Ad Architect

SAMBIT MOHANTY, the Executive Creative Director at McCann Erickson, New Delhi is an alumnus of IIMC, Delhi. With about 14 years in advertising, he had worked with agencies like Leo Burnett, Lowe, Publicis and even Elephant Design. Brands that he had helped build include HP, Coca Cola, Tanishq, Intel, Nestle, Chevrolet, Aircel, Reckitt-Benckiser. He speaks to The Thumb Print on what makes a good advertisement

How do you see the transition of the advertising world from newspapers to the non-linear world? Do you agree that technology is rapidly changing the world of advertising?

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Definitely. Technology has changed the way we live and work, so its impact on advertising is quite tangible. From electronic billboards to OOH (Out Of Home), from QR Codes to the Internet – advertising is far more interactive and interesting than ever before. As technology makes tablets and othermobile devices more accessible, there is bound to be a seismic shift from traditional media e.g. newspapers and magazines to their online versions. Advertising has to keep up with this shift.

As newspapers move from print to online, advertising revenues aren’t making the same transition. What is your take on it?

Advertising revenues are always a contentious issue. As a creative person, I choose to focus my energies on creating work rather than worrying about how much money it’s going to rake in.

What are the things you keep in mind before working on a new ad in today’s world?

a) Stay cognizant of who the communication is aimed at. b) Is there a possibility to do something innovative? c) In the barrage of media, will it break clutter?

What according to you is an ‘excellent ad’?

Simple. Memorable. Inviting to look at.Also, one that makes me wish I’d done it!

Which remains your favourite ad till date?

The Dhara ‘Jalebi’ ad – there’s a delightful innocence about it that’s truly timeless. Internationally, the Volkswagen ‘Darth Vader’ ad.

Which are the successful ad campaigns that you had initiated?

Coca Cola ‘Haan Mein Crazy Hoon’ campaign, Aircel ‘Joy of a Little Extra’, Minute Maid ‘Where’s the Pulp?’ campaign are a few that come to mind.

The common allegation is that advertising portrays stereotyped representation of gender roles including a narrow or unrepresentative view of women’s roles?

Advertising is manufactured reality. So (at times) it feeds off clichés – for instance, the ‘all-knowing-housewife’ who has the solution for all domestic issues – from toothpaste to toilet cleaners. But I wouldn’t go so far to allege that it portrays women in an insular fashion. I feel the ‘K’ serials/soaps are far more regressive in this case.

Are there any guidelines for gender portrayal in advertisements?

I don’t think there are any guidelines as such. However, one has to be guided by one’s own moral compass and know where to draw the line. You do have watchdogs like ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) to keep out any offensive stuff.

How do you think small business owners can reap huge rewards by understanding the basic fundamentals of advertising?

Small business owners should realize that advertising can help them get big. The solution is not to do a high-decibel ad campaign but reach one’s audience through specific, targeted means.Even with limited advertising spends, partnering with a creative agency can help them grow faster than their peers.

How does social media contribute to advertising?

A few years back social media was in its inception. Today, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are daily destinations for millions of consumers. Increasingly, their ad products offer targeting according to specific demographics, social connections, interests and habits. So, as brands look across a fractured media landscape (where few digital properties offer any scale) social networks offer them an interesting proposition.

How do you think under-represented regions like Northeast India make use of advertising to promote themselves?

I, for one, am looking forward to a tourism campaign from the NE. Its potential is vastly underutilized in this regard and I’m sure an ad campaign depicting the wonders of this beautiful region will be a crowd-puller. Look how successful the Gujarat and MP Tourism campaigns have been!

Do advertisements lie?

A sweeping statement like this can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. That said, someone once famously said, ‘Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.’ Personally I feel the more facts you tell, the more you sell.