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Advertising is Inception


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Here's a presentation the author made for the communications students at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi. Circa 2012. Uploaded here for the benefit of those who think before they start cracking ideas.

All the thoughts expressed here are purely personal and are a result of the author's professional experience of working with some of India's leading advertising agencies as creative director. Some of the pictures used for reference are taken from google images and advertising blogs. I hope the creators of those images won't mind.

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Advertising is Inception

  1. 1. Presenting Advertising!Getting to know advertising communication through the film ‘Inception’.
  2. 2. COBBWhat do you want from us? SAITO Inception. SAITO Is it possible? ARTHUR Of course not.
  3. 3. SAITOIf you can steal an idea from someones mind, why cant you plant one there instead? ARTHUR Okay, heres planting an idea: I say to you, "Dont think about elephants." (Saito nods) What are you thinking about? SAITO Elephants.
  4. 4. ARTHURRight. But its not your idea because you know I gave it to you. SAITO You could plant it subconsciously- ARTHUR The subjects mind can always trace the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake. COBB No, it isnt.
  5. 5. It‟s true.
  6. 6. It‟s true.And legal.
  7. 7. Let‟s look atbeauty products.
  8. 8. Who shows us confidence has anything to dowith the melanin content in the body one is born with?
  9. 9. Barbie’s not a doll.It‟s a Trojan horsecreated to alterthe perceptionof beautyright from childhood.
  10. 10. Who makesa non-nutritionalbut economicaleating out optionseemdesirable and happy?
  11. 11. Would you like some fries to go along with this, Sir? Supersize your meal? (Pay extra to save?)Who did you learn your maths from, Galileo?
  12. 12. Child Insurance Plans.Injecting fear through humour, concern, and even threat “Papa, are you a good father?”
  13. 13. Smart phones.You are stupidif you don‟t have one.
  14. 14. Health drinks for kids.Mamma, are you listening?
  15. 15. Are you stupid enough to buy Diesel?
  16. 16. Advertising, to put it mildly,is the art of helping people make decisionsthey think are their own 
  17. 17. It‟s a talentall of us are born with.
  18. 18. What else do you think you are doingwhen you are trying to convince your friends to go for a particular movie out of all the options you guys have?
  19. 19. Or, telling your friend that she‟s looking attractive. Remember, it’s not the halterneck that’s looking good on her. She’s the one who’s looking good in that.
  20. 20. Or worse, telling yourself that she‟s looking attractive. Why else do you think you are with her?
  21. 21. Shift opinions. Get buy-ins.Convince. Confuse. Corrupt.We all do this at some levelin our daily conversations.
  22. 22. Those who practice this talentin the context of brands, call it advertising.
  23. 23. It all starts with a client need(problem/opportunity/threat/strength)...
  24. 24. SAITO Fischer Morrow has the regulators in their pockets. Were the last company standing between themand total energy dominance and we can no longer compete. Soon theyll control the energy supply of half the world. Theyll be able to blackmail governments, dictate policy. In effect, they become a new superpower.
  25. 25. ... a possible solution of which is the marketing objective...
  26. 26. SAITOThe world needs Robert Fischer to change his mind.
  27. 27. ...that‟s articulated as a communication objective(which usually emerges out of some insider information, insight about the subject) through a dirty process called the brief
  28. 28. EAMES Thats where we come in. Hows Robert Fischers relationship to his father? SAITO Rumor is the relationship is complicated. COBB Well need more than rumour, Mr.Saito.(Eames picks up a photo: a distinguished executive (68).) EAMES Can you get me access to him? Browning. Fischer seniors righthand man. Fischer juniors godfather.
  29. 29. The team keeps searching and researching for the elusive brieftill the precise stimulus (message) is cracked. Usually it happens in a brainstorm session in which „the desired action‟ needed from the subject dictates the conversation.
  30. 30. COBB The mark is Robert Fischer, heir to the Australian energy conglomerate, Fischer Morrow. Cobb opens a large presentation pad. COBB (reads aloud) "I WILL SPLIT UP MY FATHERS EMPIRE." Cobb turns to the team. COBB An idea Robert Fischers conscious mind would never accept. We have to plant it deep in his subconscious.Now, the subconscious motivates through emotion, not reason, so we have to translate the idea into an emotional concept. ARTHUR How do you translate a business strategy into an emotion?
  31. 31. By writing a sales pitch for the subconscious. A subliminal code.
  32. 32. COBB Thats what we have to figure out. Robert and his father have a tense relationship.Worse, even, than the gossip columns have suggested... EAMES Do you play on that? Suggest breaking up his fathers company as a screw you to the old man? COBBNo. Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. We yearn for people to be reconciled, for catharsis. We need positive emotional logic.
  33. 33. EAMES Try this..."MY FATHER ACCEPTS THAT I WANT TO CREATE FOR MYSELF, NOT FOLLOW IN HIS FOOTSTEPS." COBB That might work. ARTHUR Might? Well have to do better than that. EAMES Thanks for the contribution, Arthur. ARTHUR Forgive me for wanting a little specificity, Eames.
  34. 34. A point about „specificity‟, here. All communication design, no matter how well crafted,rests on some kind of a hunch (gut feel)
  35. 35. And thanks to the speed at which it can be shared, rehashed and shared again on the internetthrough millions of laptops and still more smart phones, it‟s possible to create fluid communication that‟s organic and changes as it spreads.
  36. 36. In fact, campaigns that rely upon user generated contentliterally go out of the agency‟s hands the moment they are released. Coming back to Specificity...
  37. 37. COBB Inceptions not about specificity. When we get inside his head,were going to have to work with what we find. Arthur shrugs, frustrated. And we- EAMESWe could split the idea into emotional triggers. COBB How do you mean?
  38. 38. EAMESOn the top level, we open up his relationship with his father.... Say: "I WILL NOT FOLLOW IN MY FATHERS FOOTSTEPS."Next level down weve accessed his ambition and self-esteem. We feed him: "I WILL CREATE SOMETHING MYSELF.“Then, the bottom level, we bring out the emotional big guns... COBB "MY FATHER DOESNT WANT ME TO BE HIM." EAMES That could do it. ARTHUR How do you produce these emotional triggers?
  39. 39. Get a convincing and trustworthy tone of voice.And deliver the cleverly crafted simple logical argument in a clear and concise manner. The primary job of an art & copy team.
  40. 40. EAMESI forge each emotional concept in the style and manner of Peter Browning, a key figure in Fischers emotional life.
  41. 41. A correct ad can be written in any language the consumer understands.But a good ad can only be written in the one he believes in.
  42. 42. Thanks.