Advertising - Performance and Challenges
(With focus on India's Madison Avenue)


By

Prof. R.K. Gupta
(BE Mech Hons, MBA FIE)
Sr. Consultant & Professor of Management
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur
E-mail:
rkgupta@rkgupta.in / cityju@rediffmail.com
 


Entertainment is an effective vehicle, not advertisement objective. Maximizing sales data helps focus & refine targeting – the secret to advertising cost effectiveness. -Roy Morgan International

Advertising is a curious and unique service industry that has thrived at cost of its clients.Probably the only industry where companies pay to people for playing & experimenting with their products and marketing interests.It is an important part of Promotional methods of any organisation Profitable or not-for-profit.

The term "Madison Avenue" is often used metonymously for advertising, and Madison Avenue became identified with the advertising industry after the explosive growth in this area in the 1920s in USA. Madison avenue is otherwise a posh lane in Manhattan borough of New York near Madison square ( One of US Presidents' name) that also hosted a few advertising companies and related paraphernalia.Today its has several fashionable boutiques, too.

According to "The Emergence of Advertising in America, by the year 1861 there were twenty advertising agencies in New York City, and in 1911, the New York City Association of Advertising Agencies was founded, predating the establishment of the American Association of Advertising Agencies( covers 80% of US ad business turnover) by several years. Many companies later shifted HQs elsewhere in USA.

Hence the word Madison Avenue is synonamus with US ad industry.

Many people argue that advertising is sheer wastage of money and products could be cheaper without it.Other side argues that advertising makes products known to larger markets and deeply thus bringing down cost of production and distribution and hence it is important economic activity to save companies and may be nations.It finally helps the customer with a cheaper and better product.No other method can reach so fast and deeper to largest possible customers base geographgically scattered on vast territories. No company can create an alternative personal selling outfit to replace advertising. Even here the advertsing plays back up role to salemen.

The amount spent by companies may be  4-5 % of sales revenue but may jolly well reduce final production and distribution  costs by  20 to 30  % atleast due to deeper penetration and timely information about product in case of seasonal and service oriented products like tourism.Advertising can help achieve economies of  scale. The reach of advertising is of course tied to reach and quality of relevant media.

Let us first examine a typical chain of process of buying a product by a prospective customer or a client ( service sector):

Existing knowledge of a brand or product/No knowledge (new search)>>>need arises>>> reminded  of brand /product- by awareness advertisement>>>reinforcement by word of mouth(referrals or existing/past customers>>> Checking compatibility to need>>>Price/cost of possession>>> clarity of communication by seller and other terms of sale>>convenience of purchase >>>buying>>>use>>>post purchase cognitive dissonance/satisfaction>>> After  sale service and warranty executions>>>repeat buying>>>reinforcement by advertisement>>> recommendations to new customers.

The issues like tobacco advertising, liquor advertising, various questionable forms of advertising , advertising ethics, consumer groups , use of children in advertising and consumer websites like Mouthshut.com , do make life tough for advertising agencies and client both.

The intermediary channel partners play important role in supply chain penetration and personalising contact between otherwise remotely located seller and final buyer( this includes explosive service types like Telecom/Mobile).

Important issue to note is that word of mouth is never possible in hundred percent cases due to large scattered markets, rapid urbanisations and suburban settlements and fast lifestyle,  and a few new customsers always add to kitty of supplier directly and a few leave (Brand switching in routine or permanently) regularly either out of habit,dissatisfaction or a better deal by competitor. Most often the cause may be bad service and lifeless impersonalised treatment with consumer/customer. Hence Advertising does work to bring new customers  but only once. Advertisement can  create product trial but not loyalty so easily ( it is possible, though).

Now this is  quite a complicated process  that customer would take for buying,  say  a toothpaste. Yes and NO. It does not always happen that way.The degree of elaboration depends on risk involved or lack of previoous exposure and ofcourse the cost. Higher the cost, higher is Elaboration and search for right product.

Advertisement can do three things nicely: Make customer aware of a brand or product, narrate its USP or function ( in very brief time-may be maximum 30 seconds or half page of a magazine) that may satisfy a targetted consumer need/want or thirdly stimulate short term sales promotion. I doubt if advertising can do much beyond this. I even doubt  it can create any of above well enough.Even if that is achieved it is great performance.

It is a fallacy to think that advertising can create brands and cults.

It is also fallacy to think that advertisements can create a fresh desire for instant action on part of buyer like in AIDA or AIDCA theories ( it has to be existing there in direct or latent form).It needs lot of field work by sales staff or agents and convincing and follow up.Public relations is rising rapidly as PR is more important than advertising to develop and sustain brands over a long period of time.That is what companies  have to bother about.Both corprate and product branding.That only can save them in disastrous market conditions.

Most of the time  audience appreciates the musical of ad film or layout of print ad or its sexy models and her vital stats and not even remember which product it was meant for. It is well said often, that , good creative advertisement sells the ad company well and not the product. It then remains reduced to nice piece of art for archives and annual awards.

Emerging Issues

The  Rs 15000 crores (US $3.5 Biln) Indian Advertising Industry ( a good part of  revenue portion is run of the mill 'print ads' in news papers) is also suffering several problems:

The rules of game are changing fast for traditional (not below-the-line) advertising which was bread winner or major revenue source for most ad companies, like:

    1. Falling audience of channels and broadcasters

    2. Ingress of internet slowly but surely (online sales have several limitations though like credibility, tangiblity and goods return and refund) It also concerns with data security on internet like credit card details.

    3. Problems of Zipping and Zapping ( in future ,TV recording by customer for leisure viewing/interactive TV, may eliminate advertsiing totally-Microsoft Vista has some features incorporated already for home theatre and recording convenience)

    4. Emergence of Direct Marketing networks led by companies like Amway,Eureka Forbes, Tupperware  and so on……The list is growing fast.It is proving better and more effective and cheaper too in some cases.

    5. Advertisement cluttering .

    6. Rising costs of advertising both in electronic and Print media despite reduced number of exposures and clutter. You can't see your own matrimonial ad in news paper easily.

    7. Intense competition between brands and product and suppliers.

    8. Re arragement of Indian Madison Avenue by  mergers and take overs by foreign ad companies (BBDO,Rediffusion,JWT and almost every name)

    9. Need for global advertising strategies thus changing criteria for agency selection.

    10. Little margins for advertising clients and limited role of advertsing in building brands
          ( A painful long term process as now realised).

    11. Tough customers asking for integrated services from Ad companies and also well defined measureable results ( DAGMAR).

    12. Rapid product launches and new technology creating need for perpetual customer information and outdoing competitive models.

    13. Tired and confused customers with heavy dose of advertising, may be 250 to 350 exposure per day for  a typical American ( and now Indian) housewife.

    14. Search for strong USP for client and lack of self confidence in Indian advertising Industry, that anyway has just  a speck of annual turnover of  global trade, being not much more than one month's sales of Microsoft.

    15. Since client anyway views ad agency guys as a suspicious lot wasting his money and being a necessary evil, in new environment retaining client in good humor is problematic, as was never before. It is also said that any one can win the client account but it is tough to retain it. Go it will, sooner or later to a competitor.That is moot point, when?

It also happens that finally it turns out that what client wanted in the first place was better and it is more often the client and not creative directors and copywriters who  guide work to final copy/script/episode.It sure does keep account executives and copy writers on toes.The role of creative/art directors is a bit suspicious and unclear. In any case the creative ideas start popping out half to one hour before scheduled meeting with client. The old books come quite handy for generating ideas.There is always more confusion than order  and most of creative /art directors can be instantly recognised by queer outlandish outfits,sleepy eyes,pony tails, beards and lost eyes ( Khoya Khoya chaand).The Michael Jackson earrings and pony tails are now missing , once again.This breed of ad agency experts normally are well connected and have power to make or mar career of many ad guys in the agency.They can also offer new career oportunities to some employees when they eventually leave and set up their own agency of which scope is diminishing as resource commitment is now higher to compete with global advertising agencies, excepting for the usual recruitment, obituary and admissions type of advertisments.Here too innovations have taken place like making a short film on institute or on company to reinforce brand image or pre view company's capability and resources to a remote customer.

It is often wondered as to why strange and literary work is searched and used in advertising when objective is simply to convey product benefit. Well , that is one of biggest riddle and has no answer. You have to be unique ,get noticed and put across your idea in a few seconds so emphatically that it is memorable experience.Although another theory says that customers' memory is often weak and needs reinforcement advertising rather quite frequently.

Advertising agencies also have worked hard over last 70-80 years to develop theories and presentations of their own (like the one quoted hereinabove discussion) to create image of advertising as a complex and highly professional work and to reassure the client that his product  or  the client himself is in expert and safe hands and money shall be well spent by agency including sumptuous lunches for the client( here client means  important people in client organisation) or even some memorable holiday in singapore ( an example).It also adds to fun if some foreign locales are put in the  ad script. Inspite of all this, advertsiing industry is rising steadily and has bright future and will need a lot of talented people in various departments, we will talk a bit about, in a while.

Let us have a look into what is happening globally and why advertisements fail?

The changes in business environment are drastic and Madison Avenue is enjoying it even less. Nearly every ad agency head repeats the same mantra: There's never been a more exciting time to be in the advertising business. That is true--but most of the thrills are the result of things they would rather not talk about.

"The recession brought about more change on Madison Avenue in four years than the industry has seen in four decades. Until recently many agencies pocketed 15% of the cost of the media they purchased for their clients. In the past five years big advertisers like Chrysler and Unilever have done away with commissions entirely. Instead, the vast majority of clients now pay fees based on an agency's labor costs. Worse, agencies must often negotiate not with their clients' CEOs but with procurement officials who are used to dealing with vendors of staplers and file cabinets.

All those changes have brought about a deep shift in the balance of power on Madison Avenue. For decades the industry has been dominated by the "creatives"--the self-styled hipsters with the ponytails and open-neck shirts--who came up with ideas ("Coke is it!") that were translated into television, print, radio, and billboard ads. Beneath them toiled the media buyers, who wore suits and purchased television and radio time, magazine pages, and billboard space for clients.

Now the buyers are calling the shots. The reason is that holding companies have stripped out the buying divisions of their agencies and consolidated them into free-standing firms that use their clout to extract better media prices for clients. WPP's MindShare now handles all media buying for Unilever and American Express"- Devin Leonard Reporter Associate Doris Burke, in Fortune magazine

"We've gone from the era of mass production, mass merchandising, and mass marketing to the era of customized products and services. Media fragmentation is atomizing audiences. The advertising industry is having a terrible time adapting" Says, Randall Rothenberg, Director of intellectual capital at Booz Allen Hamilton and a columnist for 'Advertising Age'. Indians will soon feel the same heat here as storms of technology innovations can't be stopped.

(Read my article on customized mass manufacturing published on IndianMBA.com under title "Globalization issues and India"

That was business environment changes .Now let's look into Basics.

Let us quote Alyque Padamsee the colorful man of yesteryears of ad world and theater in India known best for Liril Girl and Lalithaji ads besides Cherry Blossom's Chaplin. He was  with Lintas and had same itch like most creative directors to be on his own.The problem with advertising industry guys is that they carry it too much into world of arts  probably getting inspiration from feature film glamour (specially if you are based in mumbai or chennai), rather than keeping these in straight domain of serious business communication tool.But some landmark advertisements like mentioned above and those like "utterly butterly Amul" leave permanent mark in minds of consumers.These are great works and happen by chance and rarely ( No disrespect intended to creative departments). 

One purpose of making absurd ads/copies  and powerful loud music jingles with suden rise in volume is intended to cut through clutter and help customer watch /read the ad, atleast even cursory way or atleast notice it. Some of the ads are so jerky that the watcher of TV or a visual media gets jolted by sudden onslaught of noise and funny presentation.

In his words: "Remember Karen Lunel (the first Liril model)? The ad was all about waterfalls, abundant water and the girl splashing about in total abandon singing "la la la laaa..." Karen is not too pretty, but has a lively smile and was just cut out for the soap ad.

Had I used a sexy or a busty girl, people would have noticed her vital statistics and would have missed out the brand. I saw the last of Liril's campaigns. It is so laden with sexual overtones that one would think it was a Kama Sutra commercial.

On what is lacking in today's ads, he says:

The 'switch factor' is absolutely lacking in today's ads. When you have prepared the pitch for a television commercial, you must sit with your client and find out if the ad has the essential element to make people switch from some other brand to yours. If it does not, then you must waste no time in tearing the commercial up and preparing a new one. For, 'switch factor' is the name of the advertising game today. We are in a highly competitive market, not a virgin one.

I remember one particular commercial made by Prasoon Pandey for Ericsson phone. A woman is seen asking an oldish man at the next table: will you have dinner with me? The old man comes up to her and says yes, when, to his horror, the woman says, 'one coffee, please,' taking him to be the waiter.

All this time, the woman was talking into her Ericsson cell phone, which being very small, could not be visible by the man sitting at the table next to hers. It was a very fine commercial, very well remembered but unfortunately, soon Ericsson's competitors launched smaller phones so the ad's advantage was lost.

So in advertising, you are like an athlete, always running against your competitors. Most of the ad agencies are very complacent. They should remember: The client is the person who pays your bills and he is the one who has created the product. You don't need to touch his feet but you need to work in tandem to create sales.

The Hutch ad for TV , that portrays the little pet dog trailing the boy, every where even at risk of life is powerful ad message about USP building- A network that is every where and does not fail you.

Despite whatever Alyque has to say about internet advertising (or online advertising), it is in-thing and more and more focus will be required to include it in overall market communication mix.

Does Advertising really work?

It really does not matter if you are a 'click and mortar' or 'brick and mortar' company but millions of buyers do check emails daily and also visit some websites. Thus designing of landing page is a challenging task to stimulate visitor to proceed further. Affiliate marketing is one tool to lead visitor cum prospect to your landing page.

Advertisements should be fun to watch after all and refresh prospective customers. Twenty years back Doordarshan once ran a serial 'darpan' on its programs feedback .In one of the meetings with a  viewer, the viewer only recognisded Door Darshan by mention of some programs that came in between TV advertisements.Hence if advertisement in 13 seconds or may be 30 seconds catch fancy of consumer and cycle of AIDA/AIDCA or VIPS  is completed, it sure is  a great ad. But it happens rarely.Some theories of cousre are by now well proven. For examople ,sales decay model. If advertisement is withdrawn the sales of best of brands and product do go down with time. At what rate? That will be detrmined by nature of the product, its brand strength, distribution network and  competitive structure of industry.

The role of advertisement agencies, due to need for Integrated Marketing Communications faced by companies today in highly competitive  and turmoiled markets, has therefor undergone major change from mere jingle creators or print ad copy creators and media buyers to that of researchers, marketing consultants, and communication designing companies, always on move.For this, either the companies have grown horizontally or have gone for tie ups.Ad making is no more fun getting fatter while client's sales decline. Some well known Marketing research companies have set up offices in  India since last few years.

The explosion of various channels of exposure and their interplay has made life tough for designing marketing communication program and achieving advertsing objectives at optimum cost which may be short term or long term goals.It should also be noted that all ad agencies need not have full set up and many specialised tasks are outsourced to specialists and free lancers as lot of technology is now used for special effects.It helps if ad agency is located in any  ad hub or metro city for easy interaction and outsourcing.

One thing I could never understand that why ad agncies are always short of time and in last minute hurry with all the excitement of a fast approaching marriage date in Indian homes.Perhaps a little research could find causes and place the things in more orderly way and planned way.The only exception being a secret or hurried product launch by companies which also I could never understand the reason for. May be both ad  agency and the  client companies look more corporate and improtant if chaos,excitement and movement is visible in organisation with high BP of key employees.That is what is fed to management grads in B schools all around the world. And then they are shown films on Yoga and Stress management.Is not that a bit odd?

May be in chaos lies the order ( a philosphical reasoning). I don't know ,really.

One thing has emerged very surely.The scientific attempt to set advertising goals and the measurement of results and its monitoring 'post release' like TAM ratings,although the authenticity of such ratings and methods of measurement is  questionable and controversial. These ratings and circulation figures by  ABC do jack up prices of slots in TV channels and column-cms( now cms–cms)  respectively in  News papers and Magz be it Run of Day or Run of Paper/Page  or a specifed Prime time  or location (page 3 for example) as the case may be.

Kendy Sproul(www.thecreativequill.com) is a freelance copywriter who's mission is to create the best copy possible, says: 'The most common cause of failure in both advertisement and marketing campaigns is that the company's USP is either weak or non-existent' According to her, the USP should be Descriptive, Clear and Short and must form a strong pointed message.

But what if your product is so common that there really isn't a difference strong enough to base your company's USP on? This is where it can get tricky. But there is hope. If you can't find a benefit in your product that you can use for a strong USP then you may have to get creative. Check out the USP of M&Ms candy: "M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand." How many other candies can you think of that could claim this same benefit? At least a few, right? But none of the competition was using this benefit as their USP, so it worked, and worked very well. Now that's being creative.

Dig deep and you just may be able to find such a gold nugget in your own product or service . When you do, use it to its fullest advantage in all your advertising, marketing and other publicity.

Another angle to try if you're stuck for a unique product benefit is to look at the company offering the product. In what ways does the company itself differ from the competition? Do you offer outstanding customer service? Do you make a guarantee that your competitors do not? Do you provide an actual human when a customer calls rather than an automated run-around? In short, what makes your company unique?

Summarizing my various observations above pointing to Causes of failure of advertising in words of Roy Williams, Marketing, Austin, Texas:

1.  The desire for instant gratification: Short term and quick response

2. Attempting to reach more people than the budget will allow: Not enough frequency

3. Assuming the business owner knows best: Inside bottle view of business owners

4. Unsubstantiated claims such as, "Highest quality at the lowest price" Not proving what you say in ad. Clichés won't work anymore and consumers are tired of it.

5. Improper use of passive media. Non-intrusive media, such as newspaper and yellow pages, require the use of a reticular activator (such as a photo or illustration) because passive media tends to reach only those buyers who are actively in the market for the product

6. Creating ads instead of campaigns- The several benefits must be covered in serial.

7. Obedience to unwritten rules (or following Black Book): for some insane reason, advertisers want their ads to look and sound like ads. Why is this?

8.  Late week schedules: Advertisers justify their unreasonable focus on Thursday and Friday advertising

9. Overconfidence in qualitative targeting: Saying the Wrong Thing has killed far more ad campaigns than reaching the Wrong People

10. Event driven marketing: Leaving out 99% people who did not come in event.

11. Great production without great copy: Too many ads today are creative without being persuasive

12. Confusing the "response" with "results" –responses are flattering to client and agency.

Good and bad ads

The goal of advertising is to create a clear awareness of the company and it's Unique Selling Proposition. Unfortunately, most advertisers evaluate their ads by the comments they hear from the people around them. The slickest, clearest, funniest, most creative and most different ads are the ones most likely to generate these comments. See the problem? When we confuse "response" with "results" we create "attention getting ads" which say absolutely nothing (about product).

But, when you have nothing to tell about the product, sing it (Batra and Myers).Now what can you say about cola soft drinks? So, only creative ads are made for such products. Another example of creative advertising is by Nescafe song released by Nescafe a Swiss company for coffee. The whole song set to beautiful music appeals to going ahead in career and life with self confidence with periodic interludes of word Nescafe. Here attempt was made to link Nescafe with people who want to go high with positive attitude and warmth; the warmth and assurance of Nescafe coffee. Not a single product attribute has been mentioned in the ad except for brand recitation.

Compare this with Nirma washing powder ad set on female models, the house wives from diverse backgrounds all using Nirma and ad goes on counting various product benefits and utility for white and colored fabrics and garments equally well. It was an instant big hit visual and song ad with the little Nirma girl finally merging into Nirma logo. These are classics that focused well on pre defined advertising objectives after detailed analysis of product attributes and target audience and identifying what USP to use. Nirma was repeated eight times in jingle

Another brilliant example of Industrial ad that created USP and pulled the final consumer product market is Intel Corporations "Intel inside" campaign.

Such an advertising really needs hard work, creativity, multiple sessions, brainstorming, team work, research and involving of several experts in various fields, besides the client.

Issues and challenges

A well made ad can be lost in crowd of ads and clutter if not timed and positioned well. The cost is to be optimized handling conflicting interest of keeping costs low and need to reach wider and deeper audience at the same time and the right type of audience. Media planning has become more complicated by emergence of powerful regional and vernacular channels of communication like newspapers, magazines and TV channels. Thus the cost of national coverage, if done properly may exceed well over Rs 100 millions for one time campaign say for a product launch. If we believe a recent rumor, Reliance Retail plans to allocate INR 3000 Millions as ad budget for 'RelianceMart' their third format- the Hyperstore. A tough going for small firms, therefore, and they have to look elsewhere for promoting their products; Hence search for below-the-line and non traditional means of product promotion including direct marketing and promotional schemes using distribution partners. This definitely is giving sleepless nights to small ad agencies in particular. A need for planning a suitable media mix is thus very important and traditional ad agency work has become marketing communication consulting business in which ad happens to be a part, an important part, though.

Indian advertising industry has gone through rediscovering and restructuring itself acquiring foreign ownerships and alliances. But the caliber of Indian ad agencies has yet to be established and stabilized in volatile markets and dramatic changes in new brands, products, competition and global coverage. Future is for big agencies that have integrated services to offer to the client and work as marketing partners and advisors with strong research arm or a tie up like that with Nelson.ORG etc. 

Advertising effectiveness is one area that has been not well researched and understood. Ad     cannot pull the products through markets on its own, anymore. Advertising will have to merge with PR strategies for effective solutions particularly for brand building and long term goals like market share and industry leadership image creation. Customers are no longer found and retained by advertising alone. Its role is diminishing for sure and advertising will have to rediscover itself. The advertising tactics have now newer and newer possibilities ranging from traditional advertising to direct marketing, emailing, banner advertising on web, audio and video CDs, sales promotion schemes and public relations (Publicity) exercises. But all this has to fit well into overall marketing strategies of organization; A tall order for the industry.

Here is an excerpt from services provided by Pressman Advertising Chennai:

We provide the entire range of graphic design, advertising, media planning and buying as well as public relations services to our clients.

We can design an integrated communications package as well as meet a project's specific need. Our talented and experienced professionals ensure that our recommendations are strategically sound, as well as extremely time and cost efficient. From that point onwards, it is our dedication to client servicing and going that extra mile that distinguishes us from our competitors.

The focus on marketing research and monitoring is missing. Neither is there specific mention of measurable results delivery, this being a relatively smaller firm.

A look at Indian 'Madison Avenue' structure

The composition of Indian advertising agency business shows many International operators already in India. Some examples are JWT, Dentsu,Young & Rubicam(DY&R), Grey Worldwide, BBDO, Leo Burnett, TBWA, Saatchi and Saatchi, Bozell, IB&W, McCann-Erickson, DDBN, Moulis Euro and of course O& M, HTA , and Lintas India. There are several pure Indian ad agencies too operating in their respective niches like Mudra Communications (Owned by undivided Reliance group). Most of big ones have collaboration or ownerships transferred with above international bigwigs. This augurs well for Indian ad industry and it has not done that bad. Many Indians have walked away with prizes in Cannes Lions 2007, though mere silver and bronze that too in just a few categories .Clio Awards is one of the most prestigious awards in ad world. These awards help people feel the organized and professional nature of ad agency business. It also helps agencies bag fatter accounts. These alliances have been driven by rapid growth of Auto sector and many other sectors like telecom and globalization with several MNCs setting shop in India. These international partners are expected to bring not the black book but creativity, international world experience and well backing marketing research expertise. Global agencies already hold 50% share in Indian advertising market which is likely to grow more and fast.

Goals of Advertising and its future

The purpose of advertising is to help control the perception of the brand values. Advertising works strongly in the area of enabling brand choices, for changing overall habits, whether they are commercial or social. In the social context we have seen effective ads on contraceptives and AIDS awareness. This brings us to the key question on how to evaluate good advertising. The common rules of judging the effectiveness of an advertisement are the following:

It should make the sale, break clutter, involve the consumer, touch the heart, hold appeal for the target group(s) and linger in the mind.

It is critical to evaluate the advertising message to see if it is communicating the intended strategy. The advertisement should ensure that the consumer can clearly understand the proposition - whether the proposition is based on functional or emotional benefits, how credible are the claims, and how it will impact sales.

Indian Ad industry has undergone restructuring with foreign ownerships coming in and business is growing but so are the challenges and risks. There is great scope and careers awaiting the capable, creative and committed bright young men and women in this industry which will keep changing face with times as convergence of technologies take place.

'Online advertising will be on the rise and will reach Rs. 300 crore by 2005. However, it will change the rules of advertising and will help advertisers to shift focus from broadcasting to narrow casting'.

'The decisions taken to reposition the agency in four specific areas of segmentation, scope, scale and capabilities will determine the value proposition that the agency intends to offer to its clients. The uniqueness and sustainability of such value proposition and the ability to deliver such values at a competitive cost will be a critical aspect of an agency's plan to reposition itself. The key thing to figure out will be what specific values clients in each segment targeted will be looking for (which may not always be articulated by the clients). While value expectations will differ from one segment to another, some common aspects are clear:

       * Providing research and intellectual inputs to clients in three key areas, viz understanding changes in consumer behavior, developing business insights (including making available frameworks for formulating strategic options) and crystallizing the brand vision. Agencies have not paid sufficient attention to supporting clients in the last mentioned two areas, namely business insights and brand vision'-says
Dr Ranjan Das.

Emphasizing on rise of PR (Publicity) and fall of Advertising, and quoting several world class brands like Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, The Body Shop, Starbucks, Microsoft, Oracle and many others Al Ries and Laura Ries say in "The Fall of Advertising and the rise of PR" (Harper Business paperback) –Crucial step in marketing a product is getting the Brand name (and that's what it stands for) into the mind of the consumer. You can't build a brand if you can't win the battle for the mind. The weak link is advertising. Advertising has lost its power to put a new brand name into the mind. Advertising has no credibility with consumers, who are increasingly skeptical of its claims and whenever possible are inclined to reject its messages.

Many more people now appear to be involved in creating ads and campaigns than ever before says Nigel Foster in "Bluff your way in Advertising". This makes it easier to find a scapegoat if things go wrong. There is safety in numbers. It is also true that only big agencies can attract truly big clients, according to Nigel, since:

1. Many clients would be horrified to discover that their account can be handled by two people and a dog (the office junior).Often a client's standing is based on the agency chosen.

2. Many advertising managers (clients) grow in stature with the size of agency team reputed to be working on the account.

3. Both sides fondly believe, that the more staff working on the account, the greater the possibility of someone coming up with a good idea, after all. Strangely this is true.

Due to lack of space and not to discourage potential talent to enter this career, I won't discuss here the insider view of an ad agency.

Acknowledgements: The referred literature and text picked up for fair use has been acknowledged quoted at respective place. I am grateful to all those experts quoted by me herein. The contents and research framework are based on long professional experience in  Indian corporate sector and with close look taken at Indian ad agency business during several encounters of author, in past.
 


Prof. R.K. Gupta
(BE Mech Hons, MBA FIE)
Sr. Consultant & Professor of Management
Aravali Institute of Management
Jodhpur
E-mail:
rkgupta@rkgupta.in / cityju@rediffmail.com
 

Source: E-mail August 17, 2007

         

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