Shakespeare, Fogg and Trivago: In the same league

Anant Rangaswami, October 22, 2019

It's important to remember that you create for your audiences and not for critics

This morning, I read this wonderful piece by Dave Trott: To Be Or Not To Be.

Read it. Before you read my piece, because this column sort of builds on Dave’s column, in a slightly different context.

In the event you’re short of time, here are a few lines in Dave’s piece that stand out for me:

“We’re all worried about criticism: what do other people think about our work?

It’s normal, but that doesn’t mean we should let it affect us.

For me, critics are like the crowd in the stands at a football match.

Yelling an opinion is a lot easier than actually being on the pitch.”

The backbone of Dave’s piece is the avalanche of criticism of Shakespeare’s writing. Despite the avalanche, Shakespeare remains one of the most quoted writers ever.

That’s because, as Dave puts it, “Shakespeare wasn’t writing for critics, which could be why critics don’t like his plays. Shakespeare was writing for ordinary people.”

The principle of Dave’s piece holds true anywhere in the world, and, therefore, in India as well.
Social media and digital media allow anyone in the world to be a critic, because “yelling an opinion” is easy and free.

And in our little world of advertising, an industry that is written about perhaps more than it deserves to be written about, critics crawl out of the woodwork, sometimes merely annoying but often upsetting the creators.

A few days ago, I was delivering a kind-of-a-lecture at an ad agency where I underlined that good advertising drew from, and entered, popular culture. In the Q&A that followed, an attendee asked me whether the Fogg campaign and the Trivago campaign were examples of ‘good’ work that entered popular culture.

If I were to ‘yell an opinion’, I would lazily say that neither was a good example.

That’s like criticizing Shakespeare. That would be behaving like a critic.

Both Fogg and the Trivago campaigns, much as ‘critics’ dislike them, were created for the audiences that were targeted, not for the critics.

Neither will win awards at Cannes or at Kyoorius, but both are referred to at Toto’s and Starbucks and in local trains and at airport smoking rooms. They also find their way into WhatsApp forwards – and into popular culture.

After reaching THIS point in my writing, I searched for ‘Trivago’ on Twitter.

Here are the latest mentions:

From @sachalouisex

homework : overdue

revision : undone

mocks : in a few weeks

feeling : stressed

hotel : trivago

Here’s another:


Number? Deleted.

Twitter? Blocked.

Hotel? Trivago

And I searched for Fogg.

Here are a few of the latest references:


replying to his followers  @ImRitika45 and @ImRo45, says:

हिंदुस्तान में Fogg नही Hitman Show चल रहा है

And @BeingvickyyZ

Replying to

@BeingIamHimansh says, “Abey Tune Fogg ki yaad dila di Aur kya chahiyee.”

References to Fogg and Trivago pop up on my timeline every day, reminding me of the ads and of the brands in those ads.

Fogg and Trivago ads were written for the masses and not for the critics.

Who cares for the handful of critics when you can own the mindshare of millions of consumers?

Consumers who want no deo other than Fogg and book their hotel rooms through Trivago?