A wishlist for Advertising, Marketing, Media & More

04 Jan,2023



By Sanjeev Kotnala


Sanjeev KotnalaIt is that time of the year, the first week of the new year, when your resolve not to break a resolution will be tested. Most will fail unless they have no resolutions. I pick my unfulfilled wishlist from the last so many years and lovingly look at it. I have repeatedly failed to find ways to nudge people into helping me. I need the help, as the intent and wishes don’t count, and they mostly need collective initiative.

My dear friend and mentor, Vermajee, is still recovering from the hectic new year celebrations. He is back from his vipassana experience and promises to share something in the coming weeks. The wait is going to be worth it.



So here is the wishlist. It is advertising, marketing and more, and you are free to discard it or try acting and helping out on at least one front. Trust me, it will make a difference.



Pitching for business is an integral part of agency life. It is costly and sucks on agencies’ time, efforts and resource deployment. Focussing on it defocusses the agency from existing businesses.

The brands laugh all the way with new ideas and solid research. Many brands continue to work with the incumbent agency making a mockery of the process.

I wish agencies start charging a fee for pitching. And the pitch must result in a change of agency.



I have worked with clients who understand the importance and significance of investing in the creative development process in terms of time, effort and funds. They don’t undernourish the creative process to further invest in media and reach.

Simply put, a better creative needs fewer exposures, thus saving funds and time. It is a different question of why any brand should be willing to expose mediocre creatives that work against the brand in the long term.



The days of agencies being genuine brand custodians and strategic partners are over. The business is tricky, and consultants, advisors and strategic firms have made inroads. The lowest fee syndrome is a reality, and margins are wafer-thin, resulting in exodus and the absence of new talent.

It is tough to expect the agencies to stop second-guessing the client or delivering what the client wants.

The respect is lost, and I wish there were ways to win it back.

At least tell the client what you really think and recommend.

If the client wants to waste their resources, your drain is as good as any other. However, you still need to decide if you are willing to be a party to this wasteful non-strategic investment from the brand.

I am hopeful. I know a few agencies that are very clear about what they want to do.



My biggest wish is that the industry has no need for ASCI. And for that to happen, the brand owners and agencies must unite to voluntarily self-regulate. However, I know that prominent brands and repeat offenders will continue to test ASCI guidelines and reactions. We will have new and fresher guidelines before we have foolproof ways to implement the earlier guidelines.



Hopefully, digital and social media will act responsibly. They will do moment marketing with due permission and checks. They will keep the social, cultural, regional and religious sentiments in check. The disclaimer for paid (in cash or kind) associations will be prominently displayed. The warnings and statutory requirements are adhered to and not just executed for the legal framework.



Traditional media – print, radio, outdoor and television have much more to offer. Someone must work to ensure effectiveness and not just adapt the digital initiatives. Brands can benefit if the agency, client and traditional media work with rationalised rates.

However, I believe the steady skew towards digital media will continue without many knowing how best to exploit it. Just like the investment in traditional media will decrease, with no one really trying to develop the right creative to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.



Celebrity endorsement seems to be the easy way out for the brands. And for some, the only way out. For many regional brands, it means credibility and a demonstration of success. Unfortunately, the audience consumes it accordingly, and brands keep using celebrities as the idea.

I have nothing against the rightful use of celebrities or using celebrities as a character. But can we look beyond celebrities or at least use them in the right context and way.



Social media is full of hate and fake stories. One does not know what to believe or disbelieve. Digital algorithmics keeps serving things one loves to read and react to, thus continuously narrowing thinking. Help make social media a good place to be. Appreciate and share things of community harmony and goodness whenever possible and don’t just react and forward things that you have reason to doubt.



The most challenging thing to expect. The nation really needs it. Every citizen must be governed, controlled and motivated by the same rules and regulations. Then true secularism will emerge; otherwise, we will continue to see growing communal distrust and hatred.



We have sold our souls. We have given all the permissions, and the digital media is busy listening and watching us. The concept of privacy is dead. We are addicted to what we get by selling our information, reactions, location, dreams and desires.

As individuals, we cannot do anything, and we cannot get out of the system.

The government and consumer activist groups need to come in. We need stronger privacy laws.



There is no justification for the multiple full-page advertisements and the poorly produced AV by state governments in print and TV. There may be logic for intra-state advertisements, but hardly any for ads in other states. Even in the state, achievements, plans and projects are covered in the same media. There is no need for money-guzzling advertisements.



I know how badly we behave and treat pets and animals. Yes, some people are afraid of them, and there are issues. But, instead of using them as an excuse, we must address them. We are responsible for them all, be it the dog, cat, cattle or any animal.

If you have experienced a pet, you can appreciate changes in the family. How loving and caring becomes a natural behaviour. How pets help closely knit the family.

Go experience it, and your thinking will change. Think again before raising issues and discussing how we treat pets and animals.



If the generation next does not know about religion, region, language, culture, rituals and practices. In that case, we are responsible for it. I wish every religion would educate the next generation.

I have been running #IgnorantHindu blogs to share knowledge and information on Hindu festivals, mythology, rituals and practices. Every practice does not need scientific explanations or logic, and you don’t have to be defensive about your religion. But you must allow everyone to follow their religion without discomforting anyone and following the land of the law.



I have too many wishes and know most of them will go unanswered. Nothing would change, even if all of the above were answered. However, I will make efforts from my side. At least open the discussion and perhaps influence and nudge someone towards my idealistic society. It will make a minor difference, but a difference.


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