21 May 2014

How Social Media turned the general election into easily digestible bytes?

By Sumeer Mathur, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Gurgaon)

Did you see that slap Kejriwal got? Did you see Modi’s mistake toffee for trophy? Did you see the Azam khan clip on his views on rape? Or, Arnab’s take on Rahul Gandhi? 

Campaigning in Indian general election of 2014 has been about poking fun at each other, showing opponent in bad light, witty tweets and laughable comments. Taking the focus away from issues and debates, a lot of real conversation on social media has been confined to discussing the digital content and not the candidate or the facts and figures. 

Sumeer Mathur discusses digital electioneering and its limited influence on decision making. For the complete article, please visit http://www.exchange4media.mobi/story.aspx?news_id=55730&section_id=4

The article was first published on exchange4media (May 15, 2014)

18 February 2014

Translating trends for brands

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Mumbai) 

Brand custodians are reviewing 2014 trends.
It’s time.
To step back.
Listen, see, absorb, ponder.
The emerging developments in consumers lives.
The shifts in world thought.
The angularities in choices, the dilemmas of modern living.
Read them, noted them, highlighted a few.
Great. Now what?
A trend report is not a foreign language class.
But it can nevertheless leave one wondering… how do I translate all this? For example, remixing tradition is great. Umm… what now?
The question, in other words, is how to translate trends? Into brands? Into teams? Into life?
A starting point is – translate a trend you relate most to, into behaviour, into symbol and into meaning.

1. Translate trend into behaviour.
Adopt it. Embrace it. Own it. Live it.
For instance, speaking visual is a key trend. (From a global JWT report: JWT 10 trends for 2014 and beyond is based on proprietary research across developed markets and the BRICS)
Whereby photos, videos, and other imagery is supplanting text. Sixty-eight per cent of the millennials agree that visuals are more powerful than text. Mobile photography, and 350 million FB photos uploaded daily point to a high visual skew in present times.
If images are the new story telling medium that people related to, according to the Huffington Post, how can we make them our story telling medium more and more?
Visuals only consumer home visit reports. Hmm?
Re-imagine a brand key (or main brand document) entirely with pictures or videos.
Re-think a brand’s visual aesthetic
Re-train teams to become more visually literate.
This is just one illustration, but you get the…uh picture.

2. Translate trend into symbol.
Trends matter as a sign of the times.
Signs, badges, symbols, colours, and icons subtly show that brands have affinity and connectedness with the bigger picture. Be it fashion/ environment/ humankind symbols signal being in step with the times. For example, in step with fashion via the colour of the season – such as coral. In step with a purpose such as recycling, charity, partnership, awareness, and protection.
Translating trends into symbols makes a non-verbal statement of connection to the big picture, happily often branding the holder, in the eyes of others, as trendy. At least, on the surface, at least for the moment.

3. Translate trend into meaning.
A third, and most exciting, aspect of ‘translating’ trends is reading the meaning behind them.
Asking what lies beneath the surface.
Like the question behind the question.
If coral was the (outer) symbol, can one set out to connect the dots between different data to see the key value underneath – for instance, personal liberty?
If it is all about better deals from flights to meals, do we see a shift in the meaning of value itself from cheap/ budget to smart ‘n’ savvy? We do, by the way (and more on that later).
Translating trends to spotlight, the shift in purpose and values they imply, matters more than we can imagine.
Brands with a purpose and that are values-led over time are going to be by definition more successful – Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever.
Translating trends into behaviour, symbols, meaning is a starting point for brands and their custodians. Trends are precious as glimpses of ‘what’s going on’ and what to do about it.
Mind your…trend.

The article was first published on exchange4media.com  (6th Feb, 2014)

11 February 2014

Building a well rounded brand persona

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Mumbai) 

The softening of relationships happens over little things. Unexpectedly, beautifully! Someone likes the same music you do, for instance, Farida Khanum. And a tiresome car ride through traffic turns into an animated chat, interspersed with hum-alongs. Tough minded strangers meeting in tense situations, find a surprising area to relate to...World War II authors. And in a similar vein, post cards, Picasso, Pablo Neruda, charcoal sketches.

These are just a few of the zillion real connectors that come to mind. In each case, something shifts in how people relate to each other, when they have the same sensibility, artistically speaking. It is especially reassuring in the creative industries. Providing context, point of reference and ultimately, trust and faith in their creative judgements.

Artistic traditions of India teach us that every person must practice, at least one, ideally more, of the seven arts or kalas, it is all part of being a well rounded persona. Providing channels for creativity, freshness and curiosity. And as we do that, we find relations within and without, growing, being nurtured and softening.

As with people, so with brands. The latest data on effectiveness from the IPA proves over a longitudinal study that advertising, coupled with PR and sponsorships, is the way to create the most effective bonds that stand over time. Too many brand discussions, however, especially on sponsorships and PR, are a short term point of view on costs, benefits of ‘properties’.

Useful as that is, there needs to be a deeper appreciation of brands, building a well rounded persona, and thereby nurturing bonds. Of brands actively evolving from the transactional to the relational both for their own sake, and for others. For near and dear ones (loyal consumers), as well as acquaintances (potential, influential consumers). And continuing to do so over a lifetime.

Metaphorically speaking, does your brand also sing? Or dance? Or play a musical instrument? Or sculpt? Or write? Or do theatre? Or paint? Is your brand nurturing at least one of the kalas actively? Via advertising, PR or sponsorship? One in which it has a genuine interest, and fit? There are no classes (shortcut) in class, just the great kalas to actively nurture and appreciate over a lifetime.

John Ruskin said it best, “there can be no beauty without truth”.

The article was first published on exchange4media.com  (Jan 9, 2014)

06 February 2014

What's cool?

By Bhaskar Thakur, Strategic Planning Director (JWT, Gurgaon)

Youth don’t buy stuff; they buy what stuff does for them.

“What’s cool?” Is not a list of cool youth trends but an effort to analyze what makes some things cool and how a trend ‘catches on’.

Is content dead, and context the new king?
Is spirituality the ultimate cool, is perversion becoming mainstream and is ugly becoming beautiful?

JWT identifies 1o themes to look at the ‘hit’ content and understand the context that makes it cool.

From vodka eyeballing to religion without rituals and from silent discos to stitchtagrams and instaprints… the report looks at branded manifestations, subcultures and motivations for such behavior.

For the full report, please write to bhaskar.thakur@jwt.com