October 4, 2017

Only change is permanent. If this phrase is applicable to one context; then that is marketing. Even a decade back marketing was all about advertising. Sales was directly correlated to the number of television ad slots a brand would buy. Even an ordinary television commercial would lead to significant rise in sales of a product if the commercial were aired during the right time.

Fast forward 10 years, every day decreasing number of urban people are listening to radio stations. Even when stuck in a traffic jam they would rather plug in their earphones and listen to music of their choice or check their Facebook notifications. Television and Radio are the best option for reaching only the rural masses. 62 million or more than one-third of the population are using internet today which only speaks for its dominant growth. Print media platforms are also investing heavily on providing information online. Activation efforts have gotten largely mainstream and truly creative executions come few and far between. In such a creative industry going through a slow but sure paradigm shift it’s a game of survival of the fittest where every stakeholder is bound to make mistakes. But the ones who use mistakes as learning opportunities and keep on striving for innovation will be the front-runners in the industry. In such dynamic times, the local creative communication industry seems to be at a halt. Why?

When asked about the drop of quality of communication in certain channels of the industry, Sharmin Rahman, Creative Director of Asiatic JWT had a distinct opinion on the topic. She said, “Creative innovation is a result of product and service innovation. Product and service innovation has been an undeniable irregularity in recent years. When you do something new its novelty, once it’s repeated for a while it becomes mainstream media and at one point it is redundant. Currently the stagnation is caused by that redundancy factor.” She believes that the communication industry needs a faster and smoother paradigm shift and she expect it to come by the blessings of digital innovation. She further pointed out to the fact that both corporates and agencies have to break the boundaries of bookish knowledge and embrace cultural innovation.

More than creativity a very essential aesthetic is relevance. Viewers must be able to relate to the content they are viewing or listening. Today, starting from youth segment every tribe of the population is deprived of relevant local content. The content hunger is an indisputable fact. People opting towards foreign television networks and programs only speak volumes for it.

Ms. Sharmin further indicated that a vicious circle has been created where clients are operating at a limited budget resulting in ordinary content leading to inevitable flops. Communication does not just reflect an industry, rather it reflects our nation as a whole. We need quality local content which is buzzing with flavors of Bangladesh in order to go back to our glory days. As Ms. Sharmin orated, “Make it relevant, make it Bangladeshi, people will watch it.”


Ms. Sharmin also shared a few valuable words about the developments in relationship with clients. She said, “Clients are more inclusive now. They collaborate with agencies in developing plans and campaigns. Five years back the corporate culture involved a more top down approach which meant limited space of creativity for agencies. They are more willing to try new things now.”

Finding the right mixture of content is like a pendulum revolving between exotic quality and local relevance. The challenge for every brand is to hit the pendulum between the two extremes to find the sweet spot.

The number of lurkers in Facebook have significantly decreased over the past 3 years. Nowadays, more and more opinion leaders are rising up and expressing views on certain topics of interest and engagement. Not all views and opinions are rational of course but the ones who speak with reason have stood out by their own merit. Their opinions matter.

Stories. Every brand tells a story. Every communication done by a brand tells a volume from the story book. A brand that narrates a story which can be easily associated with the product/service it is providing, we can term it as a successful brand. The end objective of every brand is to sell its products. A brand fails to achieve its target only when the story it is relating to doesn’t synchronize with its product/service. Do we always need a story? Extreme of anything is bad. And that’s exactly what is happening today. Some brands are getting so much into the story that they are forgetting about their targets.

We are associated with the ‘cause and effect’ principle. If we relate that principle to marketing and branding; then the offers and packages a company is communicating is the cause while the impact they have on the lives of people is its effect. Every story has events that shape up future events resulting in a climax. If the previous line is rephrased it becomes; certain events cause certain culminating effects in a story. Some brands today are so busy advertising their offers, packages and discounts that they are losing their identity. If these brands were equally focused in communicating the impact their offerings have had on the lives of the people they serve, they would have surely had a far richer chronicle of stories, values and aspirations.

Mohammad Nurur Rahman, Creative Director of Grey Advertising Bangladesh shared some words of wisdom. He said, “A brand is like a life of a human being. Every life has its ups and downs. Every life leads thousands of regular days but it has defining moments like marriage and first child which shape up its remarkable moments. A person looks at these momentous occasions of life that shape him/her up into the person they are today. Similarly, every brand should communicate its offerings and promotions but it should also have such exceptional moments which it can look back to and smile.” These exceptional moments take place when a brand communicated the impact it has had on the lives of the people they serve and the people they employ. Effect and impact are a couple of over used words in this article but the sole purpose of this over usage is to remind today’s brands of communicating the impact it is having on the society and environment along with its offers and packages.

Balance is essential and we need it in almost everything. We need a balance of everything. We need an environmental balance of sea level and temperature. We need a balance in our lives which involves chasing our dreams and staying healthy. As Mr. Nurur Rahman said on the recent fall of creative quality of the nominated campaigns in this year’s Commward, “There needs to be a balance of creativity and effectiveness.” Brands should remain creative keeping the target and objectives in the back of their mind. A campaign completely out of the box but doesn’t reach the desired objective simply because the product cannot be associated with the story or the audience do not find it relevant will be as big a failure.

Sighting the example of a Grameenphone TVC- ‘21st February, Sierra Leone’. The campaign touched the hearts of the patriotic person inside of every Bangladeshi. The commercial was then related to Grameenphone by just one line at the end stating the heights our mother tongue has reached since the liberation war.

Mr. Nurur Rahman also said, “Brand is like a human, brand is like a religion, brand should have faith.” Every brand is beyond a product. Every brand should stand for something. When the people believe what the brand believes, when the brand communicates why the brand exists and the people believe what it stands for; only then love, (a.k.a brand loyalty) for a brand is created.

Mr. Nurur Rahman reflected upon this year’s Commward explaining how advertising today lacks diversification. Advertising was innately designed to solve problems from a myth level to the tip of iceberg. He believes that more often than not we are not taking advertising seriously. Many a time companies come up with half-baked solution which leads to failed campaigns and communications. He said, “Corporates and advertisers should collaborate and work together. Trust and faith is vital for success in this industry.”

Mr. Nurur Rahman invited people to work on feelings and emotions people care about. He believes that rural activation has been largely mainstream and it lacks any significant innovation. Radio has been going through a steady decline because of better substitutes and a lack of quality content. Bhoot FM was the last talked about program in Radio stations. Captivating radio shows did not follow. Key factors like pronunciation also played a role in decline. Nowadays, pronunciation in radio stations sound more like English and less Bangla.

In terms of television content like short films and dramas stories need to be approved first before the shooting. But lately the case been quite the opposite. Mr. Nurur Rahman remorse saying, “The dramatic drop in content only reflects that the people working behind the scenes may not love their work. Quality should not be compromised at any cost.” He believes that local arts and culture should be involved more while communicating. Communication needs to be trendy and in par with recent events and developments.

Mr. Nurur Rahman also invited the veterans in the industry to acknowledge and encourage the young advertisers in the industry. Approving or disapproving ideas won’t cut it. For the development of the fresh minds in the industry, validation of ideas explaining why they are wrong and why they are right is very important.

Mr. Nurur Rahman concluded the interview by saying, “Commward should go that level where there will be no Gold if there is no campaign worthy of it. Only then quality can be ensured.”

Mr. Shakib Chowdhury, Creative Director of Bitopi Advertising Limited, shared his views on decreasing number of creative campaign nominated for this year’s Commward. He said, “In recent years turnaround time has significantly lowered. Agencies get a very short amount of time to brainstorm and come up with a creative campaign. Creativity cannot be forced. Thus the task at hand focuses on providing ‘a’ solution instead of the best solution.” He believes that one more issue is the millennial problem. An agency has a little unstructured environment to facilitate creativity. The young millennial today takes this chilled environment as a lack of seriousness which affects his/her work. The employee does not take the responsibility seriously. Mr. Shakib said, “Do not talk about pressure if you are not creating something. Actions speak louder than words.” But the funny fact is, a lot of these people are succeeding once they join the hard and fast corporate environment.

Mr. Shakib Chowdhury explained further on the current scenario of Commward saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Agency is one of the links to a chain comprising of corporates, media, third parties, etc. Creativity needs to be facilitated through a holistic approach.”

In this long article one of the important issues yet left to be addressed is the difference of culture between MNCs and local companies. In a local company, everything needs to be approved by the owning authority. In other words, it’s a very rigid top down approach. This approach is slow and narrow. Local companies need to absorb and digest the culture of the top MNCs and implement them. They must give more autonomy and sense of ownership to the employees by trusting their skills and encouraging them to try new things and take risks.

Shakib Chowdhury believes that the parameter for judging the success of Bangladesh’s communication industry in the near future will be ‘Brand Love’. Coca-Cola is loved throughout the world. Nike is loved by sports fanatics. Grameenphone has created an impactful love for its brand. Lux has won a decent amount of hearts over the years. If ‘love’ for more brands are created, then the communication industry will surely have prospered.

Mr. Shakib also believes that agencies need to recreate themselves in such a way that they are essential to clients. Agencies need to be more thoughtful while working and clients need to give agencies more freedom to think out of the box.

Since expressing personal views today are easier than ever; these days every campaign generates positive and negative buzz. The makers should be satisfied only if the target market is happy and objectives are met. They should not worry about other external factors.

Clients need to understand the difference between advertising and engaging. If one advertises on Facebook then it is no different from running a commercial in the television. The key attribute that differentiates Social Media in terms of marketing is engaging with a brand. If brands fail to make the best use of it, then might as well run traditional campaigns.

Lastly, there is a wrong conception in today’s marketers’ mind that digital channels are cheap. From the first look, they are right. But there is a cache to it. Mr. Shakib said, “When you make a video content; primarily there are two main costs: Production and Reach. The cost to reach people if surely much more cheaper, effective and efficient using Social Media. But, to make a quality content the production cost is the same”. The young marketers need to understand that even though boosting in Facebook and buying ad placements have a huge difference in terms of cost; the value that goes in the production of good quality content remains the same.

As Steve Jobs famously said, “Love what you do.” The pioneers of the communication scene need to invest time and love their work. Everyone must indulge in what they do. They must break every stereotypical boundary and dare to think different every time, take a different approach every time. Creativity thrives on the drive to be unique every time. Blame game will not work. If one is wrong he/she must admit his/her mistake, learn the lesson and move on. Blaming failures on someone else will not make a campaign any better. But learning from it and not repeating a similar mistake will only ensure development and prosperity. We have to break out from the wall of ‘NO’s. We have to remove the word ‘NO’ from our dictionary. Because when you do something beautiful everyone is bound to recognize it and say ‘YES’. Because, yes we can!


Digital Strategy Geek
GEEKY Social

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