Selling ‘Brand Asia’


In collaboration with the Advertising Association of Pakistan (AAP), the Ad Asia has come to Pakistan for a two city road show where Madhukar Kamath, Group CEO and managing director of the well-known Mudra Group, an affiliate of DDB and also chairman of the organising committee of Ad Asia 2011, gave a sneak preview of what will be expected from the event to be held in New Delhi in autumn this year.
Kamath, an economics graduate, who has been in the field of advertising and marketing communications since over three decades, is known to have transformed the Mudra Group from an advertising agency into one of India’s leading integrated marketing communications groups, during his five-year stint. Madhukar opened his interaction with a small presentation, where he showed the ad that did the bidding for India to host the Ad Asia event in 2011.
“Our main target is to raise the potential of the advertising and marketing industry so that we can also raise the benchmark of human resource development, working code of ethics and sharing and exchange of ideas,” he said. “This is the only way in which professional standards can be raised,” Kamath said.
An “Incredible India” advertisement won the audience’s appreciation, during his short presentation. Incredibly shot, with scenes showing simple elegance, majestic natural beauty, awe striking monuments and funny heartwarming moments of a traveller in India who is wondering what to write on a postcard, in order to describe his journey, he eventually simply writes “Incredible India”. The background score is wonderful and the images are truly inspiring. The ad won the bid in 2007 to host Ad Asia in 2011. The last time Ad Asia was held in India was in Jaipur in 2003, where great CEOs and communications experts spoke on various topics, including Charles Handy, the late CK Parahalahad and Piyush Pandey. The event was a royal experience what with Jaipur’s beautiful and historical palace-turned hotels and other wondrous sites.
“We are going to follow the benchmark set by that last conference in Jaipur and you are going to love it,” Kamath said. The Ad Asia conference is basically about networking, sharing ideas and experiences, and listening to some veterans talk about their experiences in their life as ad men or communicators. In the three-day conference, which this year will be held in New Delhi from October 31 to November 2, there will be around 45 speakers.
These include Indira Nooyi, chairman and CEO of Pepsi Co, David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Droga5, Bruce Haines, chief strategy officer, Cheil Worldwide and Irfan Mustafa, general manager of the Yum! chain of restaurants from Pakistan. There are still several others on the list, Kamath says, which was a task most difficult, as it was hard to choose among global experts.
But to those who find conferences slightly dry despite their importance, and even for others, Kamath has some good news. The sessions for the conferences will not be more than 45 minutes each divided into 20 sessions with a packed programme. There will be a chance to mingle and network, along with experiencing New Delhi, which Kamath says has become a dynamic city even from one year ago. Its cityscapes, infrastructure and facilities have been drastically improved recently.
“Being Ad Asia, we were looking to make a logo that depicted all of Asia,” says Kamath. “Once you spread out the different cultural motifs and other elements that are so archetypical of that country, you can see the several similarities that all Asian, especially the South Asian countries have among them,” he says. The 2011 logo of Ad Asia is therefore a blend of different cultures, their assimilative attitude and regional synergies.
“The truth is no one looks westwards anymore,” he says. “All are looking towards the East and we must work much more towards operating dynamically,” he says. That is why our slogan has become ‘uncertainty is the news certainty’ Our conference will be addressing a lot of issues, and having a lot of provocative question and answer sessions that will decode the new age consumer for us all,” he says.
Questions to be asked during the conference

g How the industry can reinvent itself to fit the new world order
g The DNA of the new Asian consumer
g How strategy and structure can evolve in the future
g The new rules of survival for brands and marketers
g The role of strategic partners in the next decade
g How companies can overcome cultural diversity to create an Asian conglomerate

But it won’t be all business. In fact one of the sessions, called the Bollywood session will be seeing megastars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, who will appear for a talk, while Ad Asia is also aiming to get Amitabh Bachchan to make an appearance too.
Meanwhile there will be cultural nights held too so foreigners from outside India can taste its local flavour.
Night One will take the visitors on the Streets of Delhi, where they will experience different street foods typical of an urban area in India. Perhaps Pakistanis won’t find it too surprising but the experience will of course be exciting and somewhat different.
Night Two, Royal Darbar, will be at spent at the lawns of the Ashoka Hotel, where dances from different Indian cultures followed by a fashion show of royal dresses will be held. A Vietnamese delegation is organising Night Three, Night of the Rising Dragon, especially because Vietnam will be the next host of the Ad Asia event in 2013.
Night Four, Kingdom of Dreams, will take the visitors to Haryana, in a 4D auditorium, with a kind of Bollywood extravanganza. Here also foods of all states of India will be presented.
The tours are customised and subject to visa restriction. Ad Asia has also given only Pakistan a special discount which is available on the AAP website. Registration forms and other FAQ are also available on their website.