Archive for Aamir Khan

Leaps of faith

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , , , on August 11, 2008 by manuscrypts

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 😉

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Tata Shy?

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Social networking with tags , , , , , , , on July 16, 2008 by manuscrypts

I saw an ad for Tata Sky yesterday for one of their in house channels – Active Darshan. That, coupled with the announcement of Aamir Khan being made brand ambassador for the brand would have made for a nice plain brand rant post, but try as i might, I have not been able to get hold of that particular ad.We will come back to that. Meanwhile, Aamir is not the first person to star in Tata Sky ads. Kirron Kher, Paresh Rawal, and even Hrtithik Roshan have appeared earlier. They have also used regional actors.

This pits Aamir squarely against SRK, in addition to the competition in handset manufacturers (Nokia vs Samsung), watches (Tag Heuer vs Titan), car manufacturers (Hyundai vs Toyota) and even biscuits (Monaco vs Sunfeast). Dishum karo 🙂 Wonder when Reliance launches its DTH, Big B will be made the brand ambassador.

Now, back to the ad, I wonder why brands still don’t make the efforts to share their ads online. There is no one single source where you can be at least 75% sure to catch the ad. Afaqs relies on ibanklive, which I am yet to explore thoroughly. I have also tried the new entrant – Buzzar.tv, and the usually dependable YouTube, where at least a consumer usually loads the TVC within a couple of days of launch, but with no luck.

Why are brands so shy? Is it due to lack of knowledge or interest; or a deliberate policy of not sharing. Before you laugh off the last one, it ties in well with the lack of transparency i keep ranting about. I personally feel that ads are perhaps a very good Step 1 to encourage conversation about brands. The amount of facebook status messages I have seen of Sanjooo (of Max New York Insurance fame) and the kind of stories I have read (look at this one for example) means that there is an audience ready to even generate buzz. Of course, it may not always be positive. Is that what’s scaring away brands? But isn’t it better to experiment a little, learn the art and make some good use of it, before it gets relegated to a commodity status? The other point is that all this will happen with or without their assent anyway.

I’d  go on and say Tata Sky shouldn’t stop with just their brand. They can actually build entire communities around serials. Maybe it can even be a tool to lure housewives on to the net. Imagine the amount of gossiping that could be done online, complete with links to trivia and news on serials. It can even be in hindi. Hell, there is already a family tree website (via Indianweb2) in India, so why not an entire social network in Hindi? And its not just housewives, lets assume I am a fan of Doctor Who on BBC Entertainment, there’s a big chance ( i am basing it on some personal experiences) that I am also a fan of Battlestar Galactica. When audiences get connected, they help each other explore new worlds. The channels are happy, because they get new audiences, and they wouldn’t mind doing some advertising here. So, isn’t it a win win model for both the consumer and business audiences? Oh, okay, laugh, but one day when you have a K Kliq that’s stronger than all the ‘I hate Balaji’ groups on Orkut, you’ll know that i was right. :p

The other vertical social network I see that has great potential is an entity like agencyfaqs. It is practically begging for more conversation. I’m sure they understand that conversations cannot be simulated by just having a comments box, though they are much better than exchange4media. It would make a great hangout for planners, creative guys, art guys, brand managers, media owners etc to discuss brands, ads, strategy and so on. But i guess, when agencies and channels are trying to be better and bigger rats, i am doing too much of ‘wish karo’ 😉

until next time, don’t be santhusht!!!

More to watch

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , , , on July 8, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’m quite an Aamir hater these days, after his unpalatable sense of humour, and that has prompted me in the past to be a savage critic of most ads that he does. Of course, I really feel that he has not been used correctly, but I have always wondered if I was being objective enough.

So when I read that Titan has brought out a new TVC as part of its rebranding exercise, I thought it would be an interesting exercise. Do have a look at the TVC here. While the line – Be More is definitely new (though it reminds me of a Nokia commercial) I’d have to differ with the afaqs PR release if it means to say this is a brand new positioning. It is only carrying forward the old ‘Whats your style’ positioning. In fact I dare say that this path starts about here (it might be before, but at least this) and is well on its way towards the latest TVC by this.

Having said that, the ad has been executed very well. It exhorts you to rise above your daily mundane existence and experiment with life – get down at an unknown station, take tickets to a random town, learn from your own mistakes.. And thankfully even the humour looks good on Aamir- not to resemble your passport photo for more than three months, checking out a girl while meditating and saying ‘Explore’. The ad ends with a reminder of how, during childhood we had so many dreams, and asks you to ‘be born, everyday’

And so, while the ad theme does remind me of the Tata Safari ad – Reclaim Your Life ad, the usage of Aamir, for once, is great. For a while now Aamir has been reinventing himself regularly, whether it is in terms of the variety of characters he plays, or the style statement of each – Dil Chahta Hai, The Rising, Fanaa, Taare Zameen Par and the latest Ghajini,  each character is unique, and most often, radically different from the earlier avatar. This quality of Aamir fits this ad perfectly, only I feel that some brands have already thought of this before. Remember the Coke series of ads, this Toyota ad featuring Aamir and this one too, which says ‘What role are you playing today?’?

So what? So nothing, just saying that Titan really hasn’t done anything radical, and if repositioning is the idea, maybe its important to position the brand ambassador differently.

until next time, tighten

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

Unsung Heroes?

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , on May 19, 2008 by manuscrypts

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity in the nascent Indian ‘celebrity blogger’ space. Most of the action has been around Aamir Khan, and his newly discovered penchant for ruffling feathers. Whether its the name of his dog or his lyrics which was supposedly making fun of Salmaan, his blog is almost a tabloid these days.

I saw some branding at a mall last weekend that reminded me of AK being the brand ambassador for Samsung. The brand says, ” “The SAMSUNG brand stands for qualities of innovation, change, discovery, self-expression and excellence in performance. And these very same qualities are epitomised by Aamir Khan, whose quality and depth of work as well as versatility as an actor, have made him a much loved and respected actor in India today. We are indeed very proud and privileged to have him as our Brand Ambassador”.

All that is fine, but after seeing this report (via this) and the claim that Amitabh has a 100 cr deal that includes sniping at co-stars, I’ve begun to wonder about this Samsung- AK deal. Lets twist the brand fit – AK is a niche persona thats supposed to have an element of class. Look at the brands he has worked with – Toyota, Titan. Coke is the only mass brand. AK’s brand persona is (like most celebrities) derived from the kind of work they do. So, in that sense, would it be fair to ask Samsung whether they plan to release only one product a year, and its chances of success would be 50-50. The only reason I am asking is that the creative i saw has AK saying ‘I am Samsung Mobile’

Given the low key profile that AK had in the past, with the media spike happening only around releases, Samsung, being a mass brand and playing in a visibility intense market that has the likes of Nokia and Samsung would’ve found it difficult to convince itself that AK’s regular media dose is sufficient. So, why not a deal that includes uncharacteristic swipes at colleagues, the kind that makes it to the front page of all newspapers, and keeps the brand ambassador in the news?

until next time, next is what?