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By Ramnik Chhabra 25-Nov-2009 | 12:53

Every decade throws up a period defining category.

A category that hits the sweet spot where client needs, agency business and the creative product meet. A category that not only throws up hip, buzz creating , award winning work; but work that actually helps sell the product. A category whose growth ,ad spends (and competition!) booms.

Let`s look back at the 70s/early 80s. I`d say the defining category of that decade was soaps and detergents. Be it the bikini clad Liril girl, the Nirma girl and "Surf ki khariddaari mein aur bhi samajhdaari hai", "Rin ki safedi ki chamkaar"; the ads from this category and that era are still remembered.

Then came the 80s. A decade when India got wheels. So "Fill it .shut it .forget it." and "Hamara Bajaj" ruled.

The 90s were clearly about colas . The cola MNC entry and the subsequent cola wars gave us memorable campaigns that most agencies would give an arm to have on their portfolios. Remember " Yehi hai right choice baby", "Nothing official about it", "Mera number aayega", "Taste the Thunder"?

And the first decade of 2000 clearly belongs to the mobile category. Be it the Hutch/Vodafone dog, Airtel "Express Yourself" , or even "What an Idea Sirji"; mobile service/mobile phone campaigns are the most ubiquitous and talked about in todays day and age.

So what is common among these categories that made their campaigns decade definers?

Firstly; it was a category that came of age in that decade. Indians made the mega shift from laundry bars to detergents in the 70s,from cycles to two-wheelers in the 80s, started drinking soft drinks Vs sherbets/water in the 90s and ofcourse , in the first decade of 2000, mobilephones evolved from a techno-status toy to an indispensible must have.

Secondly ; the consumer evolved to appreciate the value of the category promise; and had the werewithal to buy into it.

Given the above decade defining category characteristics; is it possible to forecast the hot advertising category for 2010 to 2020? The category that`s going to have big spends and win big awards?

My wager is that it`ll be financial services. A category currently considered dull, boring, confusing and something that any self respective creative person will run away from.

But then ; consider some facts.With India growing from a 1 trillion dollar GDP economy to a 2trillion dollar economy in this decade ; and with savings rates around 35%; people are going to have a lot of money to invest in money!

What`s more with the category opening up(thru the entry of multi-nationals) and the consumer evolving via insurance, mutual fund communication ; the financial services category is surely one whose advertising star is on the ascendent.

So my guess is that instead of detergent wars, cola wars and mobile wars; the coming decade are is going to have a new type of marketing war - the Money wars!. Be it banking, wealth management, insurance, broking or insurance.

In a hi-growth, competitive scenario; brands will need to be a lot more creative to take advantage of the opportunity.The stakes are large and the opportunity immense. In the coming decade; the campaigns of the year will be from this hitherto unheralded category. A beginning has already been made - IDBI Bank `Elephant`, SBI Life`Diamond`, Motilal Oswal `Knowledge First` etc.

But this is just the beginning of the wave.The coming decade can look forward to some insightful, creative and buzz creating campaigns from the financial services space.

Ad agencies are your ready?