INTERVIEW: Ad guru Prahlad Kakar

Ad Guru Prahlad Kakar with actor Hiamsnhu M Sharma

Ad guru Prahlad Kakar says advertisements now focus on social commentary

Ad Guru Prahlad Kakar with actor Hiamsnhu M Sharma
Ad Guru Prahlad Kakar with actor Hiamsnhu M Sharma

Leading ad guru Prahlad Kakar, who has created noteworthy commercials for Pepsi, Rasna and Maggi Noodles among others, says that nowadays, advertising has incorporated a social commentary. “They (Ads) are (focussing on) social commentary nowadays. Advertising in the past could not get into social commentary. It has become very relevant because people are concerned in which way our society is heading,” said Kakar.

Asked about the over-reliance on celebrities by big brands for ad campaigns, Kakar said that it is an easy “shortcut” to gain visibility.

“Every small brand that has enough money feels that they need a quick shortcut for visibility… (That’s why) they use a celebrity. Some use it well, others use it badly,” said Kakar, who has been a part of the advertising field for well over a quarter of a century.

“People forget that you are hiring a celebrity to endorse a brand, not the other way around,” he added.

He also stressed on the importance of creating a distinction between the brand ambassador and the brand.

“People who are unguided can get conned by the ads because it is a very convenient shortcut to heavy billing… (Brand should) take the brand ambassador as second fiddle and the brand as first fiddle. You have to write a very clever script. The brand ambassador is not the brand,” added the ad guru, who introduced the “Mera Number Kab Aayega” campaign for Pepsi, and “It’s different!” campaign for Maggi Hot & Sweet.

A multi-faceted personality, Kakar has now also ventured into the field of education with the Prahlad Kakar School of Branding & Entrepreneurship. The programme focusses on practical training with the aim of creating the next generation of entrepreneurs.

His idea is to put the students through a series of challenging activities to instill in them skills that allow them to think and operate #BeyondFear, which is the motto of the school.

Kakar, who is known for being fearless with his comments, also lamented how people in the country have become “super sensitive”.

“We as a nation have lost our sense of humour, we have become super sensitive. We are looking very stupid. We are heading in a strange direction. The more insecure we get as a community, we can’t afford to laugh at ourselves,” he said.

“The jokes will go underground, but they will still be there. Humour only thrives when you resent it. It dies when you stop resenting it,” Kakar added.

Asked about his opinion on comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video on cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar, which hurt the sentiments of people across the country, Kakar said: “It is not a joke any more… When jokes are a basic truth, the element of the truth is lampooned. So, when a joke is in bad taste and it is vicious and it attacks somebody for something which is not necessarily true, the people who listen to it do not necessarily agree with it”.

He went on to add: “What Tanmay doesn’t realise is that his brand image has taken a massive beating.”

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