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What Made FCB’s Suman Srivastava Pen ‘Marketing Unplugged’?

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

‘You don’t know what you know until you write it down and publish a book’. Suman Srivastava, Vice Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, FCB Ulka Group, quotes his mother while saying this when we called him up to get an in-depth idea of his book ‘Marketing Unplugged’.

Launched recently, ‘Marketing Unplugged’ is authored by Srivastava and is a new-age marketing guide that talks primarily about the ‘Elephant in the room’ or rather we should say some ten odd elephants in one room.

By elephants he means that obvious truth which isn’t acknowledged in the marketing industry. For instance ‘All consumers are not equal’, ‘The world is not flat’ and ‘Don’t follow industry best practices’ are a few among many. In ‘Marketing Unplugged’, Srivastava has highlighted ten such facts that marketers often avoid.

Bob Schmetterer, Former Chairman and CEO, Euro RSCG Worldwide and author of ‘Leap! A Revolution in Creative Business Strategy’ calls ‘Marketing Unplugged’ a wake-up call. He says, “The book is a remarkable balance of observation, insight, relevance and challenge. And it does it all (thanks to the Elephant in the room) with a real sense of wit and humour… It is convincing that new, fresh and innovative techniques are not only needed… they are mandatory.”

Prakash Iyer, Former Managing Director, Kimberly-Clark Lever and author of ‘The Habit of winning’ and ‘The secret of leadership’ says, “Marketing Unplugged is an interesting blend of wisdom, experience and insights, distilled by a master craftsman into an easy-to-use toolkit and garnished with real brand stories.”

The Idea

After quoting his mother, Srivastava goes on to say that with this book, he intended to create a new narrative for the new marketing world. While narrating the idea behind his book, he instantly tells about his habit of reading a lot.

He says, “I read a lot. To some extent it is organizing my own thoughts. There are so many new ideas in the market and sometimes when you read a lot, you get confused that how to use them all.”

Going further, he elaborates that how it all inspired him to pen down the new-age marketing guide. Srivastava says, “With this book I have tried to organise all those ideas that have been around in books and articles and then relate them to the existing world, with the case-studies that I’ve heard about and to the real world.”

What One can Expect

There are numerous books available explaining the marketing industry in varied ways. However, Marketing Unplugged has something different to offer to its readers. The author has gone beyond the conventional case studies of brands and leaders. In fact, Srivastava has used different examples to make the point more understandable.

Srivastava, while elaborating what one can expect from ‘Marketing Unplugged’ that other books can’t offer, says, “I’ve used a lot marketing case studies as well but sometimes I’ve used other examples which are not the classical brands to make the point better. Say for example, I’ve used IPL as a strong and a different kind of a brand. I’ve spoken about how Mahatma Gandhi perhaps was the best social media communicator of all times.”

Making a difference, Srivastava has used religions as brands as well. While sharing his views, he said, “I’ve talked about religions as brands. Because each religion has its own sound, smell, language, rituals. And that is why they are such strong brands. Each one of them tells you about salvation but the way they do it is different.”

What does it has to offer to the industry?

The book is an answer to many queries, especially for the marketers. While describing its offerings for the industry, Srivastava says, “Marketing has been done in the same way from the past 50 years and so. But everything around us has changed. The kind of products we advertise for, the kind of media we advertise on, the ability of the customer to communicate about the product, the sophistication of the customer, governmental control, what you can and can’t do and a lot of things.”

“Therefore, some of the theories needed to be changed which I believed haven’t changed. So I’ve taken around the thoughts that I’ve read about in the past 15-20 years and put it together,” he goes on to say.

While denying that it isn’t a journey of the past 15-20 years, he makes it clearer that it is not about these years, it is about the changes that the industry has gone through and that what changes needs to made.

He says, “Basically, it is marketing for the 21st century. How marketing needs to be changed for the 21st century. Because marketing was invented in 60s and most of the marketing tools were invented at that time. Like the 4Ps, positioning, AIDA model, customer journey were all invented long back. And people are still using those techniques not because of the lack of new ideas, but because people are not using those new ideas on a day-today basis. So, this is an attempt to say that let’s go change.”

Calling it a challenge for brands, the author invites new brands to try out new things instead of following the traditional ways. The book is already available on various e-Commerce platforms and one can easily get a copy. Have a good read folks!

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