AdStand: Comparative Advertising: Daring and Dud

Advertising on most days is a fairly boring job. As people working in advertising, crafting promise for brands the everyday currency is consistency. Brands are about saying the same thing in multiple ways across multiple media channels.

Communication plays a key role in creating a competitive advantage for the brand. Done with right values and creative proposition it helps consumers make informed choices.

Once in a while though advertising adds a dose of excitement to the brand by getting competitive. This is when brands go hammer and tongs against each other, call each other names and often force the consumers to take sides.

The fair question to ask is this: why do brands no do this often? Even better, why do they not do this all the time?

The answer to this is complex, but often the simplest answer is that consumers get bored of a fight quickly and engagement with the brand can drop off fairly quickly.

Last month we saw three brands taking pot shots at the competition.  One was really daring, the other was a dud. But the wider question remains, can comparative advertising be the long-term strategy for brands? Can it be made to work?

 

The Daring

There is a brand of motorcycle that is known by the thump-thump sound of its engine. It‘s an iconic brand of cruiser motorcycles with almost a cult following. Bajaj Dominar threw the gauntlet mocking the slow, raw, complicated nature of the bike in its new TV commercial, comparing the competing bike to keeping an elephant as a pet. Stated in Hindi, it’s a euphemism for something that you buy expensive, you maintain expensively and has very little utility value. For an upstart brand, this was a daring move, a move that was designed to polarize the views of bikers. The entire conversation around the communication in social media points to two things. One, it got a lot of eyeballs for Dominar. Two, Royal Enfield, the brand Dominar, mocked carried along like an elephant, unfazed. It didn’t even bother to respond.

Now did Bajaj give a backhand compliment to RE? Did it add to the legend of RE?

Maybe the next move of Bajaj will tell us where the whole battle is going.

 

The Dud

Jeep launched its smaller (not small) SUV Compass to great fanfare and a stunning price point. The market lapped up the Jeep with open arms, swelling the turnstiles. Jeep has a big hit in its kitty.

Not one, but two brands went against Compass with tongue and cheek ads.

First, Tata Hexa a newly launched SUV from Tata stable went building appeal by saying Hexa takes you anywhere and you don’t need Compass. The two brands actually may not be targeting the same driver. Hexa is raw, more brawn and meant for the those who want a tough SUV. Jeep Compass is way too urbane and refined and appeals to a very different mindset.

The second brand that went paying a backhand compliment to compass was XUV 500. “You don’t need a compass to win races, you need guts,” said the advertising. XUV 500 is more in the same space as Jeep Compass and maybe they had a reason to react, but then they could have reacted like Jaguar and Merc went up against each other. That is the kind of fight that adds to the brand’s mystique.

The conversation on social media indicates that both brands helped Jeep more than take away from its appeal.

If the communication was addressed to ensure that the appeal of Jeep gets muted than the advertising didn’t hit the bullseye.

 

The Sublime

The brand that has elevated comparative advertising to an art form is Burger King. Burger King’s fight with McDonald’s is legendary. There are hundreds of lessons that brands can learn from how Burger King attacks McDonald’s to sell more. They do this with intelligence, they force people to take sides and they do it with a very well-defined sense of humor.

Very few brand will have the ability to create a product like McWhopper and ask its prime competitor to make peace with it for just one day. The consumers enjoyed the fight, they laughed, and they took sides. Burger King even got McDonald’s to react.

Burger wars are far bigger today than the erstwhile cola wars and Burger King is the sole warrior. Somehow it ensures that consumers take sides and enjoy the whole saga.

The point is simple; if you have to go to fight with your competitor, make it worth the while for consumers and dint leave it as a conversation between two marketing departments.

There is always a phone for that or Whatsapp.

 

Original Published Here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/08/ad-stand-comparative-advertising-daring-and-dud/

 

AdStand: Technology, AI, Pickle and Appeals

Last week on my social feed, I asked a pertinent question to all my friends. Now I am over 50, belonging to a generation that saw computers first in Star Wars or read about them in Arthur C Clarkes’ book, you can imagine that my friends belong to the same generation. Many actually do. But then I do work in an organization where everyone is under 35, they are people who have grown up digitally and find computers and smartphones as ubiquitous as hard-boiled candies on check-out counters.

This was the question: Is all the technology making today’s generation isolated pods? Are they aloof and disconnected or they are actually crowded and connected?

The conversation had the older friends of mine tilting to the side of believing that too much technology is bad for us. But then someone pointed that when books came into being, they were called work of the devil. The 60s generation called TV as the idiot box, the millennial calls it Smart TV.

The 60s lot didn’t grow up dumb, despite the idiot box becoming the primary storyteller at home.

We accept technology till we think we can use it, but resist when it tends to overwhelm us. The millennial or by whatever name you may want to call them, adopt and adapt to technology faster than those born in the 60s or 70s. While one gapes at technology wondering, the others quietly put it to use to find little moments of joy.

This is the reality: the rise of smartphones has led to rise in global tourism. May be the whole conversation around curated ego needs to be looked at with radically different parameters.

Why am I saying all this?

Because, the new IBM global campaign made me think hard about how the technology brands are merging the human potential with AI, machine learning, and big data.

You to the Power of IBM

The new campaign of IBM evolves from solutions for the planet to the power in hands of humans to make things happen. What this campaign does is that makes IBMs AI platform Watson, integrated with the impact it has on people.

You to the power of Data

You to the power of Expertise

You to the Power of Cloud

You to the Power of AI

This is You to the Power of IBM

IBM has played this cleverly. The executions are driven from personal empathy, you look at the ads and marvel at the power that is now in hands of individuals. They have made the technology step back, almost invisible.

This is the campaign that made me ask the question, is too much technology good for humans?

At least IBM’s answer is clear.

IBM is not the first computing brand to celebrate the power of individuals. In a small manner, Dell did it earlier, but Dell’s primary focus was on employees who make Dell powerful.

How will many more brands look at this emerging dynamic? We in advertising still live in a strange bubble. Many of the appeals we create work only for us in adverting. Like the brand that was shooting star this week thanks to a condom that has pickle as flavour. Or a washing machine that claims to be “Unisex”.

I guess for us in advertising and marketing, there won’t be many times when we will see brands celebrating the ability of humans to make things happen by using technology and make things happen because of pickles and gender.

AdStand: Action on Social Media

So GST is here, the new taxation system has been ruled out, internet went ballistic with jokes, brands went quiet on media and consumers were busy posting bills on social media wanting to know if they were duped. In between the lull in action, Internet exploded in two geographies with the same reason. Politics and commerce merged and some didn’t take it well.

Prime Minister and a filter

We all know Snapchat and how the filters on Snapchat make the app the buzziest app for the young audience. They take snaps, put a filter and share it with all their friends. They laugh at it and move on to another filter. AIB did the same, and not with someone from AIB, but with Prime Minister Modi’s picture and his doppelganger with the #wanderlust. What was supposed to be a joke quickly went viral with user complaining to cybercrime cell of Mumbai Police who decided to file an FIR for posting a supposedly “lascivious” picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter. While AIB deleted the tweet, they did get trolled both by BJP and Congress supporters for a variety of reasons depending on the political leanings. The troll army didn’t hold back, not even after the PM himself tweeted “We surely need more humour in public life”.

This is the reality of social media today.

We do not engage in a conversation, we just get outraged and smart brands like AIB use the outrage to push their brand further. Tanmay Bhat and company have found a way to get PM to respond to them. It’s not the trolls, but the creators who created smart play and won.

Reebok trolls and wins

I have not seen a brand troll the leader of its country and win, I have not seen a brand that may want to troll the most powerful man on earth, the President of US. The president made a controversial remark while meeting French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife. This was captured on Facebook Live and people did cringe on the comment.

Reebok posted the now famous sub-tweet “When is it appropriate to say” giving the POTUS a lesson in public behaviour and how to interact with the opposite gender. Reebok created an elaborate chart to let the President know how he should behave when. Reebok suggested, really the only scenario Trump’s words could ever be considered okay is if you’re saying them while admiring a decades-old action figure from your childhood that survived a long hibernation in your parents’ basement.

This sub-tweet now has over 45,000 re-tweets and 77,000 likes. Clearly Reebok won the battle and the other side was a really powerful adversary. Vice news didn’t put a sub-tweet, but did create a video trolling the POTUS with hilarious results. The tweet was simple: “Billions and billions and billions and…” It’s here

Canon does a classic brand take on social media

While brands and politics is a new thing in social media, Canon created a simple but very powerful story on social media about two tourists, a restaurant, and pictures.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1357473237663545&id=545080655684943

This is the kind of content that still fuels the desire for the brand and makes the consumers reach out for expensive cameras. They didn’t troll the piffy phone camera, they didn’t troll the selfies, Canon upped the game and made your fingers reach for the shutter release button as you watched the chef playing with food.

Brands today have to be quick, and maybe there is no subject that cannot be trolled. Social is making brands go smart, quick, and quirky and people love it.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/07/ad-stand-action-on-social-media/

AdStand: Coke, Oppo, GoIbibo, Kellogs and Deepika

There is an easy way to get eyeballs, that is to sign up the current superstar and watch the brand soar. Coke, Kellogs, GoIbibo and Gionee have all got the advantage of having possibly the hottest celebrity as the endorser. All the brands have released the ads at the same time, giving the brands a certain topicality.

 

The Coke Elevator Campaign

While Pepsi faltered in its campaign, Coke has kept the narrative simple and created a very Coke kind of spot. The story of a star bumping into a commoner, connecting with each other and the star leaving the common stranger with a goofy grin makes for super viewing.

There is a certain charm that Deepika brings to the commercial and despite a very tight story line and little space to improvise makes the commercial memorable. The hotel room service steward is also perfectly cast.

The spot though is adapted from the international commercial of Coke. The international commercial is a modern day Cinderella story where an ordinary girl bumps into a celebrity DJ and ends up having her own starry moment and a selfie that didn’t work out as well as she thought it would. The winner this the interactive digital content which takes you floor by floor giving you a taste of candid moments.

The digital campaign has far more interesting take on the modern Cinderella story than just a selfie that is dominated by a bottle of Coke. This is a winner from Coke

 

Selfie and Oppo

Oppo was about the love story between two stars. These two stars haven’t been cast together in a movie, so by a phone brand that was a brave move. The brand has now moved beyond love story, into Selfie. The emotion of finding long lost love has been replaced by narcissistic feel of looking at your face with a weird pout. Deepika is fighting the pout war with Alia and Ranveer. This is an interesting war out there, pouts, pouts and pouts and three hottest celebrities.

 

GoIbibo and Deepika

At 8.5 million views in YouTube alone GoIbibo is doing very well to help Deepika make money by using her contacts on her phone book. This is a simple tale that is enlivened by Deepika, but more by the technologically challenged aunt. The aunt plays the old-world-old–idiom driven lady with extreme pizzazz. It’s the casting that is inspired, the rest of the ad is usual.

 

Kellogs and Deepika

 

Kellogs and Deepika were into selfies last year. Deepika was showing off her weight loss post two week challenge last year. This year Kellogs Special K Protein is more about maintaining your weight by eating the most tempting Cranberry flavoured cereal. There are many cranberries in the commercial, almost from frame one to frame hundred. Its just in final frame you discover that Kellogs has two more flavours. This is a classical packaged food commercial, and does the job of selling the breakfast well. Kellogs will benefit from having a supremely fit and attractive Deepika as its ambassador

 

Deepika and new ASCI Guidelines

ASCI’s new guidelines for brand endorsers and will the guideline have an impact on Deepika’s brands? The bubbly drink is about making friends, that should be safe. The dual lens cell phone is about selfies, you can’t debate that. The travel brand is about making money from friends, that’s a matter between friends. The breakfast cereal is about maintain weight. May be Deepika now needs to hire a nutritionist and a food scientist. Or may be Kellogs can explore selfies again.

They are in fashion.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/04/ad-stand-coke-oppo-goibibo-kellogg-s-and-deepika/

 

AdStand: All Fools Day

One thing that various brands have demonstrated in last one week is that advertising works. There is no other reason why across the world would have generated the kind of interest it did. For some the consumers could figure that it was a gag, but for many other brands the consumers were happy to go on a merry ride knowing that the campaigns have broken around 1stApril.

 

Devices generated interest

Ixigo came up with ixigo glass, a device that is a result of our ground-breaking research over the last three years in machine learning, augmented reality and predictive analysis. The Glass as a device was something that got internet buzzing in almost no time. ixigo promised the device to be free on pre-order, they also put a number to how many they will give out free. Its true that many people wanted the device, some got the sense that it was a prank, that number was way too small. ixigo did pull glass over many eyes, and did so without spending money. Head to https://www.ixigo.com/glass to join the post prank fun.

 

The second brand that had a revolutionary breakthrough device was Ola. They created a self driving automated wheels called #OlaWheels for short commute. While the video was cute it did not create the kind of buzz that ixigo created. May be the consumers did not find the device to be quirky enough

 

The third brand in the devices space was Tata Tiago, the small car had a really cute innovation, the Tiago Insta Edition, with windows that have an In-Built Instagram Filter Feature.Now, you don’t need to browse through filters from your Instagram account. The front windscreen was supposed to get paired with the phone and pictures shot through the phone can experience the instagram right on the windscree. Did people get pranked? Going by the buzz on social media, people were willing to open their purse and write the cheque.

 

And while on devices Honda Dream Laboratories introduced Honda cars with Emoji Horn! Created by Honda Dream Labs, the car comes with 7 different emoji sounds so that you could share the feeling with fellow drivers on the roads. The car or the driver could tell the others if they are happy or laughing or annoyed. This is one idea that can make Indian Roads fun, what if the cars automatically posted the emoji used in the social pages and built an emoji song for all Honda Drivers? Or may be this is what the Honda Dream Labs are working on for next All Fools Day

 

Condoms, Jeans and April Fool

Spyker_17.jpg

Durex cleverly bought its international Korean campaign for Durex Jeans to India and with the might of Ranveer Singh got the whole country buzzing. Was it an April Fool prank or just the launch of a new variant? While the brand says it’s a new Variant,  Spykar had a clever take on it. Spykar announced its entry into Condom market. The Condom-Jeans combo kept the audience engaged in the conversation. Durex started it, Spykar was clever.

 

Did Internet have a panic attack?

PornHub is a place where millions go to explore and learn about Human Anatomy. The lessons are highly engaging and makes PornHub a very popular classroom. On April 1st they decided to announce the participation of all their students on their social handles. I suspect millions must have choked on whatever they were drinking or eating and must have triggered a momentary panic attack. PornHub to my mind won the All Fools Day gag.

PH_5.jpg

 

Day Branding now has become a big fixture in marketing calendar, many brands now play very elaboratory made hoax.

If we engage with the brands knowing the dates, advertising is doing well.

Original Published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/04/ad-stand-all-fools-day/

AdStand: The couples as brand storytellers

Advertising is a singular seller. Women are used to sell to women,  men sell to men, mom sells to kids, fathers and even grandfathers sell to families. Advertising story tellers have not used the relationship that exists between couples to create enduring messages. And if they have then they have used it more as roles they play, like the earlier Airtel couple film where wife is boss of husband, but has slipped back in gender stereotype roles.

Off-late brands have discovered the relationship between husband and wife and have started to tell some enduring stories for themselves.

 

Bharat Matrimony, couples and wife’s ambitions

Matrimonial site is best suited to leverage the relationship between man and woman, they are the matchmakers and they are perfectly suited as brands. They have created a brand world where the man supports the woman in her quest for passion or purpose in life. The commercial

where he lets his wife go to another city for the opportunity she gets is nicely crafted. The later commercial where the husband helps wife chase her passion for dance

are apt for the brand. For a match-making brand to place woman’s ambition on top and celebrate it is a nice strategic move. Traditionally the brands in this sector will look at sticking closer to category codes of compatibility, knowing each other or parental approval, Bharat Matrimony could craft a different narrative using the couples and giving importance to wife’s ambitions

 

The way BM depicted the relationship, it was still labored, and with a very serious point of view. Yes it was progressive, but it wasn’t truly new age. The movies in the same time frame were building the relationship as more friendly, more open and definitely full of fun. This is the territory where the brands needed to get in.

Some of it can now be seen in categories like ecom, financial planning, consumer durables we are seeing a new wave of portrayal of couples.

 

Couple as glue to the brand narrative

Brands that operate across many categories tend to use same face as the glue that binds the brand together. Crompton has used the same couple as the glue across fans, and lights. The brand has built an easy going, friendly narrative using a young couple. Each ad has a small hint of their easy going relationship. Like this commercial about fan

is has both of them speaking about features with the overall wrapper of their relationship. The earlier commercials of both fans and lights were a lot more textured than the new ones. Crompton though is very different from Havels appliances which is a lot more about women and her take on relationship with her husband.

Amazon Prime India as a brand has got the warmest narratives currently. The brand has built an interesting loving banter between a young new age husband and wife where the wife is always able to trick the husband into dancing to her tunes. While the brand message and even the situation of changing the bulb could have been better crafted, the relationship between the couple is breath if fresh air.

Samsung did this almost 15 years back

Sometimes the fact that you have worked in advertising for so long can make you remember long forgotten campaigns. One such campaign is Samsung Home Appliances’ campaign that was built on relationship between a new age couples. Today the brands are useing the same couple across many ads, Samsung had different couples in every ad. The glue to the campaign was not a single couple, but the brand’s take on the relationship between the couple. The core messaging to the brand was playfulness. If you look at the campaign today, it will stand out for the progressiveness that is in vogue today. 15 years back, this campaign did depict the relationship in regular everyday manner. Travel back to 2003 and see these ads

and

 

Movies have been building upon the friendliness and love between the new age couples for sometime now. Advertising which often tapped into emerging popular culture seems to have missed this trend for a long time. Partly the reason may be the Television Serials, which are more over the top drama and less of a reflection of society today also contributed to advertising not catching the new wave.

Young couples today have a very different take on life and society, they are very different from the couples of even 2003. Brands can find a rich zone of story telling by simply being alive to the new visible romance that is on display everyday on a variety of social media channels.

 

Ad Stand: When brands tap into activism

We live in interesting times. These are times when the leadership of country has muddled messages but the business leadership is pushing for probity and transparency. We live in times when the leadership of country wants you to forget the real issues but brands are raising the issues that matter. We live in times where we vote because of the muddled unclear messages, but we buy the brands because they shine on a new path.

We live in times where business and advertising are pushing the correct thing and that too from unlikely brands.

Tata Tea: Alarm bajne se pehle

 

This could easily have been an ad from a political party, a party that questions norms and wants to create new rules. We live in times where if a political party had put this out as a message we would have laughed at it. These are good times where we as consumers are happy with a tea brand waking us up from our slumber. Tata Tea has been at the edge of activism and has always balanced the brand with evocative messages. This time they have pushed the envelope successfully to create a message that resonates with today’s times. I wish to see more, more than what the brand is doing in its website and social media pages. I am sure something is brewing

Mirinda: #ReleaseThePressure

 

For three minutes and a little over, this video is all about how a whole generation is lost to pressure of exams. How a whole generation is struggling to come to grips with a competitive world and how a whole generation has to get marks for parental love and approval. For a while I thought I was watching a promo for an upcoming film like Taare Zammen Par or 3 Idiots. To look back, there has been little institutional effort from the country to reduce pressure of performance on children. Whatever little has happened has been reversed and has been welcomed by parents. The brand too has been brave to not let any of the brand cues to be there in the video and leave the message as pure as it can be. May be it should have left the last frame too. The bottle cap with Release the Pressure written on it is incongruous to the whole video. Is it one off, or Mirinda will have a second one in the series? This is one brave experiment though coming from a brand that is often at receiving end of consumers for being junk and carrier of excessive sugar.

Tanishq Rivaah: Did it miss a trick?

 

Tanishq comes from the same agency that created #AlarmBajneSePehle and that is the stark contrast. This is a very well-made commercial about the love that exists between fathers and daughters and how difficult it is for the fathers to see the chrysalis turn butterfly and now getting ready to spread wings. There are moments that will lead every father teary eyed, and may be every bride to be in same state. So where is the problem? Dowry and expensive jewellery at weddings is where the problem lies. While Tata Tea and Mirinda score, Tanishq gets beaten. The entire set-up is of traditional weddings with all brides bedecked in expensive jewellery. Is this where the brand missed a trick? What if the entire narrative was not just about indulgent, expensive weddings, but also about simple minimalistic ones? What if the brand actually took the hashtag of Mirinda, and did release some pressure. This is one activism that is badly needed in the country, may be this is where a jewellery brand needs to go.

In any other times, the Tanishq ad would not have faced this conundrum, but coming in a week where two brands broke the mould, this becomes striking.

These are interesting times, where emotions of love, affection, taste, and enjoyment can be fused with responsibility, goodness and made to work for the brand.

Maybe the world should be actually run by a few brands.

Original published here http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/02/ad-stand-when-brands-tap-into-activism/