The Cannes debacle

Are we going back to those bad old days when one hundred Indians retuned with a nice tan from a Cannes holiday, and a bagful of Scotch and electronic gizmos, but not much else?

The richie-rich Cannes ad fest has just concluded. And all the good boys and gals of the Indian ad and marketing world are on their way back after some serious partying, sun bathing, and other, er, interesting activities.
 
However, they return rather poorly in terms of the awards in their duty-free bags.

 Compared to the past couple of years, the medals score has shot down badly, and this year, India managed to pick up just 17 trophies (a nation like Brazil takes home 50 plus!). And this after 25 medals last year and an almost equal tally the year before. Naturally, the expectations were high, we thought the Indian ad world had finally made the international cut, but the industry was left disappointed.
 
Some would say the tally isn't THAT bad, that this downslide is an aberration, and hopefully things will get better next year. To take that attitude would be the worst thing the ad guys can do. There has to be serious introspection on what went wrong. Why have the creative standards fallen? Has complacency set in? Are the bottom-line obsessed finance directors in real control of the agencies? Are the clients not being pushed hard enough to approve brilliant work? Are the youngsters motivated enough to deliver their best? Are they being trained right? Or, are they spending all their free time on Facebook and Twitter and idle gossip, instead of widening their creative horizons? Lots to chew on.
 
There' another thing: The nation's ad world is still very television-focussed. And as for the rest of the traditional media like press, radio and direct marketing, it's still the scam ads that mainly rule, and in today's Cannes an international jury can smell that stinking rat out pretty quickly. Also, have the agency personnel woken up to the challenges of the new media, especially the digital media? Do they have the necessary skills to compete in these arenas with the rest of the world?
 
What's even more shocking is that in this year's Abby awards (held recently in Goa), a number of categories went unrewarded, and later, some of the jury members were caught self-voting! Completely shameful and completely desperate. Speaks volumes of the insecurity and lack of confidence amongst creative directors.
 
Yup, lots of soul-searching to be done. Lots of tough questions to be asked. And some hard answers found. Else we are staring at the barrel. We so easily could go back to those bad old days when one hundred Indians retuned with a nice tan from a Cannes holiday, and a bagful of Scotch and electronic gizmos, but not much else

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COMMENTS

Udit C

6 years ago

Is it a coincidence that the Advertisement Standards Council of India was formed when the industry had begun to rot and has outlived most agencies?

Jim

6 years ago

I agree that the advertisement standards have fallen a lot. Today u see a lot of celebrities endorsing products or the companies are using half naked models for their products. No more do we see pure creative advertisiements.

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Small Cars,Big Discounts

The big discount—of over Rs30,000 on the Maruti Suzuki Ritz diesel—says it all; there is a price war on again in this segment and stocks are building up. Despite a reported three-four month waiting period for the VW Polo and the perceived delay in deliveries on the Ford Figo, as well as reports of record incremental sales over the past few months, an oversupply situation seems to be hitting the new car market that is not reflected in dry numbers.

One reason proffered for this is that shipments to the disturbed areas in the North East are being re-routed to other parts of the country. Another reason given is that there has always been a mismatch between factory despatch, dealer/distributor lift-off and vehicle registration figures—and most manufacturers provide numbers on the basis of vehicles which have left the factory gates, not based on actual registration data. And, finally, while there is undoubtedly a boom in new vehicle purchases, there is also a situation of oversupply and overcapacity.

So if you are out in the market to buy a new car, it is that time again—shop around; don’t get taken in by smooth-talking salesmen trying to push premiums on supposed short-supplies; certainly do not get locked in by making advance payments and waiting for them to call back. Most waiting lists, barring a few specific exceptions like the Maruti Swift diesel and VW Polo diesel, are over-hyped. Or, as in the case of the costlier SUVs and sedans, the delay is because of the need to place specific orders. But that’s another segment altogether.

A Swift Move

While on the Maruti Suzuki Swift, expect a face-lifted version very soon in India, probably before the festival season. A changed rear-end appears to make for a bigger boot, though it is the size of the opening that gives that illusion, since it doesn’t really appear to be bigger. The front-end has been worked on a wee bit, too, but it is the interiors which are reported to be the area where the maximum work on catching up with the rivals has been done.

That’s good to hear, since interiors seem to be the tipping point in influencing purchase decisions for many customers, now that the engine and other technologies appear to be nearly similar in all brands. And interiors is where Maruti Suzuki has traditionally been the weakest, since it started out as a seller of cars to the masses, but the mass market meanwhile has moved into wanting something more and better.

Shocking Changes

This brings us to the business of after-sales fitments. There seems to be no dearth of potential add-ons of all sorts that can be positioned inside and outside a new vehicle. Passion as well as money fuels the most amazing budgets which are then used to improve cars. But please do get the opinion and guidance of a decent electrical engineer, one who is not going to be impacted by the loss of a possible sale, before overloading the electrical circuits of your car. Something as ostensibly simple as higher-rated bulbs can cause fire; and the temptation to bypass the fuses and safety circuits, or to add all sorts of capacitors and add-on circuits, can have terrible results.

One way to test this is to remove the fusible link, or even all the fuses—if anything works despite this, it has been hooked on to the electricals incorrectly. As for overloads because of this, the first you will come to know about it is when that wisp of smoke curls out from under the dashboard or bonnet, or anywhere else. Storing a small fire-extinguisher as well as a can of pepper spray in your car would also make a lot of sense. Both have their specific uses, are eminently legal and don’t cost too much.

Veeresh Malik started life as a seafarer, and in the course of a work life, founded and sold Pacific Shipping and Infonox Software, to return to his first love—writing.

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COMMENTS

pushkar kulkarni

6 years ago

dear mr malik

i always enjoy reading yr arrticles which are clear, precise and "independent " minded. i am a lifelong student of marketing and learn a lot from yr posts! i am working in uae and have not seen single TATA car in last 1 year!! tata bus, truck, nova truck , ashok leyland bus is there biut no indica/ indigo/nano...not even one piece.i do not know why??!!

REPLY

V Malik

In Reply to pushkar kulkarni 6 years ago

Thank you. Yes, a review on Tata's cars is overdue. Shall be done.

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