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What traditional brands can learn from Cred’s ad featuring Rahul Dravid

The Managing Director of Inexgro Brand Advisory writes why there is a need to shift from old-school, claims-based advertising

Shivaji Dasgupta

Over the years, brands have moved unavoidably from the promise business to the delivery business, the evidence of performance superseding the seduction of imagery. This irrefutable development in tandem with the peer-to-peer influence in customer journeys has also redefined the role of traditional advertising – upheld cleverly by Cred and ignored knowledgeably by brands still relying on old-school advertising.

Lest all of the above sounds rather mysterious, let me simplify objectively. Once upon a time, brands were in the business of making sweeping claims, occasionally bolstered by shallow facts and often at the realm of wishful superstardom. A pattern pursued by the legendary Ivory soap, the early years of liquor and cigarettes, automobile giants and even my neighbourhood photographer Sisir Studio – they promised a marital match on the strength of a single pre-bridal photograph in the era of arranged unions. The other day I noticed a celebrity in a print ad by one of India’s biggest FMCG brand, time naturally seemed to stand perilously still. An accomplished product at the mercy of staggering and mildly substantiated boasts, the capitulation of the virus surely qualifying for the audacity Hall of Fame.

While Cred truthfully understands the role of conventional advertising in this age of omnichannel communication and this too needs a slight explanation. Modern products and services designed for urban audiences, especially with a technology skew, do not depend on anachronistic claim-based advertising, simply because it does not work. Purchase decisions are based on peer references, reviews, smart observations and, of course, the experiential dimensions. So the role of advertising, at its finest, is to make the brand top of mind and provoke discussions and discovery. It may enrage you as much as Rahul Dravid but truth be told, this advertisement significantly ups the conversation ante on Cred and provokes exploration. Which is exactly the finest role that advertising can perform as a stimulus for transaction and that is why this piece is the fungible future of advertising,

But then, for the media industry to thrive we need both the articles and it is true that the claims brigade contributes heftily to the share of newsprint or airwaves. Especially in the health and wellness categories, hair oil to skin cream, where the efficacy of achievement is a carefully constructed copy matter and we strangely seem to be gullible in matters closest to our heart. This is especially true in vernacular media for regional brands, suggesting solutions for potency and hair vitality, thereby offering a thesis that the lesser educated and exposed may well be vulnerable to doubtful claims. While the world in the upper and wider echelons have indeed moved on, the piece of ATL advertising influential as a stimulant for conversations and discourse, which is a job well done as then the performance is the telling variable.

Progressing further on the Cred creative, the anger continuum of Rahul Dravid is truly a powerful creative device, purely for its disruption quotient in an era of predictable stereotypes. Once again, a fine example of the finest advertising over the eras, where deviation from the norm is way more attractive than convention. Unlike the fuddy-duddy blockbuster advertising, where a larger than life celebrity is goaded to make a supernormal claim, arguably fraudulent and inarguably exaggerated. It is my deepest belief that customers will frown on this strategy sooner than later, as our intelligence is an increasingly precious possession, cherished for its individuality above all else. When the celebrity himself fails to prove its veracity, courtesy of a cheeky pandemic, the argument gets strengthened even further and accentuates the credibility of the Cred approach.

So to all vehement critics of the Cred approach, on social and anti-social media, here is my mellow opinion, please do not mind. If you think that this does not lead to the deserving business you are direly mistaken, for awareness does lead to discovery and potential adoption. Especially when the awareness is induced by a provocative conduit and the measure of curiosity is indeed a function of persuasive creativity. The evaluation will soon extend to defensible analytics and the brand will have a decisive role in the customer’s life, hopefully positive. This is indeed the finest role that conventional advertising can play in this conversational era and we must emulate this story, as bright marketers.

On brands still relying on old-school, tried-and-tested formulas of advertising, it must be agreed that quite like the Barjatyas of Rajshri Films, they are pursuing a time-tested formula for success. Both work well for the business of media but for the future of advertising, Cred is the way to be. As it is rooted in the contemporary while being anchored in the timeless.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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