This overdependence on celebrities needs to change : Ambi Parameswaran, brand strategist and founder of Brand-Building.com
Updated on: 11 Jun 2016
The ad man on his new book, which chronicles how advertising has evolved to reflect India's culture, politics and economy
In his book Nawabs, Nudes, Noodles—India through 50 Years of Advertising (Pan Macmillan India, Rs.599 Hardcover), industry veteran Ambi Parameswaran looks at how advertising has evolved, to reflect India's culture, politics and economy in the last 50 years. This is his eighth book on analysing advertising, brands and consumer behaviour. From sartorial taste and food habits to marriage and old age, music and language to celebrities and censorship, the book examines over a hundred ads to study how the Indian consumer has changed in the past five decades and how advertising and society have shaped each other. Parameswaran is a brand strategist and founder of Brand-Building.com, and has spent a large part of his 35-year marketing, sales and advertising career in helping build FCB Ulka into one of India's biggest ad agencies.
Why did you decide to write this particular book?
Over the past several years that I have been doing books and research to understand the depiction of women and men in Indian advertising, I realized that there is really no book that captured the changing societal landscape through the lens of advertising. There are a lot of books on Bollywood and society, about the angry young man and so on and so forth. But there's nothing about advertising and how it has changed to reflect the changing society and how advertising has perhaps pushed some of the changes. When I was talking to my literary agent Anish Chandy, he thought we should write a book on the history of Indian advertising. But I didn't want to attempt that, and go into spaces that I may not know enough about. I mean, I'm not a historian! So I said, what I can do is look at advertising and see how it has portrayed people and products. That's how the whole idea was born. The book is very anecdotal in nature. Over the 300 pages in the book, I have perhaps described 200 advertisements in great detail and referred to another 200 advertisements in passing. We have also looked at some international ads and tried to draw some analogies.
That advertising has helped Indians discover new products and services seems to be a constant refrain in the book. Tell us about that.