I posted this a month back on Facebook notes. Saw Ron react to it ! Thought it was important that I post our perspective on our blog. The issue has been discussed and over discussed, but the point Ron has made ( see below) is worth thinking about.Here is what I wrote about the Big Blooper that happened in March ( The Scam Ford Ad, Ford’s reaction to it ) Here is what I felt.
On the face of it, yes its too harsh a step, sacking senior management of the “Creative Department” at JWT India & the marketing official in question, at Ford India.
I found the statement of Mr. Bobby Pawar ex – Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner, JWT India, very mature, “As a leader, this incident happened on my watch. I have to take moral responsibility for it,”
Been reading the reactions of the entire advertising fraternity. The uproar from “suffocating the creative expression” to “damning of scam ads”, to “ O I love the ad, Screw Ford “ etc. I am sure most of you reading this have also read the same.
This is what its all about.
or google ford ads india
Now lets look at it from a different perspective.
Sacking is never a pleasant situation. Ask the people who have had to be in a situation to take those decisions. The issues are far more layered than what meets the eye.
Advertising industry is wise. We work for brands. We exist because of these brands. I am sure some of you may agree with me that it takes a long time … really long time to build a brand value. FORD, GE, Volkswagen, BMW, Channel, Christian Dior, Virgin Atlantic, IBM, Gillette, Beetle, RR, Forbes, Nestle, HP, Harvard University.. closer home TATA, Godrej…. I can on.. have been working on the core values for a decades some even a century plus.
The core. The foundations. The values they stands for. These are NOT to be compromised. These are clearly stated in the brand guidelines that are so painstakingly written at a different stage of product evolution. They are handed down to the marketing departments and ad agencies to follow. To create within a broad framework.
So that the customer identifies with the core values of that brand.
The customer trusts the product.
The customer trusts the people who work for the brand.
This is commercial work. A lot of money is at stake. Even the salary that you take home.
From a car, lets say Ford here, as that’s the brand on the hot seat, to your bed linens Bombay Dying .. Hastens .., from the bread you and your family eat Harvest ( Bakwas advertising First Class bread , if I am not wrong Swapan’s agency Red cell to take the credit for this one ) to the precious DeBeers that you gift your loved ones. They all are in conjunction with the core of the brand. That is why we trust them.
Each brand has its own DNA and we as creatives, need to be responsible towards it. Just for an argument sake if this campaign was done for Virgin Atlantic, the reactions may have been totally different.
One cannot force creativity against the DNA of any brand and justify it as creative freedom.
One cannot justify that negligence of this level is acceptable.
The brand in question, Ford, is one of the reason for the existence of an agency as big as JWT. A $ 2 billion is a big account and is sustaining thousands of families across the globe. Both for Ford & JWT. The management took this decision, probably to safeguard the bigger picture.
The desperation to win awards has taken the focus away. One cannot dress up Mahatma Gandhi, in bikini briefs and sipping coconut water in Bahamas with a bunch of bikini clad women AND endorse a brand.
Dear over zealous creative boys and girls, one can sure do it as YOUR own piece of work and endorse it was YOUR work of art.
But not for a brand that has such clear concise core values.
The brand decides to do so itself.
I am not the best writer in world, but having worked with some of the best brands in the world & at various levels in the marketing department, I felt it was important for us to look at the entire issue from the big picture point of view.
Ford and JWT took some decisions. Yes. Heads rolled. Vijay is a friend and I know that he will agree with me that the lesson here is for everyone.
Yes. You were the victims here and in no time you will bounce back, learn and move on. Bobby, gracefully bowed out and it makes him larger. He took responsibility of a faux pas.
As Ford says in its official statement “These were necessary steps owing to the direct accountability of the concerned individuals as we work to ensure that both the right oversight and processes are strictly enforced so that this never happens again.”
The lesson was important. Important for all of us to ponder and introspect.
About Scam Ads.
About being Role Models.
About respecting the sentiments of the Brand.
Ron Bhattacharya Why are we the creative lot so much in love with our egos? This isn’t fine art, its “communication”! Well… I guess Mr. Pawar has got it right… its about leadership and responsibilities. But the question is does JWT as a group now thinks differently about what is “award-worthy”? Or has the goa-fest taken it beyond a chat across tulip glasses and bringing about any change now that the spotlight isn’t on anymore?
I can underwrite that there is a major section in all major Ad Agencies’ creative departments who’s salaries are proportionate to the “metals” they have (who cares/measures if the campaigns sold?) – so, when “that” changes, it will be worth taking it seriously again – till then I will go with Harindra Singh – we are talking about something that ought to be packed and drowned a 100 years ago. Sadly, I’m not being proven wrong.– SugandhaDubey – Been a branding and strategy professional for over 18 years with brand like Tanishq (TATA Group), Gillette, Group 4 Securicor & Getty Images (VMS)