Saturday, July 05, 2008


PR and Brands

Little Drops of Profit

By Harish Bijoor

Q: Coca Cola is now “Little drops of Joy”! What’s this all about? Does it have to do anything with all the pesticide controversy the brand has been through in India?

-Rohit P Gupta, Mumbai

A: Rohit, let’s look at it positively and away from the 'pesticidal' past. “Little drops of joy’ has the seed of making a lovely campaign. A big idea. A very campaignable macro idea at large as well.

This is a nice tweak of “little drops of water make a mighty ocean”. In Coke’s ocean, this is but yet another mega campaign that seeks to involve the Indian consumer and emote with him and her and it (I don’t know if dogs and cats drink Coke as well).

I do believe this campaign is about connect. Consumer connect.

Consumers are simple people. Simple and uncomplicated statements make us that much more happy. "Little drops of joy" is that kind of a phrase. As it gets set to music and mood, expect a lot of action on the front of building a platform that is truly big for Coke in India.

"Little drops of joy" is also about mother-branding the offering from the house of Coke. In many ways the campaign is a company campaign. I will not call it a corporate campaign, but it certainly is about all the brands that Coke has to offer in India. In some ways, it subliminally establishes a wee bit of distance from being painted into the corner of a Cola image alone. There is more to Coca Cola than Coke alone. Or is there?

Coca Cola sure wants that.

In many ways, the little drops of joy could be a Kinley mineral water today and a vitamin-enriched offering in water tomorrow. It is certainly about all the other drinks in its portfolio of the carbonated kind, orange, lime and everything else included. It is about its latest offering Minute Maid, just as it is about any other beverage it will offer in the future. Coffee is but one. There could be others.

The campaign is therefore pregnant with possibilities. Watch it unwind closely as it knits its consumer profile tightly together. Slowly but surely.

Q: With the rise in commercial property prices, what is the impact on modern retail?

John Kuruvilla, New Delhi

A: John, a lot of action is slated in this space. Retail and realty is a relationship that will impact one another all the while. The retail-realty nexus is a formula on its own. In many ways Darwin said it all. Only the fittest will survive. And the one metric of fitness in the retail business is profitability at the end of it all. Therefore, only the most profitable survive.

The bigger and more profitable retailers will be able to survive on the High streets of our cities and towns. The smaller and possibly less profitable retailers will be pushed into the by-lanes. At times into the by-lanes of residential areas.

Similarly, the more profitable retailers will find themselves within Malls. The lesser profitable ones will have to sweat it out on the streets.

Watch out then for a continuous state of flux in the face of your High streets and certainly the profile of shops within a brand new Mall. As the months pass, it is profits that will define durability of these modern retail formats and names.

Let me exemplify. On Bangalore's Brigade Road, in the beginning, you had grocers as well. The grocer shop gave way to the Wine shop (more profitable retail). The wine shop gave way to the unbranded shoe shop. The un-branded shoe shop then gave way to a Nike showroom. Who knows, tomorrow the Nike shop may give way to a 'Swarovksi' showroom instead!

This is retail-Darwinism (as I call it) at play!

The economy and its state of flux will govern the state of flux of the retail space on offer. This very metric of modern retail that involves realty prices, will make businesses more efficient. There will be corrections of course as we move on and the economy of retail moves from a boom in purchase habit to a recessionary mode at times.

Q: What is the role and scope of PR in brand-building?

-P R Shylaja, Trichy

A: Shylaja, I do believe PR has a potent role to play in the process of building
brands. The point is simply this; advertising is getting trusted less and
less. The advertising medium is a medium that is accepted with some degree
of cynicism, even in new-gen. advertising markets such as India.

Advertising is therefore working best at the level of creating awareness
among consumers. Other marketing roles such as the need to get consumers
interested in the offering, desirous of possessing the offering, the actual
physical action of sale and indeed managing post-sales dissonance, often
requires other tools to help out with. PR is one such useful tool to date.
Till of course it is overdone, just as advertising got overdone!

PR done with subliminal respect for the consumer at large always works. PR
needs to however take care not to repeat the mistakes of mass advertising at
large. This is golden goose that must not be squeezed dry with insensitive

Consumers emote with “Apparel” brands differently than the way they relate to FMCG Brands. What is the reason

-Jyothi R Prasad, Bangalore

A: Jyothi, FMCG brands are largely of a functional orientation. Apparel brands are both functional and cosmetic. Apparel brands are fashion-oriented. And fashions are fickle and change more often than not.

Branding for the apparel market is challenging for this one sake that the component of fashion is rather large here. This is a space where branding needs to be sensitive to change in a big way. Static-state branding will not do here. Dynamic rapid-change branding is the need in the apparel segment.

Apparel branding is an exciting space to be in.

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


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