Ad Asia: Acts, not Ads

03 Nov,2011

By Akash Raha

Times have changed and with that has changed strategies of communication from brand to consumers. For much of its history, the art of advertising revolved around the creation of the ad: an expertly crafted message conveyed through traditional media and consumed by end audiences. But the audiences today have changed, they way the consume media today has changed. Audiences today consume several media forms at the same time, and to get a message across to them now is a difficult task.

Digital and social media have upended the erstwhile models of communication. Marketing messages are now more visceral and participatory. In this era, consumers themselves can play the critical role in conveying the brand promise while energizing others to greater levels of awareness, empowerment and inspired action.

Chris Thomas, Chairman and CEO of BBDO in Asia, Middle East and Africa & Chairman of Proximity Worldwide and Simon Bond, Chief Marketing Officer, BBDO/Proximity Worldwide in the session titles ‘Acts; Not Ads’ at AdAsia 2011 showed how ads are no longer enough. This session, deconstructed how, in today’s multidimensional media landscape, advertising messages are evolving into true social movements and acts that can affect and drive positive change. There are some old certainties which still remain certain and yet there are things that have changed forever.

Mr Thomas said that there is a lot of uncertainty led through the forces of globalization the forces of urbanization. However, what really brings about this uncertainty is change. Giving examples from their life, both the members showed how their lives spent a decade apart had so many changes… from vinyl records to iPods, from friends on Penthouse to those on Facebook etc. These changes that we have seen in technology, has happened quicker and faster. And now, we see how information is dispensed quicker and faster in unimaginable volumes. Like a decade or two back, our values and creativity is no longer shared by two or three people but rather millions of people on digital and social media space. To emphasize this dynamic change further, Mr Bond said, “People will look back at today like they did the Industrial Revolution. It is a fundamentally changed world.”

The panelists of the discussion gave several examples to drive home their point. The first such example was that of Yellow Pages, with an age old advertisement and with a current one. The point that they were trying to emphasize was that earlier engaging with consumers was easy as there was less interference. But today we are living in a interconnected word and customers want to interact and converse with the brand. The need is to engage with the consumers, hence, what is needed today is acts and not ads.

A recent Yellow Pages advertisement innovated to show the efficacy of yellow pages, and an act was created, where the consumers could participate and feel one with the brand. It shows the effectiveness of advertising in the yellow pages. The implication is that the company is the same as it used to be, the customers are the same as they used to be, but the times have changed drastically. Hence, one needs to engage and innovate. Today, the consumer is in control and is in a state of absolute power. Word of mouth, trust is one of the most important things for the customers today.

For advertisers, the essence is to create compelling content and yet, it remains important to have a clear purpose behind it. The type of communication that we are doing today is just based on the fact as how consumers react. How people buy what they buy. With modern scientific techniques one can perhaps understand this a little better now; how they buy, what they buy, but the essence to understand is why the buy. People buy not what you do, but why you do it?

Talking about Apple as a brand and Steve Jobs the panelists stressed on how they have unleashed the power of creativity. Similarly, Starbucks too went on to say “We don’t fill bellies, we fill souls” as their campaign went from using paper cups to reusable mugs. In a new data driven world, never has creativity been more important. We know more about the consumers than ever before. But there is a danger since there is so much of information and we have to differentiate between accountability and effectiveness. We must not spend much all our attention on things that we can easily calculated and can be accounted for. The primary driver should be effectiveness… It is a little hard to predict and a little hard to account for yet it remains superior.

Furthermore, the panel gave examples of how successful acts were created by Aviva Life Insurance and Gillette through their campaign on ‘donate books’ and ‘women against dirty stubble’ respectively. Moreover, these acts generated good content too. Similarly Volkswagen created a campaign for people car in china which became immensely successful. Through several examples, the panel showed the efficacy of acts and showed how ads are no longer as compelling. What the consumers of today need is Acts, acts which they can live and be a part of.

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One response to “Ad Asia: Acts, not Ads”

  1. Radheyshyam Keshari says:

    this is what you call plagiarism