Jason Wincuinas
Sep 29, 2014

A new definition of 'BRICS': Belief, roots, identity, culture and soul

SPIKES ASIA - Bankers have one definition of BRICs but Josy Paul, chairman and CCO of BBDO India, and Mike Schalit, CCO of Net#workBBDO (South Africa) have a different interpretation.

Mike Schalit and Josy Paul of BBDO
Mike Schalit and Josy Paul of BBDO

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

BRICS, the pair of creative officers explained during their seminar Friday afternoon at Spikes Asia 2014, stands for belief, roots, identity, culture and soul. If you are thoughtful about incorporating these elements into your work, they contend, your message will be heard and understood.

Paul opened with a reference to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. “These men had a lot in common,” he said “they understood communication. Gandhi was the father of mass movements, which we do today in brands. He understood integrated communication before the category became famous at Cannes. He created cross-consumer engagement, long before advertising invented activation.”

The iconic and witty comparison wasn’t to invoke high principles in marketing but to illustrate a creative theme.

The case studies they shared tapped deep into African and Indian cultural ethos, playing off of political and cultural realities, referencing bribes, violence, war, and difficult peacetime conditions. Sometimes they were intensely emotional and other times humorous but always at the center was a recognizable human truth that resonated with audiences.

When you do things right for your market, Schalit proclaimed, it reaches the world—even if that wasn’t what you were trying to do. The opening example they gave, a Guinness ad for Africa, which was more music video than commercial, was part of his point. Though produced for Africa, the spot picked up notice in American media.

Many of the examples also dug deeper, creating utility and community around their message, like Isuzu trucks helping to remove weapon cashes left over from civil war or a pop-up donation shop for homeless people.

To do work that’s engaging, Paul and Schalit said, BRICS is what ads must reflect and what brands must commit to.


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