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Any Ideas?

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

Reading this post today, on how Tata Sky and Dish TV have both partnered with matrimony portals -Bharat Matrimony and respectively, in the space of a single day, I realised how fickle competitive advantages really are. It also reminded me of a much debated post on Scobleizer yesterday on tech blogging, and where it’s at. While the initial premise of that post was how focus was now more on the biz part of it than the mutual discovery of stuff, it then moved on to fleeting attention spans and the quest for the latest shiny object on the www. And how every tech blog out there is trying to beat each other in reaching the latest news first.

Which essentially makes news the commodity and ways to reach the audience first the competitive advantage. Pretty much the same game as what our TV channels are upto these days. When I look around, i see commodities happening all around, to all sorts of product categories, and brands ending up aping each other so that they don’t miss the bus. So whether its reality shows or strange four letter acronyms for shampoos or features in mobile phones, remove the brand name and you won’t notice the difference. And to me, thats a problem, because in a commodity led culture, quantity led factors like volume, reach etc take precedence, mediocrity tends to become the norm, and no one thinks that they should figure out a better way to reach the consumer than the bus.

And that led me to think of ways and means of how brands can fight it. While I’ve been thinking of clear positioning as an obvious starter, I also realised there were some brands that not only created the big idea and ended up making a verb out of it – xerox, google, to name a couple, they were so radical either in thought or execution that they never actually positioned themselves. And before I go further, I apologise for taking you on this stream of consciousness trip. Now, not all brands can be lucky enough to get a not-easily-copiable idea or a drastic new way of executing it.

And that brought me to the potential of a brand which has taken a great first step in leveraging its brand name very well in the absolutely commoditised market of telecom- Idea. I’m sure you must’ve seen the TVC by now. While the campaign is indeed good, what I’m more impressed with is that now that they can actually focus on the innovative uses of utilising a mobile for the betterment of the individual and the society he lives in, and do a lifetime’s supply of campaigns, built around different ‘Idea’s. It offers a way to create a positioning that’s beyond communication. I think that this approach has the potential to build a superbrand. From a new media perspective, and considering that the mobile is almost ubiquitous now, think of the conversations that this could create, obviously around ideas.

That said, any ideas on how brands can beat commoditisation?

until next time, an idea and change


Posted in India, Internet with tags , , , , on June 17, 2008 by manuscrypts

For those in India who look forward to the internet taking a major stake in ad spends, this (via PluggdIn) cannot be music to your ears. While the internet spend has grown by over 90% in 2007, as far as absolutes go, its a mere 2% in the overall media spend. And with the total figures increasing for all media, its a case of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting much lesser than what they deserve. Ironically, The Times Group finds a place among the top spenders on the net.

In this report, mobile has been included under digital which has internet, search and mobile. I think its only a matter of time before it becomes a separate category altogether. Like i have written earlier, the mobile is poised to become the internet’s saviour in India. Which is one of the reasons why I’d consider this news very significant – Yahoo has announced a tie up with Idea and MTNL for mobile advertising as well as One search. The SMS search was launched late last year. And if we go by the interesting stuff that Yahoo has been doing globally, the space is bound to throw up some fun stuff considering that Yahoo can leverage all its content from mail to messenger to social media on this platform. (Remember the Reliance-Yahoo Messenger ad?)

Meanwhile, their friends at Google have not been idle either. Their SMS search was launched just before Yahoo. Their deal with Airtel was also well hyped and they have also launched a voice based local search earlier this year. (while on that, this one – Ubona is an interesting service in Bangalore)

Also, its not just the web giants who are fighting for the mobile advertising pie. One example would be Nokia’s acquisition of Enpocket, which already services a few clients in India. And in this context, one cannot afford to ignore the major happening in october (hopefully) and the impact it would have on internet access via mobile.

until next time, net losses


Posted in Brand, India, Internet with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2008 by manuscrypts

Yesterday’s post made me think about scale- Air Deccan certainly had that, but it did not help them much in the long run as far as profitability goes, as the UB group with its financial clout just gobbled it up.

I also read a post yesterday on the evolution of service, which talked about technology making mass distribution of services easier, and the importance of personalisation of services. There was another interesting post and a discussion here, which was triggered by the launch of Yulop’s WAP site.

Yulop is essentially a Bangalore service, and I was wondering how important scaling up (in terms of other cities) was to them, in the long term. if personalisation and attention to details is increasingly becoming an important trend in products and services, could it be that even with a limited geographical spread and a set of users who are extremely happy with what they’re getting, a product/service can manage to be financially viable? The answer would possibly be quite dependent on the critical mass that the product/service requires.

To put the question in a different way, is it possible for a brand to retain its personalisation/attention to detail capability as it scales up? What are the brands that come to your mind when it comes to attaining a perfect balance of customisation and scale?

Meanwhile, I saw a new service which apparently is being tested in San Fransisco –  City Sense. You really must have a look…. and come back 🙂 The potential of such a service is, as the cliche goes phenomenal. The service would, over a period of time, be able to suggest hangouts for you, basis your history. And quite obviously, this can be applied to activities other than nightlife. Imagine its mashup with say, a local social network (of course privacy issues will have to be worked out) and basis a segmentation of interests, using it to bring in more people interested in the same things, and it would just keep growing, quite like a twitter way of following and being followed. Only, in this case, because its segmented by interests, it would be a powerful tool for brand communication and timing and customisation of offerings.

until next, measuring with scales

The future of the Internet in India

Posted in Brand, India, Internet with tags , on April 8, 2008 by manuscrypts

is mobile. That’s a feeling I’ve been getting for quite sometime. Take a look at the figures

Internet – 46 million according to the iCube report 2007

Mobile – 250 miilion, according to TRAI

I read two articles today which pushed me in this direction. One was Indiagames’ new mobile distribution deal, and the other was TringMe opening up its API for developers. While the first supports the title of the post, the second might seem contra, but i feel the development will happen more on the mobile front.

From a consumer standpoint, i see a convenience factor. While I am more a web fan than a mobile one, the sheer fact that i always have my mobile with me as opposed to my broadband connection explains the accessibility parameter. Yes, the amount of stuff i can access, and the small screen are deterrents, but i feel its a matter of time before that gets resolved. And yes, Facebook’s on Blackberry too, so…. 🙂

From a brand point of view, while the net does give a filtered reach, the population which would use the net on mobile would be just as filtered. Most of the stuff being done on the net, from vanilla contests to rich applications, I’m sure can be adapted to the mobile platform. And what better platform for a brand than an always on consumer’s mobile? Unlike the net, I can push stuff onto the consumer (all those malls now proclaim ‘Bluetooth Zone’. I dont think they’re aiming at my laptop, maybe because i wasnt carrying it?)

A convergence will happen, and for now, unless broadband suddenly starts coming out of taps, in India, it sees like the offspring will look more like a mobile than a comp. Wht d u thnk?

until next time, mob justice?

Sab Kuch Mobile main?

Posted in India, Internet with tags , , , , on April 2, 2008 by manuscrypts

A few days back, it was announced that Airtel and Google had come together to launch Airtel Live.  Since I’ve not been there myself, I’ll take their word for it in terms of quality and the value for customers. Sometime back, the launch of  Google search on Airtel had helped a lot of TV channel sales guys meet their targets. 🙂

Around the same time, there was also the news of Yahoo and Reliance continuing their association with oneSearch being made available on Reliance. Yahoo Mail and Yahoo messenger were already available. Other services that users can avail of are financial news, Yahoo Answers, Flickr, Wikipedia etc. Its relevant to note that Yahoo also has deals going on with Idea, BSNL among others. At this stage, I’m guessing that this is only applicable to GPRS sets. Meanwhile, its also interesting to note that Reliance’s IPTV dreams will be powered by Microsoft’s platform, though with the dismal broadband penetration, this is a very long term game.

So, what we’re seeing is good old convergence, not just of content and platforms, but the providers also.  AOL, Rediff- anything happening yet? Reliance has been releasing its blog ads for sometime now. Its quite a neatly made ad, which keeps the message simple. And for the last couple of days, I’ve seen a new ad being aired (damn page refuses to load, though), one thats co branded- Reliance and Yahoo, and thats for messenger. Its again a very simple, neat ad, which clearly succeeds in communicating the message. There’s also some (though not very large) push being given by Yahoo online though a contest where you can win Moto handsets by logging on to YM through your Reliance mobile.

So Reliance will blog on its own and use Yahoo for services, for which Yahoo has already made a name for itself. Smart. I wonder where all this is going though? Moblogging has been on for quite sometime, without any of these guys being involved.  While this may help broaden the base of bloggers (thanks to the Reliance reach), is there a value add that I get by choosing Reliance blogs over say, blogger? The SMS, MMS also cost a bit, anyway. So, I wonder… Anyone care to educate?

until next time, a digital maze


Posted in Brand, India with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2008 by manuscrypts

In this great land where virginity does command a premium, Richard Branson does a tango with Tata Teleservices to offer Virgin mobile to the ever growing Indian mobile subscriber population. The mechanics of the partnership has been explained quite well here. For the lazybums, Virgin is globally a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) i.e. it buys spectrum time from operators and then sells it under its own brand name. Thats not allowed in India, so Branson said Tata. Its good for Tata Indicom because even with  (or should i say specially because of) Kajol aunty, the youth haven’t quite taken to Chindicom.

Virgin has launched with a dhamaka offer of paying 10p/minute to the customer for the incoming call, which can be used to avail of other Virgin services. Many publications here had a frontpage takeover with a red ‘Zara Hatke’. An offer, they say, will make the competition see red. Me thinks maybe those Eveready guys should get into OEM services for Virgin batteries. Gimme red? 😉

Now that we have the facts out of the way, lets get back to the scope of the blog. The weekend also saw a liberal splashing of the new TVC. Though it reminded me of an old forward, it was done extremely well, and was definitely ‘zara hatke’. It had spunk, a positioning that steered well clear of the regular mobile service provider brand ads and an execution that will easily grab eyeballs. Can’t seem to find the TVC anywhere, so lemme know in case you guys suddenly discover it on you tube or someplace else. They’ve also (in association with Channel V) shot the short movie Andaaz Apna Very Hatke. If you are a Neha Dhupia fan, you can read about her special appearance in it here. Branson and Dhupia almost got themselves a Richard Gere-Shilpa Shetty there.

While the Indian mobile market is already in a highly developed state in terms of at least number of players, i think there’s still room left for clever positioning and lots of ground to cover on services being offered. Virgin Mobile interests me because of two of its other partnerships in India

· a minority stake in Fever 104 FM (with HT in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai). At this point only Big has entities in these two hot but diverse entertainment platforms. This is tiny in comparison, but i think, relevant.

· the venture with Studio 18 and UTV Software in publishing, TV, gaming and film. The potential of the last two items on a mobile platform is phenomenal.

If they are able to evolve some kind of synergy on multiple platforms, we’d have some really fun Virgin services.

until next time, lets talk about virgin territories 🙂

Connecting Ads

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Internet with tags , , , on February 25, 2008 by manuscrypts

A couple of posts back, I’d written about the possibility of brands getting together to make a TVC. And Hallelujah, they’re listening :). Airtel and Nokia (and SRK and Madhavan) have teamed to bring us a combo ad, which though begins as if a lot of people are suddenly having heart attacks, has been done quite well. See, SRK really meant it when he said thoda wish karo. Oh Okay, i was just being mean 😀

While these were two completely related products (mobile handset and service provider), what I’d like to see is an ad featuring products whose only relation to each other is the target audience they’re aiming at, and the way the brands fit into their lives, either by say, time (Gillette + Kelloggs) or geography (Woodland + Vodafone). Strange, but fun.

Meanwhile, i read on agencyfaqs that Simply Marry has tried a viral approach to marketing. I had a look at the site, and while the animation and music is pretty decent, i felt the entire concept is too frivolous to become a viral. In fact, I’d like to pitch another thing to them. Why couldn’t they just buy over a property like this, and then start making episodes of these with more and different characters. Meanwhile, also make it multi platform and offer downloads of mobisodes, if the idea is also for 58888 to make money. They can even do an entire reality series based on this and air it on Zoom and Times Now. Even if not a TV reality show, this can be an MMS based mobile reality show. Connect to a Reliance/Vodafone/Airtel or even that insufferable Tata Indicom (free couple available with brand)  and they’d be happy to partner, i guess. Promotion shouldn’t be a problem with the group’s immense newsprint strength. Considering this is a ‘metromonial’ site, I’m sure all these media are toppers in their respective genres. Yes, all except ‘Isko Dekho’, though statistics and niches can be found, i bet.

until next time, howzzat for connections? 😉