Essay on Advertising in India!

With the liberalization policy followed by government and subsequent entry of multinationals in India, the true marketing came to India. Advertising changed a lot at the same time. Because of intense competition, the advertising budget increased multifold.

The admen believe that in 21st century the advertising will make world go round; that the power and potency of advertising is today and in future. For every activity advertising is used. Advertising has come out as a very powerful medium to inform, persuade or to remind the consumers.

Advertising is used by commercial as well as non-commercial purposes. Advertising today is used by everyone whether he is a individual, group a company, a service organisation, government or and social non-commercial organisation.


It is advertising that keeps media independence alive. Ad money pumps life into newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. Without this money, the media would depend upon government or on parties having vested interests for survival and would loose their freedom.

Advertising gives the public the right to choose between many options, many brands. It enables consumers to opt for the best quality or the lowest price or the best mix of quality and price. In the absence of advertising, the public would be at the mercy of a few high priced or low quality brands.

Advertising spurs economic development. It engineers sales. It helps people and organisation find each other. It creates or sustains thousands of jobs in advertising agencies, in various promotion and exhibition industries.

Government every-where are major advertisers. They depend an advertisements to lure foreign investors and tourists. Government advertise within the country too-to recruit young men into the Army, Navy and Air Force; to advise citizens about traffic tax and drug laws or about voting rights.


Advertising helped America to become the world’s number one economic power, we recalls economist W. W-Rostow’s classification of five stages of economic growth—tradition, transition, take off,… maturity, high consumption.

America reached the high consumption stage in 1920, while Europe did so only after 1945. America was the first to reach the final stage, because advertising and attention to the consumer created the mass markets needed for high consumption.

According to veteran Indian Adman R.K. Swamy, there is nothing “hidden’ about today’s persuaders. Newspapers and magazines carry more buy me appeals then read me stories. The television set promotes products from endless channels. Radio/cinema/signboards, bill boards and neon signs, kiosks, buses, vans, even bullock carts fitted with loudspeakers—a plethora of media, a barrage of messages.

No wonder the public apts to wield its tremendous weapons—the power to ignore. “Half of my advertising money is wasted. I don’t know which half’, is an old lament. Today’s advertiser may believe that two third of his money goes down to the drain. His lovingly produced press ads are not noticed; his television ads are lost in the multi-channel clutter.


Advertisers in India spent a total of more than Rs.30 billion last year on advertising. (In the U.S. it’s about $ 175 billion—some 200 times as much as India).

Ads compete for attention not merely with other ads but with reams of news. “Because of the -incredible noise level in today’s media, a great ad has to first and foremost attract your attention”, says Alyque Padamsee, Vetaran Bombay ad and theatre star.

“Advertising in India reflects the social, political, economic and cultural environments in which the ads are created”.

Satellite TV has ushered in epochal changes in entertainment, in awareness of trends and life styles abroad. It has also dramatically expanded media options, and influenced the style and substance of advertising, which is now richer and stronger in imagery and emotional appeal. CNN’s live coverage of the 1991 Gulf war triggered a boom in the satellite TV and cable industry.


There are now some 40 TV/cable/satellite channels, and 60 are predicted by year end. But the industry seems to have grown too fast too soon. Result: satellite shortage, cable wars, software crunch, fragmentation of advertising revenue, viewer fatigue.

Though spending on TV ads may go up the pie in the sky isn’t enough for all. TV companies find that wooing both viewers and advertisers is an up-hill task. “The TV bubble is about to burst”, experts say.

Thanks to the proliferation of media and to promotional choices, the back room bay of yesterday’s agency, the media planner, is today’s prized specialist. “If the early eighties belonged to account servicing and the latter half to creative guys, the nineties are the decade of the media planners.”

The big question an advertiser has to ask is not “what will be my message”? but “How will I catch my audience? How will I reach out to consumers in this media saturated environment”?


The economic liberalisation of the past five years has created challenges and opportunities for advertising. Indian products and services face fircce competition nationally and from foreign and multinational brands.

Alliances are being forged between American and Indian companies. R.K. Swamy has termed up with BBGO; chaitra with leo Burnet; Trikaya with Grey; Mudra with Doyle, Dane and Bernbach.

In fact, some Indian agencies are hiring expatriate and professionals. R.K. Swamy/BBDO, for example, has three/all of them are creative expects.

The phenomenon has stirred up a bit of a controversy, and business India discussed it recently. “Advertising must be ethnocentric”, says Alyque Padamsee. Rick Lane of BBDO counters: “Advertising is a communication business and a global business. I’ am an Englishman but have worked effectively in Canada, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Russia.”


Chintamani Rao of O & M says expatriates help in two ways: They up grade standards in areas like film production, they ensure that agency practices are in line with international standards.

Piyush Pande of O & M says that foreigner’s lack of knowledge of India is sometimes an advantage. “He has fewer miss conceptions and sees thing from a fresh angle”. Nancy Horowitz of madison DMC & B is amazed at all the services an Indian ad agency provides to its client.

“It blew my mind that we did packaging. In the U.S. that’s always a specialist’s job. Yet, being forced to do it has improved my skills in that area. Just working over here I have had to learn so much more”.

Rick Lane says:


“We believe that some-day India will be recognized as a force in international advertising. We’ll be able to look back and say we were there, and in some small way we helped to make it happen.”

International brand wars are now being played out on Indian turf. During the recent cricket world cup the television image of giant coke bottles being wheeled on to the pitch to serve cricketers “the official drinks” was obliterated by that of cricket celebrities swilling Pepsi and wise cracking the Pepsi slogan “Nothing official about it”.

Market research has made rapid strides; Hindustan Lever, the biggest consumer goods conglomerate in India, Pioneered market research, particularly in rural India. Hindustan Thompson Associates (HTA) and Lintas perhaps lead the country in market research competence.

Specialist market agencies such as MARG, Pathfinders and MODF have come up. If we want to explore the market before launching a new product, or assess market potential before that multimillion expansion of our company, or if we want to know which way an election will go, such agencies offer their expertise.

Measuring the relative popularity of television programmes is now a routine exercise, though the methodology used seems fallible.

Two massive exercises—the Indian readership survey and the national readership survey— have provided critical data on media habits and reach, on demographics, and on the Indian consumer, enabling ad agencies to plan media buying more effectively, interesting facts; TV is the no. 1 medium, in both rural and urban India.


The total reach of TV in India is 269 million. Satellite TV reaches nine million homes. Nearly 74 per cent of Indian house holds are nuclear. The typical family— across urban and rural India—consists of 3.9 individuals. The top ten daily newspapers in India are all in the vernacular.

Malayalam manorama leading the pack with 6.5 million. As far as magazines go, only one English magazine (India today readership 4.5 million) figures among the top ten, Radio is the second most popular medium in rural areas.

Technology is changing the way ad agencies function. Many of them are splurging on the latest gizmos (note books, digital studios, media planning, software). Computers and computer graphics have brought new power versatility, speed and value to advertisement production.

The potential of internet is gradually being tapped. Several Indian companies are using internet to market their products and services. Video editing is smarter, slicker and swifter than ever before .The technology juggernaut is relent less. Admen should learn to leverage technology intelligently and sensitively.

Has America, the world’s No. 1 advertising nation, influenced Indian advertising? There is the obvious inspiration, provided by the books of Ogilvy, Reeves and Hopkins, advertising art literature from America is on every agency’s shopping list. Indian admen visiting the U.S. observe and absorb: The experience comes in handy back home.

O & M, says that the biggest strength of American advertising lies in its technological sophistication, especially in camera technology. This is also a disadvantage—ads in the U.S. have become prohibitively expensive; they have to look offshore for centres of excellence.


Advertising art in India reveals a British rather than an American influence. On the other hand, American slapstick appeals more readily to Indians than subtle British humour. Indians absorb everything.

They chew other cultures and produce an Indian version of it. Products like coke and Kellogg’s have an American image, but their Bombay ads are Indian in Character.

Since the U.S. is the world’s most competitive market, there is a strong American impact on marketing techniques in India. “Marketing may not have been born in America but it graduated there, so a lot of us look to the U.S. for fundamental concepts such as positioning, niche marketing etc.”

Advertising mirrors society some of the young in India equate America with fun and wealth and success. Advertising targeted at India’s urban young would therefore be American— oriented. But America would be irrelevant to rural communication.

“But any fears of the Indian identity in advertising being swamped by American MNCS are quite misplaced whenever we adopt a so called western idea, there is a great deal of debate between the clients and the agency”.

British were closer to India on the ad front than the Americans until liberalisation and the opening up of the economy. But society has since moved straight from the British Raj to the MTV generation. Advertising has followed suit, especially with the arrival of MNCS and of large New york based agencies.


However, the admen in India should be selective in adapting from the American experience. We are making the unfortunate mistake of repeating American mistakes. Every time history repeats itself, the price of the lesson goes up.

Indian admen should adopt the technology of the west and the soul of India, but sometimes we seem to be doing the reverse. The American sophistication in tools and techniques is instructive but we must remember that in the Indian context it exists in.

The strengths of American advertising, are attention to detail professional integrity and a strong balance between concept and execution. Another virtue Indian adpersons should learn from American counterparts is time management.