Advertising: Getting it right for India

by Anjali Gupta

It’s always a treat to hear Prasoon Joshi share his insights on consumer marketing and advertising. On a recent NDTV show when describing the difference between Hollywood and Bollywood, he explained that Hollywood is all about the “WHAT” while Bollywood is all about the “HOW”. We don’t watch Hindi movies wondering “what is going to happen”; we already know that – the hero will punish the villain and somehow everyone will find a way to live happily ever after! That’s not something we like to doubt. What we really want to know is “how is this going to happen”, how will they meet, will there be a song or a dance along the way?

As I reflected on this, I almost felt our movies are as spiritual as our country. Where life is about the journey and not the destination. Where everything must work out in the end. If it does not, you’re not in India. It is after all God’s own country!

The show anchored by Pranoy Roy also starred other bigwigs of the advertising world – Alyque Padamsee, Piyush Pandey, and Prahlad Kakkar. Alque Padamsee talked about stories from his campaigns over the years; almost all have been covered in detail in his biography A Double Life (I strongly recommend reading this book). Other interesting insights included the importance of vernacular that’s behind the noticeable usage of Hinglish in ad films and tag lines. The panel revealed that a decade ago this was not acceptable and was interpreted as a sign of weakness. In contrast, today’s super confident youth takes pride in mixing the desi with the videshi to get the best of both worlds. Prasoon gave several examples such as his use of the word “pathshala” in the popular Rang De Basanti song; a word that would never appeal to the youth unless they took pride in their Indian identity. After all, advertising is about making the audience dream or reminding them of their dreams. With only 2% of India dreaming in English, the panel unanimously agreed that vernacular is the way to go!

I can’t help but relate some of this to our challenges at BookEazy, as we search for the right words, the right approach that touches the Indian movie-loving heart. The search continues…read: ideas welcome🙂