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Gold habits die hard

Gold habits die hard
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First Published: Fri, Oct 21 2011. 10 22 PM IST

No cohesion: Suthan.
No cohesion: Suthan.
Updated: Fri, Oct 21 2011. 10 22 PM IST
Spot Light | World Gold Council
No cohesion: Suthan.
Prathap Suthan has the title of chief explorer at brand consulting firm The Advisory and is chief creative officer at information technology services company iYogi. With around 23 years’ experience in advertising, Suthan is best known for the India Shining campaign he developed for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government ahead of the 2004 general election in which it lost power.
Campaign
The new campaign for the World Gold Council (WGC) by BBH India shows a daughter-in-law’s reaction to her mother-in-law’s gift of an old television set, one that her husband had gifted her years ago. The ad drives home the point that gold may have been a better choice than a television set because of the metal’s growing value.
What did you think of the campaign?
This is a pretty oddball campaign. Why do I think that the film was done by one agency, and another did the print? The tones are different. The texture of the thoughts is different. The sensibilities are different. And the art directors haven’t spoken to each other. There’s just no cohesion. Except, of course, for the gold investment angle. Which truly is a gene that we are born with. That aside, the film is well produced. The script, the cast, the timing, the combining of south and north India, and all else are above slam. It makes its point. But that’s where its destiny will end. Sucked into giant Diwali dazzle.
Blind spot: Gold advertising needs to take on more relevant social issues like anti-dowry and self-respect.
Though I wish the point about wasting money on electronic buys was magnified. In print at least, I’d have had the girl wearing a TV as a necklace, jingling washing machines as bangles, and dangling ovens as earrings.
At least then this campaign would have had visual adhesive, and made better use of the film’s differentiating humour. It’d have been a better-knit campaign. It’d have stood apart from retail jewellery advertising, and given the client a thought that stuck stronger.
But are they not preaching to the converted, considering that Indians have always looked at gold as an investment?
Sure, that’s the first thing that struck me after I saw the campaign. When logic took over. That’s like telling me “Beta, use your nose to breathe”. If Indians have a collective reflex, then it’s about investing in gold. I am sure all our parents, all our grandparents and all those before them have done exactly that. Across all segments of the SEC (socioeconomic class) pie.
Even the retailers have been pushing this. I have heard of jewellery shops that sell gold through EMI plans. And even for small denominations. For Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bucks. Like we fill gas. However, in a country that’s obsessed with gold, talking to them at Diwali may be isn’t too off the mark. Just because we do buy a lot of crap during this time. It’s again something that’s as old as tradition. But then, if that was the point, then the agency and client ought to have gone to town. They had the thought. At least in film. Why didn’t they deliver that in print? And outdoor, just when India is waddling about shopping like headless ducks.
Do you think this ad works for the brand?
Here’s a layman predicament. Who on earth is WGC? What is this brand? Is this a jewellery shop? Is this like Tanishq gold? More importantly, what am I supposed to feel towards WGC after I see the campaign? My neighbour, however, vaguely suspects that it’s an...industry body that promotes gold...and now slakes even more consumer thirst for gold. Which again is pretty redundant in a country where gold is at times the balance of life. I can understand this route working for the brand in Sweden or Holland where gold isn’t quite the first word out of a baby’s mouth. However, the other issue is that while people do buy gold during Diwali, this is also the time they buy other things. All across the year, they’d have waited, saved money for new durables, all to plunge thriftily into the midst of discounting major brands, which pander shamelessly to the mass hysteria.
In the middle of this, I am not quite sure if my wife who desperately wants a new fridge, would be thrilled to settle for a gold chain. I suspect she’d like a Diwali chain, but she’d want an everyday fridge too. Even if I have to take a loan for it.
Among the jewellery brands in the market, which brand is doing a good job on advertising and marketing and why?
I come from a part of India where every second ad on TV is from a jewellery shop, and every third discussion is about how many sovereigns gold were draped on a bride. Consequently, if I were to stretch that conversation to include India, barring a lone Tanishq, which I think once took on a social issue, every brand is about the gaudy yellow metal and its fashionable baubles.
I think the time has come where gold advertising needs to take on more relevant social issues like anti-dowry, self-respect, pride of skin, and stories of gallant women who walked out of marriages that were built on weak gold foundations.
I am sick of reading about my sisters being tarnished and rebuked and even being burnt by monsters called in-laws. If gold is the evil, and if brands are about goodness, then someone needs to cross that chasm. High time. Past time.
With gold prices touching all- time highs, what can brands do to keep themselves relevant?
The fact is that they really don’t have to do anything. Business will be brisk. Because gold habits die hard. Indians will invest in the metal. Like they have. It’s the only investment available in bits and pieces that absolutely assures to appreciate. History can’t be wrong. And in all that, this campaign is all but a blind spot. Sorry.
As told to Gouri Shah.
gouri.s@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Oct 21 2011. 10 22 PM IST