20 years ago, a very senior person at the agency I worked for, told me what the advertising strategy for one of India’s leading paint brands was.
According to him, painting was not a pleasant experience. It was messy, disruptive and smelly. Paint was filled with lead, as we later discovered, and was, in essence, an experience to be avoided.
The agency’s advertising strategy was to take people’s minds off the negatives of painting, focusing on the positives instead, which were defined as the joy of the post painting experience – walls that looked colourful, fresh and that created an environment that was rejuvenating to be in.
20 years on, when I look back, I find myself agreeing with the way the agency defined the problem, but disagreeing with their prescribed solution.
I’m not disputing the utility, or indeed, succour, that poets and writers have delivered to millions over the ages through soothing words and experiences that have taken their minds off problems which would otherwise have caused emotional grief of an almost intolerable nature.
But such strategies have relevance only when the physical problem at hand cannot be solved. In the paint industry, this is simply not the case!
If painting is disruptive, the real question to ask is ¨how can we make it less so?¨
Quite a few practical and real options, I feel, exist:
1. We could develop an odourless paint. In fact, we finally have.
2. We could paint people’s houses while theyŕe away on vacation. So they return to an environment that is as rejuvenating as the one they’ve just been to.
3. We could rent families a Winibego and driver (neither very expensive here in India) and send them away on a 3 day camping trip while we scrape away at their walls
4. We could prepare them for the experience, in order to better manage the way they deal with it
5. We could give them the option of wallpaper!
These are only 5 of several real ways to solve the problem. Which is something all consultants, whether ad agencies or other, are ultimately called upon to do.