AdStand: Looking back at 2015, Episode 3

The two dominant trends of 2015 have been mobile, apps data and how they are invading every sphere of our lives. While there are challenges that the new technology makes us face, largely this invasion is good for us, the consumers. The third trend is actually not inspired by technology, and while the trend may have started a year ago, it became a thing to speak about this year.

Trend 3: India now has a new category called Live Entertainment properties.

Chances are some of us now know Rakesh Kumar. I am not sure we know who the India captain was when India won Gold Medal in Asiad Kabaddi, but as the captain of Patna Pirates, he is well known; his videos on YouTube have massive following. India has seen the birth of some new stars, and they come from football, hockey, kabaddi and badminton. The big news is not that other sports are going the IPL way. Nor is the big debate about whether this is good or bad for sport. The big news is that advertising industry now has a completely new category – a category that has no old rules to fall upon, no examples to learn from. There are very few categories that excite a wide swathe of audience, that bring men, women and children on one plank and cheer for themselves with abundance of excitement.

The various leagues have created campaigns that moved the audience. From #baddies or the badminton league to pro tennis league that brought global icons to India, we have never had a time as good as this.

Sports leagues have helped the leagues to become large and become a mass consumption category. But sport is not the only arena where we have seen the emergence of live events as a category. Music is the other.

Sunburn is now well established and it runs many formats across the year. There are new brands that came to the concert this year in a much bigger way. NH7 Weekender and Enchanted Valley Festival are two large properties that became more than mainstream this year. Music as an industry is actually as large as sports and holds as many possibilities. From small, localised properties to many more large formats, the consumers will sing along with them.

The overwhelming response that we have given to live entertainment events is a clear indicator that this was a large gap in the market.

Rakesh Kumar is one of the first new age celeb that this trend has created. Wait for many more to happen that won’t have roots to either cricket or Bollywood.

Original published here http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2015/12/adstand-looking-back-at-2015-episode-3/

The Power of Silent Majority

There is a pitched battle being fought currently. The Molotov cocktails are being hurled across the fence; the fire is raging and becoming a raging inferno. Words are used as cannonballs, and are being hurled at ferocious pace. The strategy employed is of shock and awe to subdue the offending side. The other side is not sitting idle either. It is fighting hard to defend its territory, but the marauding army has overrun them. The defenders don’t have the power of numbers on their side and their words are not diffusing the incessant shelling of words from other side.

The war has been triggered by India’s biggest celebrity’s opinion on the current political situation. The uproar has been massive, ugly and partisan. The war will continue till the fighting class finds a new subject that upsets them, but even after that the fire may remain smouldering under the ashes.

Aamir Khan is not just a cinema star; he is also India’s most desired brand endorser. Samsung, Titan, Godrej, Tata Sky, Coke and Snapdeal have used the power of the star to drive their brands’ acceptance. For most brands, his association has been a fairly long one, and is fair to assume that it has worked for the brand.

Not surprisingly, the marauding army of offended netizens targeted Snapdeal with the strangely worded #AppWapasi campaign. The hashtag is strange because the app of Snapdeal was not gifted; they sought it out and downloaded it because they believed Snapdeal is a good place to transact. What were they returning? In times of inflamed anger and blood lust, such small details do not matter. Godrej, Coke, Samsung too faced the backlash. The first reaction of these brands was to disassociate with the statement that the actor made and hope that the furore will subside and it would be business as usual.

I think the brands missed a trick, by not being upfront and supporting the actor. The brands have commercial interest in mind, and it’s for pure commercial interest they should have supported the actor.

Consider this. There are an overwhelming number of people who have been offended by the actor, there is a small number that has not been offended, and they have fought the pitched battle. But there is a vast majority out there that is watching this fight with derision. This silent majority is the one that doesn’t find it worth their while to join the mob on either side. They will continue to patronize the brands, as long as the brand fulfils its promise of quality, service and whatever else they seek. This un-measurable silent majority is the reason for the success or failure of any brand.

If I can digress for a moment, the reason why the measurement of the recent Bihar elections went awry was because the silent majority didn’t speak out, they went about doing their work, the vocal minority was heard and the opinions formed from that noise was not worth anything.

The same is happening today with this battle. The vociferous mob will move on to the next offending statement and fight the battle there, the silent majority will continue to transact with the brands.

Snapdeal, Godrej, Coke, Titan, Samsung would have found new fans if they had stood by their existing or past brand ambassador in times of mob frenzy. Snapdeal faced the fury of people giving the app single-star rating on Play Store, but it also had a small number of people giving it 5-star rating, and I am not sure if it saw a significant dip in transactions across the two days. Godrej publicly stepped away from Aamir; what if it also made clear that while they don’t have Aamir as the endorser, they feel Aamir still embodies their brand values?

It takes one sane voice to quell the mobocracy, that sane voice could have been that of the brands. The silent majority is a powerful force, far more powerful than the small vocal mob. Brands must tap into the power of silent majority.

Original published here: http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2015/11/adstand-power-of-the-silent-majority/

Simple narratives, great impact

The Great Khali powered Ambuja Cement to glory earlier this month; last week it was Shiseido winning the Internet hands down.

Shiseido’s High School Girl? is a delightful film about a good old beauty brand that taps into Japan’s popular culture to create a film that makes the brand super cool. Unlike most beauty brands, it doesn’t drown the viewer in scientific mumbo-jumbo or complicated product demonstrations or even a cleverly written base line. There is a clever little twist in the film, which if you have seen you will get it, so I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t watched it. In the beauty category, the twist is neither new nor surprising. What works is the way the twist has been woven into the narrative. Much like the earlier Great Khali TVC, the final brand baseline is simple: “Anyone Can Be Cute”.

The brand is not telling the tales of transgender or cross dressing, it’s a simple demonstration of what ‘transformation’ is all about and how gender fluidity is becoming a part of pop culture. At almost 6 million views in less than a week, Shiseido has been winning the world over.

I want to contrast the Shiseido effort with two TVCs that were all over my timeline this week – one brand new TVC from Tanishq and other, a year-old TVC from Dabur Honey.

Tanishq’s new Diwali TVC featuring Deepika and Prakash Padukone is for a range called Divyam. Divyam by Tanishq is about a good start to the New Year, as the brand promise suggests. The narrative is all about how the family is going about celebrating Diwali like it goes about every year. Like every year, they clean, cook, wish and gift new things to each other and to loved ones. It builds a routine till the daughter talks about the gift she gets. It is then that the narrative changes, it is not mundane, it is happy and melodramatic. Was Deepika surprised about the gift or was she expecting the gift to be Tanishq all the time? Does the father-daughter bond go up many notches because of an expensive gift? Tanishq has done much better than this. Somehow the twist in the ad is more mundane then the entire sequence the TVC builds up to.

Dabur Honey’s TVC is a year old by its date of upload on YouTube, but the MissMalini.com review of the ad is fairly recent. Either way, the TVC is stuck in the 70s in its narrative. It’s a good thing to position honey as beauty food, not many food brands have been able to do that, but to build the brand in such a stereotypical way is completely out of sync with today’s times. Even advertising which is not the most progressive when it comes to gender portrayal has done much better than this. What if it had kept the narrative simple? What if the effect of attractive wife was the husband trying to get fitter and leave being glued to his laptop or whatever he was trying to come to grips with on his desk?

Brands win when they keep the narratives simple. Brands win when the narrative doesn’t dumb down the audience. That’s why more power to Ambuja and Shiseido.

Original published here http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2015/10/adstand-simple-narratives-great-impact/

 

Shocking, Bizarre or Strategically Sound?

Can any brand ever imagine that a billboard done by it four years back and displayed in one city would be remembered? The almost impossible was achieved by C Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons, a jeweller from Bengaluru. For those who may not remember, the billboard screamed, “Let the world see your family jewels”. Serious, no jokes. They put this in the main city square, big and bold. Internet hasn’t stopped laughing ever since.

Grabbing attention to become memorable is the reason brands advertise. Attention is a rare commodity, it is not easy to find. Memorability is even rarer. In the cacophony of brand messages, status updates, newsbreaks, cricket scores, football goals, news of bans, WhatsApp jokes, et al, how much can one remember?

Today, more so, brands have it tougher grabbing attention. With the rise of social media, consumers have more things to do and watching and commenting on ads is just one more activity. Is creating bizarre ads with over the top appeal the best way to gain attention? Does it always work for the brand?

Scotch Brite had a hilariously comical conversation between a woman and God and how God blessed the Scotch Brite instead of her as God was distracted. The TVC is designed to be comical and make the viewer laugh. Dish cleaning is not the most involved category; making the consumer excited about the category is not easy. If anything, the brand garnered attention and conversation.

Does this work in categories, which are not low involvement?

AskMeBazaar has a strange take on online shopping. With Farhan Akhtar as brand ambassador, the brand has a
more comical take on shopping, services and other stuff that the brand does. Instead of what could have been a very engaging take from the brand on shifting habits from offline to online, what we get is a bizarre caricature of the brand.

GreenPly has had a melody chocolate moment (Melody itni Chocolaty kaise hai) with its series on Ask Greenply, the
context setting has no connection with the question being raised or the connection with the category. Many years ago Asian Paints had an almost similar take on home painting services: that take was brilliant.

These are just a few examples of ads from categories that are high involvement, where the task of generating interest is tough and where the image of the brand matters in making the choice.

Today, with millions of messages consumed across the day, being able to make an impression has become difficult.
Perhaps that is the reason brands are getting funnier.

Bizarre, funny or not, I think there are some things that brands do need to keep in mind to get attention. These are classical, old world rules that still work in today’s day and age.

One: Brands solve a problem; the reason they exist is because they have a unique solution to every day’s boring, mundane issues. They have to be meaningful in the way they approach the issue at hand and have an outlook that makes the brand stand out. Brands are not always about being faster, taller, grander, sometimes the brands are about doing one thing, but doing that one thing in a manner that others don’t do.

Two: The brand has to have a wider perspective, has to have a purpose to exist. The brand’s purpose has to be more than the sum of features that it has, has to be more than the what, where and how issues that brands often communicate. Purpose is a wider belief that works for consumers in the ever-changing world. Purpose gives the brand a charter to live by, a sense of manifesto that they can adhere to, a belief system that makes the brand long lasting. Consumer attention is scarce and miniscule; a sharply defined purpose will always get her attention.

Over-the-top cheesy brand appeals are created to grab attention. There is nothing wrong with doing so till the time the brand stays true to its purpose. When the brand loses focus and cracks jokes for the sake of cracking jokes, it becomes difficult for the brand to stand out.

Three: No brand can survive without the context. The context has to be real, relevant and something that makes consumers look at the brand. Often in being comical or strange or bizarre, brands lose their sense of context and then stand out like a sore thumb. When brands get the context correct, the creative metaphor becomes an easy vehicle to deliver the message.

Over-the-top cheesy brand appeals are created to grab attention. There is nothing wrong with doing so till the time the brand stays true to its purpose. When the brand loses focus and cracks jokes for the sake of cracking jokes, it becomes difficult for the brand to stand out.Even over the top appeals need an underpinning of smart strategy. Or else as the brand that promised something about family jewels, the world laughs and moves on.

Original published here http://www.financialexpress.com/article/industry/companies/ad-dendum-by-naresh-gupta-shocking-bizarre-or-strategically-sound/146265/

Content and advertising, do they ever meet?

Three brands have done three different pieces of content this week – two of these brands tied up with content creators, while the third brand did it the conventional way with pure play advertising. Truly Madly partnered with AIB to produce Creepy Qawwali. Flipkart partnered with The Viral Factory to produce ‘How to train your dad’ and we all know that Ambuja Cement created a winner with The Great Khali.

First the simple question, are brands becoming brave to tie up with third parties to produce branded content? Is this where advertising is headed? The overwhelming popular theme suggests that traditional conventional advertising messaging strategies are not working and brands need far more organic content to succeed. Organic means non-scripted, created by users, and often not paid for.

Branded content is not a new concept, it has existed for many years, in fact for many decades. Fashion magazines have been partnering brands to create fashion content for many decades; this is a significant revenue generator for the magazines. These features are not created by the agency, but by the editorial team of the magazines and readers know that the content is sponsored. The trend has been heightened by the online bloggers who create branded pieces for the partner brands. For example, the current Vogue agazine in India has a fair sprinkling of created content for designers.

Truly Madly had earlier created ‘boy browsing’, a trend of checking out boys by single girls for dating. The AIB-partnered video takes the brand concept and turns into a 5-minute long song that celebrates various facets of how boys troll girls online and the feeling of ‘creepyness’ that it evokes. The song obviously has greater tonality of AIB and lesser of Truly Madly, but no one misses the fact that it is a brand message. AIB even announced that they have created an ad agency to produce branded content. With over 600,000 views, they seem to have hit the jackpot.

The Viral Factory has a take on Flipkart’s ‘Big Billon Day’ sale starting today. Unlike Truly Madly, The Viral Factory claims on Twitter that this has not been paid by the brand. May be the brand should pay for this, the feature (can’t call it an ad) is brilliantly cast, brilliantly performed and will leave you in splits. If the bog billion divas (borrowing from the feature) is a roaring success, this piece will have a big hand in it. At 10,000 views, it looks like it is early days on the life of this video.

Giant strength for the Giant TVC

The piece that may have won the battle at this time is possibly the ad by Ambuja Cement (https://youtu.be/ByoKOG3Y-bI) with the great Khali. It is good old traditional advertising with good old storytelling craft and a celebrity that does the magic. It has shades from the earlier wind energy commercial, but the story that this TVC tells is not similar. What makes the Ambuja ad significant is that it comes from a conventional agency, has no content tie-up and yet works like the branded content piece that brands look for today. Just a day old, it seems to be winning over the Internet completely.

Importance of content cannot be downplayed; this is the fuel that drives the world of brands. Brands did experiment earlier and they are still experimenting. What will define the tone of the new age content will be both – the platforms and the content creators. What will win will be the good old storytelling ability

Original published here: http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2015/10/adstand-content-advertising-and-do-they-ever-meet/

 

Gandhi jayanti posts

Brands were on an overdrive this Gandhi Jayanti. Social media was buzzing with brands paying homage to the Father of the Nation. 2015 marks the 100th year since Gandhi returned from South Africa to India. This is a fairly significant milestone in the history of our nation. Most brands created usual Gandhi tribute using three of his most famous quotes. Here are the top posts from a variety of brands that caught my eye.

Gandhi-INC

It’s Gandhi Jayanti, and he helped formed a political party in India. Indian National Congress’ post on Gandhiji was a usual one about how he became the Mahatma. At 17,000 likes, the post had a significant traction. However, it were the comments that took away from the posts completely; the entire feed was about hate and vitriol that the netizens had heaped on Gandhiji. There was no attempt to monitor, debate or delete the comments from the party.

BJP-Gandhi

BJP, too, had a post on Gandhiji, which was also a usual quote from him that got 8,000 likes. Even here the comments section was pure acid, cutting through any level of sensitivity. Here, too, the moderator made no attempt to debate or moderate the conversation. For the man who practiced restrain and preached shaking the world gently, the two political party feeds were anything but gentle. May be the parties should do something about civility in the cyber world.

Idea-Gandhi

The post that possibly had the greatest traction was from Idea Mobile at phenomenal 87,000 likes. The comments section of the post was anything but a tribute to the Mahatma, it was full of complaints and the brand’s revert on the complaints. Some moderation here, too, may have gone a long way in ensuring that the brand stays true to the message of peace.

It was AIB that had a post on Gandhiji that cleverly used four emojees and the message was subtle and clear. The comments feed and the Twitter feed were relatively clean from the fans and followers.

Gandhi-Senn

Some brands tried to connect the brand with the philosophy of the man, and did it well. Sennheiser had a post on making music and not war. FitBit, the fitness tracker brand, paid tribute to the man with a message on walking, nicely done by a brand that is all about being fit and active. Telenor paid tribute to the man by dipping into his ability to inspire and lead.

Gandhi-Telenor

Liverpool FC club had a simple post on the man, which was a nice gesture from a British brand.

Gandhi-Liverpool

The two strange posts came from MI, the mobile phone brand, and Junglee Rummy. MI launched a Mahatma theme for its mobile phone users. They did turn Gandhiji into a pure commercial icon. Stranger still was online gambling site Jungle Rummy paying tribute to Gandhiji. Will the man have been amused by an online gambling site invoking his name?

Rummy-Gandhi-mi

The 100 years of homecoming was not a theme for any of the post on social media. Initiatives like Make in India could have turned this into a significant event.

We at Bang in the Middle had our humble post on the man. From our perspective at the agency, we had the best tribute to the man.

Gandh-BITMo\

Original published here: http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2015/10/adstand-the-gandhi-jayanti/

 

 

 

Sugar Bomb Effect

Luke Sullivan, in his book ‘Hey Whipple’, speaks of the lengths brands go to differentiate themselves. The book narrates the story of the category called Breakfast Cereals. Brand one is the leader in breakfast cereals, to differentiate itself, brand two adds a bit of sugar and calls it frosted. Brand three goes a little further and makes it extra sugary, this ends when finally a brand just has only sugar and no cereal, we call it sugar bomb. Cereal to sugar bomb is one continuum that rules the world of brands in many ways. Look around, there are many sugar bombs that can be seen. One kind of sugar bomb is the innovation that a brand communicates, purely cosmetic and heightened by the clever advertising; the other, delivered through a meaningless advertising device that makes little sense in the overall scheme of things.

The product innovation kind comes from the Panasonic Eluga TVC. Panasonic claims to have redefined the entire usage experience of the cellphone. Now you don’t have to look for the ‘correct’ side, the phone works with any side as the display adapts to the side you pick it up from. Now, I never knew that figuring the right side of the call was such a big issue. Will this lead to people leaving the choices they had and rush to buy Panasonic? Would be fun to watch.

The second kind of sugar bomb comes from creative devices that ads use to make a point, which to start with may not be such a major point. Take Tata Tea’s latest commercial, which builds on small and big leaf mixture for that perfect cup of tea. The ad actually has a fairly progressive theme. Two daughters in the family, the elder one has come home, the younger one lives at home, it’s time for the father to enjoy the company of both his daughters and sink in the good taste of tea, till the mother pipes up and pours cold water over all the festivities. To the amazement of the father, she says that the taste of tea has nothing to do with both daughters at home, but to do it with the mixture of tea leaves, it even has a product window to show this. From being an absolute joy, the ad sinks to morass from where it is difficult to dig it out. Pure sugar bomb moment because the brand had to make big story about some curl and cut of tea.

Take Faasos, for example, it’s a new concept, it’s a food delivery app, may be at the back of it it’s a restaurant that makes tasty food. It answers one question – #aajkhanemainkyahai (what’s for food today). What could have been an engaging conversation turns into a contrived setup because the brand had to bring in the ‘f’ word for Faasos. Pure sugar bomb moment.

Coverfox, an online aggregator of insurance packages, has a delightful radio commercial about stray dogs chasing cars and causing accidents and how one should be prepared for any eventuality. Now, this engaging conversation takes a bizarre turn for its latest TV campaign. The whole setup is contrived, the need for insurance at that moment is forced, the product demo is force fitted. Coverfox has to convince us to buy the insurance and has to do a demo of the app, the context made to work around the need for demo. Wish they had stuck to the dog and car story, it is so much more meaningful.

If you missed the new Sintex tank commercial, you must catch it. This is the one where the family lives with a plumber because ordinary tanks always need fixing. Sometimes the brand strategy needs fixing to avoid getting into sugar bomb moments.

These are a few that I have noticed, I am sure you would have noticed more of your own, possibly this is what makes the profession of creating brand messages boring and mundane.

Original published here http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2015/09/adstand-the-sugar-bomb-effect/