Thursday, October 26, 2006

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Anti-Marie Bureau! The Global Indian Brand! Outdoor Advertising!

The Anti-teaser Bureau

Q: What’s Anti-Marie Bureau all about?

-Sapna Kaushik,Chennai

A: Sapna, this is now fast becoming a Parle marketing property. The mega teaser that teases the tease out of the consumer at large. Remember Digen Varma?

Anti-Marie Bureau, with the absolutely delicious (remember, the language is biscuit-language) looking Kajol in a cat-suit is a great way of waking up a nation of consumers from the slumber of over-marketed somnolence.

Consumers today are pretty fed up with claims and counter-claims that are made in the staid old way. The dominant feeling at large is the key thought as to how one biscuit can be different from another. Claims of marketers are at best seen as what they are. Mere claims.

The consumer switches his mind off from advertising that is parri passu and communication that is claim-oriented in the dull old way. So in comes claim-based advertising in an all new-avatar.

Anti-Marie Bureau is the Parle way of waking up consumers. Kajol does it beautifully! There is a lot of action and a lot of noise. In the bargain, the poor old ordinary Marie is re-positioned altogether. If you are an ordinary Marie seller, you must be pathetic! And if you eat ordinary Marie, you must be a loser!

The multi-media teaser campaign run with high decibel spends had a nation of consumers sitting up and take note. The awareness scores look excellent. The interest-stoking scores in the category look good as well! The desire-cues for Marie are handled well. The action of purchase has been hot, I hear.

The campaign is a true-blue success. Never mind if a whole lot of marketing people in the country thought it corny and trite. What counts is what a campaign does to the top-line volume of the brand on tout.

Q: What’s a truly global Indian brand? How does it happen? Does it happen or is it made?

-Prasad Shenoy, Mumbai

A: Prasad, my definition of a brand is a simple one. I define the brand as a simple thought. "The brand is a thought. A thought that lives in a person's mind". Brands live in the soft-space of human minds. Brands are therefore thoughts that can be moulded. Thoughts that occupy key positions in consumer and non-consumer minds alike.

A truly global Indian brand? It is a thought that is distinctly Indian. A thought that can stand out amidst a clutter of dissimilar thoughts that every nation spews forth in the International market.

The true-blue Indian brand will not be about clonal offerings packaged clonally by the brand-manager at large. It will not be a me-too thought that swims in the mind space of commercial folk all over the world. The true-blue Indian brand is the brand that is created from the gut of India. A brand that represents the distinction that is India.

To an extent, this brand will be an offering from the rustic and the rural. Yoga in many ways is one. Ayurveda can be one. Indian organic practice could have been one as well. Gandhi is certainly one.

The true-blue Indian brand will be one that is built bottom up, and not top-down. The one brand that is built quite like Gandhiji.

Gandhiji never took full page ads screaming "Gandhi shining". Gandhi the brand happened by an amalgam of vision, hard work, grass-root action and a deep and abiding passion for positive action.

The one commercial brand out of India that attempts this will be the true-blue Indian global brand.

At this point of time, I do not see this happening around. I see brands and brand-folk wanting to ape the best-practices of branding brought in from the west. These are old, contextually wrong and second-hand.

We need a wake up call.

Building the India brand is an exercise that will be unique and differently done. Has to happen bottom-up. Not top-down!

Q: Harish, I am in the business of Outdoor in Mumbai. What is the future of this industry? There are so many illegal hoardings around and honest folk such as us can’t make a decent living. Give me 5 points to rectify this business.

-Shreyans Mehta, Mumbai

A: Shreyans, of all the hoardings you find in a big city, as many as 30 per cent could
be illegal hoardings. These hoardings undercut the price in the market but
do not offer reliability. to the user of the medium.

The medium has the reputation of being a cottage industry and not an
industry at large as the Print, Television and Radio mediums are largely

The industry is also largely Mumbai fixated. Of the total 800 Crores
generated every year, 360 Crores comes from Mumbai alone.

Overall, size of the advertising business in the world is 363 Billion USD.
India contributes a pittance of 3.5 Billion USD to this share. India
therefore is a small player in the advertising game of the world. We are
growing faster though.

While world ad spends grew by 8.1 %; last year, Indian advertising grew at

Some other issues facing Outdoor Industry in India as per my perspective:

My 5-point Vision for the industry at large.........

1.This industry is Mumbai besotted as of now. There is a lot to be reaped in
the rest of the country.
2. Outdoor does not mean hoarding alone. Street furniture and the rest of
outdoor needs attention. Newer and innovative formats need exploitation and
discovery. Innovation is the name of the game.

3. The biggest spenders in the advertising pie are the FMCGs. They do not use
enough of the outdoor medium. The biggest users of outdoor currently are the
telecom sectors, media and entertainment, financial products, and the
automotive products sectors, in that order. The Outdoor industry at large
must keenly focus on getting FMCG moneys out into Outdoor.

This is possible only with adequate substantive data and of course
innovation that has true blue stand out value in the Outdoors.

4. Outdoor as an industry is pretty dissipated. It needs a close knit body
that functions at the apex level with evangelism and gusto.

5. The industry needs to tackle social issues of Visual pollution carefully
and get consumer sensitive

The author is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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Chocolate Lux! Viral Marketing! Brand change!

Ask Harish Bijoor

Q: What’s this all about? A chocolate Lux?

-Sunanda Ravi, Mumbai

A: Sunanda, I know where you come from. This looks ridiculous. A line extension that treads into unfamiliar territory. A chocolate Lux? What next? A whisky flavored Lux? A vodka Lux? How far will this go?

That’s one way of looking at it. Look at it another way then. The marketing way. The brand way.

Lux in many ways represents the iconic soap of a whole array of generations that have lived through its use. Every generation of users has been pretty besotted with the offer that Lux has maintained with a whole degree of brand integrity there is to respect. Lux has bathed every generation we remember in India. Every generation that has aspirationally wanted to bathe with the “beauty soap of the film stars” (“Filmi sitaaron ki soundarya saabun”). Read that as the beauty soap of the starlets till Sharukh came on the scene in a bathtub half dressed and half un-dressed.

Lux has held on to a range of variants for a while now. Every variant has had a floral note and possibly a wee bit of a twist with a scent here and there. Time then to think anew and offer the variety seeking customer some excitement.

When you have rummaged through a whole host of possible options that don’t seem to offer too much of a cutting edge, time to test the waters of the un-explored. Time to think Chocolate. After all this is a flavor next only to Vanilla in popularity! The smell of chocolate is something to explore for sure.

Consumers do get tired of options that don’t necessarily pack the excitement of the contemporary day. The consumer is changing all the time, but brands do not seem to keep pace. Brands have rather locked themselves into a time grid-lock that does not allow them to change as fast as their customers do. New variants such as these test the waters of consumer acceptance. These variants offer new excitement to a category that is as old as the hills! These variants offer a talking point option as well on the brand. Remember, toilet soaps are possibly one among the oldest marketed categories of them all in the FMCG arena.

Sunanda, watch out for more then. A ketchup that is no more Tomato red, but sriking yellow! A tooth-paste that will swim against the color paradigm of white and offer itself in a black variant? An instant coffee with pink colored granules? Blue chocolate? Orange colored milk with added Vitamin A, C and K?

Lots more to happen then.

Q: What’s viral marketing all about? How closely related is it to Word-of-mouth marketing? And does it work?

-Anoop Sequeira, Hyderabad

A: Anoop, viral is what viral does.

Viral marketing is all about word-of-mouth for sure. In addition it is about a lot more. It is about the use of every possible mode and means of spreading a message across a networked format of communication that is random, consumer oriented and completely un-governed by a marketing program of specific intent.

In the days gone by, when my hair was still a lot of pepper and very little salt, marketers believed they could control viral marketing programs. Those were the nascent days of folly. Marketers believed that a viral marketing program could be planned in the confines of a corporate office cubicle and unleashed quietly and monitored carefully.

Marketers tried this. And failed.

A viral marketing program can actually be planned carefully and unleashed as per a plan. Its spread and efficacy can however not be controlled, as the medium that perpetuates its success, lack of success or morphed success for that matter, is the consumer at large. A complete state of democracy and more often than not, a complete state of consumer anarchy prevails in the spread of viral marketing initiatives. The marketer has little control then.

Viral marketing today uses word-of-mouth 1:1 or broadcast through the medium of the telephone call, and more importantly the electronic tool of SMS. Today, word of mouth is therefore not restricted to geographies in which people live and meet, but can be spread across markets where people are connected by the electronic medium of a telephonic contact.

I see an advertisement for a Discovery Channel show on the future and what it holds in terms of scientific discovery. I get excited and SMS 16 of my friends. Some of them are part of my family and others are very good friends I want to partake of something new and interesting. This is not advertising. This is editorial led. This is content led stuff. This is credibility packed, as it is not an SMS from Discovery the channel, but a personalized SMS from a friend.

Anoop, viral marketing works. When Ganesh-ji started drinking milk some many years ago, viral marketing did the trick. When Avian Influenza hits our chickens, every one virally markets the boycott Chicken line, however irrational it is. Viral works.

Q: If everything in brands needs to change to keep pace with consumers, why mustn’t brand names change? What’s so sacrosanct about that?

-Anjali Gupte, Bangalore

A: Anjali! Anjali! Anjali!

You are right. There are two kinds of brand theorists. One is the purist. The other is the modern and the contemporary. I belong to the latter.

I do believe there is nothing sacrosanct in branding. Change the product if you want to. Even Coca-Cola will. Some day. Change the slogan. Most brands do. From “Just Do It” to “I Can” (Nike)? And change the brand name if you must.

Like Reebok just did. Reebok today is a snazzy and contemporary ‘RBK’.


Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Email your questions to:

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