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AdAsia 2011 Day 2: Interview with Simon Bond & Chris Thomas of BBDO

“India and China remain the top agendas for our global clients,” said Chris Thomas in an exclusive conversation with BestMediaInfo.com

Neha Saraiya | Delhi | November 3, 2011

The Indian advertising space has been changing dramatically in the last few years and AdAsia 2011 also reaffirms that this change is a universal truth. On the sidelines of the conference, the Best MediaInfo team caught up exclusively with Simon Bond, Chief Marketing Officer, BBDO/Proximity Worldwide, and Chris Thomas, Chairman and CEO of BBDO in Asia, Middle East and Africa & Chairman of Proximity Worldwide.

In the interaction, Thomas and Bond share how important Indian operations are for the agency and their most sought after campaigns. Excerpts:

We have just heard your presentation on ‘Acts not Ads’. We would like to understand how exactly things will change…

What we were trying to say through this presentation was that advertising ideas need to go beyond advertising as the means of engagement. We just do not need to create ideas but create engagement, which can create discussion that is shareable and likeable and entertaining. If you get all these things right, then you will be creating the right kinds of ideas. In some of parts of India it is still very important to use mass media, so we should have an objective to create active participation in the message.

Can you share some of the pathbreaking campaigns that you have executed in India and other parts of the world?

We had done the ‘WALS’, which stands for Women Against Lazy Stub, campaign for Gillette. The objective was to have consumers shave more often and hence use Gillette razors more often. We got this insight that men generally are lazy and they think that their stub looks sexy. On the other hand, we also got the insight that women find men more attractive when they are clean shaven. Hence, we, with the help of Gillette, created a community — WALS — and promoted the shave drive. And this campaign won a Cannes Lion.

At the time of the Nimbooz launch we got a lemon squeezer. It was a classic case of execution where the exact need was to show realness and Indianness. If you look at the entire body of work at BBDO India, we are doing some extremely strong work.

In the ‘Ideas are contagious’ session there was a doppelganger act that was shown. That too was done by us.

How important are the India operations for you?

Seriously important! When we are talking to our global clients we find that the number one and two on their agenda are India and China, sometimes in that other and sometimes China and India. So, strategically for us it is an incredibly important market. Probably not as much in  terms of the scale, as in terms of ad spends it is still not the size of North America and getting there is still a long way away, but you have got an incredibly young population and there are more babies being born here than anywhere else in the world. So, strategically it is a very important market. It is important for clients and so it is equally important for us.

A lot of clients today are very upbeat about the social media but most them get lost in terms of what exactly they should do. In that situation what are the suggestions that you give to your clients?

I think social media is like a test and learn environment. There’s nothing better than experimentation and innovation. So what we are seeing is that most of our clients are actively inclining budgets or some part of their budgets towards social media and experimenting, and through that try and educate their people as to what works. This is very essential. You can’t always predict what will be shared or how it is going to interact. It is very important to have an open mindset.

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