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Amitabh Kant and Shah Rukh Khan set the tone for IAA Summit in Kochi

Both the speakers stressed upon the need for honesty for brands, saying if you create a brand and the reality doesn’t match that brand, it will give you a very big setback later

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Kochi | September 7, 2015


The IAA Silver Jubilee Summit in Kochi kicked off on September 3, 2015 with Shah Rukh Khan being honoured for his 25-year career in advertising and endorsements. Khan was awarded by Srinivasan K Swamy, President, IAA India Chapter, followed by a citation reading by Pradeep Guha, Summit Chairman and Area Director, IAA Asia Pacific.

Prior to the felicitation, Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India, presented a case study on the Incredible India campaign which was later described by Guha as “one of the best presentations ever from a bureaucrat”.

In his initial days in Delhi in 2000-01, when there were many terrorist attacks across the globe, including 9/11, Kant recalled how difficult it was to bring consumer demand back, especially in the era when tour operators used to sell tour packages through brochures. It was then that the Incredible India campaign was launched to highlight the Indian cultural and historical heritages and values. The challenge was to put India brand on the global market, bring back consumer demand, and increase hotel occupancy.

Amitabh Kant Amitabh Kant

“My own lesson came from Kerala where I had worked earlier. Kerala was sort of an unheard of place in the 1990s but later became one of the top 10 exotic destinations of the world. We did everything that other destinations don’t do. We went back to the roots of Kerala and brought back the authentic values in play. And Santosh Siwan made the first commercial for Kerala, which was also the first for any state of India. I have worked with some of the finest creative minds in India who have always delivered the results. My belief is that the government shouldn’t work at the lowest cost, rather it should work with the best quality,” said Kant.

In Kant’s words, “Branding is all about differentiation, and to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the world was a challenging task for us. So our campaign had a glimpse of India’s core values, including yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, backwaters, the colours of India, etc. The integrated campaign took over premier positions across all available mediums in the world’s biggest cities.”

Kant stressed that branding is not about advertising. “If you create a brand but the reality doesn’t match the brand, it will give you a very big setback later. Therefore, it’s very necessary for brand builders to build brands which actually converge and integrate with the reality on the ground. So, while we were trying to build brand India with the Incredible India campaign, it was very important that we improved the quality of infrastructure on ground. And that is what we tried to do with all important destinations across the country.”

Another important aspect was cleanliness attached to the tourism sector and we ran a simultaneous campaign for cleanliness that featured Shah Rukh Khan, who incidentally was the next speaker after Kant.

After the success of the Incredible India campaign, Kant was entrusted with the ‘Make in India’ campaign which has many different challenges and the Government of India is all geared up to take up those challenges.

Shah Rukh Khan Shah Rukh Khan

Post Kant’s presentation, Shah Rukh Khan talked about his debut in advertising 25 years ago, when he was advised not to enter the ad world because it could turn him into a commodity and affect his stardom. Khan thanked the ad world for helping him learn what being a brand means – that it is not a one-time achievement but a lifelong, ongoing process. “To remain on the top of the game and thriving for excellence is a tough task. Being able to connect with the audience to understand what inspires them today and how it could change their tomorrow is critical. Change has to meet the future today because tomorrow might be too late. When I plan a film today, it has to cater to an ever changing audience two years from now,” said Khan.

“It would be hypocritical not to acknowledge that media is a tool for me as much as I am a commodity for them. In digital world, everybody is a star and has his/her own voice. As a matter of fact, my belief is that the next big media star would not be from the television or film world but would be from the digital world. The ad world has taught me how to deal with this fast changing world. I need to think disruptively because disruption is what everyone wants,” added Khan.

Khan stressed on the need for empowering women in the advertising and film world. He said, “Be honest to what you are and especially to those that you are selling your product to. You will find enough people in the world who would embrace your beliefs as long as you let them feel that we are equal and we are honest. You have taught me to be honest and equal.”

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