He came, He Conquered

01 Oct,2013


By Fatema Rajkotwala


Outside there were traffic jams as he made his way to Bandra Kurla Complex and then across the tracks to Taj Lands End. Inside the Ballroom of the hotel, the audience didn’t mind waiting. Media professionals of all levels gave him a standing ovation twice over.


In many ways, it was an interesting choice to get Narendra Modi as Chief Guest. The Gujarat Chief Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate’s campaign for the elections is known on the importance he has laid on messaging and employing technology to reach out to people.


Beginning by acknowledging the fact that as Indians we haven’t done enough to showcase our strengths to the world. He spoke on how we still lack confidence in ourselves as a global brand, a result of years of being subject to submission and foreign rule but even though India has taken the ‘brand route’, some indigenous products have acquired a symbolic value and become door-openers in the global market.


Mr Modi encouraged Indian marketers to take tips from Mahatma Gandhi’s communication, write a book on it and present it as a case study as a sureshot way for India’s branding and make it an irresistible destination for the world to turn to. He suggested that marketers ought to move away from “impressive marketing” and instead strive for “inspiring marketing” to survive and flourish.


Industry veterans and captains MxMIndia spoke with were suitably impressed.


Said Brahm Vasudev, Chairman, Hawkins Cookers: “I thought Mr Modi’s content and delivery were excellent. I think his insights on marketing were top notch and I was very pleased to hear his thoughts.”


Bobby Sista, who is now founder-trustee of Population First, “The entire day was worth my time. All the speakers were good in their own way and one gathered new insights from each other. From a marketing point of view, Mr Modi’s speech showed that he had no doubt in his mind as to what is Brand India and he spelt it out as we would do for any product or service by listing out values and attributes. We have so many strengths and home truths that he highlighted – from our spirituality to mythology to traditions to our today’s achievements in terms of products and services. And we have not marketed ourselves. He is a brilliant orator and as a marketing and advertising person, I wish we had him as the head of our fraternity. The interest in him is heightened due to the expectation that he will win the elections and judging by the way he is being treated, it does seem to be a possibility.”


Sam Balsara

Said Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison World, “Mr Modi struck me as an outstanding communicator and not just an orator, to use his own words. I was truly impressed by what seemed like an impromptu speech on a topic that is arguably, not his subject and yet he spoke eloquently on it with well thought through ideas and concepts. Therefore, I feel that if he could come up with such ideas on what is not his subject, I’m sure he has some very good ideas when it comes to the economy, to uplifting our poor, education, employment and more. So, I think we owe it to ourselves to give him a chance.”


Shashi Sinha

Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands echoed this view. “Mr Modi’s thoughts and suggestions on Brand India were excellent and it is evident that he is a great orator.”


Said Suman Srivastava, marketing consultant and former adman: “As Mr Modi said, we tend to impress or inspire. This may be one of the many speeches he has given today and to think that we tire out after a few presentations… I am left inspired.”


Suman Srivastava

Mr Modi listed out a range of examples where there is a clear need gap between the global market and our products such as Indian architecture, music and dance, film industry, organic foods, herbal and holistic health care and more. He further highlighted how our rich culture and traditional values could help solve world problems such as global warming because of our beliefs such as respecting of nature and our resources, which were earlier considered orthodox and medieval. “Not everyone has to be sold the Taj Mahal but we have failed to look beyond it. Soft powers rule nations, more than economic or military strength. We have what the world is waiting for but we lack faith in our own product. If we meet global requirements with our legacy, our identity will spread. We have to fill Brand India in our minds; to speak, breathe and live it in order to turn it into a reality.”


The IAA India chapter made Mr Modi an honorary member.


The speakers before Mr Modi

What makes a brand a brand? Are Indian brands still suffering from an apparent lack of confidence in the global market? Are we not recognizing and respecting our “Indianness” and using it to leverage our brand identity? How should marketers brand their corporate responsibility in a way that it builds and leverages their brand and the Indian society as a whole? These are some of the areas on which other conversations permeated at IAA’s Global Marketing Summit.


To mark the platinum jubilee of the Indian chapter of the IAA (International Advertising Association), marketing stalwarts came together for the Global Marketing Summit on Monday (September 30) at the Taj Lands End, Mumbai.


In attendance were global names such as Wally Olins, Chairman & Co-founder, Saffron Brand Consultants, UK; Will Platt-Higgins, Director, Global Account Partnerships, Facebook, USA; Arunachalam Muruganantham, CEO, Jayaashree Industries; Ashley Benigno, Director, Creative Expression, Global Brand Strategy & Marketing Creation – Nokia, Finland; Tyler Benson, General Manager – Marketing and Operations, Microsoft, SMSG, India; and Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, Regional Head for South Asia and Global Head of Marketing, Standard Chartered Bank. The gurus shared their insights on brandbuilding, the art of marketing in a competitive environment and the sustainable strategies to be deployed in the future in the Indian context. The marketing knowhow sessions were followed by a dinner session and speech by Hon’ble Chief Minister, Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi.


Pradeep Guha

The agenda and vision for the daylong summit was introduced by Srinivasan Swamy, President IAA India and VP Development, Asia Pacific; Pradeep Guha, VP and Area Director, Asia Pacific, IAA; and Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media group.


Wally Olins, Saffron Brand Consultants, UK left the audience nodding in agreement with his eye opening presentation on ‘What A Brand Really Is’. Mr Olins firmly propagated brands to clearly define what they stand for and pronounced “authenticity” as the new zeitgeist for marketing. “A brand is not a logo, a tagline or a slogan. It is what you stand for visually. It is demonstrating what the company does visually. Emotional factors profoundly affect the way we think about brands. If there is no empathy and warmth with the brand then you cannot choose. What does the product stand for? Why should I buy it?”


Wally Olins

In his talk titled, ‘Encountering a fast changing virtual world and a real slowdown, how does a bank stay competitive?’ Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, Standard Chartered Bank shared handy marketing strategies needed in the banking sector. Looking at the challenges for the software industry, Tyler Bryson, General Manager – Marketing & Operations, Microsoft SMSG India spoke on his presentation, “Reimagining marketing in a digital world”. This was followed by a panel discussion on the ‘Future of Sports and Movie Marketing’.


Sharing Nokia’s experiences and learning from their latest brand offering, Ashley Benigno, Nokia, Finland presented his talk themed on “Connecting to an Emergent Global Youth – Lessons from Nokia Asha’. Sharing their research and statistics on the Indian youth demographic, trends in internet usage worldwide and emerging behaviours, Mr Benigno highlighted how recent successful crowdsourced campaigns by Nokia in Asian countries such as the ‘Querty Me’ campaign and their experience and learning from them. “Participation, appreciation and awareness” and “resonance and relevance” are two key takeaways for the company.


Another session that was unanimously applauded and enjoyed by the audience was by Arunachalam Muruganantham, CEO, Jayaashree Industries on his out-of-the-box presentation on his journey as a rural innovator, themed, ‘Marketing and beyond’. Mr Muruganantham’s story is an awe-inspiring one that begun by a simple problem definition within his own home – lack of access to affordable sanitary napkins by women in India. There on, he designed, tested and invented a low budget napkin-making machine that he then converted into a sustainable business model that today, helps offer livelihood, hygiene, dignity and empowerment to underprivileged women all over the world.


Through his presentation, he dropped nuggets of pure marketing advice and wisdom to an expert audience after pointing out that he had received no formal education. “Be original; don’t copy. As a rule of marketing, don’t fear your future. Marketing is not done on a war footing; it should be a sportive and passionate approach. Be proud of your product. Your product, organization or business model should be the solution to a problem – that is, build your organization on measurable social impact.”


Will Platt-Higgins from Facebook spoke about how marketers and advertisers can turn to Facebook, things to keep in mind while creating content and design, practical suggestions for brands in his presentation on ‘Building Brands on Facebook’. “Rather than building a brand community, brands need to enter a user’s community. There is a need to design for the Newsfeed but good creative is just good creative. Shared passions are a great way to connect with consumers. One per cent of brand apps get more than 2000 users, so if you are thinking about investing in apps, it is incredibly difficult.” Despite talks on Facebook fatigue, Mr Platt-Higgins argued “Effectiveness on Facebook for advertisers and marketers lies on the basis of the increasing scale of people using it, which in turn increases the time spent, at the new prime time, which is – all the time.” Talking about the evolved narrative on Facebook from fan base count to a greater understanding of ROI, these were the core learning, “Branded content, impressions, reach and placement matter on the Newsfeed”.


Photographs of event awaited from IAA India Chapter


Narendra Modi Photograph: www.NarendraModi.in



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