Let’s refine the statement, at the very outset. If rephrase our premise like so: when focussed content weds clever strategy, an incisive campaign is born, then we realize there is reason to why not every campaign succeeds. Where every business has its shares of successes and failures, so also successes and failures make and mar campaigns. And more often than not, content comes in for praise or scorn. Few may remember two brands that suffered because the content failed to keep up with changing times: Ovaltine and Sharkoferrol. It’s no simple circumstance that 88% of Fortune 500 corporations in the 1950’s went under.
The ones that succeed are structured deliberately, carefully, and scripted to succeed over great lengths of time. Timelessness is the hallmark of good content, riding good strategy. Example? Utterly Butterly Delicious, Amul. A classic that has transcended time. Another? Wah Taj! There are another two that have transcended time. Doordarshan’s signature tune and Nescafé’s. But there’s more to the longevity of campaigns than only a brilliant idea. Sometimes, destiny plays a most vital role in keeping a slogan alive. Remember Netaji’s call? Jai Hind. Those words were immortalized on India’s first 3-and-a-half Anna postage stamp. Destiny. Who would have imagined that a slogan from De Beers would resonate forever? Diamonds are forever. Destiny. Nike’s Do It. Destiny.
However, there’s an oddity about Destiny. She never gave a chance to escapists. Do you remember how BBC humiliated Tony Blair after the public voted him out? Closer home, you will remember how mercilessly Arnab Goswami dissected Rahul Gandhi during an interview? Escapists cannot survive time. Does anyone remember Polaroid and Kodak? Or Compaq? I’m sure no one has forgotten Pan Am or BOAC. Closer home, Air India, Indian Airlines, Alliance Air? Somewhere down the line, these names lost touch with the target audience. Why? Bad content strategy doesn’t transcend time.
Conquering time isn’t only about destiny. There are also those brands that have successfully devised strategies that outlasted time. One of the best examples is Salman Khan’s involvement with Thums Up. The advertising campaigns might seem few and far between, but in fact, the timings are deliberate: Salman Khan is used as a vehicle of the brand once every six or seven years… but why once in so many years? Because Thums Up targets generations of children, and it us assumed that every child begins to turn into a “discerning consumer” around the age of six. But note the unchanging content, the keynote slogan, “Taste the thunder”. That one conquered time.
Similarly, also, consider the campaigns driving India’s biggest beauty soap brand. “Lux” runs campaigns, approximately once in a decade… why 10 years? Because the target audience for Lux, girls, turn into “discerning consumers” around the ages of puberty. What both Thums Up and Lux are doing is to invest heavily, splurging cash on making advertising films because they are investing in their future. They are trying to perpetuate brand recognition. And succeeding greatly. Every boy above six knows Thums Up; when every girl enters her teens, she surely knows about Lux.
In politics as in the marketplace, what is most important is brand recognition. Every political leader in India from Gandhi to Bose to Sheikh Abdullah to S.P. Mukherjee to Periyar… all strived to establish their brands. These towering leaders all discovered their niches that would add nuance to their brands: for Gandhi-Nehru, it was non-violence; then there was Bose’s militant nationalism, Abdullah’s identity & self-determination, Mukherjee’s Hindutva, and Periyar’s Dravidian identity. Having discovered their niches, each created his historical campaign that led to success and glory.
And they wrote their own content. Gandhi’s seminal text The India Of My Dreams and Nehru’s Discovery of India are the best examples offocussed content. Bose re-wrote Jana Gana Mana in Hindi and two volumes of The Indian Struggle. The strength of his legacy lies in the fact that in 2010, Penguin published his essays in Ideas Of A Nation. For Sheikh Abdullah, the rarest distinction: in Pakistan, poets Hafeez Jullundhri and Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote peans in praise of Abdullah. But there was something else about the man that transcended time. The text that was to perpetuate his legacy was Sheikh Abdullah’s biography Atish-e-Chinar written by M.Y. Taing. Interestingly, it was published in 1985 after his death, and obviously, it became a part of the narrative for Farooq Abdullah. Mukherjee’s A Phase Of The Indian Struggle was so incendiary that the British Raj was compelled to ban the book. E. V. Ramaswami Naicker-Periyar was a prolific writer and speaker, one of the few who was known for steamrolling his opposition. There’s an entire website devoted to selling his works: www.periyarbooks.in . These prolific writers were the creators of their own content and they themselves conceived the strategies that they would employ while using the content. And by all measure, each of them was successful, tremendously. – Horoprasad Banerjee