Leaps of faith

The new Samsung TVC, starring Aamir Khan has been airing for sometime now, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it means. I’m okay with a brand aiming for the best, and looking out for cutting edge technology, but what’s with the tagline – ‘Next is what?’ Is that a question to me? Are you trying to keep me guessing?

When I see AK jump in the last scene of the TVC, it is, to me, a leap of faith, something which I might be willing to take when its Nokia we’re talking about. But, at this point in time, Samsung has yet to prove to me, its technical superiority, its aesthetic sense or any of the other parameters like value for money that I consider when I make a mobile purchase decision. What Samsung has successfully communicated to me, with this TVC, is that they themselves are not sure what’s going to happen next, and maybe I should wait sometime before I pick up a Samsung handset.

When a brand reaches the zenith in whatever category it is in, it is sometimes smart to ignore the #2 totally, and start positioning itself to be beyond all the mundane new feature/market share/pricing strategy/tactic that it might have resorted to in the past. But, how smart is it when you’re a distant #3 in the market? It  makes me wonder if brands also should follow a tweaked version of Maslow’s hierarchy, find out where they figure (in the consumer’s mind) and design communication accordingly. Yes, i agree that brand and people occupy multiple levels at the same time, but at least there would be some method in the communication madness.

When I saw a ‘Next is the spirit of the Olympics’ ad, I couldn’t help but remember this wonderful article. I quote from it “Modern branding has evolved. From its roots creating detailed guidelines for enforcing corporate logos it has become a sophisticated effort to define the compelling and differentiated value that an organization or product offers its customers. And it aspires to create experiences of that value across all interactions. It goes beyond design, messaging, websites and advertising. It touches product development, recruiting, customer service, sales, and it drives and emanates from the very core of every business: culture. That’s where these campaigns miss the mark. They tell me who they are, but not why I should care. They provide an introduction, but can’t sustain the conversation. And I don’t have much attention for brands without substance.”

I’d have been less acerbic, if I’d seen at least a semblance of involving users in this entire positioning exercise. A developer’s community which takes feedback from users on what they want to see in the next samsung mobile model, updating consumers on what they are working on, building some interest around it, and so on. To be fair, they have done something, though the community link took me here. :|

Tell you what, here’s a free idea, go ahead and sponsor the second season of Bigg Boss. The last season, I always used to wonder, ‘next is what?’ !!!

Which takes me to another premise, I thought a slightly more interesting one. If brands were really gutsy, they would do some product placement in Bigg Boss. From paste, soaps and shampoo, washing soaps to Real Good chicken, tea and coffee brands, apparel brands, exercise equipment, Veneta Cucine kitchens,  every damn thing that we use in daily life could find its way there (of course keeping in mind the rules of the show, so no TV, mobile etc) Yes. MDH Masala too!! In fact, the contestants shouldn’t be told in advance what the brands are, so no rigging. Have competing brands also. Yummy!! What you get is a real chance of ‘celebrity’ endorsement. Imagine Rakhi Sawant saying ‘Tide makes washing so easy that I wish I’d more clothes’. Ok, cheesy, but you get the idea :)

But that requires absolute faith in the product, and having the maturity to accept criticism and ensure you never make the mistake again. We still have a long way to go before brands can handle reality television, or reality.

Meanwhile, next is WAT too, who’ve got an absolutely cool new design. Go check it out.

until next time, WordPress has a ‘next’ button too ;)

8 Responses to “Leaps of faith”

  1. Great post! Enjoyed reading it. The ad was a case of ‘look at me, what I great ad I have made!’ never mind the idea or lack of it. The quote on Modern Branding was apt (the link to Brand Culture did not work though).

  2. There’s beginning to emerge an entire Aamir school of ad-making – all sounding similar, preachy, unconvincing and boring beyond belief.

    To second your viewpoint on Bigg Boss, I always wondered why brands didn’t use the show more intelligently last season – all we saw was the contestants doing silly stuff like cleaning floors with toothbrushes, etc. In fact, the only brand that got mileage out of it was Tang, and without having to pay a naya paisa.

    I hope brands and marketers will do better this time.

  3. manuscrypts Says:

    bhat: thanks. but which makes me wonder if there’s a trend of ads being the end, rather than the means? and whether its a bad thing? meanwhile, i think the site is down, hope its back soon, its a great read, you must check it out..

    iq: now that you say it, i think i’d agree.. its perhaps like something i wrote a while earlier, i think, on titan.. it seems that brands are relying on similar facets of his personality, trying to focus only on it, and ending up looking similar.. and yes, totally agree on tang.. however i dont think brands have woken up to bigg boss’ potential yet.. they’ll be happy with ‘sponsored by’ this time too :|

  4. [...] View Full Content at manuscrypts [...]

  5. i disagree with blaiq when he says all aamir ads are boring. the titan ad about ‘reinvention’ is great stuff. i think the samsung ads fail because they’re too focussed on the product and forget the benefit. old stuff, but still just as relevant. in the hands of a good creative team, ‘next is what’ can go places. but then, samsung, or for that matter any of the korean, japanese companies, were never known for great advertising. what else can you expect from a ‘chaebol’. it is, after all, a committee of companies.

  6. Fantastic read, i must admit! The Samsung Beat450 was a far better one because i came to know what it is all about. If AK is Samsung mobile, why should i care? Does it attract me? May be next time when i go to a retial store, i will check out the Samsung shelf! i thought they should have showed the flip phone for a couple of more seconds atleast, at a glance, it looked sleek to me!
    Look at the Titan “Do More” campaign, its a fantastic continuation from where they were at a halt.
    And if Rakhi endorses Tide, i guess PnG may have to pay for years for the mistake! ;)

  7. manuscrypts Says:

    Avinash: ok, this is a bit tricky. I am quite ok with the Titan ad too (wrote about it here – http://brants.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/more-to-watch/), but I agree with Iq when i look at the cumulative effect of all the Aamir ads, and that includes Monaco too. Meanwhile, I think more than product, this is more unsubstantiated brand talk. I agree that in the hands of a good creative team, this could be treated better, though its a task. I read a post on how they had an ad yesterday saying ‘Next is Abhinav’ to which my response was that Abhinav has already happened!!!!

    Thanks Chethan :) I agree on the product benefit coming out in Beat, but i thought AK was in an asylum in that TVC. Okay, maybe I’m just an extreme AK hater :D . I was okay with the Titan ad too (read reply to Avinash above). And hey, Ms.Sawant would make a great brand ambassador..Hmmph, check out the amount of dirty linen she washes in public!!! :)

  8. I didn’t like the current crop of Aamir Titan ads – though I’ll readily concede that some of the earlier stuff was quite good.

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