Monday, March 31, 2014


Branding Foods And Women Magnets

Women-magnet Deodorants

By Harish Bijoor

Q: What’s this deodorant controversy all about? Why does the I&B Ministry have to step in?
-Zarine Wadhwa, Mumbai

A: Zarine, to the un-initiated, we need to set the background right.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has stepped in and has termed “indecent and vulgar” a whole plethora of deodorant category advertisements currently being shown on television. The Centre has asked the ASCI to either get them modified or take the ads off the air. The brands named: Wild Stone, Addiction, New Axe Googly, Zatak Axe, Set Wet, Denver and Axe.

If you have been a viewer of mass media television, you have certainly seen the tone, tenor and decibel of deodorant category advertising. Something has taken over this category and any and every advertisement in the category seems to be promoting the category more or less like a woman-magnet item of desire. Deodorants today seem to be marketed as pheromones that seem to have the power to attract the opposite sex. Thus far, it has remained in the terrain of the opposite sex. But then marketers are creative people. You never know what will follow.

All this seems to have caused some degree of societal consternation and churn. There sure have been complaints, and the Ministry of I&B has had to take note of this. The last time this happened, was in the case of the under-wear and banian category where Lux and Amul (not the soap and not the butter) had a nation abuzz, with questions being raised in the house of Parliament.

Why does the Ministry have to get into it? Very simply because these advertisements seem to have stoked all kinds of questions in society at large. We must remember that television is a mass medium consumed by the masses. Advertising needs to be restrained enough not to irritate segments that comprise this mass medium viewership. Questions such as these will keep coming up. And advertisers and marketers need to show restraint.

If advertisers use the niche medium of the digital such as the Internet for such advertising it is fine, but when the mass medium is used, one is bound to face questions.
Mass mediums are just too mass for such pieces of communication.

Q: Are the summer months a great time for television channels in terms of viewership?
-Rajat Panda, Kolkata

A: Rajat, yes, there most certainly is some meaning in what you say.
Summer means summer holidays as well. Summer holidays means a sudden surge in television viewership. This goes not only for the student audience of this country, but goes in general for the mothers of this country as well. And a smaller set of fathers.
As most homes in the country are small homes with a common drawing room television set, we need to appreciate that in most homes the drawing room doubles up as the study room for the child at home as well. During exam times, more often than not, the mother equally sacrifices watching television, in a bid to act as a conducive parent who helps the child at home study.

Summer vacations mean vacations for the mother and child alike. This causes the surge. In more ways than one, the surge is sudden and peaks. Peaks because there is an urge to make up for lost television hours.

Q: Quite a few brands seem to be going in for disruption in their advertising formats. Why? And how many such formats exist?
-PP Ramani, Bangalore

A: Ramani, I typically classify disruption as follows:

1. Disruption due to boredom/fatigue.

2. Disruption due to competitive pressure.

3. Disruption for the sake of disruption.

Marketers today are indulging in disruption formats that span all these three. Typically, disruption due to boredom/fatigue and disruption due to competitive pressure are formats that can be appreciated. The third is really the one that needs to be discouraged, as it leads nowhere, except resulting in some degree of brand activity, some degree of notice ability for both the brand and brand manager alike.

When a brand wants and seeks out change, it disrupts. It can disrupt either its APS (Advertising Positioning Statement), its big idea or its BPS (Brand Positioning Statement). The worst is when a brand tampers with its BPS.

Brands that attempt to do this do it when they are losing shares and when they believe the basic brand proposition is not living with the times. Bru changed its basic proposition from "Closest in taste to filter coffee". It believed this does not work as a BPS anymore in a new and modern society where coffee is not coffee anymore! Its beyond!

When a brand is stagnant in its volumes and when a brand is really nudging the downward curve, one needs to think disruption. But think disruption only after you are totally convinced that it is the only thing to do. Disruption for the sake of disruption is riding the hobbyhorse of branding a bit too casually.

Q: How does one brand food products to advantage?

-Mahesh Nadkarni, Pune

A: Mahesh, the question is just too generic. I will give an equally generic answer.

My simple take: God is in the taste. Create a tasty product, and people will rush in from every corner to buy. The classic example is the Shrusberry biscuit of Kayani bakery in the city you live in, Pune.   Making a bakery product a planned purchase item is related to how well the taste can actually propel a consumer to make an articulated choice that can travel distances. And this taste travels long distances for sure, as people from all over the world pack and take.

On consumption formats that can be tweaked to make a product run, I have an idea.
This is an idea whose time has come. Cross-positioning an eatable product with a beverage is a great idea to use here. Take the case of the US. Bagel(a bakery product) goes with coffee. Take Europe: Donuts go with coffee. Some QSR chains such as Dunkin Donuts have made on-the-go a part of their cutting edge differentiated business model itself. And it works.

As India becomes more on-the-go oriented with working couples, breakfast itself is going to become an on-the-go item, as might lunch. For these two occasions, one needs to position the bakery product as a quick and healthy option. It needs the company of a beverage though. A fruit-juice and a muffin might just be right as well. It’s all in the marketing.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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