Media & Adland Wishlist 2012

02 Jan,2012


By Anil Thakraney


The Indian media, in general, has got a number of things right. It puts serious pressure on the ruling government and sometimes the judiciary, so that the right things happen, and they happen fast. This crusading spirit is important in a slow- moving, chaotic nation like ours, so kudos on that front.


However, there are a number of things that are not so right with our media, especially the mass media, and here’s hoping we get to see some course correction in the coming years. Here’s my Top Ten wish list.


1. Radiagate was a wakeup call for all journalists. When access to the rich and powerful gets too close, one needs to quickly draw a line and back off. Some didn’t, and are lucky to still have their jobs. The scandal brought immense disrepute to the profession, and credibility will be hard to restore completely. Here’s hoping in the future the Indian media remains free of any such nonsense. We can’t afford it.


2. The Broadcast Editors’ Association put out a 10-point code of conduct for news channels on how they should cover the Bachchan baby birth. And the very private family event passed off very privately without the channels breathing down their necks. What one would like to see in the coming year is that this practice becomes standard operating procedure during private celeb moments, and there is no need for codes any more. This would also delight Shri Katju.


3. While it did change to a certain extent as the year closed, most editors behaved like Anna Hazare’s cheerleaders all through the year 2011. This is not just unfair, it’s against the fundamental principles of journalism. Here’s looking forward to less bias and more balance in the year 2012.


4. It’s very clear that our media houses have aligned themselves with various political parties, and their respective biases keep becoming apparent even to the layman. This must change for sure, starting from 2012. Media without objectivity is like Rakhi Sawant without silicone. No one wants that.


5. No more paid news. Repeat after me children… no more paid news. Repeat after me children… no more paid news.


6. Here’s hoping all those TV anchors who indulge in hysteria and drama are promptly transported to the Bigg Boss house in the coming year. And are not allowed to enter newsrooms again. The junta wants news and views. Not nautanki.


7. No more front half-pagers in the coming year. Where advertisers demand that the front page be vertically slashed. A fatwa needs to be declared against proprietors who agree to this criminal practice.


8. Would like to see some kickass innovations in the print media this year. Both, newspapers and magazines. The digital media threatens big-time, it’s like a wolf at the door, and our old-world editors continue to pretend nothing’s happening, as they dish out the same tired stuff. I am also hoping editors who refuse to re-invent are shown the door before 2012 closes.


9. Really wish that in the year 2012 the maha excitable radio jocks shut the eff up and play the effing music. Even if all the radio stations play the same ten songs at the same time.


10. All the girls in the TV newsrooms need to glam up. I noticed the nails are becoming brightly coloured these days, but I want to see more. I mean, if I am stuck with the likes of Abhishek Singhvi, Chandan Mitra and Mani Shankar Ayer discussing the same tosh night after night, I need some joy to come from somewhere.


Ad World 2012

The Indian ad world, though it gives many awards to itself, hasn’t really set the world on fire. Okay, so we do score the odd international award now and then, but clearly we have a long way to go. Aside from that, our ad guys will face many serious challenges in the coming years, and quite frankly, I am not sure the industry leaders are ready as yet. I still get a sense of complacency and self-satisfaction when I meet agency bigwigs.


Here are ten changes I would like to see in 2012.

1. Once and for all, ad agencies must set aside their rivalries and egos, and must come together to work out a fee structure. It’s obvious the agencies are underpaid by their clients, and this puts serious pressure on their resources. This is also a common complaint I hear from agency heads. Well, grumbling won’t solve the problem. Start the New Year with many beers, and figure a way out!


2. I think hot shops are back with a bang in the ad world, and in the coming year they will put real pressure on the large networks. Aggie and Padhi are just one example, but I predict more people will quit large agencies and set up their own boutiques. Since their rates will be lower, many clients will be tempted to defect from the traditional agencies. And I think this is a good development as it will result in superior work overall.


3. Experts in TV media continue to head ad agencies, and I am hoping at least a few agencies will smash this system and promote young creative chaps skilled in the new media. Because old-world creative directors generally don’t understand the digital space, and they need to make way for the young geeks. Sooner the better.


4. Simultaneously, I wish in the year 2012, youngsters in the ad agencies get off the internet (and that includes Facebook) and spend some time in the villages and small towns. There is a dire need for agency staffers to be well rounded in their skills. This is not Singapore. This is India, and a whole lot of people are still looking to buy their first colour TV.


5. I wish ad agencies would bring back the lost pride into their strategic planning function. The number one reason many suits quit the business to join the world of marketing is the lack of brand planning within ad agencies. Ad agencies have become creative sweatshops, and this leaves no work for managers but to be good executors. Starting 2012, I am hoping this changes, because it’s bleeding the ad world of its talent.


6. Dear Creative Director, please, please, please do at least ONE nice press ad in the year 2012. I beg of you. People still read newspapers in this nation. Puleeeeaze!


7. I know the media buying function is now completely divorced from advertising. And it is my belief that this has badly affected media innovations. I recall those days when the three of us – the account executive, the media planner and the creative director – would lunch together and crack ad ideas. I hope at least once in the year 2012, Balki, Lynn and their client servicing person share a drink and discuss brands.


8. No fake ads in 2012. Repeat after me, children. No fake ads in 2012. Repeat after me, children. No fake ads in 2012. Repeat after me, children.


9. No noisy TV commercials in 2012. People don’t buy from shriekers. Repeat after me, children. No noisy commercials in 2012. People don’t buy from shriekers. Repeat after me, children.


10. I am hoping at least one brand will show all of us how to exploit viral magic on the internet in 2012. At least one brand will become the Kolaveri of 2012.




Anil Thakraney has worn various hats in advertising and as a journalist for around 25 years. He is editor-at-large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own.

Visual: Rafiq


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