Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Of Condoms and Brand Valuation

A Google-eyed Nation

By Harish Bijoor

Q: What’s with condom advertising in our country. There is little to choose from. The latest campaign from Moods is however interesting. Any take on this?
-Rakhshit Pratap. Jaipur

A: Rakshit, condom advertising has been a relatively closed-door syndrome at play in the country for obvious reasons of the mass consumer sensitivity to the subject.  A very creatively used category though, if you look at all the ads that India has seen thus far.
The Moods campaign is a refreshing way of looking at Condoms.  Goes in sync with the mood of a nation on the morph in its mentality to the condom category at large.
Condom advertising in India has traversed from the sublime to the ridiculous over the decades of condom advertising acceptance.

While Nirodh (the nationalized condom?) kept the condom category as a functional category that helped contraception, Kama Sutra took it to the point of adding sexy zing to the wardrobed sex lives of Indians.

Moods does it differently here in its latest sets of executions. Moods actually uses a quiet and suggestive language altogether. It uses the branding opportunity provided by the condom inner-pack very well. It is a highly campaignable piece of advertising that can use any and every situation to brand intent. It is quiet, sedate, and happily does not use sweaty half-nude bodies in a state of presumed coitus. Despite not using all these visuals, it leaves you behind with a clear brand message that Moods is it! That everyone is using Moods! Whatever the mood, whatever the age, and wherever. That everyone you ever thought would never use Moods is using Moods as well. That sex happens everywhere, never mind whether it is inside a Museum or
in the cramped quarters of an aircraft toilet.  Interesting.

I do believe the creative is very well handled and can be a true-blue
global piece of communication, relevant to every copulating culture.

Q: Tom Cruise came to India recently and there were reports that crowds had to be bought to welcome him. Is this not a big change from the good old days when we went goggle-eyed with white-skinned stars?

-Sowmya Mehul Parekh, Surat

A: Sowmya,  the point is simple. India has grown up from its early goggle-eyed status of Western brands that stared down at us. Today, this is not a goggle-eyed nation. Instead, we are a ‘Google-eyed” nation. Today, we are being wooed as a country by brands from every geography, the West and the East alike. In the bargain, there is a surfeit of choice, and the mother brand market of them all, the USA is just yet another one of them. This has caused for a slight dulling of sheen of brands from the USA. Or for that matter from Europe as well.

    I do believe this new trend of taking it all in our stride, and as it comes, is more about the internal prosperity norms of Indian and the Indian at large. The Indian is a much more mature brand person today than he was yesterday. Therefore we do not go gaga when Lady Ga Ga hits the Indian shores, as we would have in the past. Yes there is excitement, but this excitement is far more restrained than in the days gone by.

India is also besieged by every geography today. The US has deteriorated to be just 'one among many', rather than the status of the 'one and only' which it enjoyed in the past.
Q: When does a company get into brand-valuation?
-Maria Nazareth, Mumbai
A: Maria, a company considers brand valuation at a point of time when it wants to assess its true-blue health.
This health is something it can leverage monetarily. At times this brand valuation number can be used to sell stake in the brand, or for that matter even mortgage a part of the brand to a bank or a financial institution. Most of the brand valuation exercises we do is to help brands monetize their intangible asset, the brand. In many ways it helps tangibilize an intangible.
Q: Where is the digital Out of home industry going? Where do you see its future?
-PP Yadav, Hyderabad
A: Yadav-gaaru, digital OOH is a medium with potential, but I do not believe the potential has been exploited with panache.

    The opportunity is out there, but there is not enough of scale seen in digital OOH mediums. In the bargain, the medium falls between the many stools of television, print, outdoor and traditional non-digital POP. What is needed is a scientific exploration of this space. It is time for digital OOH companies to do pressure tests in limited number of cities. These tests must go to prove the efficacy and true value of the medium. There is a gap in terms of acceptance and faith in this medium as of today. In the bargain, the medium writes a self-fulfilling prophesy of stagnation in terms of value and use. And remains niche.

Q: Telecom seems to have emerged the top advertiser in recent years beating FMCG. Why?
-Sapna KK, Kottayam
A: Sapna, in the last few years, we are seeing telecom as the top advertiser category while FMCG has fallen down the order. Correct.

It is all about margins and value. The FMCG sector is really going through trying times, fighting to retain margins, and fighting to stay relevant as branded offerings in a sea of commodity options that seem to be emerging as well. The FMCG category is also under margin pressure from the emerging organized retail. As the percentage of sales volumes grow in organized retail, traditional margins which were enjoyed by marketers are under stress. Add to this the climate of uncertainty. All this makes for the FMCG player to be that much more cautious. I do believe in media spend terms, the FMCG marketer is going through what I call a "cautionary recession". The volumes are more or less intact, the moneys to spend are there as well, but the attitude is one of saving for a rainy day.

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

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