IPL 2010 and advertising

IPL has been a sort of a SuperBowl equivalent of an yearly bonanza for the Indian media and entertainment section. If you get noticed during IPL then you have arrived. If you search in YouTube for IPL ads you have the zoozoo’s popping all over. A great success for the vodafone team simply because of the unaided recall that they are being able to generate.

There was an interesting innovation visible in this years IPL, the ten second main screen ads that play in between the overs, while you are glued to the game and not channel surfing. It has been the most remarkable contribution to advertising in cricket by this years IPL. A clever innovation to break clutter – create your own space. People just dont have the option of switching the channels because its just ten seconds and is in between a match. Karbon, Micromax and Munch have used the service. I should say that Micromax and Karbon have more than had a remarkable run in creating awareness albeit at a high price but no kind of BTL activities would have lent these brands an air of being accepted as they are slowly getting.

One smart thing that Micromax did was it connected itself with something known all the time while advertising. This created a sense of ease and familiarity among the viewers and hence had a lesser entry barrier into their minds. For eg: the positioning as the FaceBook mobile. People know what FaceBook is all about and hence were subconsciously accepting the brand entry into the mind because it could cling on to a part of augmented memory of the brain i.e. to the FB link. Similarly, now they have connected it through Akshay Kumar. Although I am not a big fan of celebrity marketing but till now it seems to work for Micromax.

Another boon for the advertisers of the IPL came the partnership of youtube and IPL. It gave them extra eyeballs and somewhere along the line people are still comfortable with the same kind of advertising on youtube as on tv and do not switch in between the ads. Probably because of its novelty in the Indian markets. The level of resistance has not built up.

Even if they do they would go to a facebook page or check mails and the audio of the commercial still plays behind. Something that advertisers would be more than happy to contend with. Rather than cancelling out the ad totally by surfing channels here atleast the audience is subject to some kind of exposure.

I even liked a couple of Axe commercials,one of my favorite brands, in today’s match. Not because they were great and are cannes material, far from it, but the fact that it exploited what Axe stands for in ten seconds and got the message right across and amused the viewer a little bit. They were badly directed but the idea went straight through and the fact that they connected it to cricket further lowered the barrier to resist the commercial. The Axe effect!

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iGod : Apple

Apple

Always wanted to blog on this. One of the most beautiful brands – APPLE. Its almost every ad agencies dream to have Apple on their client list. Because Apple does not sell products, it sells an image, a lifestyle, an attitude. An image that people are willing to pay that extra for. Al Ries and Laura Ries often talk about the failure of double branding. Two brands clubbed together for a single product. For eg: Chevrolet Cobalt, Sony Bravia etc. They maintain that two is never better than one. At least in branding. Reason: Over a period of time people tend to get confused with the value or the promise that the brand stands for.

Apple nurtures its brands. Let it be the mac, the ibook, ipod or the iphone. They let it grow on its own and do not forcefully tell you that it is the Apple iphone or the Apple ipod, its just simply put as ipod by Apple in their communication. There is something  that it does beautifully that many brands fail to do. It manages to glide graciously into their category extension without having to compromise on their image. Apple was only computers before 2000 but last quarter ending december 26, 2009, Apple sold 3.36 million Macintosh computers, representing a 33 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 8.7 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 100 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 21 million iPods during the quarter, representing an eight percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter.Source: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/01/25results.html

For ex: Al Ries in his biblical book on marketing ‘The 22 immutable laws of Marketing’ tells that a brand that loses its single mindedness and Focus is a brand that is going to be doomed. The examples are of Motorola that tried to enter computers, semi conductors after being the pioneer in Mobile telephones, the leader of which is Nokia that left its other businesses to enter and focus on only telephones.

Apple advertises its product independent of the Apple brand which just sneaks into the last frame of their ads with their company logo. Let it be the macs, the ipods, the iphones or the recent ipads. However they derive their equity form the strong brand that Apple has created. They always seem to come with a magical mixture of a good product and great marketing.  The ‘i’ has become a brand in itself but still does not disturb the equilibrium created by Apple. Nowhere do the image of Apple and ipod clash. They just weave into each other. Even within the ipod there are different ‘perceived’ brands. There is the nano, the shuffle, the touch and the classic. All these vertical extensions fail to confirm that extensions make a brand weaker. It does not if there is logic between the extensions. None gets confused between the promise of any of them. Branding does play an important part in any company or a products success but somewhere along the line its impossible to sell unless you have that perceived differentiation. Apples products are extremely well differentiated. The shuffle is only has 2 and 4 GB, whereas the nano has 8 and 16 GB, the touch is has 8, 32 and 64 GB and the classic is has 160 GB and even the price points never merge. The offering merges only at the 8 GB offering that Nano and Touch provide but they too are highly differentiated from each other.

People don’t think like marketers or say the ‘arm chair critics’. For them Apple is a company that makes beautiful devices let it be computers or music devices.

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Advertising in Cricket

So India is playing South Africa in the much anticipated buildup to the IPL season 3 and the ODI series is already on its way. I am not sure about the advertising rates for the series but I noticed a lot of brands, albeit, small brands use the platform. Mobile companies surprised me a lot. Let it be Lemon mobile, Aroma,  MicroMax or Onida mobile, the mobile wars are getting hotter with everyone wanting to get into ‘one mobile that does all’ platform. MicroMax mobile even positioning themselves as the facebook mobile. Well all the ads were forgettable, nothing catchy about them but why I wrote this post was to address a different concern.

Have you seen the ads that come on the sides while watching a match. The match screen becomes smaller and moves a little towards upper right corner to make space for those banner ads that occupy the space on the left and down part of the screen A lot of brands seem to be taking a liking to them but I seriously doubt their efficacy. They are not done well at all.

There might be some reasons why advertisers are preferring this form of advertising

–          Flexibility in the message, one can have two different ads for two different banners and can easily mix and match

–          Cheaper to produce

–          Probably lesser cost to advertise

–          Catch the audience when they are not surfing between channels

–          Create a continuous flow from off the field advertising to live telecast point

And I must agree they are pretty logical reasons to advertise. However, there seems to something amiss in a big way. after a half an hour gap, I couldn’t remember any of the ads that came, barring one. Most of them had very average workmanship that allowed them to be less legible. My biggest concern still is that until and unless you use this technique (the side banner advertising) during stats presentation or during a field change, people are not going to notice it. I am not even sure if they do notice during those times but I am assuming that there is more reason to notice them when the ball is not in action. It is almost pointless to advertise when people are literally in their T.V screens. The centre of attention is the 22 yard pitch and the batsman and the bowler opposite. Typically, when the screen shifts to upper right corner to make way for the ads, The movement of the eye, involuntarily, is also in a similar manner and you tend to miss almost three fourths of the communication. I just found the WildStone side banner impactful simple because it was on a black background with big words that were contrasting and said ‘Don’t smell like a woman, smell like a man’. Apart from that, rest all were more or less insignificant and a waste of marketing spend.

So here are some suggestions if you want to take those spots:

–          Make it contrasting, don’t choose colors that blend in easily with one another

–          Do not have too many words

–          Keep your brand name at the bottom right corner, it is easier for the flow of the eye

–          Let the pictures be on the left and the words below towards the right (more or less what Ogilvy suggested for print ads)

–          Have it written in either English (preferred) or Hindi, don’t have an intercourse of hindi and English or a Hindi word written in English. Defeats the purpose.

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R.O.I of Advertising

Watch the videos, First!

Hope you enjoyed the series of war of the sexes in advertising.

First of all, there are three things by which you can judge an ad. Relevance, Originality and Impact (forgot the advertising agency that devised this concept). All three are self explanatory as in, the relevance the ad has in your life, the originality of the concept and does it have an impact on the viewer.

Its not necessary that the ad should have all three components. It is not a watertight compartment. If you see the ZooZoo ads, they were high on originality and to some extent in impact but not a high scorer in relevance.

There were 3 things that worked for Vodafone that time

  1. ZooZoo’s became a brand in itself and hence creating a good amount of recall in the prospects mind
  2. Shoddy advertising by Airtel which faced creative bankruptcy at that point of time. The series of boringly romantic moments between Madhavan- Vidya Balan that went on like an over stretched rubberband. Snap!
  3. Vodafone did not allow the zoozoos to slip from their peak by changing their ads frequently yo as much as 27 during a month and a half

All these reasons kept apart, I honestly doubt, if that made a person get a Vodafone connection. Recall, fine. But in the end did it turn it into a sale? Doubtful. They had the originality, the impact but where was the relevance? And to me until and unless your advertisement does not sell the product, directly or indirectly, it has failed in its purpose.

Hence I come to my point that, relevance is the most crucial factor in an advertisement. There are  5 reasons why I say so

  1. You connect with your audience that second itself
  2. If you notice, ads that are relevant would always cost much lesser than ads high on originality and impact. You dont have to hire a Tiger Woods who goes around crashing his Escalade around the trees
  3. Relevant ads follow the K.I.S.S formula of “Keeping It Simple Stupid!”
  4. The fact that, it is much easier to have consistency in your communication, if your advertisement is relevant, one can catch on to the same set of themes. For eg: The Dodge  Charger theme of Oppresses men.
  5. Ads that are relevant don’t exactly need any brand endorser too because relevant ads will be around you and me and in simple insights that light up your mind making you think, ‘How true?’

Have a look at the Google SuperBowl 2010 ad:

How relevant was it? I would say, extremely relevant. We all Google like that, don’t we? Although, it is debatable if Google actually had to spoon out $5 million for the spot in Superbowl. And just imagine the cost it would have incurred to make such an ad. On the other hand, take the new ad for Yahoo’s ‘Its You’ campaign, they dished out more money and the results are not that certain, neither is the campaign worth remembering.

Well, you can always argue stating the fact that there are so many ads that are not relevant but still very memorable. For eg: The famous Honda accord ad. But.. the beauty of being relevant is that it allows you to carry forward a conversation with the other end and in todays tech enabled marketing environment every brand looks forward to indulge with the audience and try creating a conversation. An ad might be highly original and impactful and you might say a ‘Wow’ but if it stops there, an opportunity is lost.

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Super Bowl XLIV Bonanza

Super Bowl 2010

Another Super bowl concluded with the New Orleans Saints defeating the Indianapolis Colts’, 31 to 17. And we saw almost 60 ads aired by different corporations to vie for 106 million people who saw the bout on T.V and hence becoming the worlds most watched programme ever.

This years Super Bowl too saw Humor as a common strategy to gain the viewer attention.

U.S.A Todays Ad Meter ranked the first three ads in the following manner

  1. Snickers
  2. Doritos
  3. Bud Light

We need to take into concern that these ratings are derived out of an instant rating system from a focus group. USA TODAY’s Ad Meter tracks the second-by-second responses of a panel of viewers to ads during the Super Bowl and ranks them from best to worst. Hence, it might be too shortsighted to hail an ad as the best of the Super Bowl.

Snickers ad was neither funny nor serious but somehow people could connect to their message of ‘You’re not you, When you are Hungry’. Plus, the element of unpredictability made it a good ad. Although, I wouldn’t call it as the best ad.

Doritos ran four spots this year, which were all placed in the top 20. The peoples favorite was the anti-bark collar ad. It was funny but I dont think it was better than the Samurai ad. It certainly did make Joshua Svoboda be an envy to investment bankers! He created the ad for a mere $300 and is entitled to win $600000 from Doritos for being the second best rated ad this year.

Bud Light as usual was quirky and funny and memorable. Witty lines and an amusing storyboard made sure that people noted it and were involved in it. I even liked the ‘Not light, not heavy‘ campaign that they ran. But again it could have been better for a beer that did not have ‘Light’ mentioned in its name. You can not have ‘Light’ mentioned in your brand and communicate that the beer is neither Light nor strong, it is Bud Light.

I liked the Hyundai (Also the biggest advertiser for this years Super Bowl) paint ad as well but after the recent recalls in the car industry from the Japanese car makers, the South Korean car maker would have had to suffer. However, like the last super bowl ads Hyundai was smart and short and even attacked the competitors, in this case, the Mercedes CLS550, to showcase their product as superior.

A special mention for Google that flirted with TV advertising with a beautiful ad (the best ad according to me). The ad was powerful enough to evoke an emotion on the faces of the viewer and hence, undoubtedly, distinct. Something, that we could all relate.

Go Daddy slipped down the popularity, probably due to a repeated theme line. However, I feel it created enough memorability and reinforcement. Especially, with its imagery continuing on sexy and affordable to all. Women as usual were a major part in all the ads.

Coca cola played its sleep walker ad. It was visually nice but not exactly a memorable one. It somehow did not gel with the ‘Open Happiness’ positioning.

Then there was Cars.com advertisement that again started off brilliantly introducing Timothy Richman but somehow you just wished there was some more to it. An average ad. It did not have humor nor was too serious and fell in the same genre of the Coca Cola ad. A little more of work and it could have been a above average ad.

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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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