Suresh Eriyat: Message is key for Brand Connect

17 Mar,2015


By Suresh Eriyat


A recent conversation with a friend from the industry got me thinking about the concept of responsibility in advertising. As soon as one uses the words ‘responsible’ and ‘advertising’ in the same sentence, one associates it with ‘corporate social responsibility’ or children. I decided to Google it and check, thinking I might be wrong. But to my surprise, I was not. This, then, begs the question: Should responsible advertising not be the baseline of all storyboards? In a world where intense competition drives brands to employ tactics that help them stand distinctively from others, they tend to forget that for them to achieve that status, they need to strike a chord with the audience. Today there are many brands that claim to be responsible, but do not really express it through their communications or product offerings.


Think about it. There was a time when advertising was not a prime medium of communication for brands, but we still connect with some products and brands of that time, today. A cupboard at home is referred to as a Godrej; washing powder is Surf, a four wheel drive is Jeep, and biscuits are Parle G. They are no longer the only brands that manufacture these products, but have become an identifying symbol for the product itself for a lot of us. While I understand the older generation’s connect due to the sheer nostalgia of association or memorable ad campaigns, but younger consumers also trust these brands blindly. The prime reason is these brands have come to signify responsibility, without really talking about it. The art lies in subtle messaging that stays with the consumer for a long time.The most compelling campaigns are the ones that successfully elicit a personal response or emotion from the consumer, as well as turn profit for the brand.


The recent Budweiser campaign entitled ‘Friends are waiting’, nails this thought to the core. The ad draws on the bond between a man and dog to encourage people not to drink and drive. As the tagline goes: ‘For some, the waiting never ended. But we can change that’. Here is a brand that, for a change, did not tell people to alter a habit because it will do them harm. But it subtly urged them to drink in moderation as their loved ones are waiting for them back home. The commercial changed the game for beer advertisements to produce a message that resonates with the audience and inspires real change. That, in a nutshell, is responsible advertisement.


Today, buyers want to tell themselves that they are doing the right thing, and need a brand to give them the affirmation that they part of something good and positive. That has never been easy; brands have always resolved to tie up with social causes. Brands like Sanifresh, Clinic Plus and P&G have initiated various movements, but have failed to carry it forward beyond a point. That’s because they did not connect with their immediate audience, and it came across as a marketing gimmick.


While we have understood that the message of responsibility comes more with action than words, the question is who should be accountable for it. The brand, the creative agency or both? While common belief dictates it should be the brand, I strongly believe it is the agency which plays a key role in this. In conceptualising messages, it should aim at working closely with the brand as a partner, rather than a mere executor of the brand’s ideas. The two together must ensure that they critically analyse the brief from a third-party perspective and create a balance between showcasing the brand’s intent and meeting their end objective of bringing profits through sales.


It is time that creative heads ensure that campaigns not only attract attention, but call for action and effectively fulfil the objective of the campaign. So condom ads definitely attract attention, but do they spread the message about safe sex? While it is believed that consumers can be sold any product as long as it is legal, it is integral that we do not compromise on the core message, as it will have a lasting impact on the consumers’ impression about the brand and its offering. In today’s times of religious intolerance and sexual assaults, I think the media as a whole and advertising in particular, since it has more penetrating power than cinema, should emphasise a bit more devotedly to their ideation side towards creating a more tolerant society.


The writer is Founder and Creative Director at Eeksaurus. This article first appeared in ‘dna of brands’ dated March 9.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.