Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 49, Tuesday May 25, 2004






Towards better ad making: Dhaka Ad Festival 2004

Aboy and a girl dance amid sparse greenery due to lack of the lush variety in our country. In the background there is a tune along with which other people are also trying to dance in sequence. Sounds like a movie scene right? Well, that's pretty much the advertising scene in Bangladesh.

If somehow the jingle is catchy then the ad is mass copied by every other Tom, Dick and Kuddus. Everything from rice and sandals to corrugated metal and shopping malls go the same route. Sure there are some creative ad making going on but it is very few in nature.

The Dhaka Ad Festival 2004 held at the Sheraton Hotel on the 22nd of May was part of a step taken to prevent this mass copying. It was organized by the AD Club which is trying to bring together all the various ad agencies together for sharing of creative new ideas. Hence the theme of the seminar was called Bridging the Gap.

The ad festival highlighted the disparity between the good and bad advertisements stressing how sometimes good products get poor exposure due to poor ads. Kiran Khalap of Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy gave a lively presentation on the relationship between advertising and branding. Interestingly it showed that some famous organizations like Body Shop do not spend a single penny on advertising but still maintain high sales due to good public relations.

The highlight of the seminar was the airing of the 2003 Gunn Report that ranked the top 15 ads of the past year. One thing that stood out was the extensive use of humor. For example there was one enticing people to watch hockey of Fox Network. The ad showed that people became tough just by watching hockey where one man burns his elbow on an iron and looks a little annoyed as he goes back to watching the game.

Most of the ads were created using themes that general people can relate to. For example the number one ad in the Gunn Report was that for a Peugeot 406 car. It showed an Indian boy looking at the sleek new car in a magazine and looking with despair at his fat, ugly Indian Ambassador (yep, that's a car too). Next thing he does is bang the car against walls, has an elephant sit on it to lower the front and spends all night with a welding torch. All this just to change the proportions of his car. Soon he is riding in a crumpled version that looks like his dream car with a thumping bass line trying to attract girls.

All this was in stark contrast to the lifeless ads we create except for a handful. Good ads do not even require big budgets or special effects. Further discussion touched on these topics ending with the presentation of lifetime achievement awards to famed personalities Reza Ali, Ramendu Majumder, Ali Zaker and Gitiara Safia Chowdhury for their contributions to the advertising community.

Besides the seminar there was also an exhibition for the general public displaying some of the best print ads of the country. Also there were stalls set up by different ad related organizations showcasing their services such as Adcomm, Bitopi, Journeyman etc and different newspaper dailies. Visitors got a pretty good idea as to the different media available, the various materials that can be used and even new small scale printing technologies using home printers.

Such programs would surely help create better ads in the sense that these will be more effective, emotive and attractive. Anyone the least bit related to or interested in advertising can join the club with a membership fee of 2000 taka. Such seminars and workshops can also be attended by non-members also on a first come first serve basis.

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny


What do the pictures say?

Irving Goffman, the famous 1950's psychologist said, "the home isn't an entirely private place, it's the stage on which people project the most intimate images of themselves to the world."

Glance around your sitting room at the pictures on the walls… what made you choose those particular pictures? If a friend or stranger enters your home for the first time, what do these pictures say to them about you, your interests, personality, taste, philosophy and relationships? Animals mark their territories with scent, secretion or excretion. When we first move into new territory, we mark it with paint, fabrics, furniture, books, ornaments and pictures.

Each picture or decoration item, artefact, or mask that is hanging on your wall has three different functions for people: aesthetic appeal, emotional symbolism and expression of identity.

In their living rooms and bedrooms, most adults opt for paintings, which symbolise relaxation, restoration or simply escape from the dullness or stress of their everyday lives.

The interesting point is that different spaces and nooks and crannies of our home are powerfully different in the emotional symbolism they hold for us and we may not even be aware of it.

Paradoxically, Goffman also recognised that we use these projections to others as the principal way to discover for ourselves who we are and what is important to us.

There are, two separate audiences for every staged performance! Some people seemed both aware and relatively relaxed about expressing their identity through their pictures, "These are bits of myself I hung on these walls"; whereas others seemed altogether less conscious of this `gallery' aspect of their home. Maybe it varies depending on how comfortable you are with the messages about yourself, which you are reading there?

This suggests that, as homeowners, we communicate our identities (or at least our intended identities!) very effectively through our interior decoration. So, as you wander around your home, you might want to reflect what identity you are communicating so effectively to all and sundry incomers. You can ponder whether your pictures, ornaments, furniture and arrays of books or magazines express family intimacy or separateness, cosiness or challenge, intellect or intuition, ambition or self-acceptance or maybe a happy balance between these poles? Moreover, how conflicting are these messages as you move from room to room?

Actually if you think deeply you would see that we are like playwrights directing the scenes on the stage of our homes. Also, at the same time we are also the actors discovering and developing our selves through the plays we choose to act in and the way we've designed the scenes.

-LS Desk



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