Robert is my Aunt. My aunt is Robert

Huh? What the fuck?

Did the title just happen by itself? Forced out of a hash tagged uterus? Or is this some full circle, Nirvana like shit that Indians were known for?

All that may be true. But in this case, this refers to the situation that the Advertising industry is now currently in. In India and pretty much everywhere else. I don’t know about Burma or Ethiopia but pretty much everywhere else (read: USA).

Read it like this: Creative agencies were doing media. Media is doing creative.

As an industry, we are going through a rush of new developments that probably makes for very interesting reading — if people read.

Couple of decades back, large advertising responsibilities included among other things, the handling of media for the client’s brands. By media, I mean the whole shebang — planning, buying, placement and even audit. Messaging and its application were together. There were no separations. And certainly no split up service, being called specialisation.

That changed soon enough. As management theorists and entrepreneurs have proved again and again, there is value in decoupling. Basically, in street lingo it means — you make more money from splitting up than staying together. There is more revenue to be made, more details to be dealt with and certainly more opportunities to explore if media and creative went their separate ways. So they did.

I am not very sure whether this is a good thing or not but I shall not waste my time (or yours) by getting into that. There is no point being born after an event and then fantasising about changing its original course — you got to be Spielberg or a crack addict to think like that.

But what is interesting, in a world that is today fusing furiously to create ONE-ness (we will talk more about this in a bit) is the coming back of media. Into creative. Or, you may say the going forward of media into making the message. In a possibly unplanned but certainly happening development, we are seeing the very loud rise of media companies creating messaging. Content — that one word that gets many marketers off like never before, is becoming the common currency. The one paper, that one magic word that opens doors, budgets and other locked places that historically have been standing solidly in the way of making TV ads and other so called expensive campaigns for mass media.

Let’s pause for a moment here and try to see what this ONE-ness is all about that I mentioned earlier. ONE-ness actually is a pretty old thing. About as old as the human mind is. And if some pot pumping sadhus are to be taken note of, then probably older than the human mind also. One-ness is the single, incontestable source that makes all things happen. It is the spiritual fountainhead, the mother originator. If we descend from the Himalayas and come closer to Madison Avenue, ONE-ness is how people think and behave as consumers. They look, read, repeat sometimes and make a call about things — pyjamas, phones, pesticides and poppadums (everyday things, happy things, holiday things, things to live by, things to eat and drink, things to recreate and procreate, things to have. You know, fucking things). People are buying things all the time. They always did. And they always will. That pushes the human race in some direction. And creates meaning. Or keeps stomachs filled and egos fulfilled. Either way, things are not going to go away and the way people bought them, evaluated them, rejected them and had them will not change dramatically. Sure, people will order broccoli over their cell phones and look to hump through websites. But that only proves the point — that the way people do things may change but their fundamental motivations behind doing them will not.

And why are we getting into ONE-ness? Why the hell are we even discussing this? Very simply put, ONE-ness is how consumers always behaved but splitting up was beneficial for the industry serving the consumer. Now, ONE-ness is being brought back because there is money in putting the pieces together. And in that putting together, media companies are foraying fearlessly into the creative development space. Remember that magic word — CONTENT? Well, it swings back now into focus. Content is the great leveller, it seems. Content means cheap, low risk, hedging of ways in which marketers get in touch with their consumers. If a TV ad bombs, asses and heads will roll. If a print ad bombs because people got lost in the multitude of front pages that a newspaper now has, marketers will have to draft their CVs instead of briefs. So, content. That wonderful thing that works miracles from so many angles — cheap to produce, many and many can be sent out like sperms and sheer statistics will make it work, if nothing else. And of course, it frees many professionals from fear. There is nothing to map, little to plot and surely ridiculous to tie down when it comes to content. The sanction given to one another, the sheer joy of unplanned and knee jerk actions is exhilarating and liberating. No fear. No quarterly stats. Pure play experimentation — to get consumers to see our ONE-ness vis-a-vis that of other players.

And media companies are moving in to fill this space. The developing world is hungry with a vengeance and most of the matured world companies are moving in to service that hunger. Marketers making one TV ad per year are suddenly discovering the the rush of making 12 content videos and saving some money in production, and getting hits and thumbs on FB, and getting spikes in numbers and overall feeling fearless, free and functional. Again.

You can’t beat that. No matter who your aunt is.

(This is a part of a developing observation on the spoils and turmoils of the Advertising industry in India — mostly. The rest of it is pretty much how life is, I suppose.)

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