Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ad Speak - Big Idea !!!

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.- Victor Hugo

Much is being talked about the BIG IDEA.. every ad man says this… every ad lecture touts it… what is it in actual?

The big idea is one which makes the BRAND or product PROPOSITION relevant, clear, distinct and memorable. Agencies strive to merge their strategic analysis, their MEDIA choices and gut feelings into an elusive big idea, combining the place a product occupies in a Consumer’s mind, the appearance of the advertisement and the SLOGAN that encapsulates it............ the crux is that the big idea should be big and stand much above the rest in cluttered markets.. The Vodafone Zoo Zoo is an example in the last year of Indian Advertising ..it was relevant, clear, simple, distinct , memorable and hence BIG…. They didn’t take it to where they should have but that is an entirely different thing ….

One classical example from UK is from a 1980s ad for the Volkswagen Golf. They could have relied on the usual checklist of performance criteria, quoting magazines or touting boring fuel economy statistics. Instead, it featured an charming Paula Hamilton storm out of a house after a lovers’ quarrel, throwing away her fur coat and pearls and then, after a masterfully measured pause, holding on to her keys to sweep off in her beloved Golf. The message was that all other pleasures are transient, momentary, superfluous and dispensable, but a VW is a lasting pleasure; if only every-thing in life was as reliable.

An American example of the big idea is Snapple, a non-carbonated soft drink that began life as a niche brand. Its strategy was expressed as “100% natural marketing” which originated from the company appreciating that consumers loved their product. Consumers were encouraged to write in, send photos of them, and tell the company how much they loved Snapple. The agency, Kirshenbaum Bond in New York, answered these letters via TV, magazine and outdoor advertising. One campaign became known as the “love letters” campaign and drew acres of free PR in the national media. It launched Snapple into competition with leading brands such as Coca-Cola. The ads always featured real employees and consumers…..

Now the BIG IDEA need not be an out of the world IDEA… it could be simple and existing.. it could be the daily seen dogs and boys.. it is how the ad man gets to connect them to the brand and its problems in the market place…

There are many examples where such big ideas have been discarded by brand managers and advertising agencies some times without realising that in many ways they are actually tearing out the heart of the advertising communication and some times for availability of better choices and some times due to extraneous factors like fashion and generation changes,,,Some Big ideas start great and get funny later making the viewer feel like why don’t they stop it..? Surf “Daag Ache Hai” and its recent ads are an example…,,

Some Big Idea’s made strong come back after testing other waters, like the Mint with a hole and the Onida Devil.. but gone forever are the Liril Girl, Wah Ustad! Wah Taj !, and the definitely male ……The list is long but I am sure the enlightened reader is aware.. The fact is that our agencies are brilliant in that they come up with wonderful ideas that are big, but they don’t sustain them… the sad fact is that agencies and brand owners fall into boredom with their Big Ideas even before the Target audience does…

Any rejoinders?

Dead End :-
It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.

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