Tag Archives: Advertising

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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Filed under Advertising, Mass media

Recession and Brand ambassadors

According to Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge “In a recession, consumers become value oriented… But a downturn is no time to stop spending on marketing.”

Recession is the time when one can gain on the competitors’ weakness more than any other phase and consumers are willing to switch and test new brands rather than sticking to one. If they feel that their brand doesn’t connect with them then this is the time that the risk of switching over is more. A consumer who sticks with you even in a recession is loyal.

A downturn is no time to stop spending on marketing. But neither is it to continue wasteful spending. In a downturn the consumer is more likely to buy your product rather than your brand. Therefore until and unless you communicate the value that your product gives rest all efforts would be wasted. One method of communicating the value is through brand ambassadors. Here the question is much beyond recession. Choosing a brand ambassador does not depend on recession or boom but reviewing your brand ambassador during recession keeps a brand updated and ready to face new challenges.

Pillsbury Doughboy
Pillsbury Doughboy

A brand ambassador is generally the companys face to the consumer. It can either be a person like Amitabh Bachchan for Cadburys or a character like Fido Dido of 7up.

A human ambassador is generally someone who is famous or well recognized. The company gets the advantage of instant recognition and recall and top of the mind awareness. The loyal sets of fans adopt products wholeheartedly given the purchasing power. A celebrity endorsement can be helpful for a brand to maintain attention to its brand and category. People would be more keen to watch a celebrity on screen. However if given a choice an organization should always restrain from it simply because most of the celebrity endorsements tend to follow the hockey stick effect – they rise for sometime to fall forever. A marketer or any businessman for that matter would like to control the risks as much as possible and everyone knows that a celebrity endorsement is often uncontrollable off the screen. Michael Phelps was videotaped smoking Marijuana, Kellogs for whom he was the ambassador pulled him instantly following public outcry and protests. The damage is reversible but expensive. Back home, Hansie Cronje endorsed Siyarams, soon to be hooked in a match fixing scandal. The cost and damages far outweigh the benefits, if things go wrong. Such incidents can be alarmingly damaging and a recession would just deepen the wounds.

Tweet bird
Tweet bird

On the other hand, a character is a reliable option. It is totally controllable and has no risk of being replicated. The incremental effect of a brand character on the consumers is also significant. The brand character can be extremely effective for smaller and medium sized companies who do not have cash resources to fund a celebrity, especially in a recession. Moreover a character can be molded over a period of time, especially, when you need to communicate a new position that marketers often take during a recession trying to undo the mistakes that they had previously accumulated. Hence Onida could easily change its devil character over the period of time to add more value into their communication, as they are targeting the conservative and cautious consumer. Hence Ronald Mcdonalds face remains synonymous in the minds of its young target audience who are being wooed unsuccessfully by Burger King and other outlets. Things can not be better if your consumer is loyal to you even during recessions because they want fun and nothing signifies it better than McDonalds Ronald McDonald, the ever smiling ambassador, recession or not. A brand character over a period of time can hence help you own a word in the mind of the consumer and enhance your positioning or maintain it. Hence, Ronald Mcdonald  relates to “fun”, the AMUL girl signifies a “healthy and happy child”.

Recessions are times when a company needs to thoroughly examine its brand associations. A check needs to be done to ensure that the association is a source of equity. However, thoughtless marketing has more often than not, wasted company’s resources on extravagant brand endorsements. It gets painful when the consumer realizes lack of synergy between him/her and the brand primarily due to its erroneous secondary associations. This dissatisfaction hurts the company the most during recession when the consumer has more choices to switch and there are competitor brands repositioning themselves to woo the undecided consumer.

mE? Really?
mE? Really?

More often than not Brand endorsements, especially, come at the expense of an idea. Everyone remembers when Zoozoos and the Pugs walked away with the honors while Airtel was busy spending crores on Sharukh, Madhavan etc. An idea overpowered the blandness of celebrities. Brand ambassadors mean that you are forced to weave your brand around the celebrity than the other way around. This results in lack of believability and consumers fail to associate themselves with the brand. How believable is it when Deepika Padukone says that she uses orbit white? Whereas, HappyDent had a brilliant idea that needed none to endorse. Does Aishwarya Rai use Lux? Then why does she say “Dus rupaye mein Lux”? The consumer believes that the benefit they promise should also be false. Lifebuoy on the other hand is a brand that communicates the idea of health, without being dependent on the power of brand ambassadors and owns the word “Health” in the minds of its customers. The crucial ingredient  in the success of any brand is its claim to authencity and poor brand ambassadors destroy it.

How brands perform in a recession is a sum of everything that the brand has done in the past to force the consumer behave the way he/she does in a recession. If it is unfavorable, then there is no better time to change than recession. Repositioning during a downturn is lesser obvious than when things are going on fine. Repositioning during recession communicates that the brand is willing to change according to new conditions.

Now suppose a management is adamant on the use of brand ambassadors to revive a brand, how do you enable it.

 The answer is going back to the basics of making a brand ambassador, or, for that matter, any brand association, believable and credible. If the consumer feels that the brand ambassador is the brand itself then there is nothing better than that and that will not be possible until and unless  there is exclusivity in your selection. The only brand that comes to my mind when I hear Vishwanathan Anand is NIIT. But for Sharukh Khan? Brands should hence not fall into the ‘Khan trap’ and should look for more economical sources of equity. Brands should awaken to the power of zero cost internal marketing assets like your customers, internal as well as external, who can represent your brand. Starbucks is what it is today not because of any ads, in fact they hardly

Starbucks  Barista - Got Milk?
Starbucks Barista – Got Milk?

advertise, but due to the service experience that the employees or the Starbucks “partners” help provide. These kinds of brand ambassadors are especially relevant to brands that are service oriented. Even the high end apparel brand Abercrombie and Fitch uses only its sales representatives as its brand ambassadors. Consumers are willing to pay extra for a good service where the employees represent the brand wholeheartedly and hence enhance the brand equity and create a win-win relation. Many product brands are now shrugging of the albatross around their necks of the brand ambassadors and using its consumers or a seemingly normal person as its brand ambassadors. We have seen Dove doing it and Maggi and KurKure do the same with the faces of consumers on its packages. Leveraging on your free marketing assets results in greater efficiency of your communication and more credibility- critical during recessions. It bonds them into a relation that will see you through the recession without any ripples. Real or not, these are much more effective than a celebrity who is never going to eat KurKure or concoct his/her own version of maggi.

Zero Cost marketing asset leverage
Zero Cost marketing asset leverage

Hence, given a choice opt for better ideas more than secondary associations. Incase, you feel that you need a brand ambassador adopt a brand character. If you are still dissatisfied then opt for credible, exclusive as well as zero cost marketing assets like your consumers and employees to be your brand ambassadors. It will create a long term brand equity and better “hard-to-attack” points of differences that the consumers would like to vouch for even in a recession, even if it means a higher price.

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Filed under Advertising, Branding, Marketing

Advertising: An obscenely misunderstood concept

“I know I waste half the money I spend on advertising,” department store pioneer John Wanamaker said. “The problem is, I don’t know which half.”

James Ready

James Ready

Advertisements are a paid form of showcasing your brand whereas Publicity is a non paid form of visibility or awareness. Advertisements is supposed to presell a brand. However smart advertisers stir publicity. Take a cheap beer James Ready for example. What was their tagline while they were advertising on billboards? “Help keep James Ready a buck. SHARE OUR BILLBOARD.” And soon there were people posting their messages and sponsoring the billboard. One such message read “Hey Rick, I haven’t forgotten. LINDA.” It won a category in cannes and created tremendous amounts of publicity.

The importance of advertising is overrated in our times and rightly so! There are so many brands trying to outwit each other and one needs to be ahead on the awareness factor. Whats the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of chocolate? Probably, Cadburys. Hence I am more inclined to buy that without probably searching for other brands. Hence you need to be positioned in the mind of your customer. Always!

But is advertising absolutely mandatory for a brands success? Not exactly. Take the case of Godrej no 1 soap. It has now climbed to the third position in a Rs 7500 crore soap market behind heavyweights, Lifebuoy and Lux. And how much does it spend on advertising? Just about 1% of sales, whereas the trend is close to 13-15% in FMCG. Similarly, The body shop was a result of publicity, Walmart has one the most minimal percentage of its revenues spent on its advertisements, Starbucks again follows the same idea, In its first ten years, it spent just 10 million dollars on advertisement. Its sales are more than 2.6 billion dollars.

Brand managers forget that advertising never creates a brand. I have seen a lot of instances when the first thing people want to do when a new product is launched is create awareness, no issues till here, but how? They want to advertise and reach to millions. Not a bright strategy.

It is always publicity that creates a brand and nothing is stronger than word of mouth publicity. Advertising may be needed to maintain but never to create, especially if you are dealing with shoestring budgets and advertising is treated as expenditure rather than an investment.

Successful brands are those that you talk about among yourself and to others. Ask an example of a global brand and coca cola comes the pat reply in any management school. Say fast food and there are plethora of hands raised wanting to give an example of how McDonalds does everything right.

Axe call me

Axe call me

If advertising could help then Miller would have been one of the leading brands in beer. It spent close to 50 million dollars to launch its miller regular and no publicity. RESULT: No increase in sales and 50 million dollars down the drain. Now compare the 50 million spent versus 10 million by Starbucks!

There are lot of issues with advertising today that will be taker on in another post that reduces the efficacy. Clutter in televisions, convenience of alternate mediums, dearth of creativity etc are some factors contributing to its ineffectiveness. Marketers have to realise that on-the screen efforts need to be supported by off-screen backup too just like what Axe did it brilliantly with its ‘call me’ campaign.

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Filed under Advertising

Stuck in customs

Gone too far.Time for change.

Gone too far.Time for change.

Brands like Nirma and Liril might be doing reasonably well today but are they becoming victims of over-successful advertising? Over-successful advertising! Phew.

None of them  have come out of the shadow of their  iconic branding.

Liril finds it hard to move out of its waterfall and lemon freshness theme. The new nirma ads still present the nirma girl and the modern nirma jingle. Great! Isnt it?

While competitors are sweating out paying millions to advertisement agencies to do something creative, these guys still get the impact with their decade old advertisements.

Or wait. Is there a monkey on its back that refuses to jump off.

A great jingle does wonders. They provide distinctness to a brand that none else can compete with. A good one also results in complacency. Complacency accompanied with the fear of failure prevents any further change. Lets drag it as long as it is successful or atleast seems successful, think the brand managers. Merry it was in the  beginning . Jingles gave a chance to the brand to rise from obscurity to a force to be reckoned. But now the same brands are struggling to get themselves out of this sinking sand. The more they struggle the more they sink.

With buzzing competition, companies desperately feel the need to position themselves differently. Nirma’s new ad tries to do the same. The ad goes well until the old demons arise and we find out that even the packaging is still the same as 80’s.

Come out of shadows

Come out of shadows

Nirma loyalists might be happy that  Nirmas synonymity with a poor mans washing powder detergent might be over.  But do new consumers want to switchover? No. Why would I change from an HUL or a P&G product to a detergent that still looks ages behind.

The ads might be great (I haven’t seen them though) but what admakers have to realize is that a nirma customer does not want to know what your storyboard intended to target. Read this rather amusing comment on the new rebranding effort by Taproot India’s co-founder Santosh Padhi.

“It’s such a simple thing: Nirma has always conjured up the image of washing clothes in a bucketful of water. So, an underwater ballet was our answer to owning the ‘water’ premise. We wanted to take this fresh approach to the brand as a celebration of its lineage.”

One reader commented “wow. this is the biggest scam ive ever seen. kudos to the servicing guy who sold this really expensive, well executed no doubt, but throughly clueless ad to the client. and whatever does owning the ‘water premise’ mean? im stumped mr padhi.”

Many problems

Many problems

Rebranding brings along many predicaments: brand image dilution, loss of loyal customers, lack of adopters, complete failure, financial burden of re-branding, re-positioning and many more. But when they attempt  the re-positioning by mere ads and not changing product aspects it results in a losing proposition.

So the sensible approach would be to take the offensive i.e rebranding, in a phased manner. Tweak your old jingles continuously and then replace them with a new one or a new type of messaging altogether, but slowly and complement the changes in the product too. It shouldn’t just be old wine in a new bottle.


Filed under Branding

Which ZooZoo ad did you like the most?



ZooZoo fever still has not abated, I believe. Why? Because the website results show that the maximum searched word to find my posts had something related to ZooZoo. Why not put another interesting post, I thought. I think, therefore I am…a fool!

So, 29 ads hit the screen during the IPL. Not sure if when we will see ZooZoo next. My sympathies especially to girls who find them “sooo cutteeee!!! ” and the ZooZoo fans on FaceBook and just about everyone who is in love with ZooZoo.

I thought why not rate them? Not a bad idea. But 29 ads! Hence I thought of a small mechanism that just makes my life easier. It is no great concept, unfact it is pathetic. But it has helped me piece this post up and it might help you also if you wish.

The steps are as follows

ZooZoo emoticons..After all they are humans too!

ZooZoo emoticons..After all they are humans too!

Following link gives you the 29 Vodafone ZooZoo ads released and their titles according to the vodafone website. or go to afaqs if you dont want to download the ZooZoo ads.

Step No 1 – Copy the 29 titles on MS- Word or write it if you feel like. No issues.

Step No 2 – Mark the ad as Y,N or D. And DO NOT WATCH THE ADS NOW! Its OK if we dont know a couple of them. Lets be honest once in a while. Now, these are the,..uhh.. whatever you call them. Lets say codes!

Y – Yes, I remember the ad. Yeah man! I am good at remembering atleast this.

N- No, I dont remember the ad! How could I forget it! How uncool!

D- Dont exactly remember the ad. I have it in the tip of my brain but cant figure it out. Confused!

Step No 3 – You will have three categories of Y,D and N.

Group them. I guess you did not get it! Dimwit! Group all they Y’s, D’s and N’s together. Remember Birds of a feather flock together.

Step No 4 – This is where you have to wreck your brains more than you thought while getting a valentines gift.

Each ad in the Y category can get 3,4 or 5 points, based on how much you liked the idea.

Each ad in the D category can get only 1 or 2 points based on your re-checking the ad and the preference for them.

Each ad in the N category(Sorry people, hold your breath together!) gets no point! i.e. Zero. C’mon if you

And the winner Vodafone ZooZoo is..

And the winner Vodafone ZooZoo is..

dont remember then it doesnt deserve to get any marks. This might be the ony chance you will ever get to play a teacher and oppress rather than feeling oppressed. What goes around comes around.

Got the hang of it?

Note : A little change of rule, let a little bias creep in. You can rate one of the ads in Y or D category with the maximum i.e 5 marks or the minimum i.e 1 marks ( What? You want to give zero? C’mon, have some mercy on those cute empty headed egg face creatures.)

Step No 5 –  Now you have rated all the ads and now categorize them again! Hold on dont lose patience now! Put all the 5’s together, 4’s ,3’s and so on.

Step No 6 – Now what? Now you are the King… or the queen too (scared of feminists these days!). Time to tell me to screw off and say that you know enough to carry on. Way to go!

Rank the similar marks ones according to what you prefer or enjoyed the most. Hey no motherly love here! No giving of same rank to two. And in the end tada! You have your list of 29 ads and their rankings. Feel good about yourself. Man! You are clever. Keep visiting.

Here are my verdict (Verdict!!)on the Vodafone ZooZoo ads.

  1. Stock Alerts                                                 (Y, 5)
  2. International Roaming                               (Y, 5)
  3. Fashion Tips                                                (Y, 5)
  4. Beauty Alerts                                              (Y, 5)
  5. Exam Results                                              (Y, 4)
  6. Group Sms                                                  (Y, 4)
  7. Star Of The Match 2                                  (Y, 4)
  8. Bhakti Sagar                                                (Y, 4)
  9. Call Divert                                                   (Y, 4)
  10. Facebook                                                     (Y, 4)
  11. Background Music                                     (Y, 3)
  12. Magic Box 2                                                (Y, 3)
  13. Busy Message                                             (Y, 3)
  14. Cricket Commentary                                (Y, 3)
  15. Musical Greetings                                      (Y, 3)
  16. Torch Magic Box                                        (Y, 3)
  17. Chotta Credit                                              (Y, 3)
  18. Vodaofne Phone Backup                           (Y, 3)
  19. Star Of The Match                                    (D, 2)
  20. Cricket Alerts                                            (D, 2)
  21. Magic Box                                                   (D, 2)
  22. Love Guru                                                  (D, 2)
  23. Call Filter                                                    (D, 2)
  24. Voice Sms                                                   (N, O)
  25. Maps                                                            (N, O)
  26. Recharge Online                                        (N, O)
  27. Ringtones                                                     (N, O)
  28. Email On Vodafone                                   (N, O)
  29. Games                                                          (Y, 1)

Let me know yours too. Atleast the top 5! or the bottom 5! I am not a snob! Suggestions to refine the rankings are welcome!


Filed under Advertising