Thursday, March 10, 2011

AD-Land's Latest Toing …Statistics

What’s with The Numbers game in Adville, Guys? 4Ps B&M Monojit Lahiri tries to Cut in on this Bizarre new Game in Town!

Hey, don’t get naughty ideas, okay? Toing is not that … but fixation, obsession, hot focus. And statistics (or stats, as they say) does not stand for vital or Pam Andy, but clinical numericals, got it? Jeez, we seem to be living in real sinful times when everything is put under the scanner, laid bare … and – forget it!

Okay, let’s get serious. In recent times (more than ever) stats are being yanked out to sell, promote, inform, educate, hype, persuade … wassup? Two minutes of brushing with Pepsodent removes 95% germs! Listerine announces that your tooth brush reaches only 25% of your mouth! Ek Minute is what Surf Excel takes to wipe off dirt from your clothes! One pack of Maggi wheat flour noodles is equal to 3 chapatis! Fair & Handsome promises gorapan in 3 weeks, while Pond’s White Beauty Cream offers flawless skin in 7 days. Rival Olay declares that it fights 7 signs of ageing, while Head & Shoulders announces 7 Scalp & Hair benefits! Wow, kinda hair-raising, huh?

“Not really,” says Head honcho of Virus Communication, Rupam Bohra. He believes all this is happening because there is a huge bankruptcy of ideas “and this reflects dramatically the troubled state that the Creative frat are in, in today’s Ad scene. They are under huge pressure to constantly perform and deliver in a fiercely competitive marketscape with clients looking for results – and no corny, pseudo-creative, edgy crap, please! Now, in a space where everyone is desperately wanting to be bigger than China, confusion can get confounded! Result? Transform emotion into numericals!’’ He is convinced that it is a sign of desperation and recalls a recent meeting with a client who valiantly tried to convince him that “my products, when consumed/used, are bound to make the consumer 30% happier!”

Lowe’s Creative Head (North) Deepesh Jha is suitably amused at this anecdote but brings to the table his own special spin. Jha believes that it’s not very prudent to make sweeping statements because ultimately it all depends on the focus and direction the brief wishes to connect with. “Sometimes stats need to be emphasised to power and define the ad in terms of potency and edge – like Dove soap. Otherwise too, if it makes for an interesting value-addition to the narrative, why not?,” he tells 4Ps B&M. Jha doesn’t remotely believe that it has anything to do with either creative bankruptcy or desperation. “That’s a rather naïve and simplistic way of looking at this issue. Eventually it is about who is using it, in what manner, to address which constituency, to achieve what result. Stats can be very effective if used in a relevant manner … or corny and brain dead if used in a clichéd, moronic way,” says Jha.

President (Corporate), Tata Teleservices Lloyd Mathias offers a client’s perspective. He believes that today’s consumer is far more savvy and informed than his predecessor and demands proof for his full-value-for-money transactions. This has suddenly – in many categories – eliminated or toned down the soft-sell, charming and romancing of the target group. “Of course, there are brilliant exceptions like Vodafone which continues to do its own thing – Pug, Zoozoos – because they are brand building devices. But, it depends on the marketer, product, focus, and the target audience. In today’s crazy market place, anything that gives the client an edge into propelling the purchase intent must be pounded, fast n’ furious … nobody cares about the textbook do’s and don’ts today,” says Mathias.

Ad–watcher Pravesh Mathur believes it’s clearly a sign of the times. “Be it the growth-rate, Sensex, movie-rating, cricket-rating of the best side and cricketers, per capita incomes – the number game is hot n’ happening, boss,” says Mathur. Agrees Copywriter Tania Khanna as she tells 4Ps B&M, “the proliferation of me-too brands blitzing diverse messages of funny and emotive nature engages the consumer, but also confuses her. Often it even de-sensitises her. That’s when measurable tools – read benefits – come handy. Enter stats!”

Be that as it may, stats can be misleading too. Remember the high profile and controversial Heinz-Complan face off that shook the industry and media sometime ago? It only reveals that stats can be a double-edged sword. Concludes the local wit: “It’s a lot like marriage, sex or even advertising. It’s as good, relevant, meaningful, fulfilling and effective – or terrible, ghastly, flawed, fake or misleading – as you make it, buddy!” Touche!


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