By J Godwin Perera
(Former president of the Sri Lanka Institute
of Marketing who has served as Chairman of the Advertising Awards
Committee and as a judge at the SLIM Awards).
many controversial issues raised at this year's SLIM Advertising
Awards was the question of priority between 'creativity' and 'effectiveness'.
Actually, there need not have been a controversy at all. The fact
that there was clearly indicates a surprising inability to see proverbial
wood for the trees.
Advertising has to be judged against a marketing background. The
legitimacy of the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing conducting the
awards rests solely on this premise. To take advertising out of
this background and judge it as a separate art form is to deny advertising
its rightful place as a powerful communications tool.
starting point of any evaluation process has to be the client company's
marketing strategy. From this will flow other strategies, such as
positioning, packaging, pricing, placement and promotion of which
advertising forms an integral part. Advertising cannot be done without
Hence the prime
responsibility of the agency is to develop a creative strategy.
In fact, the strength of an agency lies in its creative talents
and skills. This is what sets the advertising industry apart from
all other marketing organisations. And this is why agencies have
created an aura around the word 'creativity' that sometimes borders
on the mysterious.
Let no one begrudge
the agencies for basking in this mystique of imagination, for that
is their professional licence and privilege.
need not be carried away. Creative strategy simply means deciding
what is going to be said in the advertising and how it is going
to be said. This is easier said than done.
The process of developing and honing a creative strategy is a task
that requires considerable research, clarity of thought and discipline.
That is why a very close client-agency partnership is a prerequisite
to any successful advertising campaign.
There are five factors that have to be considered in developing
a creative strategy. Firstly, what is the objective of advertising?
For example, is it to win new customers or is it to get existing
customers to use the product more frequently? Secondly, what is
the target customer segment?
Here it is best
to develop a profile of the typical customer. For example it could
be a lower middle class working mother with school going children
or an urban, house-proud housewife who with her husband do a lot
of home entertaining.
is the key product benefit? This can range from convenience to economy
to healthcare to timesaving to many more derivable advantages. In
determining the benefit, competitive products and customer attitudes
must be carefully studied. Fourthly, what communication media will
be used? With limited client budgets, a proliferation of print and
electric media and the ability of listeners and viewers to switch
channels effortlessly. This is one of the most difficult areas for
an agency to make recommendations.
Fifthly, how will the message be delivered? What words, images,
graphics, colours and characters will be used to make the advertisement
stand out from the clutter of, not only competitive, but all other
advertisements in that medium and successfully take the customer
through the complete communication process of attention, interest,
conviction and action?
This is indeed
a challenging task for the agency. Because, as communications specialists
advise us, no matter what the medium, attention must be achieved
within the first two seconds and interest probably in three seconds.
Failing that, the entire message will lose its impact. Consequently
the client would have wasted his money and the agency its time and
succeeded in getting the customer' attention and arousing interest
is not enough. There's conviction and action which must follow.
To achieve all this the findings of indepth research of markets
have to be combined with creativity.
been defined as the ability to be imaginative, ingenious, and inventive.
But it is a
type of creativity that makes the advertisement effective. Therefore,
the bottom line is effectiveness. Creativity must serve to contribute
to it. This is one of the fundamental principles of advertising.
to seek Indian support in trade talks
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has called on the government to seek
the support of India and other South Asian countries in negotiating
international trade agreements.
and action plans must be aimed at securing optimum benefits for
Sri Lanka under these agreements and specifically deal with the
leverage opportunities to collaborate with South Asian countries,
especially India," it said in a letter to Prime Minister Ranil
the government appoint a working group specifically to develop a
policy framework and action plans to develop the economy through
international trade and investment agreements.
should set up an inter-ministerial team along with the private sector
and trade unions to review all issues relevant to Sri Lanka's ability
to exploit the advantages and avoid the disadvantages in the emerging
globalised world, it said.
It made specific
reference to the World Trade Organisation, the free trade agreements
with India and Pakistan and the multi-fibre agreements.
group must review the specific skills required to understand the
implications of the agreements and the applicable rules, the negotiation
skills and develop strategies to enhance the capability of the Sri
Lankan team, it said.
also suggested the government strike a deal with India for the use
of Indian rupee and Sri Lankan rupee credit cards in their respective
should also review bilateral aviation agreements and negotiate and
facilitate private Indian airlines to fly to Sri Lanka, it said.