Thursday, January 12, 2006

Scam, Bam, Thank You Mam!

Come December and every other creative guy like me is busy digging his head and trying to come up with that next big creative idea. Is December a month for the finest advertising or is it just an opportunity to satisfy our own creative desires and show the client the finger? Well, the debate can go on. I recently found two different points of view from two of India's greatest advertising professionals. Read on and do tell me what your opinion is, may be you have a point that can change the way we all look at things!
via: agencyfaqs.
One-offs & December ads are not Scam Ads

This issue has been debated in the industry around the world for perhaps decades now with no clear resolution ever emerging. Sometimes, even one-off ads are also categorised as Scam Ads. To my mind, it is incorrect since many ideas such as Mother's Day, World's AIDS Day are anyway one-off opportunities. And equally, every unplanned ad is not a Scam Ad. For instance, there is this case of where we (O&M) did 'Hamara Walla Blue' for Asian Paints during the cricket world cup 1996.
The very next day India lost to Sri Lanka in the semi-final. We changed the ad to say “Tumhara Walla Blue...congratulations Sri Lanka you were a shade better'. Johnson & Johnson in the 1980s did this one-off of 'Nude Models Wanted', judged the best print ad of the century in 2000. Anything that a client is willing to put his name to is not a Scam Ad. Lot of people do make ads sometimes for non-existent clients or non-advertisers, which is obviously not desirable. However, there could be a small shop that can decide to do a one-off ad - who is to decide only big- budget campaigns are on?
The other thing that people say is that December ads are Scam Ads. Again, who's to decide whether the ad needs to come out only in October and not in December? In every business, much like limited overs cricket, there is desperation, commotion at the fag-end when targets needs to be met. Marketing guys get desperate and there the proverbial 'Katori' promotion that comes along - the stocks are overloaded, does it make it a sale or a scam? A creative person is no different from any other person - he sometimes begs, borrows his client to let his great creative ideas see the light of the day.
'Great oaks from little acorns grow'. Sometimes it is beneficial for the client to try out something new in a small way. Some five-six years ago, Pidilite wasn't doing any print ad for Fevicol. One of O&M's creative person went on a train journey and came up with this idea of everyone stuck to the train. The client liked it, we ran it and it seeded the idea of the now legendary 'Fevicol Bus' television ad.
Not for a moment am I defending Scam Ads, only that it is important to differentiate. One-offs and small ideas have the right to see the light of the day, and should be done, provided there is brand-fit and appropriateness. Though youngsters in the industry must remember that they will never make a career out of doing just one-offs. Much like Tendulakar, you need to have the grandeur of your tons for you to cut loose once a while. There is hardly anyone who is someone in the global ad world who I know has just done one-offs. And equally, there is no one who is someone out there who has not done one-offs.
Piyush Pandey, chairman & national creative director, O&M India
How long are we going to fool ourselves?

Nothing is a scam ad if we were all lawyers. Or if we were all in an artistic village. According to the legal definition, a scam is something that has a fictitious advertiser or something that has not been released even once by a non-fictitious advertiser. Till this scam of a definition is changed, of course almost no ad is a scam! How long are we going to fool ourselves?

Today, except for some fools who insert ads for fictitious advertisers, most people at least ensure that the advertiser exists. It takes nothing to get one release of an ad today. There are friendly newspapers and channels all over the place. There are understanding clients who are generally happy to lend a signature to prove authenticity as long as they are on talking terms with their agencies. It's called motivation sometimes!

I blame our award system for this stupidity. Almost every award system (Effies is something we have created to assuage our conscience) has no clue or way to differentiate, respect or glorify an agency only on the great work done for the crores and crores of rupees clients actually spend! All they have is categories! A Balbir paasha aids awareness campaign, which put the fear of god in millions of merry bonkers, is judged along with a clever, oh so clever, non-smoking ad spoofing the Marlboro man whose existence few in this country are even aware of! And it's supposed to make the universe stop smoking! Ha ha ha ha ha!

And it wins at Cannes! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! A thanda matlab Coca-Cola needs four posters and print ads that wouldn't sell 1 ml of coke to make it eligible for a multi-media campaign category or grab the attention of an ignorant western jury seeking quaint Indian slants that they can understand. We must open up our awards to all artists of the world. After all their work works to sell a product creatively as much as our legal scams! So what if they don't belong to the AAAI or are called advertising agencies? Oh shit! I forgot. It's the legal definition we are concerned about! Sorry! Sorry!

R Balakrishnan, executive creative director, Lowe India

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice debate. Both make excellent points, put on the whole, I have to decide in favor of...Balakrishnan.

The decision is final.