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Admen salute consumer, the king

November 12, 2003 09:04 IST

Movie star Amitabh Bachchan kicked off AdAsia 2003 with a warning that the advertising fraternity must keep its eye firmly on the consumer if it wanted to get its message across.

"In the arrogance of creativity, we must not forget to listen to the voice of the masses," Bachchan said at the 23th Asian Advertising Congress, AdAsia 2003, which began in Jaipur on Tuesday.

More than 1,500 delegates from around the globe have come for the five-day conference, which is being held in India after a gap of 21 years.

Referring to the conference's theme "Breaking the Rules", Bachchan said he had broken many of the established rules of the film industry when he played the angry young policeman in Zanjeer.

"We didn't do any market research, but the culture and society at that time needed, and wanted, an angry young man. Therefore, Zanjeer just happened," said Bachchan.

Management guru C K Prahalad, another speaker at the star-studded conference, also had a warning for the assembled advertising and marketing people.

Prahalad, who was speaking on the future of competition and the role of advertising, pointed out that customers in developing countries were being bombarded by information and therefore their aspirations were not limited to what was available in local markets.

However, Prahalad pointed out that developing countries could experiment more freely because they were often starting on a fresh slate and had little past experience to forget. "It is more difficult to forget than to learn," he said.

Other speakers at the conference included Hindustan Lever Chairman Manvinder Singh Banga, who announced that Lux would be launching a nationwide talent hunt to unearth potential new movie stars.

Banga also said Hindustan Lever was freezing research budgets in a bid to encourage executives to use their intuition, and understand customers.

"To stimulate intuition of judgment, in our company we have frozen research budgets," said Banga, who was speaking on "Engaging Tomorrow's Consumers".

Another speaker Ricardo Semler, president of Brazilian company Semco, also highlighted the importance of intuition in the selling business.

Semler pointed to chess champion Gary Kasparov who beat IBM Deep Blue computer by using intuition as a weapon.

Prasad Sangameshwaran in Jaipur