Ad Buzz by Prabhakar Mundkur: Will advertising strike back at consulting cos?

11 Jan,2018

By Prabhakar Mundkur


Consulting vs Communication Groups

In a surprise move, Sir Martin Sorrell may have silenced all the critics who have been proclaiming the death of advertising, as consulting companies have been making forays into digital marketing and advertising. Some investment gurus have even been predicting the eventual take-over of the advertising industry by the consulting industry. Kantar, one of the major companies in the WPP group, collapsed four brands – Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures, Kantar Vermeer and Kantar Retail – into one brand called Kantar Consulting.  Kantar has already informed their clients about the development and hopes to have about a 1000 staff that consists of analysts, thought leaders and software developers.

Will the others quickly follow suit?  It remains to be seen, but if they do, advertising is certainly striking back. Old professions have great survival skills, as the oldest profession in the world has proven to us time and time again.


Social Media inspires Communication themes

Earlier, brands took their cues from the news, cinema and other fields. Or used topics like another brand’s major event to take advantage and poke fun at them. Remember in 2017 when BMW celebrated its 100th birthday, how Mercedes acted cheekily with this ad?

It paid BMW a left-handed compliment to make a point about themselves while overtly congratulating BMW.

They also went all the way and invited all BMW employees to the Mercedes-Benz Museum “to discover the complete history of the automobile” from March 8 to 13.

Now all that is changing. The latest source of inspiration is what is trending on social media.  While President Donald Trump’s #nuclearbutton tweet might have fazed political pundits, some brands decided to have some fun with the latest topic of conversation around the world.

Closer home, Amul Butter has for the last 5 decades always capitalized on what is the current buzz. President Donald Trump’s tweet inspired this hoarding from Amul Butter.

KFC UK and Ireland decided to get cheeky with McDonald’s on Twitter. Many Americans acknowledged they weren’t even aware that KFC existed in that part of the world until their tweet took Twitter by storm.


Consumer Protection

When Consumer Affairs Minister introduced a new Consumer Protection Bill in Parliament last week, it might have sent shivers down the Advertising and Entertainment industry in an already cold January.  The bill provided for a fine of INR 50 lakh which of course is unlikely to bother the top celebrities since it represents only a fraction of what they earn through endorsements. What might have seemed to be harsh to them was that celebrities could face up to three years imprisonment for appearing in misleading.  No doubt agents of celebrities would seek clarification on what exactly is misleading advertising.  The Advertising Standards Council of India has already made an offer to advise if an ad is misleading.

Quite simply, misleading means giving the wrong idea or impression about something. In the case of products, if the claims made in advertising are not honest and truthful, it would mean an advertisement is misleading.  Anyway, the new act is likely to put the brakes on blindly accepting every brand offer that meets the celebrity’s standard fee.  Celebrities are also being careful about how the brand affects their own brand equity.  When Virat Kohli refused to endorse Pepsi last year, he was actually being careful about the repercussions on his own image.


Creativity vs Effectiveness

The advertising industry celebrated the Effies with their usual revelry. The Effies typically precede the euphoria of getting ready for the Abby’s which are around the corner. The cynics of the creative awards will quote Dave Trott when he famously said “You are not doing advertising for six million people anymore, but for ten people in the jury, and for a few clients”.   While the creative people are centre stage for the creative award, the effectiveness awards are for the ad-fiddlers as Dave Trott labeled our dear planners.

However, it looks like the old polarity between creativity and effectiveness no longer holds true.  Increasingly I find that it is the creative agency that also wins the Effie.  And often I find that the best campaigns are quite likely to win both the creative awards and the effectiveness awards.  Hopefully it has nothing to do with the same organisation in India conducting both the awards.


Having spent nearly four decades in the advertising business with companies like JWT, Havas and Y & R in India, Africa, and Asia, veteran adperson Prabhakar Mundkur is Chief Mentor at HGS Interactive, a part of Hinduja Global Solutions. He was LinkedIn’s Top Voice in India in 2016 andis a prolific writer. He recently set up as homebase for his writings. Ad Buzz will appear weekly on The views here are his own.



Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.

Today's Top Stories