Advertising masterclass: Ad guru ignites ingenuity

Advertising masterclass: Ad guru ignites ingenuity
CEO Saurabh Saksena highlighted how advertising inspires the wave of empowerment.
By Rishi Bhushan

In an engaging and insightful session, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a global marketing agency, VMLY&R, Saurabh Saksena, took the stage at Bennett University to share his expertise on the fast-evolving advertising world. He also talked about the pressing issue of misogyny in the advertising industry.

One of the most poignant moments of the masterclass came when the CEO addressed the issue of misogyny in the industry. He argued about the subconscious bias that advertisers have while making ads for specific products. “Campaigns like ‘men will be men’ or ads showing ‘supermoms’ exploit this bias. This is something most people don’t talk about but I find it extremely offensive,” said Saurabh. This prompted an extensive discussion on this issue among the students and Saurabh. “Some of these campaigns are old. At that time the voices of women weren’t heard and most people believed that an ad about being an ideal housewife is all right. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t misogynistic,” said Rashmi Kumari, BAJMC Hindi second-year student.

He firmly objected to the prevalence of gender stereotypes and objectification of women that has been perpetuated within the ads. Saurabh talked about how he has taken steps in his company to control this gender bias. “At VMLY&R, the male-female ratio is 47% to 53% which is much higher than the industry average,” said Saurabh.

He emphasised that everyone is inherently creative, but the main job of an advertiser is to bring that creativity and mould it into something that leads to change, whether change is sales or behaviour. Advertising is also a deadline-intensive career but creative people find a way to meet those deadlines and produce beautiful works. According to him, Advertising also needs not to be something that we watch on television or read in the newspaper, it can be as simple as a person trying to sell his peanuts in the local train.

Saurabh also stressed the use of technology and the role of AI in the coming days. He believed that technologies like ChatGPT are great for getting the idea and making first drafts but those ideas should be used to build on to something. “VMLY&R has a policy of hiring young people and the digital natives who are better equipped with the abilities to use the tech and understand the consumer of today’s age better,” said Saurabh.

As the attendees exited the event hall, they carried with them a renewed sense of purpose, armed with knowledge of advertising and marketing. Suvidhi Jain, BAJMC second-year student said, “Advertising is more than just writing words creatively, it's about driving a change in society. Advertisers have a lot of responsibility in driving this change. After listening to sir (Saurabh Saksena) talk, I want to be a responsible advertiser.”

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