Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The most powerful Ad medium of them all!

Zak walked into the cafĂ© 45 minutes after the designated hour. Rahul, Susan and Megs looked up and sang in unison “here comes mr. fashionably late”. Rahul quipped “he’s so fashionably late that he’s still wearing last year’s fashion”.

“Hi guys” Zak blurted coming closer. “Wow zak that’s a sexy shirt” Megs yelled. “Yeah man, where did you get it from? How much did you pay for it? Is it still available? Is this the only colour?” the group quizzed Zak for the next half an hour on his new acquisition. Zak became a walking, talking and most accepted medium of promotion for that half an hour.

Believe it, all of us are Ad mediums. Everything we do, everything we say, every move is watched closely and aped. If you vouch for a new shampoo being the best for dandruff relief there will be a loyal fan following for that shampoo among your friends. If a friend of yours tells you that a certain restaurant serves the best pasta in town, you’d definitely try it out and if you like it you will in turn pass on the information to another friend and the virus will just spread on and on and on. Man (and of course woman) is the most penetrating Ad medium of them all.

The advertising world has definitely realized this. But seem to restrict creative use of the human medium to sports stars, film stars and celebrities of various fields. While the usage of a popular celebrity in an ad is unarguably effective, the use of common man (which is more penetrating) to endorse products and brands still remains untapped. Is there a way in which advertisers could possibly tap this medium? Yes, it is possible but several problems remain. As of now this medium is unorthodox and thus does not come with a set of terms and conditions of usage. For instance, Nike could give out hundred pairs of their latest running shoes to athletes in schools and colleges for free and just ask them to wear them whenever they are on the field. They could even pay them a small fee as an encouragement. But what would stop the athletes from wearing Reebok track pants or Adidas t-shirt along with the Nike shoes? Thus the problem of overshadowing across product categories and brands is inevitable.

Is there no way to formalize communication through this medium? Will formalizing this medium mean that each and every one of us will end up with everything free? Would it spell disaster for traditional media? Is it possible to use this medium without destroying its credibility?
Well I don’t have all the answers. But what I am positive about is that humans are indeed the most powerful Ad medium of them all. If only we could find the answers to the few questions I’ve asked above, and to the thousands that will stem from probing deeper into the subject, we will have found ourselves a truly innovative and powerful medium. I am hoping to get some in-depth takes on this subject from my brothers and sisters in the ad fraternity. Till then, carry on advertising…err…flaunting. India Search