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Guest Times: Why Indian advertising should emulate Japan and not Brazil

KV Sridhar ‘Pops’, National Creative Director of Leo Burnett, looking at trends at Cannes Lions, argues why Indian creatives should take a cue from Japanese advertising rather than the much tom-tommed Brazilian creativity

July 4, 2012

In the 50s and 60s, Indian advertising blindly carried forward or mimicked the British. The 70s saw the influence of American advertising fuelled by FMCG brands. It is the 80s that witnessed self-discovery of ‘Indianness’ in our advertising with television opening new doors. Indian creatives were also increasingly exposed to the world and somehow ‘Thai’ advertising influenced many of us as it reflected our realities with heavy dose of emotion combined with insightful ‘Pandeyji’ type humour.

The 90s exposed us to the cutting-edge competitiveness of Awards. Our English-speaking writers and art directors, influenced by Neil French, started to produce minimalistic crafty ads. The new millennium made us watch Brazil take the centrestage with Marcello Serpa as their leader.

Brazil became a role model for Indian advertising creatives. Brazilian ads were packed with high voltage entertainment and cleverness combined with impeccable craftsmanship. Brazilian creatives became superstars by winning loads of awards and admiration, and Indians wanting to emulate the formulae of creating pro-active one-off ads and in the bargain lost the originality of what we are as a race and what are were fast becoming.

If one were to introspect, we as a people are far closer to the Japanese than the carefree Brazilians. Agreed, we lack Japanese discipline; but we both have two things in common: Humanity and Technology – a leg in the past and the other in the future. Infosys, TCS, Wipro and the inspired San Jose migrated geeks opened ambition and possibilities in small town Indian MCAs’ minds. Who were responsible for some of the most tech supported innovations around the world by writing and breaking codes. Sadly these geeks, operating from the poverty stricken backyard garages of Vijayawada and Mysore, were not even recognised by our very own tech-savvy digital whiz kids. Now imagine these code writers collaborating with creative minds like Agnello Dias and Rajiv Rao to create life-changing ideas for eradication of illiteracy or infanticide.

Japanese creatives show us the way with the Grand Prix winning ‘Yubari’ case or this year’s Honda Motors Internavi “connecting lifelines” case. Honda’s reflex action within 20 hours of last year’s earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan put the country back on the road to recovery by providing road information collected real-time via Intranavi navigational systems installed in vehicles. They actually used the data on Google maps and “visualised” usable roads to the public via Internet and Google maps. This is an excellent case of ‘Humanity and Technology’ coming together to solve a problem.

This is what the future India can do with creativity and technology. To my mind, it is technology powered with creativity that has the power to change our country’s contradicting and contrasting problems. Now it’s in our hands where we want to aim our dum-dum bullet.

Did I say bullet train?

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Comments (1)
  • Senthil- 8 years ago

    Good point Sir, But what Leo Burnett is doing is completely opposite of what you are saying. Wasting money and time on print ads like Bajaj exhaust fan. Its so hardworking. Yes it has won some metals, but it was the best piece from your agency. Its a scam which has eaten a lots of money and time. Why not doing the kind of stuff you are talking in this article with that money. Then the point you are making will be believable. Thanks