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India @75: Sugandha Varshney on the many moods & facets of advertising

As India gears up to celebrate her 75th year of Independence, we at Adgully are tracing the journey of Advertising and its contribution to the Indian society at large – whether it is bringing about a change in mindsets, or a societal pattern, or empowering different communities or ushering in new thoughts – basically, Soch badal ke rakh diya.

Our aim is to collate 75 most impressive and significant ways in which Advertising has impacted India over the decades. For this, we are reaching out to the Advertising Honchos of India to share the most significant contributions of Advertising to the Indian society and why they consider them to be important developments. We will serialise the story on Adgully’s website in the lead-up to the Independence Day this year in this special series: India @75 – Through the Advertising Lens.

“Advertisements always bring a wave of awareness around them, making things visible for people, which otherwise could have left invisible,” noted Sugandha Varshney, Lead - Digital Marketing, DIZO, in an interaction with Adgully. She added, “While they start with keeping the product in focus, they gradually started focusing on solving underlying problems of the people, like how a washing machine could solve the problems of women, or how an electric vehicle can help reduce pollution and assist in creating a greener planet. This also induced discussions amongst communities and hence, making everyone aware through word of mouth.”

Varshney informed that the first digital banner ad was released in 1994. In 2000, Google developed its advertising platform, Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), making it possible for businesses to target ads based on a person’s Google search history and browsing preferences. In 2007, Facebook introduced Facebook Ads, offering almost numerous possibilities for brands to advertise their products and services. Digital advertising has now overtaken traditional channels like TV, billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio, etc. “In India, the market size of the digital ads industry was approximately Rs 47 billion in 2015, growing up to Rs 116.3 billion in 2018, and reaching Rs 199 billion in FY 2020, and according to Statista, it is expected to reach up to Rs 539 billion by 2024,” she added.

Apart from general advertisements, some public service advertisements aim to increase public awareness about certain topics. Varshney said that a classic example here would be the Pulse Polio ad campaigns with the famous line – ‘Do Boond Zindagi ki’ – which featured Amitabh Bacchan and ran on every TV set and radio station, which made people take their children to get the necessary drops, finally making India Polio-free in 2011. “With advertising now evolved to influencer marketing, it is also helping a lot to reach Tier 3 and rural areas, wherein it was very hard to spread awareness, but is becoming little easier with access to the Internet and reach of influencers in such regions,” she noted.

According to Varshney, “Further, advertisements are very helpful in promoting art or budding artists and businesses by helping them reach a broader audience. Take the example of DIZO X Tuttix Crew Campaign, which helped Tutting – a niche form of dancing – gain popularity by promoting it with their products and contests, giving them a staggering 1.5 million views in 3 days. Another example would be the recent campaign of DIZO, where it collaborated with a budding artist Prachi and provided insights and tips related to drawing and compelled people to draw. Advertisements, thus, help to push a stagnant art, idea, or concept for a good cause.”

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