4 points of view or Blind men & an Elephant?

Three points of view plus one:

Santosh Desai, managing director and Chief executive for Future Brands: 'There is a problem when the execution becomes the idea. The minute you try and move out of the shadow of a brilliant execution, as in the case of the girl under the waterfall, you struggle.' (He's talking about the 'Girl under the waterfall' Liril campaign).

Spokesperson from Hindustan Unilever Ltd: 'While it it is good to be iconic, it is critical to remain relevant to the current consumers. With the changing social context, the key issue being addressed by the Liril of 70s was no longer relevant to the consumers (higher socio-economic class urban women) of today.'

Shiv Sethuraman, chief executive officer, TBWA India Pvt. Ltd: 'A lot of brands that used to do iconic advertising in the past, no longer do. There may be several factors at play: the economic slowdown has meant that a lot of clients have lost their risk taking ability, as have agencies. This means few executives are willing to break rules or take risks, because failure could mean losing accounts. Over-dependence on research is another issue advertising agencies have to grapple with in tough times, as budget-strapped clients rely more on data to back their decisions. You can almost plot the rise of research and the death of creativity…consumers can’t always tell you what they like or don’t like about an ad and there is a tendency to over-research.'

Prof. Ray Titus, Alliance Business School: 'Iconic or not, communiques are about connecting with consumers at various levels. A communique that runs long is considered iconic because it gets attention. But did it actually help sell the brand? Of course, the first stage to Buyer Readiness is Awareness. Once the awareness barrier is breached, probably due to what is being termed as an 'iconic' campaign, the brand (Assumption: low involvement category) must give the consumer a compelling reason to buy. Sure Liril's about how I can frolic under a stream. But when I get into a store and find brands ten times more than what I used to, two decades back, that too with multiple promos, I say, to hell with the frolic, where's my promo?

Iconic is not what gets made by some creative hotshot and is then displayed on my TV screen. Iconic is what sells. And that's the result of a concerted effort that starts with great research (there' nothing called over-research, its either good or bad), great products and then moves to great communication, pricing and distribution.

Voila, you then have a sale. And if you consistently do what is mentioned above, maybe there'll be a repeat purchase. And if that persists, you have a iconic brand. Not otherwise.'

Nota bene:

In spite of the four views that you just read, I wonder if what's stated above has more to do with the Blind men and Elephant story.

Tell you what, its a nagging feeling. :)


B D Humbert said…
Prof. Ray,

As a researcher I had to jump in and respond to the TBWA CEO. Shiv really gives research a much greater role than I have seen it have in corporate decisions and makes the mistake of assuming that is plays a causal role in rejecting creative ideas.

Corporations reject creative ideas because they make them nervous - seem too risky, and research is often used to provide logical support for the corporations nervousness about a creative idea.

I had a personal experience with a great ad campaign developed by TBWA out of LA for Ball Park franks - we used research to show the corporate office that the campaign and spokesperson were spot on and right for the brand - it saved our jobs - but could not save the campaign - we were still told to find an alternative.
Ray Titus said…

You have a point there. Corpns. ain't risk takers. Research helps them tide over their nervousness.

I guess the key is to know what the blend must be, in what proportion. I mean, Research : Creativity.

At times even rejecting research becomes an imperative.

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