BW Businessworld

The Good, The Bad, And The New

In the year 2016, many things happened. Some turned out great and some not so good. But in all, it was a year of change

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In every sense of the word, the year 2016 was phenomenal. It literally gave new meaning to the phrase ‘anything can happen’. Globally, Brexit and US Presidential elections shook the world. Much was discussed around these events and the impact they would have on various markets. On India, any direct impact has been limited so far, but for many international companies that operate, employ and contribute to the Indian economy, both developments promise an “uncertain” 2017.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept the year interesting. He was part of some unprecedented advertising; he turned brand ambassador in Jio ads that associated with PM’s vision of Digital India — a first of sorts for a democracy. And then he took it in his stride, and replaced Bollywood celebrities to become the mascot of the Incredible India campaign. But his biggest move, and a significant first, was his demonetisation policy. While it professed to be an important step, and the jury is still out on the outcome, there is no denying that it was incredibly unplanned.

The media sector saw some high profiled exits with Arnab Goswami ending a very successful career at Times Now, leaving many waiting with bated breath on what he does next. Vikram Chandra stepping down from NDTV as its CEO was another big change for the company, and the industry. In newer media, Twitter remained in news for the challenges it was facing, underlining that even brilliant new media companies are not safe, if they don’t have a sound business plan.

Despite all, the India marketing sector has done fine. No major news of shut shops or cost cutting or retrenchments, kept it simple. The advent of demonetisation did not spare the advertising sector but that aside, the year was good for the industry. Every global advertising forecast re-told the India growth story and the shining star that India continues to be in every global plan. One of the biggest growth drivers in this has been the digital ad spending that continues to outpace every other media.

The one theme that was central to all the narratives that journalists and industry observers reiterated through the year was digital. Demonetisation was a shot in the arm for digital outlets, digital wallets and online transactions. PM’s objective of Digital India came out stronger in the year.

Digital platforms played an important role in global developments. Apparently, so did fake news that may or may not have influenced the opinion of millions.

And once again, for the advertising sector, the only future worth talking about is the digital future. Agencies have celebrated their digital wins and awards more than in legacy media. Advertisers put a premium on connecting with consumers via digital platforms. Digital media platforms such as Facebook outdid most others in taking significant strides for growing connected audiences, and then in creating solutions that efficiently and effectively reached online users.

If there was another theme that ran parallel in all national and global developments, it was the sense of uncertainty. ‘Anything can happen’ is as much an opportunity as it is a fear. Mass consumers in India were faced with an extreme challenge with demonetisation and the fact that it happened without any warning.

Many new things have happened in 2016 — some good, some strange and some that will fundamentally change a lot in the world. The only thing that 2017 promises to be is interesting.

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