Archive for Samsung

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 😉

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?

Brand or Ambassador?

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2008 by manuscrypts

India’s success story and the rapid rise of consumerism has resulted in a feast for anybody who comes close to being a popular person. No, I didn’t mean your favourite office peon, what i had in mind was actors, cricketers etc, and the has-beens in those categories too. I even saw Shatrughan Sinha endorsing some TV the other day. Complete with Khamosh and Big B baiting!! So what’s more important – brand or ambassador?

I’ve always wondered about endorsements and the value they add to the brand. I think there are some categories where rival brands have been used as some sort of proxy battleground for rival stars. Look at the cola battles – SRK and the B family are in the Pepsi camp, while Coke has Hrithik and Aamir. Wonder where Ash is though. She’s been on both sides. There’s also car manufacturers – Aamir for Toyota, SRK for Santro, and the Big and small B for Maruti Versa. The other interesting arena is handset manufacturers. I don’t know if you’ve noticed,  but there’s a neat battle brewing there now that Aamir has been roped in by Samsung, because with SRK pitching for Nokia, and Hrithik dancing to Sony Ericsson tunes, we’re over company phase and into crowd phase.

Like I said, I’ve always wondered about endorsements. I can understand the endorsements for sports brands by sports people and even John Abraham (reebok did a decent job in Goal too).  I can understand clothing brands and accessories being endorsed by filmstars. I can even understand the cola wars because everything is about an edge over competition. Besides its a commodity. Similar for Abhi B for Idea and SRK for Airtel. Hey, Hutch ne to kutte ko use kiya, phir bhi bik raha tha. What does that say about those two? 😀 I’m on the borderline for Dhoni and Saif for Kurkure and Lays respectively. I thought ‘Whats the prograaam’ did the trick for me and Juhi did a decent job with ‘Kya family hain’.

But what i really can’t understand is how Hrithik, Saif or SRK can do the trick for Acer, Lenovo and HP respectively. Isn’t that a product which is bought after much research and analysis on features? Will it sell just because it features a movie star? Don’t logic and rationale play a lot of role in the purchase decision? Is that a quality that the filmstars are famous for? Most importantly, these are also increasingly customised purchases, would you really consider a laptop just because Saif features in it (maybe because it recognizes faces, yes, but that could’ve been anybody’s face in the ad).  And honestly, i dont believe in that ‘getting the attention of the consumer’ jazz. If the product is good, its reviews will say so, and will also say so if its not. Similarly for mobile handsets and even cars, though Toyota did a reasonably good job by matching Aamir’s traits with the car. Whatcha think?

until next time, mera wala paint or saif’s wall color?

Update: Todays’s (28/03) Times Business carries an article vindicating the post, at least more or less :)… the timing is not by design 😀