Friday, January 09, 2009


Boring Indian Newspapers and more

String Advertising

By Harish Bijoor

Q: If you are to identify one big trend in modern Indian advertising as of today, what is it?

-AB Joshipura, Indore

A: Joshipura-ji, many would point their trend-pointing fingers at the use of humour in Indian advertising as being something trendy. Many would talk of irreverent advertising that pokes fun at consumers and marketers alike. I will however point my trend-painting finger at serial-advertising.

Look at this new and happy trend in modern Indian advertising where the advertisements are boring no longer. Remember the times when within a cricket match telecast you had to see the same creative execution of Sehwag and his mother (“Sehwag ki Ma”) some twenty times over? How boring!

Not anymore though. Look at the series of advertising creatives that Telecom Service Providers are playing around in India today. Look at Airtel and the Madhavan-Vidya Balan series. Look at the Idea Telecom series. Excellent sets of creatives. Each one carrying the theme forward with a story line literally.

Very little boredom, a lot of method-acting, a lot of fine-tuned niceties that make you watch them again and again. All creative executions that carry the theme through very well with finesse.

This is a nice new trend. Expect lots more to jump in.

Q: The Gold-category in branding seems to be FMCG. Everyone defines branding from the perspective of FMCGs. Why?

-Revathi Balaraman, Chennai

A: Revathi, FMCG brands are essentially very hard-working brands. They are ubiquitous in their presence day in and day out. They need to be at hand, and they need to perform right every time. Their touch occasions in the average home is very very high. This makes for FMCG brands the most acid-tested brands of them all.

When brands go through the acid test of use, customer touch, satisfaction and delight, they are bound to be that much more recalled. FMCG brands are brands always at hand.

FMCG brands are quite like your husband or wife. They are that much forever compared to the acquaintances you meet now and then. The husband/wife (as the case may be) is therefore that much more admired. Albeit secretly, but nevertheless admired. This is therefore the Gold-category as you call it.

The FMCG category is seen, heard, felt and used literally every day. Your tooth-paste is used every day at least once. In many homes more than once. By every single member of the family. Therefore, it is all touch-occasion related. More the touch occasion, more the acid-test occasions as well.

Q: I have heard many definitions of a brand logo. What is it really? And why do companies change their logos so frequently?

-Bipin Moriya, Mumbai

A: Bipin, a brand logo is a visual mnemonic. A visual burr that reminds consumers and indeed non-consumers alike of the brand, its offering, its promise and its specific appeal.

A logo is a quick and crisp reminder of the brand.

While in the beginning of a brand’s journey the logo may look cumbersome and ugly at times, over time, consumers associate closely with a brand logo. Logos help build brand passion.

At times logos get old. Consumers change faster than their brands and their attendant logos. In such situations brands want to get and look contemporary. In this quest for being contemporary brands look at logo overhauls.

At other times logos tend to accumulate negative sentiment due to some brand mishap or the other. In such cases, logos are revamped due to a crisis state event.

Q: Indian newspapers have remained static and boring while Indian television has stolen the thunder and audiences with it. Would you agree with me on this?
-Anand V Sudarshan, Bangalore
A: Anand, Print in India is of a reasonably old vintage. While Television is all about 1969 onwards, Print has a very old heritage in the country. Print has always been local in the old days, and print is a medium that captured a lot of sentiment as well, particularly the sentiment that was all about the Freedom Struggle and the sentiment of being Indian. The medium has always been associated with names of doyens on the Indian public firmament.

Television on the other hand is a newer medium. It has morphed continuously with the aspirations of its viewers and their life-styles. Print on the other hand, except for a few publications in English, has remained rather static and still-born in its approach to the changing reader and her aspirations.
Particularly the vernacular Press in India has been rather static in its approach to the market, its sets of consumers and their changing needs, wants, aspirations and desires. In many ways, readers of newspapers have changed at a much more rapid pace than the newspapers they read. In this sense newspapers (vernacular ones) were left behind and saw readership numbers fall.

Readership fell first and circulation fell only much later. In many homes readership fell off and got shaved as early as eight to ten years before circulation in that home fell. In the bargain, publications did not realise the change at all, till it was too late.

Most vernacular publications suffered this. So have many English language papers that have sat atop their perch of comfort and pomposity and ignored the consumer reader. This has been the bane of many Print brands that ruled the roost once upon a time.

To that extent, Anand you are absolutely right.

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

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