BY RAVIKANT BANKA
Chairman and Managing Director, Eggfirst Advertising
Marwadis in advertising are few and far between. The advertising profession is symbolic of freespiritedness, flamboyance, ponytails, late-nights in office, the wee hours in pubs, smoke breaks, coffee breaks, big campaigns, award nights, so on and so forth. But a typical Marwadi is known to maintain a good distance from such adventures, being frugal, shrewd, basic, money-minded and not to mention, pure vegetarian. The perception is as old as the 19th century, when this community from the deserts of Rajasthan migrated to various corners of India and flourished as traders.
So, what am I, an engineer from VJTI and MBA from Bajaj and a quintessential Maadu, doing in advertising? A question frequently posed to me by Marwadis, non-Marwadis and generally people at large who I bump into at various occasions. I construct my answers differently for Marwadis and non-Marwadis. A popular Maadu saying goes like this: ‘Fando ni baat paachhi; takko ni baat kar’. Roughly translated it means, ‘Talk fundas later, buddy; let’s talk money first’.
Absolutely to the point. So when asked by staunch Marwadis, why advertising, I refrain from giving fundas. Neither do I talk money. Rather, I delve into another subject every Marwadi worth his Daal-Baati-Churma loves talking about – food.
Why do Marwadis always get pedhas from Chidawa, or rasgullas from Bhai Shankars, or bundi from MM Mithai, I ask? With this opener, I’ve already got the attention of my chachu, taucoujins, trader dosts: my target audience. Then, I continue further, it’s because there is a sense of comfort and assurance that the quality will be amazing. That’s branding, I stress. Because brands take extra effort to ensure that the quality is amazing, and that it is amazing each and every time. I’m the guy who helps brands build appropriate beliefs for people like you to go and buy these products. That’s my ‘dhando’. And it takes care of my Daal-Baati-Churma as well.
By now, I’ve grabbed some serious tongue- balls – after all, it’s money I am talking about AND food. So I go for the home-run. Why do we put barak (silver foil) on ghevar and barfi? To bring out the wow feel, much like what I do in my job in advertising, I point out. All of them say, wow! And most of them start calling their family maharaj, “Kaal ek kilo ghevar gharaan bhej diye!”
For non-Marwadis, non-believers, clients and people at large, I take an aggresively defensive approach. Just like cricketer Rahul Dravid, aka, the Wall. Sipping a potent mix of orange and mosambi juice, I remind them that, as a community Marwadis are known to have quite a large appetite for risk. Don’t we readily take a risk, when we go with our conviction and our money to invest in some new stocks or new line of business? Marwadis also have the uncanny ability to adapt to situations very quickly, a dexterity that comes especially useful when handling a client or a brand. Finally, many a Marwadi company keeps its cost lower than the industry average. Who better than a Marwadi advertiser to do the same with the client’s money?
These are some of the strokes I play when they throw the ‘how come a Marwadi in advertising’ bouncer at me. I don’t shy away from declaring my passion for creativity, living a new day every day, understanding people and consumers, and giving everything to building beliefs. On one such encounter, while I spoke such truths, a supposedly potential client said, “Your passion and understanding for brands is great. Let’s work together. Don’t expect money, my budget is very modest. After all, for you, it’s all about passion, na?”