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

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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.

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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/

AdStand: Gandhi, Amazon and Commerce

 

This has been an interesting week with two controversies that broke out of nowhere. First involved Khadi, Gandhi and Modi. The second was about Amazon selling doormats and flip-flops with images if Indian flag and Gandhiji’s pictures, not in India though.

 

This week KVIC released calendar and diary, which had pictures of PM spinning the Charkha instead of Bapu. The picture of Bapu spinning Charkha is iconic and is almost a symbol of what the Father of Nation stood for. The outrage on social media was enormous. Reportedly even the PM was not impressed by what KVIC had done. One argument that was given out was that Modi is a bigger brand name then Gandhiji and has made a significant impact to the sale of Khadi in India.

The question then is this: is either the PM of the Father of the Nation a brand name? Brand names are transactional. There is always a give and take involved with them. Without the layer of commerce and transaction a brand is just a method of recognition.

For me both the icons belong to the whole country and have no connection with being a brand. They espouse a certain symbology that has wider meaning than narrow commercial interests. Khadi can do with both the icons coming together to create a narrative that is uniquely Indian. Remember an American Denim brand can take khadi and launch ultra expensive pair of trousers and meet with commercial success.

Khadi needs a consistent brand building effort; it is an icon of India’s cultural heritage. What it needs is more contemporary image, something that may not get crafted by merely replacing one icon with another without changing the symbology. May be there is a lot that PM can give to Khadi.

 

The second controversy was about Amazon Canada selling doormats with Indian Flag and then Amazon selling Flip-Flops with Gandhi’s image. Both created a flurry of activity on social media with the External Affairs Minister leading the attack on Amazon.

We can debate whether the attack was an over reaction, and whether the might of Government could have been used to exert pressure on Amazon to remove the offending products from sale. When it comes to commerce, louder the noise wider the impact.

There are some lessons that Amazon can learn from Facebook which has a fairly stringent community guidelines about the kind of stuff that can be posted. Many of these are automated and FB bars using from posting stuff.

There are countries that have no qualms when the national icons are used for commerce, like USA allows the graphics of its flag to be used commercially, but we in India don’t. In the hyper connected world Amazon has no option but to live by the rules that have been set by various countries. Using global icons like Gandhi for commerce also falls in the same category, especially when the product becomes offensive.

 

Using icons of national importance for commerce is always a tough thing to do. Culturally India keeps commerce and national icons fairly insulated from each other. When Khadi uses Gandhi’s images it uses the images to build on the rich heritage of Indian and values India stands for. The imagery is of defiance, determination, and walking on a self-created path. We don’t use the national symbols fir commerce for we keep them at a higher pedestal than mere transactions.

These are lessons that are not easy to learn for those who are not seeped into India.

Let the PM endorse Khadi, but let him do it in newer more contemporary ways. Let him show the new path of discovery and determination.

Original Published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/01/ad-stand-gandhi-amazon-and-commerce/

AdStand: The Gender Balance In Advertising

 

On the New Year eve, the act that happened in Bangalore shocked the nation. There were men caught on camera groping women and misbehaving. The reaction from political class was on expected lines, blaming the western culture and the usual unseen monsters. The outrage this time was serious and intense, this forced the CM of Karnataka to acknowledge the problem and apologise.

This one incident forced me to think why we in advertising cannot change the narrative. There are some outlier brands that are talking of gender sensitivity, but most brands are about playing the dominant societal codes in their communication. Brands often do not reflect the progressive mindset, they reflect the dominant ones, and this helps them be seen positively by the mainstream consumers.

The question then to debate is this: what happens if the brands decide to relook at most of the dominant codes they push in advertising. What happens if the brands actually push the new gender sensibilities? Maybe the brands can become the drivers of new sensibilities. If the advertising campaigns can drive the new sensibilities, the consumers will connect in stronger, engaging ways.

The first thing that needs to change is the way mothers are portrayed. The mothers are always the nurturer, the provider of food, the ones who take care of hair, teach beauty tips to daughters, get evaluated for making fluffy chapattis and see love soar because they can make tea. Change this scenario. Let mothers only be seen with sons. The conversation between mother and sons is about being responsible, about being responsive, about knowing how house is run, discovering that there are no demons in kitchen. The conversation can go beyond mother and son to between mother-son-daughter. This is the conversation where the son actually listens to life’s truth as told by sister. There is a huge change in perspective that advertising can drive. From noodles to atta to tea to milk additives, mothers can drive a change that needs to be driven.

The second thing that needs to change is the entire alpha male portrayal. Why should men be in control in categories like automobiles and deodorants?

A deodorant is the category where man gets to choose girl or girls depending on his sex appeal that is enhanced exponentially. The narrative can change. If deodorants is about sexual attraction than the attraction can be crafted in reverse. The choice moves from men to women, who chose based on factors far more than pure machismo. If the category is built on sexual attraction, then the category can build narratives that are driven from women’s point of view. Male superiority works for the alpha male, but also becomes the wrong narrative for the wider society. This is true even more of automobile category. Here the male becomes attractive thanks to a set of two or more wheels. It’s easy to move the needle and make women attractive thanks to two or more wheels. There are many more things that can change in this category, all with the underlying theme of male superiority.

Financial category has always portrayed father in control, and often the context is of father and family with son playing a prominent role. This is a category where the predominant roles of males need to be tempered and balanced to create a far more balanced narrative. This has implications beyond gender balance, more so because the category has poor penetration among women.

The issue of subservience of women in society is deep rooted. These are realities that find their way into advertising and through ads into popular culture without trying too hard. The spiral continues, the perceptions get hardened and pop culture moves in certain direction, doesn’t evolve to a new look. With the deep-rooted biases against women now being played out in open in the biggest of cities in India, we need systemic intervention to change.

Advertising has the power to drive change, advertising can create new reality. Its time that we collectively stepped up and make this small change in narrative. The change cannot be driven by an odd outlier brand.

Original published here http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/01/ad-stand-the-gender-balance-in-advertising/