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what a great initiative Russell.

Thank you russell, this will be great for (me) us the kids of planning.
And thanks to everyone who contributes to the wiki.

Top Work, fella

Hello mate - I've dropped in a couple of things to get the ball rolling...

superb stuff Russell, this could (will) be excellent

The last really good domain name I checked was 'distributed village' because it's such a huge idea, but it had been bought by one of those virtual real estate magnates ;)

very good idea. I like this kind of open source thinking. Inspired me actually.


The interenet is dangerous ...

Still will be checking both Wiki's out - though sadly I might have more to say about sausages than planning! Boo!

beautiful stuff -thanks for taking the wheel.
this is exactly what I had in mind!



you can get a nice little badge to promote it on your blog under the...promote it section.

Once again, Russell ... a greatusefulrelevant ... idea.

Sure it can be awesome. One more very good and motivating one.

Hey Russell,
My name is Michal Ovadiah (A female, in case you wonder...)and I am a senior strategic planner at Publicis-Ariely Israel. Just found out about the "plannersphere" and I really like it! It would be great to share thoughts with colleagues around the world and I will be happy to join and contribute my own insights (original ones, I hope...). Do I need any kind of password in order to join? please let me know. Thanks a lot . Michal.

A New Year resolution for advertisers and marketers and the story of hidden emotional connect in social causes.

Are we apathetic towards bad roads, garbage dumps, and crumbling buildings?
The obvious answer YES
How important are matters of the society relevant to the Indian consumer?
Who has the time! And who cares!

Then why did the Lifebuoy ad, that had an eleven year old lead a campaign to clean his area, strike such a chord amongst consumers? So much so that the same campaign is still being used by Unilever; despite it being more than a year old.
Why despite the obvious flaws and the rather simplistic take on life, did Rand De Basanti become such a talking point and a super hit?
Why do sting operations, that almost repeatedly expose corrupt politicians and government officials, continue to attract viewers and TRPs?

So though we might outwardly seem apathetic, one can feel that there is unrest amongst the larger population of India.
And I believe, therein lies a big opportunity for us advertisers!

How many times have we Indian’s seen a criminal offender get away with serious crime just by using his money and his clout among powers that be. Most often we first ‘tut-tut’ express our mental anguish and then promptly tell our conscience ‘India to aisa hi hai’, never to remember the case again?
Have we treated the Jessica Lal, Nitish Katara or the Matoo case with the same attitude? A resounding no. Don’t the millions of SMS messages, lakhs of letters from every corner of the country, cry’s of angst from every socio economic class, the extent of media coverage, forming of citizen associations… and more… and more … and more, point to a new Indian consciousness?
According to social experts, Rang De Basanti fuelled the middle class fantasy of corruption being the number one problem in the country. The film was a hit and a talking point, not only amongst the multiplex crowd but amazingly even in smaller town India. Newspaper reports say that there were as many as 2234 posts within four days after the films’ release.
Anthropologists believe that ‘cinema’ is a true reflection of people. Have you noticed the increasing number of films that talk on social platforms/what’s wrong around us and about the rootless ness of the youth of India- Yuva to Hu Tu Tu to Lakshya to Dil Chahta Hein… just to mention a few. Reflect on what all this means?
Ask any qualitative market researcher and he will confirm that social causes are probably the single biggest ‘talking point’ among many. Need I say more?

The big thing is that the common Indian our consumer believes that the media and communication industry can play a big role in tackling these sore points. According to a research study done recently by a big media house, 67% of respondents felt that sting operations by media could prevent corruption amongst politicians.

Now imagine if we in the media space, as advertisers, use this increasing awareness among modern Indians to sell our products! Selfish as it may sound, we should recognize and grab this opportunity.

All of us advertising people know that good communication is what connects with the consumer immediately, one that grabs his attention by the sheer uniqueness of the idea. Globally, some of the most successful campaigns have revolved around that emotional connect - “joyous abandonment” of characters in the Apple’s ipod ad or the “casual irreverence” of the youth in Budweiser ‘Wassup’ campaign – all identified and used societal trends among their consumers to hit the bulls eye. Closer home ads like the ‘New Hamara Bajaj’, which depict modernism, but in the Indian cultural context have impactfully passed on their message.
All these ads work because viewers immediately feel an emotional connect as the ad talks their language. And this connect is precisely what social causes offer the brands we work with.

In India, we more than often use superstars and cricketers to sell our products. From pain balms to cornflakes, from banking services to colas, all companies uniformly feel that if they sign on a big star, it’s an easy route to a successful product. But even the superstars these days are talking about bad roads! Priety Zinta publicly talks about cleaning up Mumbai, dragging along her blue blooded beau and Shah Rukh Khan for support. John Abraham openly talks protecting animals and stray dogs. Vivek Oberoi is constantly visiting Tsunami affected villages even now. You might say that they might be doing it to improve their public image, but I think there may be some genuine words and action too. I might be wrong, but I don’t think the older generation of stars ever campaigned so openly for the larger society matters.

Personally, I used to always consider myself as a rather “bindaas” person. My interests used to start and end with sports, music and girls! But increasingly, as I socialize with my friends, the conversation now veers towards the state of the country. On a recent trip to Ranthambore, while we were on a wildlife safari, I picked a public fight with a Bengali lady who threw a plastic bag in the protected forest area. All the people in the canter, strangers till then, joined me and the litter bug was suitably embarrassed. I see this increased awareness about the environment and public space amongst almost all my friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

There are many serious issues around us that are close to people’s hearts and need to be dealt with, ones that can make great advertising themes. The menace of plastic, illegal encroachments….by both the rich and the poor, garbage on roads, the never ending relaying and cementing on roads and dividers …I could fill the entire article with only the problems. The big question is ‘how do we make it worth our while’?
For one, could attempt to use the social cause like a media vehicle. The Mithi River that came into attention post the July 26 deluge is one the biggest embarrassments in Mumbai. Most of us didn’t even know of its existence! Surely the corporate that shares with the government responsibilities for cleaning up and beautifying the Mithi river, is going to get more mileage and publicity than a random me too hoarding campaign.
Or we could look at inserting a socially relevant message within an already existing advertising framework. Imagine an ad in where a woman goes shopping in a vegetable market. What if she says no to the plastic bag offered by the vendor, and pulls forward her own cloth bag. Surely such an ad with a social message thrown in will connect better with the consumers.

The two examples I’ve citied are really only indicative. I know for sure that there are million other ways of effectively using this huge opportunity… it only needs a little effort from our side.

Let me end this piece with a Hindi proverb that encapsulates the benefits of associating with social causes “Aam ke aam, Guthliyon ke daam”. Not only do we gain the benefit and self satisfaction of associating with making our country and our lives better, but we also get to develop that elusive strong emotional connection between our brands and its consumers.

The author is Strategic Planning Director, JWT. He is also the creative spark of an MDFA 3rd division football side – Juhu Beach United, which celebrates ‘obesity and the unfit out of breath media professional of today’. You can write to him at amit.sutha@jwt.com.

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