“Martin Luther king didn't say ‘I have a vision statement',” mused Mr Kevin Roberts, global CEO of communications giant Publicis Groupe's agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

King had a vision. And as the world knows, he said, “I have a dream.” Using King's example, Mr Roberts underlined the need to inspire consumers with purpose.

He was speaking to a group of marketers in Mumbai on Tuesday, on “Lovemarks” – a term he coined and made famous. His visit to India after 25 years is seen as an effort to up the agency's performance here, under new CEO Mr Matt Seddon.

He urged marketers to be “creative leaders.” Creative leaders reframe the situation constantly, he said, citing Steve Jobs, who reframed “presence” into ‘absence' with minimalism in Apple products.

He cited the 2010 Cannes Grand Prix-winning Andes Teletransporter creative for Andes beer. Boys love beer, and their girlfriends didn't like them guzzling beer with friends in pubs. So, sound-proof booths were installed in pubs in Argentina, where beer guzzlers could choose programmed ambience sounds while speaking on the phone with their girlfriends.

‘It's no longer about one single big idea; creative leaders have to have a lot of creative ideas. And creative leaders must be able to surprise you with the obvious,” he added.

In an age where everything is replicable, he pressed for the need for marketers to create emotional connects.

An NGO working against child abuse in the UK discovered something troubling. In 40 per cent of the households where child abuse happened, there was one adult who was aware of it but hesitant to speak out. They also started recognising stereotypical advertising against child abuse and started avoiding it, said Mr Roberts.

His agency came up with a campaign showing an animated kid being physically attacked, violently, by an adult – almost like in a video game. Unlike in animated films, “Real kids can't bounce back” was the message. The number of calls on child abuse doubled in the next 90 days, explained the CEO.

“Almost nothing is irreplaceable today. While every aspect of the product is important, it is necessary to make it irresistible. You can make anything irresistible if you care enough,” Mr Roberts surmised.

> gokul.k@thehindu.co.in