Carlton D’Silva, CEO & CCO, Hungama Digital Services
Digital Marketing in India is progressing but not at par with the world. It’s a shame because being the technology hub of the globe we should be setting the bar for digital marketing. Being in the business for over 20 years now, I don't believe that it is the ideas that fail us. It’s plain and simple BRAVERY.
A lot of clients (and industry folk) ask me why does India not feature in the Cyber category of any of the major awards (like the Cannes Lions)? For the longest time I believed that the people on the jury just did not understand the complexities of Indian advertising and the strong influence that culture, religion, sport and entertainment on the consumers but when I myself became part of the Cannes Cyber Jury and started reviewing the marketing ideas we presented from India I realized it clearly did not match up to global standards. Maybe the ideas are bad but after reviewing the ideas that did not make the cut (and speaking to my colleagues in competing agencies), I saw a pile of award winning ideas that did not make the cut and the ‘safe’ ideas making the cut. So now we have zeroed in on the problem. We need braver decision makers to enable us to have marketing ideas that meet global standards.
There are many reasons why we are in this situation. Maybe the fault lies with us as we have not been able to teach the Brand Managers the importance of the medium. Today, if your brand does not stand for anything it will be most definitely be ignored by your consumers. We live in an age of a 2-way communication and if the brand merely talks to the consumers and forgets to listen, it might be left talking to no one. The digital medium is the only marketing medium that enables you to have this relationship with your consumers. Digital Marketing has changed the way we market to consumers. Here we listen first. Digital Marketing is equipped with tools that enable a brand to monitor, communicate timely, and address issues instantly whilst promoting positive sentiment. Social Media has become part of everyone’s lives. Social Media lets you know exactly what the consumers think of your brand and if you use the medium wisely you can also improve your brand/product. Innovation is a key part of Digital Marketing. The medium is constantly evolving and so should your brand. Innovation holds greater value when it is unique and hence it is extremely important to be swift in making decisions. I can guarantee you that the next year at all major advertising festivals Virtual Reality (VR) will be the talk of the town. If you want to do something innovative and worth talking about then one must make the decision now before the next BIG thing comes in and that technology you were thinking about becomes obsolete (and is no longer considered an innovation). All this technology and innovation does not come cheap and that’s where we come upon our next hurdle - believing that digital is cheap.
So, Is Digital cheap? Not really, but your ROI on digital is better than any marketing medium out there. I often get a response from my prospective clients that our company is quite costly and I respond by saying ‘You get what you pay for’. If you need to make an impact and do some path breaking work you need to go to a professional. What you get is reliability, a surfeit of experience and most importantly really good quality work. So don't concentrate on what you are paying but what you are getting in return. The decision will come easy when you change the way you look at things. The most intimidating thing a brand can do is trust its agency and the only way to do that is to be brave.
All is not gloomy though in the space of digital marketing. When we see the Unilever’s of the world taking the first step in creating innovative ways in communicating to India’s media dark areas through simple but effective ideas such as ‘Kaan Khajura Teshan’, we can see that there is success in innovation. Things would be a lot better though if we have mid-sized or even smaller brands taking the big step to lead the way in some innovative digital marketing campaigns. Brands have long followed a herd mentality and often adopt a tried and tested idea, but in doing so the brand becomes a ‘me-too’ and is not setting the benchmark of really cool digital marketing campaigns. If you need innovation you cannot be asking if someone else has done it before and has it worked for them. You have to be the one to do it and be the leader in your space. So be brave, because after all do you want your brand to be a leader or a follower?