- As we come to the end of 2021, most of us are entering 2022 with a lot of hope and positivity.
- Despite the challenges, 2021 turned out to be a good year in terms of the campaigns our creative agencies churned out. We saw many heartwarming, thought-provoking, quirky campaigns that won our hearts through the year.
- In today's edition of our year-ender series, we talk to the best storytellers from the Indian advertising world and they tell us their expectations from 2022.
While the first half of the year was, in some ways, even more challenging, owing to the havoc the second wave of Covid-19 wreaked, things have been steadying slowly. The second half of the year has seen consumer sentiments slowly moving towards positive and it has been a good festive season.
GroupM in its recently published report gave some positive news, that the industry is recovering much faster than earlier anticipated. And there have been signs of the green shoots too with different mediums recording good growth. BARC recently revealed that the November ad volumes for Television stood at 156 million seconds, 3% higher than 2020 and 31% higher than 2019. Meanwhile, Digital has been witnessing steady growth. Magna’s recently released report noted that digital ad formats grew by +20% (APAC average: +23%) to Rs 21,400 crore, while traditional media rose +12% to Rs 44,300 crore. The report also predicted a good recovery for traditional mediums like Print that were impacted due to the pandemic. For mediums like OOH and Experiential, the recovery is slower but again, the hope is 2022 will bring some cheer.
With consumer sentiments turning positive and brands’ increasing willingness to spend more on advertising, things seem to be on the mend for now.
However, even in a year when AdEx had been impacted, our creative agencies came up with some beautiful campaigns to make the year just a little better for us. From CRED’s Indiranagar ka Gunda to Mondelez’s reimagining of its iconic cricket stadium ad for Cadbury Dairy Milk, we have seen some heartwarming ads that made the year just a little more bearable. Meanwhile, a lot of brands also moved towards purpose-driven marketing. We also saw agencies come up with wonderful ideas to solve consumer problems. So, there was a shift from hard-selling to storytellers also becoming problem-solvers and this is a trend we hope stays. It will all be about going that extra mile, doing some good for the society.
We will continue to see a lot of these trends in 2022 as well, but there is more in store. While the industry is moving towards the next year with cautious optimism, we spoke to a few experts from the advertising industry to understand what we can expect from 2022, and here is what they had to say:
Amer Jaleel, Group CCO & Chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group
The Rise of Regionalism in Advertising
At one level, people are becoming more like each other. But look closer and you’ll see more alike, yes but also differently alike. Regionalism undoubtedly will be one of the dominant themes in the coming years, and this does not mean the archaic translations or redubbing of Hindi work that we used to churn out as a matter of course. As people receive more culturally relevant content to where they hail from or reside, we will see them shift towards themes and propositions that appeal to them. We see a confidence among people to claim their cultural territory and ask for entertainment that is more skewed towards them. And because you are viewing, not reading anymore, you can enjoy or be entertained or educated or moved in the nuances and the fine differences of the community you belong to, rather than be part of a generic mass. What that’ll mean to the creative process and production process you can only imagine in a country such as ours. Per piece, per project budgets will keep getting squeezed but overall outlays will go through the roof and marketing costs are bound to explode. It’s interesting times for a creative partner to both strategise in depth and create a plethora of gloriously unique work for the same brand over differentiated audiences. The more the frenzier, ha ha.”
Seniors will learn from juniors
The pace with which new media and technology are integrating themselves into advertising, we can either up-skill or pack up our egos and leave.
This is the truth. The faster we internalise it, the clearer we will be about our future.
If this clarity leads us to acquiring new skills, then the best teachers are the youngest people in our offices. They were almost born with a smart phone in their hands. We had to learn to live with devices and apps. They can’t imagine living without them. Technology is blood to them. Add to that the immortal enthusiasm of their youth. An hour in their company is like reading an entire issue of The Wire.
We should invest in these kids. Not just money but also our time. Learning something new from them is much more fun than whatever administrative meeting we are missing to do this.
The fabric of advertising as we know it is changing. It’s terrific to be a part of this change, even if it means going back to being a student. Most of us had the best time of our lives when we were students.
Only this time, our teachers are younger and cooler than us.
Rahul Mathew, Chief Creative Officer,
Valuing, Supporting and Protecting Talent
This actually isn’t a new trend, it’s going back to what this business was built on – talented people. I can’t remember who said ‘Advertising is the only business where our biggest asset leaves out of our front door every day’. But it’s the most important truth of our business. One we’ve been guilty of forgetting, often.
And with work-from-home, while our talent may not be walking in and out everyday, they are getting woo-ed everyday - by in-house agencies, other creative pursuits, start-ups with more money or just by the promise of a better work-life balance.
So, if we do not double down on our efforts to make our talent feel valued, supported and protected; we will not have the talent to call ourselves a creative industry.
Arun Raman, Chief Intelligence Officer, GREY Group India
2022: Happy Brave Year
The last 2 years were all about ‘Safety First’. Any action perceived as risky, was quickly branded as irresponsible by all and sundry. And we were all forced to put our heads down and keep our distance from the unknown.
Covid, particularly the Delta variant, made marketing prudent too. At a time when there were tectonic shifts happening in consumer behavior, in cultural markers and even in business models, prudence was the operative word. Protection of market shares and protection of bottom-lines were the extension of protection at home. After all, aren’t marketers human first, consumers next and sellers lastly!
I predict 2022 to break these self-imposed protectionist mindset by my marketing counterparts. Most have adeptly adapted to the new business models and the new way of consumer behavior. We are already seeing green shoots of big ideas re-surfacing. Big Bold Heroic Brand Ideas. That always are by-products of brave adventurous marketers. I think 2022 will be the Return of Bravery in our industry and the beginning of the end of the pandemic infused risk-aversion.
Amit Wadhwa, CEO India, dentsu Creative
Amalgamation of Creative with Data, Technology and Digital
2021 has been a year that has had possibly the most ups and downs. Right from starting the year on a bullish note to seeing the biggest challenge with the second wave both from a business and people wellness front to finally coming out of it and closing the year on a high. The one thing that 2021 taught us was that it’s good to be ambitious but ‘cautiously ambitious’ rather than ‘bullishly ambitious’. So I guess we enter 2022 with this wisdom but there is so much more that we would need to focus on.
One thing that I feel extremely passionate about is that we are in the business of creativity and our core is and will always be ‘creative’. And while I say this, we are living in an extremely dynamic world where right from methods of mining insights, ideas reaching consumers to consumers experiencing brands are all changing. 2022 will be a landmark year where creative agencies will see an even bigger transformation of the amalgamation of creative with data, technology and digital as the boundaries will vanish much faster this year. And agencies that are not ready for this change or are reluctant will face the heat while the ones who are better prepared and want to embrace the changing world will prosper. With our investments in data, tech and digital, I am all excited to embrace 2022.
Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner, Enormous
2022: The year of getting back to normal
The pandemic was a true test of character of people, teams and organisations. While there certainly was a big drop in businesses and toplines, what was at stake was organisations' humanity.
People in organisations everywhere dealt with the kind of uncertainty they never were faced before. Uncertainty of livelihoods, careers and sanity amidst surmounting work pressures.
The better organisations, in my opinion, made sure that their people were taken care of at least as much as their businesses. When the specter of lockdowns was a little bit behind us, we saw a simple trend both in terms of people and companies. The ones with initiative thrived even in the midst of a terrible external situation. Anyone who did not take easy ways out, like the typical bottomline managers do, by cutting costs rather than working on newer avenues of organisational growth, are going to be the true hero companies of tomorrow. They've tasted success and now when the tides are turning, they're going to be unputdownable.
2022 will see business return to near normal, I would predict the number of pitches to go through the roof from about March. The ones with the best people and processes and creative products, will win 2022 by a mile.
Emmanuel Upputuru, Chief Creative Officer, Cheil
Entering a year of new adventures
While the novel Covid-19 virus visited our planet last year, we bore the brunt of it this year. But as we come to the end of 2021, we can only look forward to the coming year, with lessons, hope and confidence.
I believe the biggest positive is that so many possibilities have opened up suddenly for talent, companies and brands. We have entered an era where we have to deal with not just uncertainty, but with the unknown. There is a sense that anything and everything is possible today. Some can face it with fear, others with hope and a belief. But as the virus, the human race is also adapting, mutating if I may say so. So many exciting things are happening around us. Metaverse, Blockchain, NFTs, DAOs. Big brands have already entered these spaces. It looks so exciting, like an adventure.
I am reminded of the song that my daughter loves and (hates it when I sing), “Don't you know there's part of me
That longs to go
Into the unknown?
Into the unknown
Into the unknown