Bangladeshi companies and their advertisers must be adventurous and innovative to cater to the changing tastes of the consumers, said a top executive of a global advertisement firm.
"In old days, consumers used to receive messages through television, press and radio. Now social media like Facebook and Twitter have created a platform where consumers can share brand experience," said John Goodman, regional director of Ogilvy and Mather.
The advertising agency launched its operations in Bangladesh in 2008.
Goodman said the advertising sector is undergoing a transformation. Consumers now have more power as they can use the interactive media to raise their voice against bad experiences with any brand.
"We have witnessed the biggest change in advertising sector around the world. It involves the growth in social media and general consumers' involvement in dialogue with the marketing companies," Goodman said in an interview.
Goodman, also the chairman of Ogilvy Bangladesh, said there used to be a one-way channel to communicate a marketing message to the audience. "It is now very much a two-way channel."
"Consumers now-a-days realise they have the power to make the manufacturers and service providers respond to them to produce products as per their needs," he said.
Goodman urged companies to focus on social media. "Every day, the smart phone is getting cheaper. Ten years ago, people considered the mobile phone a luxury item. Now, it has become a necessity."
"In five years, you will see everybody use a smart phone in the country," he said.
He suggested the local companies and advertising agencies become adventurous to face the challenges and "take some risks, which are innovative and unusual, as it will give them a chance to become famous."
"Technology is changing, but human needs will remain the same. So, it is necessary to consider people's emotional driver and needs while designing marketing messages."
The regional director is also upbeat on the prospects of the advertising sector in the country thanks to the rising purchasing power of the middle-income segment.
"As the economy is growing, the sector will grow simultaneously, and international marketers will take an interest in the country,” said Goodman.
"It has a very strong culture and a huge population," he said, adding that the market would grow by 15 to 20 percent in the next few years.
According to industry insiders, the country has around 20 prominent advertisement agencies, including two multinationals -- Ogilvy and Mather and Gray. The total market size of the advertising industry is around Tk 1,000 crore, insiders added.
On the quality of advertising, Goodman stressed the need for designing good story lines to disseminate messages to the target customers.
Goodman said the number of creative talents is limited in Bangladesh. "I do not see any great story-telling. To me, great advertising is about great story telling. It has to be narrative that makes the audience laugh and cry. It will move people."
He said the best way to improve people's skills is to study 'great advertising'. "Look at the great work that is shown at the major international events, and try to understand their meaning."
"The ad-maker has to understand the feeling of the ordinary people to make great advertising. Creative people understand the feeling of ordinary people."
He said the quality of the advertisement should outperform the programme, as bad advertisements also keep viewers away from a particular channel.
Goodman also said advertisers can tap the tastes of the Muslim majority in Bangladesh as well as in the rest of the world through Islamic branding.
"There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, which can be a major market for the advertisers," he said.
In a first of its kind, the advertising agency has launched a consultancy service dedicated to help marketers build brands that appeal to Muslim consumers.
Ogilvy Noor, as it is named, is positioned as the world's first marketing consultancy service focused on Islamic branding practices.
Goodman said Islamic branding is a largely untapped opportunity for the domestic and global market. So, Ogilvy Bangladesh also wants to work on Islamic branding practices.
The market for halal foods -- or, meat slaughtered as permissible under Islamic law -- alone is worth a staggering $2.1 trillion and growing at $500 billion a year, according to a research report by Ogilvy Noor and market research firm TNS.
On country branding, the chairman of Ogilvy Bangladesh said, “It should be single minded to portray the positive sides and natural beauty of the country.”
He said the country has the Sundarbans, which is the world's largest mangrove forest, and Cox's Bazar, world's longest natural sea beach, which should be showcased globally to attract more tourists.
Ogilvy and Mather has 124 offices in 29 cities in 19 countries in the Asia Pacific region, employing over 7,000 people.