Monthly Archives: December 2009

So you do not have a differentiator. Now what?

Got an Idea?

When do you do when you do not have an idea. You badly want one..  ever been in such a situation? I am sure you would have been. Never be depressed in such a situation. Let things happen around you and watch them closely. This is something that has always worked for me. Whenever I have sat to think about an ad and I get nothing that is brilliant, I just go under a shower and just let myself free and wander and think about whatever comes to my mind and guess what ? I always do find n answer. And I say always. Sometimes I just doodle around and voila I get an idea out of nowhere. Simply because my accidental stroke of the pencil actually gave rise to a good idea.

I know this is not much like any of the other posts but today I am just happy and hence want to share it with you all. In fact I got so crazy that I thought of lovely ads for Volkswagen, Surf Excel, MaxFresh and a good one for my college and I am proud of that.

Positioning: The battle for your mind

Often I notice that I get stuck when the product or the entity I am thinking of advertising does not have any differentiation because according to me that is what enables a good ad. The presence of a creneau in the head of your prospect where you can put your differentiator and see it grow and occupy a ladder in the mind of your prospect and eventually see your brand build and gain identity. But what if you do not have a differentiator or the fact that you do have a good differentiator but the prospects or the target do not perceive it to be present. Advertising is all about perception. It is not the better product that wins the race but the better ‘perceived’ product. So no matter how good and solid GM cars are they will not be perceived as good as Volvo because they own the differentiator of being safe and solid.

So what do you do when you do not have a differentiator?

You look for what I put as, soft factors. Go through the irrational route, capture emotion in your ad. Human brain is a sucker for emotion and is hardwired to be emotional. And sometimes it is the most powerful way to capture the mind of your prospect. Be the prospect and think what he/she would like to listen, in fact love to listen. You cannot bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them said David Ogilvy. Especially in a print ad make sure that you are not in the zone of indifference, either the prospect should love your ad or hate it. The former obviously being the most ideal situation but the latter at least gives you a chance to learn and impress your prospect next time, when he/she is least expecting it to be. Print ad gives you a marvelous opportunity to talk to the prospect, alone. If you can make the prospect read what you want to say then you have done a good job for sure. What’s the big deal in making them read, you might say? But hold on. “The Average readership of a body in magazine ads are 5%” and this figure is of yesteryears, it’s surely come down now. So, that means if you don’t treat the print ad with respect and thought you waste 95% of your resources and with sky rocketing print media charges that is really high figure.

Now since you have decided to take the soft route of persuasion what all are the factors that you can incorporate in you communication?  Use humor- It always has above average recall. Put a slice of life in your ads and make them realistic and hence charming. Add emotion and always back it up with a rational excuse to justify the emotional content. Be honest and genuine. Honesty shows up in an ad. Well these are just some of the ways.

The sucker emotional brain

If you love your ad then others would like it. But if you only like your ad, others won’t be that impressed. Make ads that mean something to people, so that they can connect the dots. Pat wolfe, author of Brain matters: Translating Research into classroom practice , explains, “Neural networks ‘check out’  sensory stimuli as soon as they enter the brain to see if they form a familiar pattern, If they do, a match occurs, and the brain determines that the new stimuli are familiar. In this case, we could say that the new information makes sense or has meaning. What happens if there is no match? The brain may attend to the meaningless information for a short period of time because it is novel; but if it can make no sense out of the incoming stimuli, the brain will probably not process them further……An idea will be meaningful only if it relates to the listeners experience”



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Why Yahoo is not Y!OU or Me. It is still Yahoo.

 Ok, so Yahoo revamped their website and promise you the best of experiences. The have a 100 million dollar budget and are splashing all across the world with Yahoo its Y!OU campaign. And India alone is supposed to be exposed to 10 million dollar worth of that promotion and a good chunk of the video has India in it.

Yahoo- Its You campaign - India

So is Yahoo going to all set to be ‘You’? Well honestly it is not. I have been seeing the communication for quite a lot of time but I haven’t been persuaded to go and check Yahoo as to what is new about it and if I have been lazy to be stuck with Google then I think there are a lot of people who are.

Well I did check yahoo and there seems to be some change around the corners. The content looks the same but there is a section to your left about favorites from which one can access FaceBook, and other websites that one wants to keep a tab upon. The changes are good and utilitarian but the contention here is about their communication. I did like the campaign and I must say that it has pretty high recall in my mind, I have seen imposing posters on malls and roads showing a normal person whom we might know in our daily life saying “ Internet is under new management, yours!” . But listen! I like the ad and I don’t hate the hoardings either and I agree that Yahoo has become more interactive but what is the use if it can not force me to go to the website to try out the change

I think there was a little bit of self indulgence by OnM and Yahoo when they made the ad. It just speaks about Yahoo and is shot through slick frames and a lot of style. But what they forgot to mention was why you should try Yahoo. Putting several people in a frame dancing, kissing, playing and celebrating does not tell me why I should go to Yahoo. Ok, fine, the internet is under my management and Yahoo is me or infact Y!OU but what more? I don’t understand what Yahoo wants to tell me when it says that you can manage your internet. Too generic. It’s like someone telling you that there is a good product in the market but you don’t know what it exactly is good at. What is Google? It is a search engine. What is Yahoo? has a search engine and shows news also and there is music also and..and..and..IT IS JUST VAGUE! And IT IS NOT ME!

The most important part of any advertisement is that it should sell the product. In today’s world, especially in the internet services segment, none is going to switch to your service until and unless you show them ‘The Reasons’ why they should shift to you. Some proposition where you clearly have an edge over your competitor, either you create it or you create a perception about it, so that people believe that there is a difference as Pablo Picasso remarked ‘Art is the lie that tells the truth’. Create a perception and make people believe that the perception is true.

Why you dont want to be Yahoo. Is it You?

They should have been direct. They should have spoken about the user interface, and the ability to access various apps and accounts through one page. ‘A one page destination to your internet’ should have been the framework for their positioning.

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We know what it takes to be a Tiger. Yeah?

We know it too

Ask Accenture said my last blog and they have spoken, albeit, silently. Search for Tiger Woods in their website and it comes as page not found (on Sunday). Accenture dropped the contract with Tiger Woods on Dec 13. According to me one of the best celebrity branding episodes draws curtains now. With due respect to the supporters of celebrity branding- My deep condolences. Gillette has dropped tiger from any further promotions. AT&T is evaluating further move to keep him or not. Gatorade had dropped him prior to the scandal. Nike and TagHeuer are still backing him or at least not reacting in an adverse manner. So from now on you won’t see Accenture telling that ‘We know what it takes to be a Tiger’. Instead its website now reads – Accenture wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family.

 There was a time when he was called “The world’s most marketable athlete.” By many marketing research firms. Wonder what they would say now. This just makes me again and again reiterate my clichéd point that celebrity endorsements is a worthless risk that whose cost benefit analysis is clearly unfavorable. There are too many uncontrollable elements in there. And as a marketer, you don’t want too many uncontrollable factors.

But then what are the implications for Accenture? And why is EA and Nike still making sense by supporting him?

EA sports support Tiger

Let’s say there are two factors- the Hard (core) factors and the Soft (complementing) factors. In Tiger Woods case the hard factor is simply his Golf. Any brand he endorses strictly due to his game and nothing else, would have hired him because of his hard factors and any brand hiring him for his qualities like humility, personality and other qualitative aspects would hire him because of soft factors.

So it’s clear to see that Accenture was more of a soft factor decision as compared to EA (Tiger Woods golf game) and Nike (Nike golf). This means as for the hard factors, Tiger Woods still remains the one of the best in the history of golf, even if he becomes gay but as for his soft factors, he is not exactly the ideal idol anymore. So it makes sense for Accenture and Gillette to drop him. So according to this AT&T should be dropping Tiger as I don’t see any mutual benefit the association can deliver. Even TagHeuer makes sense as they and woods collaborated closely to develop the world’s first professional golf watch, released in April 2005. The lightweight, titanium-construction watch was designed to be worn while playing the game. However, TagHeuer won’t rush for a renewed contract for sure.

Tiger woods Cadillac Escalade crash

Funny thing was he had an accident in GMs Cadillac Escalade, the brand that he endorsed earlier. As if GM had lesser woes already.

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Copenhagen all the way

Copenhagen climate change OOH

Copenhagen 2009 climate change summit

Copenhagen is hot these days with talks of climate change. But as most of us might have seen, there are a series of OOHs that is getting immense publicity these days. The ads present a futuristic picture of world leaders including aged versions of Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy among others in 2020 and feature them saying, “I’m sorry. We could have stopped catastrophic climate change…we didn’t.” Copy reads ‘Copenhagen 2009 Act Now – Change The Future.’

The placing could not have been more perfect. They were there bang on outside the airport. None could miss it.

The things that are spot on are

  1. The picture entices you to read the copy and hence draws you into it
  2. The copy talks to you and not the mass, you relate with it better

Greenpeace has generated far more PR for the issue than it could have had it issued press statements. It is being talked about by everyone. The journalists landing at the airport are eager to snap it and mention it in their articles.

There has always been talk of how Publicity is better than advertising. I beg to differ. Publicity is better than advertisement but when both can be combined to result in one another, there cant be a deadly combination. An advertisement that creates publicity is two birds at a shot. Its like, sometimes you just know that your idea is going to get people talk and think. That is the best idea. This was not any top notch advertising agencies idea but an inhouse idea.


Generating an idea for an ad

So are generating ideas easy? Absolutely I think. You just need to know whom you are targeting. If you know that then you definitely know what they would like from your communication. And if your communication entices some emotion out of the target then I would say it was a good effort. Just be sure that you do not lie on the zone of indifference in the mind of your audience.


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The OOmpH factor

The rise of the OOmpH factor

KingFisher OOH IndiaThere are ads and there are better ads, the better ads sell and the ads don’t. it has become so much more important to connect with the consumer. And that is why it is important to set foot on the OOH segment as soon as possible. Out-of-home advertising (or outdoor advertising) is made up of more than 100 different formats.  Outdoor advertising is essentially any type of advertising that reaches the consumer while he or she is outside the home and this is best thing about OOH, you see them while you are on the move and hence more scope for the impulse to act. It gives more meaning to the two way process. It is no longer what you want to communicate. It is a conversation and the conversation is becoming more active than passive. OOH cost less than what your traditional mass media would cost you and can be regionalized and can be tweaked around to find the ideal communication layout.

There is this recent phenomenon of flash mobs being used. It is a normal method in the west but the Indian public is just getting used to it. It involves a group of people who all of a sudden enact or showcase something in between crowded areas. A very cost effective method. Allen Solly had used this method of hummanequins of live models suddenly freezing in between a mall and having the latest Allen Solly merchandise on them. Novel way indeed. Although the concept is restricted to metro cities as of now it wont be long till we see this concept spread further to other tier cities.

 What OOH solves is your problem of getting to the target audience. You know where to reach them out but if you don’t know if your marketing effort is going to impact them or catch their attention then OOH is the way. It has all of a sudden led to another branch of marketing professionals who concentrate in that niche alone and do a pretty good job for the buck passed to them.

Axe is becoming my favorite brand when it is coming to OOHs and catching their target group off guard. Axe Inxtinct carries the trend forward for them.

What OOH let you do is carry a conversation. The brand tries to communicate something to you. You notice it and react to it instantly and follow it up.

Advertising agencies are trying to separate OOH from its included activities and hive it into another unit simply to focus on it better. So that the clients get a better deal and execution. Like Group M for WPP.

OOH has certainly come a long way from just hoardings and banners.

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Save the Tiger

There is something about Tiger Woods. It is the same thing that Barack Obama has too. It transcends money and fame. It transcends the power they confer to whatever they associate their name to.
They connect. No matter how much they earn in a year and if it is more than what all your earlier generations may have earnt till now, still you have a feeling that they are like you only. I don’t know if its got something to do with the brown skin but I get more motivated by the stories of the woods, the obamas, the Williams and so on. They connect because they represent a much larger minority voice. The voice of the underdog.
For tiger woods it had reached a point from which he could not do anything wrong in his career or more so with his brand. Tiger woods stood for something. It stood for honesty, straightforwardness, humility, reliability and other synonyms. Tiger woods was much more than a perfect golf swing. People need not understand the sport to marvel at the iconic legend. Even if you did not know what a birdie, bogie or a bunker is. You did not know how he was playing but you just knew that he was always trying his best. You just knew that he could not do anything wrong.
So what went wrong with woods? All I knew was there was an accident and after that the press slaughtered his image with juicy rumours of his mistresses. An image bomb as similar and as big as bill Clinton affair. And there is something that tiger could very well learn from that scandal. Accept the mistake and move on. Public memory is, as always, short. There is no denying the fact that the damage has been done but the damage control to the brand tiger woods has been really off course. It is surprising to see how badly celebrities get managed sometimes. They bask in all the glory and are willing to talk and write books on how they made it to that level but when something nasty hits them they run without caring for their shadows. There are reports of him quitting golf and trying to revive their marriage. GREAT. But the sad part of being so public and having been so public in the past is that, it is exactly what the public expects you to be now. Be public.
Again we learn from this that celebrity endorsements should always been looked at extremely critically. Because you can not control their events but they can control yours. And that is not a great leverage for your brand. Ask Accenture.

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