Archive for the Advertising Category

Carp

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , on July 2, 2008 by manuscrypts

I usually don’t pay much attention to car and bike ads, primarily because I am not their target audience, at least for now, and from a brand pov because, they will either show me ads, attitude or stunts (though i liked the most recent Pulsar ad, the music mostly 😉 ) I really can’t blame them, they are dead if they do, and killed if they don’t.

But I recently caught the Mahindra Logan ad because I thought Kunal Kapoor wore the same clothes (in one shot) he did in the Indian Terrain print ads. :p So i watched to make sure, though I haven’t figured it out yet. And I wasn’t paying attention to the ad content, but I watched it again thanks to a very thought provoking comment on another ad from the same category (cars). That was the Tata Indigo CS ad. I had caught that earlier thanks to its manic frequency and some nice music. We’ll talk about the comment in a while.

Kunal Kapoor, in the Logan ad, wonders and questions the same rat race we are all participating in, our fear that keeps us from thinking differently, says how style can’t be achieved by showing off, and how one should think different from the herd. Mahindra Logan is more than ‘dikhava’ and apparently ‘the answer is here’. (Er, answer to what? the only question i heard was ‘why?’ ) :p  That would come under the attitude + style category, but quite a ‘straight’ take.

The Indigo ad was one that a lot of working pros could identify with. It shows an employess whose boss doesn’t miss a single chance to bully him – whether its opening his cabin’s shades just as the employee is about to take a break or showing off a better pen, or a tea set, or coming to his cubicle when he’s about to call his girlfriend/wife or any of the little things, that the ad uses to tell a real and believable story. The twist is in the parking lot, where the employee takes out his absolutely different car from among the regular cars around, while his boss is caught admiring the car, and then burning with envy while he drives off. The punch line- ‘at the end of the day, style does matter’. A ‘style’ ad that is treated with humour. The punch line for me came from the wife, who pointed out that while the employee can drive home in that cool car, the next morning after he drives to work, he’ll still have to work under the same boss, and take the same crap.

Now, i’m not sure if many people would think that way, but if they did, it would be very sorry for the brand, because would consumers want to be associated with the kind of servile attitude that the employee projects during most of the ad, and then relies on his car to go one up on his boss? Especially if the target audience is a no-nonsense generation that has confidence in its own abilities?

For me, the lesson was that no humour ad can be consumer-proof. There’ll always be a smart alec around who will twist your communication 😐

until next time, with consumers like these, who needs competitors?

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Social Ambassadors

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Internet with tags , , , , on June 30, 2008 by manuscrypts

Yes, it is the age of conversation, but in India it is also the age of brand ambassadors. And not just the average Joe Ambassador, but ones who blog. I, for one, subscribe to Big B’s blog, because, from his posts, i think he is a natural. And even if this is true, he’s doing justice to the job.

Anyway, after blogging for a while, it was quite understandable that with his hectic schedule, Big Adda should make his life easier by giving him a mo blog. And now he’s having a blast with microblogging @160 characters. Updating multiple times a day and speaking his mind.

The entire activity set me thinking. So, what happens when the transparency of social media meets brand ambassadors?  How would, for example, the Big B (as brand ambassador) react, if God forbid, a pesticide (Pepsi) or a worm (Cadburys) issue erupted again? What role would he play? Blogger or Brand Ambassador or a boring diplomat? Assuming that he uses the products he endorses (okay, stop laughing!!) would he sometimes play the dissatisfied customer?

I got a glimpse of perhaps what lies in store, thanks to this entry of his. A tale that most bloggers would be familiar with. Sit and write an entire blog post and the server conks out without saving!! In this case, he was blogging on Big Adda. Bad publicity, I would think. Thankfully, someone there was smart enough, and pretty soon we had another entry, this time thanking a Big Adda official. Wonder if they’d do that for mere mortals though 😉

But back to the point, in an era of instant communication and celebrity bloggers, would brand ambassadors  now have revised contractual obligations that draw a clear line on transparency? One that would bring brands back to the familiar comfortable opaque territory that they have been operating in? Or will the celebrity be true to the spirit of blogging? (read the poetry – header on Big B’s blog) 🙂

until next time, brand bloggers 🙂

Opacity

Posted in Advertising, Brand with tags , , , , on June 25, 2008 by manuscrypts

Read two interesting posts, seemingly not very connected, but actually so. The first one was here, (don’t miss the article it has linked to either) and it talks about brands including an RTI clause in their charter, and anyone from a stakeholder (thats including consumers) to competition being able to demand answers from the company/brand and more importantly, being able to get it. I wonder though, how an RTI clause could co-exist with competitive advantage (brand strategies).

The second post talks about Friendfeed being a great tool for brands since it aggregates the contents from blogs, microblogging platforms, photo sharing services, social bookmarking sites and most possible social media. The snag though is that a Facebook or an Orkut are not accommodated there, yet, and the crowds frequenting the two kinds of sites are not exactly duplicated.

But yes, the connection between the two posts is transparency, and i feel that in india, we have a long way to go before we reach that state. That’s because more than a certain set of processes, we are talking about a philosophy here. In the first digital (mini) wave and its aftermath, when blogs became a corporate mantra, how many companies/brands took it seriously and how many have persisted? For a transparent system to get established and flourish, it needs to start with a strategy thats consumer centric, a strong rationale for why x strategy was chosen over y to achieve a certain strategic objective, the wisdom to understand that we are human, and plans can go wrong, inspite of having backup plans running from b to z, and most importantly the maturity to listen to feedback, accept responsibility and take criticism, but learn from it, fix it and get better.

When i hear people ask for changes in communication strategy based on very subjective likes and dislikes (sorry, its not always purely subjective, i have also heard ‘my wife likes pink’ for a campaign theme color), and when i get this response from them when asked about consumer preferences, and when, on hearing that I blog, I am asked to write good about the brands I work with, irrespective of reality, and when FYI (F*** You Instead – courtesy ‘One Night at the Call centre) responsibility strategies are given more importance than the brand’s performance, and many many more such occurrences, it gives me enough reason to believe that transparency is a long way off.

On an aside, I read here that apparently the blogosphere was abuzz today with the Vodafone ad for iPhone. Interestingly, I saw three tweets today basically asking why the Vodafone customer service couldn’t be manned by people who knew about iPhone. 🙂

until next time, mind set

Mo Brand Ambassadors

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by manuscrypts

I just realised that I totally forgot about Abhi B (or Shaky B, depending on your levels of dislike. Oh ok, I’ll stop. Can’t even be a bit nasty on my own blog 😐 ) in this post, where i talked about brand ambassadors for mobile handsets, among other things. But we’re not going to continue on the same lines of discussion here.

I happened to see the new TVC for MotoRokr E8. The ad is a continuation of the earlier Moto ad (watch the complete one here, I have only seen the edit, this is super cool) Any ad that starts off with a spoof of ‘Rendezvous with Simi’ has to be an attention grabber, and going forward this one doesn’t disappoint. The sudden blaring of ‘Appidi podu’ from the Tamil movie ‘Gilli’ was shocking, the first time, and funny, every time I watched. The film briefing with the ‘heroin’ and ‘desh ka jhanda’, followed by the regular awards ceremony, all are a spoof of life. The icing on the cake is ‘Come on Ab, shake a lil’, followed by the abso Tamil dance steps.

The other I have been seeing is the Aamir Khan ad for Monaco – Life Namkeen Banaiye, the one where he plays a prank on the serious team coach, by putting a sticker with scratches on a brand new vehicle. The humour wasn’t really good, in the same vein as this one earlier, but more importantly something else was lacking, and that brings us to the point of the post.

Usage of brand ambassadors. The first one worked for me primarily because the humour was good. More importantly, a lot of it was Abhishek laughing at his own expense, as well as the fraternity he is part of. And because its Abhishek, (and I’m a huge non fan), you end up having a good laugh, because while he’s always trying to be goofy, this time he succeeds. Great usage of a brand ambassador.

On the other hand, Aamir Khan. There was a time when this ad would have worked, exactly saat saal pehle, when ‘Dil Chahta Hain’ released. Aamir’s character was a riot, complete with exactly the Monaco kind of pranks, actually better. Maybe even later, after the release of RDB. But post the SRK-dog fiasco, and the constant baiting of co-stars including Salman, and the yet to be launched Harman Baweja, let’s just say the Aamir brand of humour (in case it exists) isn’t exactly popular.

I doubt if stars are taken only for the visibility. Usually there is also a dna fit with the brand or at least a characteristic of the star that the brand would like to exploit. If that is indeed true, then Monaco’s choice is a bit too salty.

Incidentally, what did you think of the new Reynolds ad, the one where they use Sachin’s one day and test avtaar colors to show the different pen characteristics? A bit labored, but a smart idea nevertheless, i thought.

until next time, mo rockr, mo na ko

Ad-vanced Processing

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , on June 20, 2008 by manuscrypts

No, don’t go away, this is not a tech post.  And stop sniggering, one day I will write a tech post.  Hell, if Laloo can blog…There’s been a spate of celebrity blogs recently – started perhaps with Aamir Khan, then Big B, Salman Khan and a couple of days back, Karan Johar. The fad, I think will soon run out of steam.

But there’s a very interesting twist I saw to the celebrity-in-the-internet space today, and felt it was very well weaved into a brand’s strategy. The brand is a processor – AMD, and it has chosen Viswananthan Anand as its brand ambassador. On a broad level, the processor-chess-intelligence connection is itself a good one. The TVC idea is a neat analogy, showing Anand try his hand at cricket, failing, and then saying that in a cricket crazy nation, he chose to pursue chess because he was good at it. From an analogy point, cricket is Intel, and the message is that one should choose a processor according to one’s requirements, and not because everyone else follows a trend.

Coming back, a site has been launched – askvishy.com. As the name suggests, the site gets Anand to clear perceptions about computers, and also offers help in choosing computers according to requirements.There’s also some kind of contest there, but didn’t participate because they asked for the address in stage 1 itself.

In essence, a well thought out campaign, that uses the brand ambassador well, but only a first step towards what should be a prolonged strike at the far-and-ahead market leader. Intel can’t afford to stay inside anymore.

until next time, AMD is no more wishy washy

Driven

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , on June 16, 2008 by manuscrypts

Its been a while since 1983. 25 years, and as the car maker which transformed the Indian automobile scene with their very first car in that year, its reason enough to celebrate. And the new TVC does justice to that. From the now almost extinct original Maruti 800, which was a bestseller till 2004, to the Swift, the car with the highest sales figures in 2006, its been a long road, with Omni, Maruti 1000, Zen, Baleno, Alto, Esteem, Gypsiy, SX4, Versa, Vitara and a divestment all packed in between.

While i partially agree with this – the ‘local’ all encompassing big brand concept that has been used by many other brands succesfully has been used here too, I think the timing could not have been better. With Chevrolet, Ford, Skoda, Toyota, Honda, Renault etc and the other desi Tata, coming out with models and talking about everything from fuel efficiency to attitude, it was time to hit India with something that rarely fails – an emotion packed family drama which would trigger bouts of nostalgia.

And it does well, with some excellent camerawork that takes you from the modern jet setting India, to a typical, traditional Kerala temple procession scene, complete with elephants, to the timeless ‘papa impatiently waiting at the gate for the daughter who’s late’ and an armed forces mountain terrain scenario, from the usage as the proxy school van to a hitchhiker asking for a lift to reach home in time for Diwali, all with the different brands that have got it a 6.5 million customer base; a really hummable theme music, that I hope they will retain for some time, and a powerful line ‘India comes home in a Maruti Suzuki’.

In essence, a stance that befits a market leader of ethnic origin with the best distribution and service chain in the country, which has consistently worked on its products and has decided to use a communication that took me back to some wonderful times and trips in a Maruti 800, one that I’m sure would have the same effect on millions of Indians, and who in their next car purchase decision, are sure to remember an old companion.

until next time, a Capital idea

First Life

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Internet with tags , on June 12, 2008 by manuscrypts

MMOGs have always fascinated me, but I have never managed to get hooked on to Second Life. And I’m yet to read Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash, though its been on my shelf for sometime now. But yes, I insist that I am interested nevertheless and still play a browser game set in the middle ages. 🙂

So, when Wipro became the first Indian brand (or is it VR1? ) to get into Second Life, to me, it was a kind of defining moment. But then, Wipro, to me is a very tech organisation and less connected to a normal consumer inspite of the bulbs and oils. So i wasnt surprised with a “Offshore Development Center (ODC) model campus with facilities like Client engagement center, Learning Center, 3 floor ODC setup with cubicles….Admin, Data center and Library.” presenceon the virtual world. But it was also mentioned that resumes could also be submitted at the virtual campus, wonder what stage that is in.

And a few days back, Amul also decided to get a life.. a second life. The popularity of Amul’s hoardings is legendary, which is why it was surprising when Amul’s presence was stated to be “…a simulation of its production and distribution facility.” But thankfully, there also seem to be plans for having ice cream parlours which, other than the products, would also feature communication.

But honestly, I’m still not convinced. Amul is a consumer brand- the taste of India. Also, its no secret that the ‘utterly butterly’ babe on the hoardings played an integral part in building the brand. Isn’t it logical to carry the two components into a virtual platform? Billboards on Second Life showcasing the unique Amul perspective on issues. Isnt it perfectly placed to be a sort of spokesperson for India on global issues? For example, when Bush makes his trademark absurdities (like how India’s prosperity led to a global food shortage) Amul can be the champion of India’s cause, with a trademark oneliner. While I understand that the Bush channel is soon to be closed, and there need not be an Indian perspective on everything, the perspective can be on anything – sports, movies, politics. All of this and more interest the Indian audience. By doing this, Amul becomes the ‘Voice of India’ (not the show, though that can also be done virtually..after all the world does go gaga over Eendian music 😀 ) and is able to showcase itself as a vibrant brand.

Ah well, for the second life to be good, there should be clarity on the first life. Most brands are yet to reach there. I, for one, would love to have Amul play a much larger role on Second Life, not strictly related to its product range, but more as a brand, with an utterly butterly babe avtar to boot. Whatcha think?

Meanwhile, this one’s a must read, especially for those of us who are hooked on to 2.0

until next time, life’s like that?