A message to creatives who feel either threatened or overwhelmed by the digital world...
Disclaimer: The article is by no means meant to underestimate or under-value the prowess of digital thinkers or creative capabilities of digital natives. It is, however, written to deflate and to demystify the enigma of the ‘D’ word.
When I grew up, it was a very different world.
I remember sitting in front of the television and watching Krishi Darshan, a program for farmers on Doordarshan – the only audio-video content channel in India back in the 1980s. At 7PM, if you didn’t go out to play in the park, there was nothing else to watch.
When I joined advertising, one was mainly writing/creating advertising for two major mediums – Print and Television.
There were ads where 60 percent of the space was occupied by a strong headline with a visual that completed the story. There were also ads that were long-copy and ads that were mainly images. Neil French had taught us to keep the elements of an ad to the bare minimum. We also learnt to respect Editing; that it is far more important than writing.
I remember getting a job because of a headline that I wrote in a copy test. I was asked to write anti-pollution ads for Eicher Good Earth. I showed the exhaust pipe of a car with smoke bellowing out of it and wrote in all capital letter ‘ONLY DOGS EXCRETE ON THE ROAD’. A few weeks later, I was asked to collect a cheque of Rs3000. I was told the headline was used for an ad that they had already printed in one of those thick Eicher Maps and it was only fair that I should be paid.
My first television commercial brief was for Inalsa Food Processor, much more than a mere “mixer and grinder”. I wrote a script about a stereotypical Punjabi man who meets his would-be bride in a quiet café, in the get-to-know each other phase. He tells her he likes to drink pineapple juice first thing in the morning and then shares a list of his favourite foods that includes gajar ka halwa. Cut to next day. An Inalsa Food Processor appears on his doorstep with a note – ‘Tumhe meri nahin, iski zaroorat hai - Pooja’. (You don’t need me, you need this – Pooja). The client liked the script but was afraid it would upset the man of the house. So we went back to the writing table and kept at it till a script was approved.
That’s how we honed our skills for print and television advertising.
Today, after the digital explosion, I believe nothing has changed.
All of communication, advertising, and brand building, in my mind, can still be segmented into the large buckets that one grew up learning.
Still and Moving.
A post on Instagram is a static image with some copy thrown in. It is but a version of the good old print ad. A meme is a print ad. A banner ad is a print ad which can be vertical or horizontal depending on the space in the website. Some banner ads are films running on websites.
A DVF is a TVC running in the digital world. Of course, one needs to keep in mind that the first few seconds is key to grab attention. But the same applied to a television ad. The digital world has simply liberated us of the 30-second cross. Today it can be 6 seconds, 10 seconds, 83 seconds or even 10 minutes, so long it is engaging and drives home the message.
A GIF is a form of film too. A cinemograph is a film with only one element moving. Insta Stories, FB stories, IGTV are all mediums for great film content.
A few years back, we did ‘Missing files’ for Toshiba laptops on their Facebook page. We created a video and took out the middle and asked consumers what could have happened. A digital film could be a film that you could interact with, but it is a film all the same.
So, here’s what I want to say: To anyone who feels threatened, if you have your basics in static and motion in place, you are actually over-equipped to create greater experiences in this crazy digital world.
-The writer is creative head, Taproot Dentsu & national creative director, Dentsu One. Views expressed are personal.