The $600 billion advertising industry grows at a 5% rate annually. This rapid growth rate makes you realize the influence and control that the industry maintains. 

Today, we are surrounded by advertisements. From the old timers (billboards, newspaper advertisements, radio ads) to the new age advertising (branded entertainment, native advertising) the influence is widespread and pervasive.

Advertisements control us with our voluntary but mostly unconscious consent. We breathe them everywhere we go. Every brand, every product, and every artist craves an audience for their stories; and advertisements bring these stories to us from all over the world. The world has become a connected and undivided platform. Languages, cultures, ideas, talent are all fusing, intermingling, and recreating. Advertising has never had an audience with such an appetite. 

Such energy and power must be respected and shouldered with massive responsibility. Sadly, agencies are not scared of failure anymore or fearful of disappointment in the eyes of the consumer. Gone are the days when ideas were sold with guts, vigor, and sentiment. The accessibility of and market for every idea has become both a boon and a bane; no one strives for the best. We are living in an age of mediocrity.

The Economic times gave us a fantastic example of the famous Madison Avenue ad man George Lois threatened to jump off the 30th floor of his client's office unless his campaign was approved. Giving an example closer to the turf, the agency that penned the famous Surf Lalitaji campaign fought for their idea despite apprehensions about how the campaign would be welcomed. While the commercial was eventually modified to some extent, the agency was willing to sacrifice the opportunity but not the idea. 

Hence, as a consumer, I am often troubled by the worry that today’s ad agencies have become lethargic. Do they fight as hard as they used to for an idea? Do they still aim for the exceptional? Or is commonness and the regular our cup of tea now?

Advertisements are becoming more outrageous than ever. With a market for everything, the fear of rejection has been eradicated. ‘Every idea will be sold’ is the new notion. 

Advertising, just like any other form of media, is a key influencer and is capable of swaying and determining major consumer decisions; and the accompanying responsibility is humongous. When the consumer will willingly swallow every bit of information they are fed, it is crucial for ad agencies to be credible. 

Especially in the ever-changing Indian scenario, advertising agencies have the added responsibility of creating ads that are the most faithful daily reflections of our society. There is a necessity for ad agencies to observe societal trends, map them through their creative ideas, and then fight to the death for these ideas. 

Unfortunately, number phobia overpowers all other elements. The will to fight for what you believe in has been lost to the myriad of consumers, their endless means of consumption, and their insatiable appetite for everything. We could rename it Salman Khan phobia: where quantity trumps quality. As another film bags 300 crores and Ranveer Ching Returns, I can’t help but to wonder: where are we headed?

 

CHHAYA DABAS

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