Paytm ad
Paytm ad

Advertising had gone into a hiatus, but it is back with the Indian Premier League (IPL) and now with Diwali. If we treat IPL as the showcase of Indian advertising, and look at the brands that are advertising, then there is a key question we need to ask. Where are the insights?

IPL is the biggest media property India has, and in the past, it has been even bigger than the World Cup, drawing both viewership and conversation, and becoming the best platform for brands to connect. This year too, despite slowdown and the raging pandemic, the ad slots are full with many brands advertising heavily.

Take a look at the Pan Masala category. There is a brand that starts with a man striking dirt off his hands and the story flows into a cricket stadium with a crowd cheering. It’s an ad made by a multi-award winning creative hotshop; there can’t be an issue of skill and perspective that the makers would have brought in. Yet the question remains, where is the insight? What does the expensive ad tell us about the brand, about who is the consumer, about what makes the brand something that people should look at?

Media as sledgehammer

There is another, now very long-running ad about having Saffron, with an A-list celebrity, we need to ask the same question: where is the insight? Both Kamla Pasand and Vimal have decided to use media as a sledgehammer and not bother with sharpening the nail.

One of the most discussed commercials running on IPL is for the Credapp. They are well made, have major celebrities and are entertaining. On most counts, this will mean that they are part of a very successful campaign. Yet, the question remains - what is the insight? What human problem is Cred trying to solve? It’s good to dominate media, have a very large share of voice, but the lack of insight can wash away all the short term advantage media pressure builds.

One of the most common insights that appliances and automobiles have used is around respect. Respect that comes from ownership, respect that comes from acknowledgement. Toyota is running a campaign in the Press that is driven by the respect that comes from ownership. Home Credit Diwali campaign plays the same theme. Here, the buyer of a new double-door refrigerator wants the delivery truck to come through the lanes of the town for the whole town to see the new appliance he has bought. Today, both these are insights played wrong. Today, car ownership is not about respect, those days have passed. Today, showing off by displaying the new acquisition even in smaller towns is not the way to drive awe and respect.

Pride of behaviour

Today, acquisition and display of an expensive product is more about affinity and telling the world that they are moving forward and doing better. Today, respect comes from how you behave and not from what you own. Even smartphones do not build on the pride of ownership, and they are the most expensive personal indulgence.

There are many more brands, that have a poor understanding of the audience, and are dependent on the sheer weight of media to drive brand interest. It would be good to look at a brand that has got this right.

Paytm with its commercials on the wedding scenario has got it absolutely bang on. While they have used the most common ritual of money exchange at a wedding, they have also very interestingly built the product narrative of cashback.

It’s not just the product story, but how human truth has been used interestingly that makes the communication apt for the brand.

Insights matter most for the brands. Insights are the clever plan that help a brand stand out and be counted. Insights reduce the dependence on just media weights.

I hope brands will go back to investing in insights and build long term traction for themselves.

The author is Co-founder and CSO, Bang in the Middle

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal