively appeal to the public to buy everything for everybody… Imagine… Offer valid for only one day! come one, come all and buy for all!