Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let’s get love back!

4Ps B&M's Monojit Lahiri examines the strange paucity of ‘Love-Ads’ currently and exhorts, subjectively of course, the pundits to – well – get love back!
The most revered, hymned and celebrated emotion in this world is alas, allocated [by the powers that are!] only one calendar day in the year: Valentine’s Day! And boy, is there an overdrive – across all markets – to hard-sell heart-sell! But look around and suddenly you’ll realise that there’s a strange paucity of ‘love communication’. In other words, ads today are harping about technological prowess, or pricing coups, or even off-the-zonker humour... where the hell did the cheesy love ads disappear to?

And that at a time when the nation is brimming with Don Juanistic fervour. Never in recorded history has there been such a titanic need, hunger and desire for love. Quickly translated, the market for love is… unimaginable! Hard-boiled cynics and myopic marketers may dismiss this line of thought but the savvy, intelligent, sensitive, emo-tracking communication dude gets the drift and taps, full-on, with thumper results! It’s not so hard to figure out why, really. Look around and you see this strange scene with human beings longing to invest in emotion, love, imagination and feelings, both in their life and work, but most of them have one major problem: They don’t have a clue! Declares Isha Khan, a Corporate Consultant, “They are caught flat-footed in the challenge of translating love into a palpable, tangible and credible action. Comprehensively and totally foxed at the task of dovetailing innovation speed and flexibility with the magic and mystique of bonding.” To grounded people (not totally consumed or corrupted by gross and crass materialism that surrounds us), the solution is simple: Get back to Basics. Junk those bulky reports. Dump those research studies. Give love a chance. Leverage this amazing emotion as a strategic device for an enduring emotional connect – with every member across your target group/constituency – and watch the bottomline soar!

Genuine, sensitive and smart communicators have always understood, recognised and leveraged this emotion intelligently to escape from the dreaded ‘commodity trap’ and place brands where they actually belong – at the emotional centric-stage. Confesses veteran behavioural scientist and communication-watcher Kishore Dave, “This is a hallowed space reserved for charismatic brands – Pepsi, Coke, Reebok, Nike, Apple, Fevicol, Vodafone, Airtel, Lux, Surf, HDFC, Samsung, Archies – which inspire a kind of passion and loyalty that are both off-limits and non-negotiable to the touts. Also, what better time than now – harsh, tough, cynical and complex – to bring back the past and get love back-on-track. Celebrate love as emotion, inspiration and motivation Number One! Reaffirm what smart ad guys and marketers have known all along... that in the endless battle lines between emotion and reason, the former leads to action; the latter, only to conclusion”.

Finally, if fun, sensuality, mystery and intimacy enthrall, engage, entertain, enrich and empower life, why should they be blinkered off from the communication thrust related to trade and commerce, business and industry? Aren’t they driven by people? Why not substitute the dumb, impersonal, corporatised passion-trimmed-into-efficiency mode with a strong, personal and emotional connect. Starbucks, Café Coffee Day, Barista and the new Bank (ICICI) ads seem to be doing it, brilliantly, all the time. Explains Creative Director Kaushik Sen, “They’ve understood that the rules of the game have changed. It’s no longer only about consumer contact programmes; it’s about hanging out and being involved. Not about taking notes – but taking the pulse. Also, they’ve recognised that the research guys, after researching the hell out of what they believe needs to be researched, have conveniently ignored the rest.” The truth is – everything of value cannot be probed, dissected, analysed, scanned and researched for the right answer. Why? Because then we are in danger (As one perceptive pundit brilliantly put it) of being exactly wrong instead of being approximately right. Of placing consumers at the base of the pyramid rather than the centre. Of mistaking the fingers on our hands for the beat of our hearts.

So what’s the take out? As an ad guru has pointed out with rare perception and sensitivity, we need to stop talking about love and emotion and set it to work; blend it to the rampaging, new age emotion economy. The entertainment industry is a brilliant setting. It appeals to our creative, unconscious and intuitive side – zones that operate beyond rationality and rules, celebrating story-telling mystery and metaphor.

So at the end of the day: Is love a mango? A four letter word? Or a many splendoured thing? The April rose that only grows in early spring? Nature’s way of giving a reason to living, the golden crown that makes a man a king? You decide, but yes... the jury is out and the popular consensus is that [everything considered], love is indeed the CEO that presides over all constituencies and target groups simply because it unfailingly conquers the most significant, critical, precious, sacrosanct and empowering territory of all, your heart! And it’s time we got love back into the ad-business!


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