Desi Advertisers

Life teaches us lessons no university will offer in the world. Only if you’re a good observer of life, you learn from it. Long before I joined advertising as a profession, I met some underprivileged and talented people who I believe knew the art of salesmanship, advertising and marketing no less than professionals having degrees of prestigious universities. Observing them closely even today helps, in particularly carving useful consumer insights in advertising. These were one of the best desi advertisers I came across in my life. You can also find them in a local train, a public transport bus full of strangers or in your neighborhood Sunday market. These talented people are walking advertisements of their businesses, they coin their own taglines, strategies and sticky jingles too, like I said, you’ll know if you are a good observer.

The Attention Seeker

Imagine your mundane usual commute in one of those city buses in Karachi Saddar bazaar, provided you have travelled in such a bus. There is nothing exciting in that bus and you’re just waiting to get off as soon as your point arrives and a man enters, a local vendor, selling those cheap Chinese products. “Yeh kia ho raha hai bus mein? Yeh kia hora hai bus mein?” He screams at the top of his lungs getting everyone’s attention. You’re puzzled, looking at him for further explanation, thinking what’s wrong and he goes on in relatively softer tone, “Rumaal lelo dus mein!” Finally, everyone smiles. He also manages to sell his products to a couple of passengers. I am guilty of buying those handkerchiefs which I never wanted in the first place, let alone people who needed them. That’s when I developed the love for advertising.

The man in the bus was clearly a self-taught person who writes his own script for his own life – and for his business too. The cut-throat competition scenarios he faced on a daily basis taught him well. He never spoke about how good that handkerchief was, where it was made and how cost-effective his deals were. No functional benefits whatsoever. For me he was a star and I used to wait for him to enter the bus and entertain us with his wit and delivery of script.

The Headline Hawker

You must have come across hawkers who sell newspapers in streets. But have you ever noticed how they manipulate with actual news and headlines? I saw one who used to sell multi language newspapers in our neighborhood and he would read Urdu headlines out loud. The funny thing was after you buy the newspaper, you never find any of his cheesy lines on the front page. He would always pick his favourite lines from page three, manipulate it and make it sound like an intriguing headline – a perfect bait for you to buy the paper.

The Famous Sunday Bazaar

Everyone has visited the famous Sunday Bazaar in their lives for one reason or the other. I used to go to get DVDs, oil paintings, original movie posters, camcorders and stuff I couldn’t find anywhere else at cheap prices. Every vendor had a different technique to lure the customer. They used to sing their offers, compete with each other like an actual banter between shopkeepers, etc. Imagine you’re passing through the maze of that enormous bazaar and you overhear, “Hogayi shaam, gir gaya daam” and you can’t help but ask the price. We actually used to think it must be cheap now since it’s evening and the bazaar is about to close, while the vendors wanted to sweep their remaining stocks in lumpsum since early birds have already gotten their worms by that time. And you must have heard a monotone sung line in misfit aunties’ sections, “12, 12 rupia, 12, 12 rupia, 12, 12 rupia.” I am sure you read this in the same tune in your mind.

How consumers behave, what sellers want, you must know if you’re an advertiser, and you have to be a great observer as well. Like I said, an advertiser can pick up useful insights from a dhaba and help his creatives design a communication in the consumer’s language, manner and style. And many times, we see something different and an idea strikes because travelling itself is food for the brain, it brings you out of the concrete jungle and into a place full of possibilities and ideas hiding in every corner.

The attention seeker and the headline hawker did the exact same thing. They looked around and caught useful insights upon which they based the advertising of their businesses. They did not speak about the functionality of their products; they spoke what the consumer would not forget. How genius is it to tease pedestrians by announcing the headlines and capturing their interest, thus compelling the consumer to buy the newspaper in order to read more about it. Where does this insight come from? It comes from the curious nature of humans. We cannot deny that gossip is one of our favorites, whether it be about someone we know personally or a famous celebrity. The hawker used the same curious nature to design his communication and was successful in getting the audience interested.

These are a few examples which brings to light the importance of paying attention. A good advertiser pays very close attention to how their consumer behaves which helps him/her discover insights which will lead to a successful idea appealing to the relevant target market. Noticing the small, minor details can make a significant difference as even a single word can help the audience connect with the brand. Successful advertising can be termed in many different ways, the most common way is through numbers, but another way is memorability. When a consumer sees an ad which they can connect with, they tend to remember it which leads to a more favorable outcome for the brand in stores and also customer loyalty as it was not a random pick but a definite decision of the customer to buy that specific product.

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