Wednesday, May 7, 2008

India Vs. India

Last year we helped a major Indian conglomerate re-brand itself for a global launch. It involved multiple visits to on site locations in India, but with each trip comes a new learning lesson. Visits to exotic places are always full of intrigue and anticipation: But since I had been to the region before, I knew what to expect. Or so I thought.

But on this trip I was stunned by a dramatic integrated advertising campaign launched by the Times of India, called India vs. India. The Times kicked it off on New Year's Day, on the front page. That's right; no news appeared on that morning's front page. This was followed by major, spectacular billboards and posters, which appeared everywhere, arriving overnight as if by magic. Next came a parade of Indian celebrities who endorsed the "Anthem" (as they called this) on TV advertisements. This was a highly orchestrated campaign that quickly became celebrated, espousing the idea that there are two India's, working against one another and preventing India from being the global power that it ought to be. It was a call to arms to unite around the idea of one India, to be progressive, to heal the country's divisions, and to look toward the future. The thought was summarized with a tagline: India poised-Our time is now.

The copy reads like poetry. Here are a few lines.

There are two India's in this country. One India is straining at the leash, eager to spring forth and live up to all the adjectives that the world has been showering recently upon us. The other India is the leash. The other India says, give me a chance and I'll prove myself. The other India says, Prove yourself first and then maybe I'll give you a chance. One India lives in optimism of our hearts. The other India lurks in skepticism of our minds. One India wants. The other India hopes. One India leads. The other India follows.

It's powerful copy.

As an American, after seeing this campaign unfold, I couldn't keep myself from wondering whether this idea is just as relevant here. Do factions and discord within our political and business arenas hold us back from becoming even greater than we are now? Is it time for the marketing and media community to do something as dramatic as India vs. India to unite the country or its industry around a common purpose and a vision of the future?

My thoughts then wandered over to our marketing industry. Can we make an India vs. India comparison? Do we even have unity around the value of marketing? Are clients and agencies/PR firms on the same page? Who is the "leash" and who is "straining the leash" in our industry? Clients seem to concentrate on growth, attracting new customers and growing market share, while agencies and-yes--even consulting firms, frequently focus on creative ideas and new technologies. They often win awards, but do little to attract new clients. Some of them are fixed on the almighty 30-second TV commercial, while others on rely on interactive internet marketing. Are we suffering from Marketing vs. Marketing?

The answer, in my opinion, is marketing integration. Marketing should never be exclusively one thing or another. It should do whatever it takes to solve the client's problems and unite around that solution. Use all available techniques, media, creativity and technology to help the client's business grow and improve its market share. That does not mean simply doing what the client wants, but providing new ideas, insights and perspectives, no matter what creative medium might be used.

No more Marketing vs. Marketing. It's time for Marketing AND Marketing.

Is it time to examine America vs. America? Or marketing vs. marketing? Please send me your thoughts. Let me know your opinions on this topic and let's see if we can apply the same logic to our business and political culture.

Happy Spring!