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NaMo steals the show at IAA Summit with vision of Brand India

With exceptional oratory, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate speaks about how to brand India successfully and touched on areas where Brand India is lacking. “We sell our country short,” he emphasised

Sohini Sen | Mumbai | October 1, 2013

Narendra Modi speaking at IAA Global Marketing Summit

The International Advertising Association - India Chapter's Global Marketing Summit saw Gujarat Chief Minister and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, taking the stage as the star speaker. While the summit, organised to celebrate 75 years of IAA globally, looked at ‘Future-proofing brands’ in a changing environment, Modi spoke about building brand India.

After an initial welcome speech by IAA President, Srinivasan K Swamy, and former IAA President Pradeep Guha, Modi lit the lamp followed by the singing of the National Anthem.

"The truth is we as a people have some problems, which is why we haven't been able to create brand India. One of the first problems we need to look at is that we have no confidence in ourselves, in our abilities and talents. If you are trying to sell an idea to anyone, you must first believe in it yourself. India cannot be branded easily, and maybe it should not be branded either. But everything has a symbolic value and we can choose to showcase that value in a new way to attract attention and open new doors," said Modi.

Modi went on to distinguish between a great orator and a good communicator. “While an orator can excite you and impress you, a communicator will inspire. And this is what we should aspire to be and to do.” The last great communicator, according to Modi, was Mahatma Gandhi, who in spite of never wearing a hat, has successfully made hundreds wear the Gandhi topi even today. “Like Gandhi, India as a brand should not try to impress the West – rather it should inspire and only then can we move forward.” Modi suggested that a book on the great communicator Gandhi should be written. “This book, once it is included in the syllabus of foreign universities, would help in creating and forwarding brand India,” he said.

The PM candidate was disturbed by the fact that “we sell our country short” in everyday things. “We compare our literary greats and explain them as 'He is our Shakespeare'. Instead, we must be proud of our own history and heritage and we should talk about them in such a way that their individual identities are of a similar stature as that of western literary greats. Simple things like our history, our musical heritage, our artistic culture, if promoted properly, can market the brand India.”

"Exploitation of nature is not something our ancestors have taught us. The Ganges was clean till it was 'Ganga Ma'. Once we were taught that it is H2O, we wanted to use it for maximum profits and look at what that has turned the Ganga into! We have the oldest city in the world – Dhaulavira. It was modern enough to have road signs. Yet, we have never tried to market it to foreigners. Let alone to foreigners, our own country doesn't know about it. Marketing will only be possible when we are aware and proud of what we have," Modi emphasized.

Modi further spoke about how Yoga has taken over the world. And India has several more things to actually take to foreign shores. The holistic healthcare system of ancient India would be well received if we market it properly. However, most people outside don't even know of its existence. China exports herbal medicine the most in the world while India is the country which exports it the least.

"History stands proof that to reach amicable settlement nothing is as powerful as soft power. In old days, after a war, a king's wife would send a rakhi to the rival king and that would mean the war would come to an end. India has a heritage of that soft power and no one can take that from us or beat us to it. It is ok to say all of this, but the final thing is, just like a cricketer eats, drinks and sleeps cricket, similarly in the case of brand India, we must have India in our mind all the time," Modi concluded.

The orator finished his speech to a standing ovation from the audience, which included industry captains and stalwarts from various fields across the country. IAA also honoured Narendra Modi by making him their first Honorary Member and presenting him with a certificate.

"We all had great expectations and he lived up to it. His ability to communicate with clarity is remarkable and inspirational. To bring the branding idea under the ethos of India, Indianess and history of 5,000 years, and yet make it relevant to the present age to an otherwise very upwardly mobile marketing community, is commendable," said Neeraj Roy, Vice-President, IAA.

Bipin Pandit, COO, The Ad Club, said," What a fabulous session and the timing is just perfect. He is the flavour of the season or even the year. Modi himself is a very good orator and he reches out to people very well. He establishes a chord between himself and the audience."


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