Indian advertising in for exciting times

By Arpana, IANS
Monday, September 20, 2010

NEW DELHI - Indian advertising is in for some exciting and creative times as a wave of new thinking is blowing over the industry with the economy expanding and Indian brands entering the global market place, says Shyam Madiraju, the man behind the much-talked-about Kit Kat ad featuring a pair of dancing squirrels.

“The Tatas’ acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover and the R-ADAG’s investing in Dreamworks have put Indian brands on a global playing field. I am convinced that we will be seeing some of the most innovative and cutting-edge work coming out of India in the next few years,” Madiraju, director of content company Gobsmack, told IANS in an interview.

He feels India’s economic growth is having a positive impact on the world economy and the advertising business.

“A huge reason I find myself back and so drawn to the Indian ad market, almost 19 years after leaving it (I started my career at Trikaya Grey), is because unlike the other global economic markets’ free fall, India has not only found to be self-reliant but is also thriving and making an impact on the global level,” said Madiraju.

According to a FICCI-KPMG report, advertising spend in India is expected to grow at a 12.4 per cent rate over the next five years. It grew at CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 17.1 percent in the past three years.

Asked about the changing ad world, especially the new platforms, Madiraju said mobile devices are going to be a huge factor in how content is created, designed and delivered.

“I think mobile devices are going to be a huge factor in how content is consumed and in effect how content is created, designed and delivered. Just look how much we have started using our iphones, BlackBerrys and other smart phones. Add to that iPad and the Google tablet. The media world is in for a huge roller-coaster ride.”

So will print and broadcast loose their charm? Not exactly, feels Madiraju.

“India has a voracious appetite for print; so newspapers and magazines will always have an appeal in any incarnation. And thanks to Bollywood, television, the broadcast media will always have a huge presence in daily life.

“So while these two will continue to have a lion’s share in media, the identity crisis their western counterparts are suffering is not lost on the smart creative directors and brand managers. They are realising social media and new technology are reaching audience in ways that no conventional medium has previously done. There is a huge wave of new thinking and ideas looming on the horizon,” he said.

“I would be lying to you if I told you that I started Gobsmack! We are interested in working with ad agencies and clients in creating original content that is unique, fresh and relevant way of engaging their audience to their brand and message.

“We look to the opportunity to invent or reinvent anything, a commercial, a film, a website, a social networking interface, an app, a game, an installation or for that matter a plain juicy rumour that gets everyone’s attention.”

Any plans to venture into movies?

“Yes, very much so. In fact, one of the properties we are developing is an animated story that involves furry critters and is set in India, but for international audience.”

Asked what made him use squirrels and not celebrities in the ad, he said: “I’m glad you ask that question, because I think this ad proves beyond doubt that a furry, non-celebrity, critter can make just as powerful an impact. I can only hope more clients look at this and embrace the idea of pushing creative ideas beyond the tried and tested because our audiences are certainly ready.”

The ad shows a love lorn male squirrel serenading a female squirrel as she spurns his advances. Undeterred, the male squirrel sings and dances to a popular Hindi film song “Kate nahin kate ye din ye raat”, with signature Bollywood pelvic thrusts, till he finally wins over the female.

About his company, Madiraju said it has a core group and people from around the globe work with us on a project basis. “We like it that way as we work out of our Bangalore, Los Angeles and New York Offices.”

“We are an ensemble of freethinking filmmakers, animators, photographers, designers and digital artists. We describe our approach to creating ideas as unique, original and media-agnostic.”

(Arpana can be contacted at

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