Wednesday, August 27, 2008


“Any fool can make a product; it takes brains to sell it.”

This is a line that is quoted in many contexts; but it was first used in the context of advertising. So how has Indian advertising changed; this essay tries to present an unbiased summary of the changes and recent trends in the Indian advertising scenario.

The eighties brought Doordarshan and the television set to the common man. The early advertisements were simple and tried to convey their message with simplicity. It took a while for the public to move away from the commercials aired on the radio. There was a time when programs like “Jai Jawan” and “Binaca Geetmala” on Vividh Bharathi had a mass following across the nation. Placing an advertisement. in these programs ensured that the public would be aware of your product.

Television serials like “Buniyaad,” “Humlog,” “Nukkad,” “Karamchand” etc… and film-based programs like “Chitrahaar” and “Rangoli” created their own fan-base and the loyal audience would regularly watch these programs. Thus TV ads. became a big source of revenue for the national broadcaster and innovative ads selling various products were born. Remember the early ads-“Washing Powder Nirma,” “I Love You Rasna,” “Congratulations and Celebrations”{For Cadburys chocolates, "Lifebuoy-tandurusti ki raksha karta hai lifebuoy.."

The advent of cable television and the arrival of international channels brought in a wide variety of foreign ads to the Indian viewer. The blossoming economy and removal restrictions on foreign imports and a liberal industrialization policy, saw the arrival of lots of foreign brands like Coke, Pepsi, Hyundai, Sony, Daewoo, etc.. in India.

The ads became more creative with the emphasis on humour. The boom in the automobile sector saw the creation of lots of ads for bikes. Remember the “Hero Puch ad with Aamir Khan”

We also had ads created by the government to celebrate national unity. Remember the cute ad with the song-“Ek tithli anek tithliyaan..” “Ek chidiya anek chidiyaan…” It had simple animation and blending a fable from the Panchatantra it exemplified the importance of staying united.

The “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” ad, which had luminaries from all fields like Bhimsen Joshi, Amitabh, P.T.Usha, and a host of others was an immense hit and fostered national integration.

The nineties saw the arrival of sports stars and cine stars raking money with lucrative advertising deals. Remember the Aamir-Aishwarya ad. for Pepsi. The Sachin, Azhar, kambli ad for Pepsi. Actresses like Juhi Chawla, Shikha Swaroop and a host of others selling everything from soft drinks to luxury soaps.

Today the television advertising circuit faces a big threat from the Internet. Pop-up ads maybe irritating to the reader, but at least three out of ten people will click on it to see what the ad is all about. The TV ads of today are shot in a grand manner with the most famous movie or sports personalities and shot on location in Europe or Australia. At times it appears to be a criminal waste of time and money; but who cares; it is a case of my ad was more expensive to shoot than yours!

Another trend that is becoming really popular is in-brand advertising in Bollywoodie up with production houses to promote their products in a movie. Ex-Mountain Dew soft drink in Mission Istanbul -“Dar ke aage jeet hai. Hritik sipping Coke in a movie, Shahrukh using a high-end Nokia mobile phone in a movie, Aishwarya Rai flaunting a particular brand of diamond jewellery, Rani Mukherjee wearing a costly designer wristwatch by Titan, the list continues.

The modern consumer has a wide range of products to choose, a good advertisement may not necessarily transform a bad product in to a good one, but poor advertising can definitely kill a good product.

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