Thursday, May 16, 2013

DO SLOGANS WORK?

IS THE SLOGAN DYING IN TODAY’S AD-LAND?

Consulting Editor 4Ps B&M Monojit Lahiri questions the relevance of slogans in today’s era, and, umm, tastes the thunder


Once upon a time, slogans & advertising were truly the made-for-each-other blend, indeed as perfectly matched as the iconic Wills Filter template created for the ITC brand of the sixties! In 2013, do slogans have the same, compelling draw, enticement-value or fun-factor that they once enjoyed? A significant bunch of ad-watchers and trackers believes that many of the big brands don’t consider it necessary or cool to fall back on slogans anymore, considering it both hackneyed and horribly predictable. They believe that readers, viewers and listeners have moved on to a more communication-savvy and literate space where visual/aural devices and linkages are more impactive than the [y-a-w-n] catch-lines. Others disagree and believe that if slogans are intelligently and creatively fused into the brand promise, they will continue to both rock n’ roll! So what gives?

Lloyd Mathias – a brilliant, marketing practitioner who has done valuable time in Pepsi, Motorola and Tata and presently director of the Gurgaon-based Green Bean Ventures – believes that there’s been a sea-change in the very nature of the beast. “Across the 60s, 70s, even 80s, print and radio were pretty much the prime media drivers, where slogans naturally lent themselves as seductive and entertaining persuaders. However, with the advent of the TVC and now Digital, the entire scenario changed as did the perceptions of media consumption. While it didn’t totally dump the slogan to the trash can, it called for a review. Pepsi is a classic case in point where, from Yehi hai right choice baby to Dil maange more to Yeh pyaas hai badi to the latest Oh, Yes, Abhi, the transition has been organic and effective.”

Ogilvy’s cool dude creative maverick Sumanto Chattopadhyaya agrees. “Mathias is spot-on. Audio-visual & Digital have truly changed the rules of the game and ushered in a paradigm shift where visual/aural devices and linkages come through with greater enthusiasm and acceptance. However, intelligently and insightfully leveraged, slogans can still be both effective and memorable, aiding the end game in the business of influencing purchase intent.” The Bandera look-alike cites the example of Ogilvy’s Asian Paints Sunil Babu and loves Hoodi Baba as interesting examples of taking the concept of slogans and onomatopoeia to another level as also the outstanding example of Airtel’s Har ek friend zaroori hota hai (now, adapted in a movie title as Har ek friend kameena hota hai!) in celebrating the role and relevance of a great slogan. Ad and theatre hot-shot Bharat Dabolkar laughs and insists on using strong words. “Any dumbo who believes that the slogan is dead is talking nonsense and is obviously communication-illiterate! Never has it been more important than today when product parity and me-too-ism is rampant, since the USP is dead and buried. Slogans are [and have always been] the great differentiators, be it the timeless Utterly butterly delicious of Amul, the Har ek friend of Airtel or I love you, Rasna. Didn’t the late Mrs.Gandhi and more recently Barack Obama sweep popular imagination with their mesmeric slogans, Garibi Hatao and Yes, I Can respectively? Not slogans, but creativity is dead, my friend!” Shruti Gupta finds Dabolkar’s argument “both quaint and typically old-fashioned in keeping with his generation’s mindset. It’s not value judgement but facts that prove that new-age manufacturers and consumers of communication – across all avenues – don’t exactly get all dreamy eyed by slogans like their dads did in a more simplistic, non-cluttered and competitive time. Sure, slogans are used, but it’s not a sacrosanct rule and not at all compulsory.” The 27 year old Mumbai-based graphic designer believes that advertising has truly moved on and visual/aural devices offer equally potent, exciting and effective options. The Titan and DoComo signature tunes are brilliant examples of aural linkages that are creative and offer endless audience delight. “Oh really?” counters Shubhra Tandon of FCB, Ulka. The 27 year old copywriter reels off endless examples of stunning slogans that remain etched in memory. Starting with Taste the thunder and Dar ke aage jeet hai, Daag achhe hain, Har ghar kuch kehta hain, Definitely male, Swad zindagi ka, Thanda matlab Coca Cola, and more.

Halt! So who’s winning? If a slogan is about a brand pithily summed up and encapsulated with words which slam home the proposition in an engagingly entertaining manner that evokes a clear thought about the brand, isn’t that purrfect and cool? If, on the other hand, it appears too restrictive and suffocating, has done time, outlived its utility and needs to be put to rest while being replaced by a solid visual/aural device, should it incur the wrath of the purists, all set to leap out of mothballs or graves – whichever came first – and howl invectives about corrupting a sacrosanct template? For a safe answer, I will go to two classic slogans and invite the adwallahs to not “think small” and to “just do it”! Amen.

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