ADVERTISING HAS ALWAYS BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH FMCGs, RIGHT? SO WHAT ARE THESE NEWBIES, WITH THEIR FAT BUDGETS AND SEARING PRESENCE, DOING HERE? IS THEIR UNDERSTANDING AND CO-RELATION WITH THE PERSUASION INDUSTRY WORKING WITH THEIR SELECT CONSTITUENCIES IN THE MANNER DESIRED? 4Ps B&M ATTEMPTS A CHECKOUT
Think advertising, and to the common man, some usual slogans and visuals leap into focus. Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye, Washing Powder Nirma, Dimag Ki Batti Jala De, Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hi, Chal Meri Luna, Khujli ka Happy Ending, Teda Hai Par Mera Hain … the list is endless. In recent times, however, three new categories have flung their hats into the ring and zoomed in, hot n' heavy: Healthcare, Real Estate and Education. Why? How? And to what effect?
Ujjal Sinha, the dynamic CEO of the Kolkata-based Genesis Advertising, believes that this story really had its birth post '91, when big-time moollah hit Indian shores like never before. Land was always a coveted and profitable proposition and now the sharpies, leapt in. “In this new, shiny, consumer driven environment where consumption and living well are the new mantras and old-fashioned values like austerity, restraint and holding back junked into the bin, lifestyle equations went through a paradigm shift, In this scenario the focus on real estate, healthcare and education advertising was not about brand-building but churning out communication that doled out facts and figures with the sole design of selling at fast n' furious pace, because time is money. Despite indifferent standards of advertising, if these categories are getting away with it, it is because of the demand-supply equation. In a land of a billion people (getting more aspirational every second than ever before!) the desire to live well is reflected in their recognising the value of good, job specific education from a private institution, cosying up in a nice flat and understanding the huge difference in healthcare between a private and a government hospital. Unlike the more sophisticated and evolved FMCG sector, advertising here is not about creating that critical creative differential in a parity market to influence sale or brand-building exercise – but a means to an end,” Sinha tells 4Ps B&M .
Ranjan Bargotra, President, Delhi based Crayons Advertising, offers his own take. His Agency has a dedicated cell to service the healthcare sector and their considered, pro-active thrusts appropriately reflected in their Fortis ads – demonstrate their knowledge and commitment to this category. “It has to be seen in perspective. Once upon a time this terminology – healthcare – didn't exist … just doctors, medicines and recommended hospitals. It was a simple, innocent time, very homely and personalized (cutely appropriated in the Bollywood movies of the sixties and seventies with the demure heroines referring to the medico as Doctor-chacha!), with everything in place. Today, in this complex world, the transformation has been dramatic! For one, the cosy informality and modest fees are a thing of the past as healthcare has become a humorously expensive proposition. Hospital chains, hitting pan-India (following corporate footprints) are a reality offering quality healthcare at a cost. Competition too has blazed in, and with it branding. If the communication quotient, however, is not yet as sophisticated and advanced as, say the FMCG sector, there are reasons. For one, these are early days. Also this category (in comparison with FMCG) is very small and it's both unfair and inaccurate to bunch them together. Remember, its not an everyday consumable item, so both the compulsions and demands of the communication blueprint take on a different trajectory. Besides, strict rules and regulations guide healthcare communication, so caution is the key,” says Bargotra. However, Bargotra belives it's an exciting category that is slowly gathering momentum.
Lloyd Mathias, President, Corporate Monitoring, Tata Teleservices Ltd., agrees as he tells 4Ps B&M, “These really are early days and it's unfair to slam their communication efforts. My belief is that all three areas are poised for stupendous growth and therefore Ad Agencies have a responsibility and should make it their business to understand their special communication needs – very different from FMCG's and create material that will add value. It's not about spouting jargons but sitting with these guys figuring out what kind of communication is required to fulfil what kind of special demand and create the package in an effective manner. I think it's both a magnificent challenge and an outstanding opportunity.”
Kunal Banerjee (President, M35), an old hand in the marketing of real estate, is more circumspect. A hard-core communication professional who started out with Ogilvy in the Far East and later worked with several reputed Ad Agencies across three decades, believes that communication in this sector has not really made much progress, in terms of focus and maturity, that it needs to. “True, the boon is unprecedented as is the response from an aspirational middle class, but has communications really been a catalyst in this movement? Introspection and serious soul-searching is required, along with a drastic change in attitude, mindset and professionalism on the ground,” Banerjee tells 4Ps B&M. Banerjee believes that while the honeymoon lasts, everyone is happy, but once crunch time arrives – competition or slump advertising will be called upon to play a critical part. “That will be the litmus test. It might be a good idea to get started ASAP. After all, better safe than sorry has always been a win-win mantra!” he adds.
Thus, at the end of the day real estate, healthcare and education offer the true-blue practitioners both challenges and opportunities, because the canvas is huge, virgin, exciting and waiting to be put on a trapeze and slung into new heights of excellence.