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February 23, 2009

Is There a Marketing Lesson from Slumdog Millionaire?

Catherine New
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The success of Slumdog Millionaire, which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, is the a perfect storm of marketing memes in India. The movie’s fairy tale plot, its focus on youth, celebrity and television, and, ultimately, the transcultural nature of its fame are the very things also driving success stories in advertising and branding in India today.

Marketing professor Gita Johar, who recently moderated a panel at the “Branding in China and India: The Reality and the Future” symposium, said that the panelists concluded that the biggest trends in advertising are the size of the youth market — 40 percent of the population is less than 20 years old — and the role of television and celebrity advertising, particularly as aspirational messaging.

“[Younger consumers] are confident, articulate and looking for brands that have some meaning for them,” Johar said about the panel discussion on the success of celebrity endorsements. “Storytelling is appealing to them.”

The panel also discussed the relationship between the growing acceptance of Indian products and items outside the country and their increase in brand value inside India.

“Now we are taking things from East to West,” Johar said. “Indian-based content is doing well abroad and that success abroad validates it back home.”

However, as transcultural products and stories become more popular, there are still distinctly local aspects to branding and advertising in India. The panel discussed the need for firms to quickly innovate products targeted to base of the consumer pyramid, as knock-off competition is strong, and to utilize off-beat media, such as megaphones and wall painting. Johar said the panel also discussed the shift to using local talent for creative and agency work.


by Stephen Feldman | March 08, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Professor Johar's comments were terrific at this insightful panel discussion, which I attended. For an emerging markets economy such as India, brands are even more important in this economic environment. Having lived through the Asian Financial Crisis in Russia (1998-2001), I believe India will rebound more quickly than generally believed. Brands will be part of this. There is a sort of flight to quality in purchase decisions. The panelist from Olgilvy mentioned "no gap in aspirations" at the bottom of the pyramid. Very true. Visiting India you can feel the energy, the ambition, the hopes of a great nation moving forward.

by Shilpa Kapoor | March 27, 2009 at 10:51 AM

India is still growing, 6% which is down from over 10% but it is still growth. I think companies that do not have a "India plan" will miss out on this opportunity big time. Regards Shilpa K From India Property

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