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Advertising in India

Anthropologist William Mazzarella divides advertising in post-independence India


into four key phases. The first of these began after Indian independence from
Great Britain (1947) and lasted until the early 1960s. Indian advertising in this
period still operated as an outpost of the British Empire. The overall style of
advertising was factual presentation coupled with an overall lack of creativity.

The second phase (early 1960s to 1980s) emerged in large part as a reaction to the
first and stressed creativity and an Indian professional identity independent of
Great Britain. A third phase (1980s) turned away from creative and innovative
advertising and toward creating efficient marketing channels that would have a
wide impact throughout the country. The fourth and current phase, which also
came into being in the 1980s, is characterized by a synthesis of effective
marketing mechanisms and a high level of creativity.

Indian Advertising starts with the hawkers calling out their wares right from the
days when cities and markets first began, Shop front signages, From street side
sellers to press ads, The first trademarks, Handbills distributed separately from the
products.

1. Concrete advertising history begins with classified advertising

2. Ads appear for the first time in print in Hickey's Bengal Gazette. India's first
newspaper (weekly).

3. Studios mark the beginning of advertising created in India (as opposed to


imported from England) Studios set up for bold type, ornate fonts, more fancy,
larger ads

4. Newspaper studios train the first generation of visualisers & illustrators

5. Major advertisers: Retailers like Spencer's, Army & Navy and Whiteaway &
Laidlaw

6. Marketing promotions: Retailers' catalogues provided early example


Ads appear in newspapers in the form of lists of the latest merchandise from
England
7. Patent medicines: The first brand as we know them today were a category of
advertisers

8. Horlicks becomes the first 'malted milk' to be patented on 5th June 1883 (No.
278967).

1931- National Advertising Service Pr. Ltd. Bombay set up

1936- Indian Broadcasting Company becomes All India Radio (AIR)

1978 -First television commercial seen

1990-Marks the beginning of new medium Internet

1991- First India-targetted satellite channel, Zee TV starts broadcast

Today Indian advertising has the enormous job of speaking to one of the world's
most diverse populations. English is the only common language throughout all of
India, but it is unknown in many sectors of the population. Television, radio, and
newspapers rely on more than two dozen languages, thus limiting the
communicative reach of many advertisements to certain geographic regions or
some sectors of society. When addressing India's elite, advertising uses English.
When speaking more colloquially to the masses, it uses one of the many local
languages. In northern India, Hindi is widely used in ads but it is not useful in
southern India where it is seldom spoken. Some advertisements combine English
and Hindi in a mixture known locally as Hinglish.

Most large multinational advertising agencies have offices in India—almost


certainly in India's financial capital, Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), and
often in New Delhi and other cities as well. There are successful homegrown
agencies that tend to focus more on locally produced brands and advertising aimed
at regional populations in languages other than English.

There has been a long tradition of advertising in India since the first newspapers
published in India in the 19th Century carried advertising. The first advertising
agency was established in 1905, B. Datram and Company, followed by The
India-Advertising Company in 1907, the Calcutta Advertising agency in 1909,
S.H.Bensen in 1928, J. Walter Thompson Associates through its Indian
associate, Hindustan Thompson Associates in 1929, Lintas (Lever
international Advertising Services) in 1939 and McCann Erikson in 1956.
Advertising expenditure in the 1950s was estimated at $US 300,000. Under
the more socialist political environment of the 1960s and 1970s there was little
incentive for companies to advertise because advertising was not tax
deductible. In the 1970s there was a 58% growth in the number of registered
agencies from 106 in 1969 to 168 in 1979, and this included a growth in
Indian agencies. The first advertising appeared on state television in 1976.

With the opening of the economy in the 1980s there was a growth in the number of
alliances with multinational agencies and an expansion in advertising though
foreign network participation in agency ownership was limited. In 1987
Hindustan Thompson was affiliated to J. Walter Thompson. Lintas, the 2nd
ranking agency, held only 4% of its subsidiary, as did Ogilvie and Mather.
Saatchi and Saatchi/Compton had minority interests in Compton as did Lintas.
A study done in 1984 of the largest companies in India found that the ratio of
advertising expenditure to sales had risen from .64 in 1976, to .71 in 1980 to .
74 in 1984. Foreign controlled corporations had the dominant share of total
advertising expenditure, and 80% of these were in the consumer goods
sectors. Advertising was very concentrated with the top 50 advertisers
accounting for 80% of the advertising spending and the top 10 advertisers
made up 40% of that figure, 32% of the total. The largest advertiser
throughout the period was Hindustan Lever which was nearly 10% of the
advertising budget of the corporate sector companies.Pharmaceutical
companies were also significant advertisers at this time.