Indian campaigns have featured at the very top of WARC rankings. Ed Pank, Managing Director, WARC Asia-Pacific, was in Kerala to talk about India's planning landscape and why it is performing at the very highest level.

Last week, I presented at the IAA World Congress in Kerala, India. The fact that WARC had been asked to join a line-up of leading international marketers is testament to the insatiable appetite on the part of the Indian marketing fraternity to learn.

Supplement this with a palpable spirit of optimism and a sense of infinite possibility, stemming from the fastest growing major economy in the world. This hunger for knowledge and self-improvement is driving a wave of creative effectiveness success.

With such a large population comes intense competition. In this environment, Indians have learned to be strategic at an early age, working out a distinctive advantage to simply get on and get ahead. Apply this innate strategic ability to the demographic shifts in a country with a burgeoning middle-class, and the digitization of the rural masses amounting to 69% of the population, and India has the right conditions to create brilliantly effective ideas.

In the recently released WARC Effective 100 rankings,  campaigns from India not only took the top three spots for effective work, but two Indian agencies placed first and second overall in the world when it comes to driving creative effectiveness. All three campaigns focused on product innovation to help solve business or societal challenges, and as a result deliver significant results. In all three cases, this innovative thinking stems from a deep appreciation of the target audience and well-honed cultural insights.

In my presentation in Kerala on Tech for Good, I referenced the need to go beyond understanding to empathise with audiences to overcome cultural biases. Whether it’s designing a retro music box to appeal to an older audience, integrating detergent into chalk sticks to change hand-washing behavior or stressing the societal need to build more toilets, the same principle applies.

WARC at IAA World Congress Kerala

Read the presentation here

Within all the complexity in today’s marketing world, this simple approach of back-to-basic planning works. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience, understand their specific need and then innovate to find a solution. The right media mix or technological solution then becomes easier to find. But the best bit of all is that advertising transitions from self-serving brand indulgence to focusing on the welfare of the consumer and sometimes even the good of mankind.

Brand Dharma was the theme of last week’s conference. Dharma is a Hindi proxy for Purpose but perhaps a more apt translation is around the area of responsibility. In India there is plenty of opportunity for brands to realise their Brand Dharma, resonate with their audience around issues they care about and build their brands and businesses as a result.

The Indian market is ripe for great strategy in all sort of ways. This year’s WARC Rankings for Effectiveness show how brands in India are realizing this amazing opportunity and providing a global benchmark to which other brands can aspire.