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Awards have been hijacked by commerce, says BBH’s Sir John Hegarty

Hegarty, Unilever’s Marc Mathieu and P&G’s Shantanu Khosla were among the speakers at ASCI’s ‘Creativity, For Goodness' Sake!’ event, held in Mumbai on March 20

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 23, 2015

John Hegarty at ASCI's 'Creativity for Goodness Sake'

Sir John Hegarty, Co-founder of BBH; March Mathieu, Global SVP - Marketing, Unilever; and Shantanu Khosla, MD, Procter & Gamble India, were among the advertising and marketing experts speaking at the Advertising Standard Council of India’s (ASCI) ‘Creativity, For Goodness’ Sake!’ event, held in Mumbai on March 20, 2015.

Talking about the importance of creativity, Hegarty noted that creativity was about engaging people and making them like you. Citing the example of a 1987 campaign run for Coca-Cola in Saudi Arabia by BBH, he explained, “When you go beyond borders, you can still maintain creativity if you concentrate on the positives rather than the negatives. The very essence of an ad is to unite people. That is what great ads do.”

Touching upon the relevance of awards in advertising, Hegarty felt that the problem arose when media began to measure agencies in terms of the awards they were winning. “The big agency groups feel that awards are most important, and so they are encouraging all kinds of behaviour, which, I feel, is not conducive to good advertising. Awards have been hijacked by commerce,” he added.

Highlighting that people were not consumers, and that advertising should treat them as audience, Hegarty noted, “We’re losing relevance because we’re becoming deceitful. We are not inspiring anymore. Earlier, we were looked on in admiration. Brands which have allowed that to happen should hang their head in shame.”

In another session, Unilever’s Mathieu spoke about how the company has been attempting to make sustainable living commonplace across all Unilever brands. Observing that the concept was commercially rewarding too, he explained, “Sustainable initiatives command a price premium, and these initiatives will represent more than two-third of growth in the years to come. At the same time, this effort also improves the planet and lives of people served.”

As part of his speech, P&G’s Khosla said that linking work with brand value and executing gracefully did not cause fury. “If you stay consumer based, your message will touch more hearts,” he remarked.

Speaking about regulations in advertising, Khosla explained, “Regulations are not barriers, but they can be used as excuse by people sometimes. Fundamentally, it is the consumers from whom the accepted norms develop. Stick with those and you’ll create better advertising.”

Khosla stressed on the need to have content separated from advertising. “The difference with advertising is commercial, and we are not trying to develop news. Advertising has not got anything to do with free speech. It’s about communicating a message in a certain way.”

Apart from these speakers, noted filmmaker Raju Hirani also spoke at the event. A debate on ‘Creativity, For Goodness’ Sake!’ was also held on how responsible should advertising be and where the fine line must be drawn between creativity and misleading claims. Sanjeeb Chaudhari, Global Head of Brand and CMO, Standard Chartered Bank; Santosh Desai, MD and CEO, Future Brands; Bobby Pawar, CCO, Publicis India; and Paritosh Joshi, Principal, Provocateur Advisory, were part of the panel, which was moderated by actor and author Anish Trivedi.

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