When Deepika Warrier and Lloyd Mathias took on Josy Paul and Pratap Bose

14 May,2013

By Ananya Saha


The third in the series of the International Advertising Association (IAA) India Chapter’s debates was hosted in Gurgaon on Monday, presented by the Dainik Bhaskar Group and powered by Campaign India. The topic for the IAA Debate was ‘Creative awards can also be given for differentiated one-off expressions’. Speaking ‘for’ the topic were Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India, and Pratap Bose, Chief Operating Officer, DDB Mudra Group. Speaking ‘against’ the topic were Deepika Warrier, Vice-President – Beverage Marketing, Pepsico India, and Lloyd Mathias, Director, Green Bean Ventures. The debate was moderated by Shafalika Saxena, CMO, Microsoft India.


Ms Saxena opened the debate asking the panellists about how often is advertising aimed at greater good and how often is it the necessary evil; and how often the two can come together to combine market share and art. Mr Bose responded, “That is a no-brainer to me. When I think about it, the subject (of the debate) itself is condescending for creative folks like us. The subject says to me, ‘please re-consider 10 of 14 Grand Prix’. If you had this debate in 1927, it was ok but not today. If I have a creative idea, I will forward it to my friends, post it on social media, I would share and broadcast it. For a one-off expression like the Kumbh mela chapatis (a Lifebuoy creative) would spark something like two million conversations.”


Pratap Bose

Mr Bose opined that creative people just create ideas, and as a creative person one thinks of creative expressions all the times. “Gangnam style and Kolaveri Di are differentiated one-off expressions. The Silent Anthem three years ago was a one-off expression. And so was Volkwagen’s Talking Paper initiative. Creativity or grand idea is not defined by media budgets or scale or motives alone. That said, creative idea once conceived cannot possibly be curbed, and should be respected.”



Lloyd Mathias

Mr Mathias, speaking against the motion, pointed out that the core proposition of advertising is to build brands. “It cannot be art for art’s sake. Why brands advertise is to sell their products. The concept of one-off ads has also given rise to scam ads.” According to him, there is an increased need for creative awards as it helps them to showcase agency’s work. “Once you start getting one-off ideas, it becomes a short cut to getting awards. Advertising is purely a commercial proposition. It is important to strike a balance between building brands and art,” he said.



Josy Paul

Mr Paul said that though he was a non-believer in the concept, “one-offs have started springing surprises”. He gave the example of Apple’s 1984 campaign, Dove’s Real Beauty to insist that one-offs have potential. He said, “We may award or not award the one-off differentiated campaigns but we should not ignore them.” He also mentioned that he would treat every one-off as an R&D.


Taking the debate to the next level, Ms Warrier said, “While it is important to recognise great work and so are the awards. The question is what exactly should be recognised. We, as advertising and marketing fraternity, need to understand that we need to recognise work that delivers sustainable value. Advertising in not only supposed to create one-offs to shock and awe the consumer or deliver passive message.”


While maintaining that brands are not against creative ideas, Mr Mathias insisted that the creatives and creative agencies need to deliver long-term value. He said, “The need to fill up showcases and work towards bonuses is encouraging shortcuts.” Concurring, Ms Warrier said that creating art for the sole purpose of winning award is self-indulgent. Responding, Mr Bose said, “Nobody comes to work to win awards. At the end of the day, creative people come to work to create something.” However, on being questioned about the role of young creative people in the agency who think of an award as a stepping stone, Mr Bose said, “There are two types of young people in the agency: one that believes that awards are a step to success, and results in controversy that occurred at Goafest (referring to the Ford Figo ad), and then there is the other lot that is inspired by Piyush Pandeys of the world.”


Mr Mathias also cautioned that the big guns and agency gods also need to change their mindset “even as we see mid-and-junior-creative guys running after the awards.” He also said that he is not pushing for all rationality in advertising, since he did not think that rationality and creativity were mutually exclusive. Ms Warrier quipped, “If it is an on-off ad, it cannot be driving long-term equity for the brand. And while they deliver short-term benefits, there are a several other things that can be done to deliver short-term benefits. If the client is investing, it needs results that stay on for a long time.”


The debate was interspersed with quips and comments from the very participating audience and the moderator. However, the debate ended without announcing the winning team!


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