Advertising in India – it’s all in the detail

I recently spent two weeks in India, travelling through the beautiful states of Goa and Kerala by taxi, train and boat.

Apart from the jaw-dropping countryside and life-changing food, the thing that really struck me was the level of effort that is dedicated to roadside advertising.

While more traditional billboards exist in the bigger towns and cities, the prevalent form of advertising in rural areas is repeated hand-painted brand logos on the walls lining the roads.

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Photo credit: Sophie Kay

Every single one is exactly the same, even when you travel 15 hours across the country.

There must be an army of sign-painters across India, all trained in the art of hand-painted cursive script and specific logos. It’s mind-boggling.

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Photo credit: http://www.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/TelecomIndia_Airtel_Reuters_380x255.jpg

In the UK at the moment there is a feeling that brands need to be connecting to people on a very personal level and this often includes physical items that could be ‘retro’ or handmade to spark conversations. While we’re striving for that personal feel here, on the other side of the world they’ve been doing it for generations.

Hanif Kureshi, who works for Wieden+Kennedy in New Delhi, has begun a project to preserve the hand-painted sign fonts of his childhood. He’s recognised that this is a valuable part of India’s culture and is determined not to let the fonts disappear by digitising them.