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Words of Wisdom: Timeless Ideas from the Fathers of Advertising

“Sasti cheez kharidne mein aur achi cheez kharidne mein phark hota hai” - Lalitaji for Surf Excel.

Remember this iconic advertisement that made Surf Excel synonymous with clothing detergents and Lalitaji a household name? The lady with a blue bag who is well armed with information and won’t compromise on quality represented the aspirations of every middle-class housewife of that period and set the benchmark for detergents through her samajdaari.

The period from late 1950s to 1990s saw a bunch of such effective advertising campaigns that revolutionised the marketing scene in India and overseas. Although the product remained the focus, the emphasis shifted from solely selling to building brand credibility by creating value.

All thanks to the veterans in the segment who acquainted us with a simple fact that words that add value in customers’ life are words that sell. These fathers in their respective field, who left us spellbound with their works, left behind valuable lessons that apply to content creation for marketing endeavours till date! Here are some quick lessons from the many that they taught us.

A great ad is an ad that generates sales” - Alyque Padamsee

The ‘Father of Indian advertising’, Alyque Padamsee, during his lifetime, bestowed the advertising world with his creative geniuses and comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour and marketing. Lalitaji mentioned above, was created by Padamsee, and so was the popular Liril girl and MRF’s muscleman among many others.

He believed that advertising and selling go hand in hand; that the end goal of advertising is to see an increase in numbers – sales, revenue, and growth. Now, that doesn’t mean you cannot get creative with your script. But, while being creative, you should not lose focus from the objective of the advertisement. In today’s digital era, where everyone vies to go out of the box, this insight could be helpful in bridging the gap between an idea and business goals, resulting in influential ads.

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create’” – David Ogilvy

Once referred to by the Time Magazine as ‘the most sought after wizard in today’s advertising industry’, David Ogilvy is considered as the ‘Father of Advertising.’ Years after he passed away, he continues to remain an inspiration for advertising experts and copywriters across the globe. This pioneer, who is credited for some of the world's legendary campaigns, believed in creating an informative copy as opposed to an eye-catchy one that brings no value to the table. In his opinion, originality is great, but not for the sake of being witty. If you have an attractive copy, but it does not connect with your audience, builds trust, or entices them to buy the product or service, then the copy is only futile words.

One of his best headlines “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the New Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock”, used pure, unadulterated facts, and no sensationalising adjectives. While this is the digital era, you're still communicating with real people who want to be given a good reason to invest in your product or service, which is where Ogilvy's thoughts can be helpful.

"The product that will not sell without advertising will not sell profitably with advertising" - Albert Lasker

An advertising executive and philanthropist, Albert Lasker is accredited with the title of the ‘Founder of Modern Advertising.’ In the 1990s, way before David Ogilvy and Alyque Padamsee, Lasker harnessed the emerging ideals of advertising, which not only informed the public but also laid emphasis on selling the product by bringing about a change in attitude through visual stories. His ‘Salesmanship in Print’ philosophy fetched him success.

The advertising expert also broke taboo against women’s smoking with his famous advertisement of ‘Reach for Lucky instead of Sweet’ for Lucky Star Cigarettes. While his strategy focused on sales, it gave equal importance to breaking clichés and bring about a change in attitude. Introducing your readers to new perspectives through your copy is what adds to their knowledge bank, and, thus, leads to success. A lesson worth remembering!

As content creators, marketing, and advertising professionals, you have a chance to make a positive difference in your audience’s and clients’ lives. And, these timeless words of wisdom could be your weapon to get closer to victory.

This Father’s Day we pay gratitude to these wise men, who continuously inspire us to go beyond our limits.



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