15 November 2017

Being good is not a destination, but a journey: Kapil Arora, President, Ogilvy

Advertising learnt from the journalistic world in purposeful advertising. But perhaps it’s time that journalism takes a leaf out of advertising and deploys the dynamics of storytelling. Journalism has always been the moral compass of the modern society. It has its very critical role in the way world behaves, understands and comprehends reality. Its core objective of bringing the truth in front of people and questioning whatever is not right with the world but also lauding and sharing what’s right with the world.


Having said that I want to share how the world of advertising and communication is changing. So how do we sell or promote products to you. Primarily from two perspectives: functional or emotional. Either I tell you to buy a product or service as to why it is best for you, how it benefits you, or we tell you how it makes you feel how it makes your life better, simpler, easier and more fun.

If we answer these set of questions convincingly, we have a good chance of converting a large group of consumers who would say I would buy that product. For a good sixty to seventy years we have happily worked down on this principle. But there has been change. There has been a geo political change, social change, economic slowdown and all that. However, in the world of brands, I would say there have been two changes. The first being Access. The second being Accountability.

From consumers’ perspectives, they have access to brands, access to information, to everything we do. There is no place to hide. So as result brands are much more Accountable. This seems like a simple small thing. But for a brand that’s got commercial at heart, and whose perspective is to sell more, this has brought a big change.

Today, a brand is what a brand does. There is no place to hide because they are held accountable. This has led to a lot of changes in the way the brands and companies communicate. For example earlier if we were doing advertising for a bottled water, we would say “ here’s a bottled water that refreshes like no other brand does “.But now we would say “ The purest bottled water from a brand that is committed to keep lakes and rivers in the country clean”. The moment we do this, the consumer sees us differently. But the essence is not just in saying but doing. Or else consumers are extremely smart and aware and see through white lies.

This has given way to what experts call “ Responsible Consumption” The CMO of Unilever in 2015 said that the market for responsible consumption is $400 billion in 2015 alone and growing in high double digits.

So while from a journalistic world, being responsible is finding back your moral compass, from a brand world, it makes business sense to also be responsible. The big difference between the above bottled water example and regular advertising is the word “Purpose”. This has become a super strategic tool. Tesla has done it, and so has Coca-Cola and so has Dove. All in their unique style and belief. The golden rule is being genuine.

Like all top agencies, Ogilvy has a big model which we believe helps the brands find their best self, their inner greatness and we call this the Big Ideal. It taps into the cultural tensions that exist in consumers’ lives and marries it with brands best self and tells us what purpose the brand works for.



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