Cadbury Dairy Milk Shub Anth..

A few months back , I had asked myself a simple ‘What’ question. I asked ‘ What is Cadburys?’  I was moved. Now I am talking about the Cadburys that we knew before  Amitabh Bachchan gave a lift to the lady in the rain in his Merc and said ‘Arey Kuch meetha ho jaaye, Haain’ and continued to pave way for  the disastrous Miss Palampur ensuring that the ‘Meetha Moments’ turned into one of its totally ‘Unmeetha moments’, I mean even a Lux Cozi ad with Sunny deol was planned with more grey matter.

Then as we all know, Amitabh became invisible in an ad, didn’t help. Then he distributed Cadburys celebrations to his old friend and then the Miss Palampur fiasco. I get shivers when I even recount those ads. Drinking a beer would have been a better option. ‘Pappu paas ho gaya’ was the only ad that was true to Cadburys heart, it stood for simple and genuine moments. And add to the fact that Pappu was a stronger character than Amitabh in the ad.

Pehlee Taareek’ doesn’t even deserve any mention. It was as if an FMCG brand manager took the call to reposition Cadburys to a Purchase cycle activity. CADBURYS INTO A PURCHASE CYCLE PRODUCT! Holy god! I was turned into an atheist for a brief while after that.

 Hop, Skip, Jump to 2010. Our side partitioned, checked shirt college guy walks into a bus stand to find a wide eyed teen in pink munching her chocolate, which mysteriously returns back when she offers it to him, and offers to drop her home. Nice music, simple details and we thought probably Cadburys was finally thinking ‘Simple’. They stretched it a little bit with the ‘Shub Aarambh Jeans’ campaign. But still it wasn’t on your face. Diwali saw little chocolate dipped cars and refrigerators going around in the Cadbury commercial pleading you to buy Rs 10 cadbury before you brought your 6 lakh car. FINE. Positioning of ‘For a better start for the auspicious occasion’ is better than their previous positioning or lets say de-positioning attempts. But Honestly, and I mean with utmost Cadbury honesty, ‘Auspicious’ for me is a slightly complex situation to associate with a Simple purple wrapped smile inducing cocoa.

Then I saw this. And I cant believe that they are falling into the same trap as they did with Amitabh Bachchan.

–       Cadbury was about ‘simple genuine happy moments’ – trying to get the wrapper off with mehendi in hands, dancing in the field and making a joke out of yourself, Tapping your briefcase and smiling at the skies, while the cobbler was polishing your shoes. It was about ‘ Khamakaa muskuraaon, khamakaa gungunaoon, khamakaa chalta jaaon’ moments.

–       Never about crying faces, it was all about anxious and happy faces. It was the kid in every elder smiling in a Cadbury commercial. It was never about ‘ Complex, fake, overdramatized moments’.

–       And most bloody chocolatey importantly, Cadbury is not collective happiness. Never! Cadbury is small individual moments of happiness. That is where the entire exotic beauty of the brand lies.

SHUBH AARAMBH but DUKHATH ANTH. R.I.P. Did i say shubh anth in the title? No chance.


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Levis, Live wise please

Levis dENiZEN

My regular mall stroll and I all of a sudden found the levis signature showroom replaced by denizen. Soon I realized that atleast in Bangalore where they are test marketing Denizen, they had replaced signature stores with Denizen. What a relief. Finally the brand unmurders itself.

One of the most iconic brands of all times, levis had done something very successfully that most brands would like to emulate. They brought out the same sense of joy that they used to bring when my father shopped for his jeans.  A lot of ‘yester year’ brands have just been that – Fathers Era Brands. They find it difficult to wriggle out to the new generation and gain the same sort of perception.

Levis had been as aspirational for me and you, as to our dads. The red tag that you proudly carried along was aspirational. Everyone wanted a jean. And jeans was only levis. As water is only bisleri.

Levis Strauss Signature - Deepika Padukone

However in my post, david and goliath, I had mentioned that global corporations need to take a different stratagem for India as it is not a monolithic market, the forces affecting consumer decision is not the same as others. Levis unfortunately fell into the ‘Middle Class India’ trap and ended up over extending their positioning base with Levis Strauss Signature, that catered to the lower end consumers who aspired for a Levis but could not afford one. And then there were the Fakes. Anything with two legs could get a levis tag on their jeans. Soon you saw the red Levis ® tag behind every ass, lovely or not.

Levis contributed to its share of woes by diluting its image with Levis Strauss Signature.

Levis was slowly self-poisoning itself by launching Signature. Signature served two purposes, I could own an original levis and get it cheap too. Soon the denim youth, after buying a couple of pair of Levis signature, got it subconsciously registered that a levis jeans can be bought cheap and commands a price of not more than, say, Rs 1000. Cost for the Indian youth is a big consideration as most of them are dependent on their family for pocket money and the decision to buy a jeans is an outcome of countless hours of inkling and maneuver with the head of the family. Now someone who did not think anything before buying a Rs 1500 jeans, now had another stimuli in his mind. A levis, although signature, at Rs 1000. This eroded the brand premium somewhere. and as we all know it is the premium that you add to a commodity that makes it a brand. Levis was slowly becoming a commodity from a Brand.

Add to all this that most of the youth bought their pair of jeans when there was a heavy discount season during diwali or new years or so and would get the same Levis at Rs 500 and thereabouts. Then add to it, also the perpetration of Discount stores and family outlets that landed you a pair of jeans for Rs 800 and two for Rs 1000! All this diminished the perception that the great brand always commanded.

A classic case where monetarily you are gaining but qualitatively your perception is getting hammered and nailed. In short, Marketing Myopia.

However, they realized the mistake soon enough. Soon you found out that Levis Jeans were becoming more expensive. This was a deliberate attempt to break away from the Rs 1000-Rs 1500 price band image that levis had been garnering. The price rise was maintained even when the economy was going through a recession.

Levis Curve ID

Launching a new brand denizen,priced between Rs 799-1399, is a commendable effort to undo what signature did for Levis. Whatever happens to denizen the erosion of brand value of Levis would be considerably lesser. Meanwhile Levis should continue to create a niche for itself and make it aspirational again.

Levis launched its curve id jeans earlier last month and has been successful in an attempt to create another niche for which people would have to pay a premium.

It is absolutely fantastic to see how, eventhough, with a few mistakes here and there, the brand remains to be edgy and still be classic at the same time.

Kindly Note that as an entity Signature, after it was spun off as stand alone stores,  were a profitable venture and contributed almost close to 30% of its revenues.  However, a Signature by Levis would have been much better than Levis Strauss Signature. Denizen is on the right tracks as far as branding goes.

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Whats your idea of Fun?

I loved the ad the very moment I saw it, not because it is some cannes material or a result of a big creative mental orgasm but because it was clever. Who needs ads which you appreciate for the art and creativity and not the logic, atleast the client does not need so.

I have just started working and hence feel financially independent now. I can buy whatever I want, swipe the plastic all over and not care for a second opinion.  This is exactly where the ad hits bang on the nail with the logic and the connect that it establishes.

Till the time you work, the teenager is mostly dependent on his (no offence girls, their TG is M 15-25, and hence ‘his’) dads money. He might have a part time job but that again is just sufficient to meet his expenses for a nice date on a weekend and the booze and the smokes during the month. Savings are alien.

So now, your friend has bought a bike and you want to buy one too. Or you wanna move out with your friends to a nice apartment with a swimming pool and no restrictions on booze and girls. or you wanna roll some money and buy a car among your friends. or you want to buy nice home theatre or a playstation. or you want brilliant speakers. What do you do?
Ofcourse the monthly pocket money is not enough, neither does the part time job, if any, contribute a lot. So who helps you out? Dad….and there starts your ‘Letters to my dad‘ series ” Listen dad, I have joined a couple of CAT courses and it is really far off from hostel and takes almost two hours to reach to and fro. all my friends live close by and I wanna live with them too, and also i would need some money for a bike so that i can go to college without delay and save time.” A regular follow up with your dad for weeks ensures that you get either one of those after much bargaining. You might not have called your dad for weeks but when you start calling him up every day after college and give him a goodnight message, he knows that you want something and he tries to ignore  your demands (the way it is done in the ad where he fails to acknowledge that his son is clinging on all the time). It makes absolute perfect sense to use the idea of being pullled along with your dad wherever he goes.
Remember in and around 2000, how crazy we were about wallpapers, themes, ringtones, songs, bluetooth and transferable porn? All that was possible because of the device called – Mobile Phone. Enter 2010 and Mobile phones are pretty much shopping products than a specialty product. What has replaced mobiles is another sort of bigger screen and keyboard called a Laptop. and hence Laptops are there among the top 3 desirable things (non living ofcourse) for a young male.
The Other Side

Now lets look it form an Indian dads point of view.

So everyone saw 3 Idiots, remember what Madhavan’s dad presented him when he came to know that he had a job interview and that he was hopeful of getting one? Yes a Laptop!

Now close your eyes and imagine yourself to be a father (oh no, don’t imagine your hot wife as of now). You have three options for your kid, all three would mean ‘FUN’ to him.

1. Bike

2. Playstation/ game consoles

3. Laptop

Which is the one that you would choose? It is obvious isnt it? Where would you see the most VALUE?

Definitely, The One fun thing that your dad will say yes to.

Apart from all this, the end frame where the lenovos are shown is kickass, very eye catchy. After Sony Vaio, that is THE most stylish shot I have noticed of a laptop, and that too without Kareenas stripshow.

It very succesfully reforms lenovo as a young brand..Something that Compaqs , Dells, Acers are not. VAIO is and HP somewhat makes the cut.

The last lenovo commercials were around Saif and the face detection property, the creative was commendable but never gave it a differentiated perception. But this ad without stressing on any of the product feature, manages to create a perception.

What was missing from the ad was a peppy soundtrack that caught your attention, VAIO was bang on with the soundtrack.

Plus, the whole leg catching incident should have been over dramatized. A couple of times I skipped the ad as it was barely interesting enough to catch my attention for the first 3 seconds, the most crucial ones, in the ad. Heres an example of Over Dramatizing by Anchor, to establish a not so unique proposition, but easily the most recallable one in the category.

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Too bad to be true

Girl coming out of the sea in a Baywatch outfit.  Smiles. And the voice over says ‘ ismein kuch khaas hai. Ismein vishwaas hai.’ Then comes the J.K Cement logo. Stupid right?

Two cavemen are trying to make fire and one of them tries very hard to rub the rocks hard and create a spark but nothing happens. The other caveman eats some chips and spits fire and lo! Fire there is! Voice over comes and Bingo Red Chilli Bijli.

Micromax was another one during this IPL season with an annoying Akshay Kumar laugh being played all over the ad.

We all have seen a lot of ads that are just insanely stupid right? Some ads would have been thought off of being ‘creative’ if that is the word, by the agency and come out as serious pieces of badvertising. But some are simply too bad to be passed especially by pioneer agencies like the Ogilvy and mathers . O&M that handles the creative for ITC Bingo is one of them. They can not be mistakedly creating bad or rather odd pieces of advertising everytime. It seems too bad to be true. There clearly seems to be a strategy behind that.

In the chips category recently there was an ad by parle’s chips. The name I do not remember of which. (Rhyming J) I think it was smart chips. Well that ad is hardly emoting (an ad that just does not bring forth an emotional response in you), it lies in what I call the point of indifference of advertising. Whereas, bingo ads are downright stupid but they bring ‘what?’ emotion because of which it gets registered in your mind. For a category like chips, I wonder how much of a difference a smart creative ad would have bought. These are not ‘skin’ products. You do not wear them i.e. you do not really care about showing it off. It hardly matters if someone sees you eating a bingo or lays. In the end bingo is just as much of chips as lays is. There is no substantial  perceivable point of difference in the product. Hence, the recall factor has to be more. BANG ON. The ads seem to be doing that.

Similarly, my favorite, J.K Cement ad had everything that made it a 50’s ad plus the color. It was stupid. But it somehow amusingly registered. In cement again, the market is more price differentiated than on quality or perceptions. The decision maker is often your contractor and not you. You have the same ‘ strongest and most durable’ cement proposition with happy families or soiled workers surrounding the frame, in almost all the ads. J.K cement did away with all that and instead of having unattractive family or sweaty workers, they just had a girl in a Baywatch outfit! There was nothing to be remembered in the ad except the fact that it was the most outrageously low I.Q advertisement you saw and that it was of J.K Cement. And voila!  There you remember.. the brand name!

So next time before you say that an ad is stupid, just put yourself in Atticus Finch’s mind; always think from the other point of view. Know where the shoe pinches by wearing it.

P.S: By the way, read it from a FB friend’s friend that the logic behind J.K Cement ad it seems was that – from water comes sand and from sand comes cement. And the girl was cement ‘personified’ Ismein kuch baat hai, ismein vishwaas hai J

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Chuck celebrities. Its your marriage!

Just saw the new Tanishq ad. The fact that I remember it was Tanishq, is the reason I wanted to write this post. A simple and even predictable storyline. But it evoked an emotion. Smile. And that is the most important thing an ad should do; evoke emotions and not indifference.

Tanishq’s targeting was bang on – a crossover family. Forward thinking but also based on beliefs and culture. Here, Parents are seemingly okay about relationships. The woman has the right to take her decisions (the mother running towards the Tanishq store without being apologetic or being condescended upon. The young lady, free to reject marriage proposals, as well as decide later that she wanted to know more about the guy.) On the same time, there was also a stress on importance of marriage and the following of an arranged marriage culture.

Even the driving was done by the lady and not by her imaginary brother or the father himself, pointing towards the notion that she was a woman who could carry on the responsibilities and the family as well as any male counterpart. There was a sense of conspicuousness about the theme of a neo-woman whose family guide them for their personal decisions but give them her own space to decide.

Its positioning was something like ‘Jewellery that makes you want to get married’. That probably comes from an insight that a lot of indian parents imagine their daughters marriage whenever she shops for gold or diamonds. It narrows down the focus of the brand even more to bridal jewellery than simply any other jewellery.

The ad took you into a conversation; made you wonder what would happen and had a decent bit of charm thrown around and all this done at a disalarmingly simple look and feel.

Something more important that I saw was that the ads exposure was not in IPL. It was more on Zoom, ZEE and 9XM. That makes sense, simply because there are some brands that are giving in a lot of exposure in IPL but are more women targeted brands. For eg: Clinic all clear. Yeah, women watch IPL but more or less it is passive and a conservative guess would be that around 80% of viewers would be male.

And finally, the girl was pretty pretty too. (My beat just skipped.. funny..skip.beat.skip.beat)

(To get back my beat to normal) What was wrong with previous commercials?

Think about the Asmi’s and the Nakshatra’s and the Gitanjali’s and the Ganjam’s. Don’t even remember in which commercial Aishwarya Rai or Katrina Kaif starred. And one of them starred Bipasha too, guess it was Gitanjali. Apart from having highly photoshoped images, the video commercials looked highly complicated with dresses flowing a mile and the celebrities draped with red all over to give a bridal touch. Dramatic music also in some. It was all about looking as stunning as the star on screen and never about ‘YOU’ or how ‘YOU LOOKED’. I don’t remember all the ads currently (and my awfully slow net connection fails my attempt to youtube them) but most of them never went into the persona of the woman, this ad did.

P.S: Don’t hate me for the level of details I went into

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ZooZoo ZooZoo. How may we help you?

In the beginning of this year’s IPL, I found zoozoos to be not funny anymore. i was not sure. There were still some of them which made people laugh but as the tournament progressed zoozoos did become a sort of predictable and a non anticipated property. First year was great. There were close to 3.5 lakh zoozoo fans on facebook and each one indulging themselves in various applications like ‘what zoo are you’. Even if you hated them in the first year you just could not ignore them. However this year those who hate them are ignoring them. This year there have been just around 1 lakh additions to the fan base in facebook. The storyline hasn’t been strong in a lot of them and some are not that clear too. The ads were predictable and had too many noisy characters.

So, what should have Vodafone done?

There are two things that I thought they should have done.

  1. Bring back the pug


Pug was an equally loved and adored concept

Refreshing change from the egg head characters, would have taken out the familiarity and sense of repetitiveness that we have become accustomed to with zoozoos

Would have built up an anticipative atmosphere for zoozoos to return in next years IPL

Fresher and more real looking ideas could have been developed around the pug rather than the zoozoo

Pug themes are more easily understood than the zoozoo ones

2. A set of zoozoo commercials in a story format

As in, say they have 25 different commercials for IPL3. Create all the commercials in such a way that they are connected to the previous ones. Weave an interesting story in such a way that after every commercial one of their VAS is also revealed through the story. Yeah I know might be said easier than done but that is something worth trying out.


The spinoff from this strategy could be involving users to make their own storylines and submit them.

Guess what happens to the zoozoo kind of contests, Which is your favorite zoozoo themes

This concept could have lifted the zoozoo closer to the audience by building specific characters like the moma zoozoo, the kid zoozoo, teen zoozoo. It just gives more depth to the entire strategy. This could even be extended to the merchandising too.

Like last year, ads could have first been shown in Facebook and this could have led to building up of a following that would have been more interactive

P.S: On hindsight, everyone is a genius.

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New trend in Celebrity Advertising?

Recently read an article on afaqs and decided to write this to delve into the topic more. Have you noticed any similarity between ads of pepsi, LG cookie pep, goodknight, clinic all clear, airtel, Airtel DTH and likes? Apart from being endorsed by celebrities, these are brands that have been using two or more endorsers lately. 1. LG Cookie pep has John Abraham, Abhay Deol and Genelia D’Souza busy selling off Abhays cool stuff. Or rather, zap it. 2. Airtel DTH launched with Kareena Kapoor, Saif, some Indian cricketers and A.R Rahman. All at your home. 3. Clinic all clear is parading the zero dandruff scalps of Asin and Bipasha 4. Pepsi’s Youngistan ka Wow has Sanjay Dutt and Ranbir Kapoor playing some really dangerous games. Earlier a bunch of cricketers too were hitting a six off the boat for Pepsi. 5. Goodknight had Rani Mukherjee for less smoke coils and now Vidya Balan for their cream 6. Garnier had Aishwarya rai walking like a supermodel (you almost thought that she is gona slip off) in a shiny red dress with a fake accent and Chitrangadha Singh as well as Genelia D Souza faking a lot of innocence on her face. 7. Airtel has SRK and turns to Madhavan and Vidya balan when they need romance. These days, it is the other guy who calls his dad and tells that he wants money for his birthday. His name skips my mind. A lot of people believe the fact that ‘A known group of celebrities speaking about the product is much more effective and reaches out to wider audiences’. In fact, these are the words of LG s marketing head. Some think that having two people is better than one and three is better than two. At the same time people believe that Indian consumers have come off age and make informed purchasing decisions. Well the matter is much simple than all this. Too many cooks are spoiling the broth. Suppose, you have to classify the above examples into like or dislike. That is which of the brands do you think manage their multiple endorsers better than others. So what have you classified? I am sure most of us like the way Pepsi, Garnier and Airtel manage multiple celebs better than GoodKnight, LG or Airtel DTH. Right? And here lies the answer. According to me, a lot of people miss out on the fact that multiple celebs work better when the brands are associative in nature. As in you would not mind flaunting that or associating or being loyal to the brand when in midst of a group of people. Pepsi is associative and Airtel DTH is not. DTH as a service has not gained that much of ‘perceived’ differentiation over one another that make them associative but you clearly have people who either like Pepsi or Coke. Garnier is associative but Clinic all clear is not. Shampoos at least in Indian market do not have that much of differentiation. Especially, if it is the sachets. One wouldn’t mind shampooing with clinic plus if all clear is not there. Same is true for GoodKnight, will I go around showing that I buy only GoodKnight. Not exactly. When the brand is associative, it makes sense to go with a larger number of endorsers given that they have a commonality vital to the brand. LG roped in the three for the new ad. The commonality being youthful energy or whatever the guys in marketing thought was the underlying factor. Well here is the down point, LG mobiles as a brand is not associative enough, at least in India, and that is why the idea is less likely to cling on. Same is true for Airtel DTH. Sun DTH without any gung ho advertising is way ahead Airtel DTH and a little behind Tata Sky. Same is true for Goodknight too, not likely to succeed with vidya balan or rani mukherjee. Not only is there no commonality among them apart from the fact that there are better looking actresses than them but we all know that they wont exactly be battling mosquitoes when at home, too.

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