Terence D’Costa is a very dear friend and a top-notch creative in the Himalayas.
ROMANS ON HOLIDAY
When an international brand is positioned, repositioned or undergoes a positioning extension, the advertising campaign bears the onus of being relevant to a much larger and more diverse audience. Campaign theme, components and strategy have to effectively address all audiences.
If these efforts somehow miss the mark, conscientious marketeers (not sheep programmed not to question why) are faced with a million dollar question. What role should local insights play in the formation of an advertising campaign? The Merino don’t have to suffer the burden of this thought simply because the moment a local insight is chanced upon, it doesn’t get past their job-preserving blindspots and blinkers. The marketeer equipped with the ability to think, comprehend, research, analyze and determine the value of an insight is the one who gets all the flak, the heartburn, the angst and the insomnia. Why? Because he’s caught between the HQ devil and the deep blue of local relevance. He’s confronted with a choice between integrity and discipline. The epiphany desired at this juncture is that integrity is the highest discipline. If that bulb lights up, agencies (read conscientious again) get a client to die for. But as the ad world and his half-brother know, this isn’t quite the case. Especially here, where (surprise, surprise) local insights from Uttar Pradesh or the Seven Sister states seem to suffice. Don’t look away now. The iceberg is out there and this isn’t a flick.
Wake up and smell the coffee, Sir. It’s a dark brew brimming with commonsense. Geography and topography do not determine Culture. Least of all Taste. A paella is not a risotto. A gyoza is not a momo. And in Nepal, a bat-wielding brand ambassador is just not cricket. Nepal may not be a market large enough to invite a fresh set of advertising initiatives but marketeers and agencies should be driven to determine a more wholesome role for local insights and relevance while localizing campaigns for international brands. Don’t believe, dipstick.
Even within this country, there exists diversity enough for nationwide campaigns to seriously consider inclusivity. Garner the integrity of marketing purpose and take a stand where it is needed. Let that stand resonate across the campaign. Beyond the models, the shoot locations and language. Translating or even “transliterating” (a ridiculous misnomer hardened by pseudo industry stalwarts to the point of crusty cliche’) is not enough. Relevance inclusion does not mean reinventing the wheel. Dovetailing doesn’t mean revolutionary or radical. The incompetent hide behind half-baked alibis. Shoulder shrugging doesn’t help either. One chooses the middle of the road not just because it is safe but because one is scared or unfit to venture off it. Cracks and potholes may be edge of the road phenomena but boulders prefer the middle. Does it take a juicy concussion to realize one must veer away? Or is that something annual promotions take care of?
When a cola crossed the Great Wall, a little care while looking for Mandarin equivalents ensured the brand didn’t ‘bite the wax tadpole‘. A cute phonetic tweak let ‘the mouth rejoice’ instead. Which brings me to a four-letter brand of shampoo, here. Ah well, when in Rome, have a Kit Kat.