AdStand: Women as consumers and advertising’s disconnect with them

Last week was dominated by women-centric stories in advertising and content. Both in India and globally. All the stories do raise a pertinent point: do we in advertising have any clue of the changing women consumers or are we still seeing them with the narrow perspective of past? Just sample what happened last week. Audi in China missed the mark with a TVC. In India, we are doing one strange TV show about a 10-year-old boy getting married to a grown up woman. An RJ in Mumbai brought BMC to its knees, and she is a spunky lady. A movie with liberating theme about women tied the Censor Board in a tangle that the best Yoga guru couldn’t fathom. The women cricket team reached the final of the world cup. Meanwhile, advertising in India continues to make skin fairer, weddings grander, mom-in-laws angrier, shirts whiter and utensils shinier.

Audi in China is a very powerful brand. It has ruled the market in China for a very long period and is a part of pop culture. The market’s reaction to the ultra-insensitive Audi Used Car ad was understandable. The market reacted with horror, there were calls to ban the commercial. Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter) was unforgiving. Audi’s global brand managers apologised. The commercial compared a new bride to a used car and the analogy made a big dent into the reputation of the brand. In every such case, we must remember that there was a brief, there was an approval to a concept, there was the process of creation, post-shoot approvals and may be many rounds of market research in between. If the ad made it to screens than it begs the question, are they in touch with their consumers? Or they are completely oblivious to the realities of the market.

Meanwhile back home Mumbai is witnessing a bizarre sequence of events. An RJ created a song about potholes in Mumbai and the whole BMC was up in arms. They slapped a case of mosquito breeding. Mumbai rose in unity and sided with the RJ. Across social media, the outpouring of support was massive. What possibly added to the whole movement was the fact that the RJ was a lady. What may have proved the authorities was possibly her gender. The city did not let her gender come by way of the support.

The outpouring of pride and support for the women’s cricket team who reached the final was also massive. Women’s cricket has not been a popular sport in India, despite the popular sport it is. The journey of the team from being a qualifier to almost champion fired up the imagination of the country.

After a protracted battle with the censor board, Lipstick Under My Burka was received with open admiration. The movie does talk about themes that have not been a part of the popular narrative in either movies or advertising. A pleasure-seeking old woman is not the theme that has ever been portrayed. The good thing to watch was not that the theme was touched upon; it was that the audience accepted the narrative.

The week also saw the release of a bizarre show on TV where a 10-year-old boy marries a lady more than twice his age. Everything about the show is wrong. However, despite the protests, the show is on screens, beamed regularly to our homes.

The wider issue is the lack of women centricity in most of commercials that are being beamed on TV. The insights and the propositions are a bit dated. Life on TV for brands is still about shinier, fairer, brighter and grander. The new emerging women consumers are not the same as what they used to be. Ten years back they were saying that it’s okay to not get married, today the signs of successful marriage are not how the husband-wife portrayal is in many mainstream brand ads.

Brands need to rethink the emotional contract they have with the consumers. They are moving at alarming speed. Brands need to be ahead, drive the change, be engaged. Maybe the next set of commercial from jewellery as category is not about a grand wedding, but about many more emerging themes.

Remember the girl’s story who does not call off her honeymoon even after her wedding broke, became an iconic movie. And the lead actor became a strong voice.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/07/ad-stand-women-as-consumers-and-advertising-s-disconnect-with-them/

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: Mother’s Day, mass hysteria

 

Move over Diwali, move over Christmas and move over Valentine’s Day. Mothers Day in 2017 has become the new marketing calendar showstopper.

Mothers Day may have started off as anti war movement in US, but now it has been fully embraced by India. There may be small parallels in India to Mothers Day with events like Durga Puja in East or Lakshmi Pooja in North, but there is no universal day that celebrates the bond between mother and children and her role as the nurturer. The day may have contributed a massive amount to the kitty of brands this year, restaurants, florists, and Internet data providers. If there is someone tracking the spends, I won’t be surprised if the money is not coming close to what we spend on Diwali (minus the jewelry).

India has seen a tear fest this year with brand after brand making heartfelt emotional films about mothers, about her toughness, about the lessons that she imparted, about how the new generation has abandoned mother for connected devices, about how she is the keeper of family flame, even fathers as mothers and the caretaker as being mother like. This year the sheer volume of Mothers day messages was staggering. Did the message come from the reality of the brand? Did it work for the brand? I guess in the drive for getting social conversation going, sometimes the message is more

The only message or forward I didn’t get was either about Bharat Mata or the Holy Mother Cow.

In this maze of sameness and emotional overkill, for me, the spot that stood out for the Mothers Day was from Preganews.

Pregnancy and workplace is not a theme that I have even seen. For a brand to create a sensitive narrative around expectant mothers and do it in a non-preachy way is commendable. The spot did hit a tender spot with many new mothers sharing their own experiences on how the work place did make it easier for them when they were pregnant. The brand did not let itself get carried away and become bigger than the narrative. It was the earlier brand to release the ad, and it did continue to stand out despite a barrage of mass hysteria.

It’s not that internally there was any dearth of Mother’s day messages from brands. Proctor and Gamble every year has been doing ads around Mothers day. The mom song that they created or even the Vicks ad they did this year are commercials that were celebrating the theme.

Internationally Gap and Kraft Mac and Cheese did something that stood out for me.

Both the brands used social influencers to create campaigns that spoke the language of today did not have an emotional overkill and were true to the brand.

Gap

Gap used models Candice Swanepoel and Coco Rocha, and actresses Liv Tyler, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Cass & Ali Bird, in a campaign, is titled #MamaSaid and has the ladies’ gorgeous children star with them. The brand celebrated the bond between mother and child by showcasing them in Gap ensembles. They also tied up with a voluntary organization to raise funds for them.

 

Kraft Mac and Cheese (https://youtu.be/jV-opIMAtD4) did a hilarious campaign with social influencer and author Melissa Mohr, author of “Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing”

 

 

They also created a website called swearlikeamother.com where the kids can go and download silly mothers day cards and make them feel good about their own antics. The campaign is hilarious at many levels, biggest being the acknowledgment that Kraft Mac and Cheese is not about good parenting or nurturing. By acknowledging that the language of today is a problem, they made the brand a part of contemporary lingo

 

Mother’s Day has now come and gone. Fathers Day is around the corner, now will Father’s get their share of noise?

Originally published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/05/ad-stand-mother-s-day-mass-hysteria/

AdStand: The Traffic Jam

There is something about failed urban infrastructure and brands. They spot opportunities in that failure and create memorable award winning work. Like the Ola boats that were pressed into service by Ola during Chennai floods. Or the lifeboat that Aircel hangs on outdoors in Mumbai and Guwahati.

Last week saw similar urban infrastructure failure in three major cities of India. In Bangalore it rained so much that people caught fish in roads. In normal days, Bangalore is not the fastest moving city, in rains it did struggle to move. In Mumbai it rained so much that streets became river. In Gurgaon it didn’t rain so much, yet the traffic jams lasted 20 hours. This is possibly India’s longest traffic jam.

Does the urban failure open new opportunities for brands? Can new startups look at this craft new services?

Here’s what is possible for new enterprising people to look at.

 

Hyperlocal can be powered by Hyperjam

Technology allows mobile phone to read the location and connect with phones in the same location. Imagine if the phones of fellow drivers are connected to one another in traffic Jam for them to have conversations. Imagine group Selfie in traffic jams, or discussion over state of roads or even connecting with cars and bikes that are way ahead in jam to telegraph to people who are behind. Traffic cops can even moderate the conversation by being on platform. Next day as and when the Jam clears brands can offer special deals to those who braved the failure of authorities and reward them for their suffering.

One thing that these apps can do is map the potholes and give it a geotag. If integrated with Google maps, the driver will even get a fair warning of impending bumps and breaks.

 

Food, Fuel and Breaks

There are many opportunities for startups here.

First, there can be an army of drivers that can sit-in and brave the jams instead of the poor souls who are going to or coming back from work. The owners and passengers still may have to brave elements to do something else, but they can at least forget looking after their car or bike.

There is a huge market for delivery of fuel to cars and bike that may run out of fuel standing and waiting in the jam. Imagine never having to look at the dipping needle of fuel gauge. The cars are connected with the fuel delivery service through an app. The app reads the geo location and automatically sends a delivery drone.

Third idea is a food delivery idea. Standing in jams for hours sure is taxing. Last year in one such long extended jam, I asked a pizza delivery brand if they will deliver in a traffic logjam. The person who attended the call was game to do so, but didn’t have the means to reach the car. What if this can be solved by people on foot or cycles, they dodge and dash to reach you. The delivery brands can geo tag the locations of order and find a way of reaching you. This is a big market waiting to be exploited as stranded in traffic is normal everyday affair in urban India. There is a company in Indonesia doing this, its time we did it too.

Fourth is to help the stranded drivers to take bio breaks. Does this need an app? May be it does, after all there has to be an app for everything in this world

The concierge service

Getting stuck in a jam and missing out on urgent things is now a real issue. Jams appear from nowhere, cannot be predicted and mess up best laid plans. Motorcycle riders who you can hail stuck in jams who deliver your documents, and packets in times of need are waiting to burst at the scene. A host of concierge service can be launched targeting just the guys stuck on road.

 

Carmageddon is here to stay

There is no escaping crushing jam that brings speed of high flying urban dwellers to a grinding halt. It dies open a slew of services that can be delivered to the sufferers of Carmageddon. Special spa treatments, food menu inspired from jam, special fashion line that helps alleviate the side effects.

 

Failure of urban infrastructure does lead to new categories being created. The current failure of urban infra is of epic proportions. May be there are series of apps that can be launched to save us from Carmageddon

 

 

 

 

 

 

AdStand: The Public Service Ads

This week, the 11 minute anti smoking commercial has been making all the news. There was another ad that caught my eye. It may not have been the Internet sensation, but Brooke Bond Tea’s new ad is certainly worth applauding. Surprisingly this film is not on their social pages, but uploaded only on Kulzy.

The film (https://www.kulzy.com/work/112975/brooke-bond-red-label/film/taste-of-togetherness/) opens on blank screen with noises that we hear everyday in Mumbai, honking, trains, and wedding. It then shows an old women sipping tea all alone on her rocking chair. The ad extolls people to go and end someone’s loneliness this weekend. The film is singular in building on the brand plank of Taste of Togetherness. Brooke Bond for some years has been building on the plank of bringing people together and this film takes that plank forward in a cheerful way.

Old age loneliness is a serious problem in a young country like India. I hope we see more of this from Brooke Bond and not wait till the next award season.

Alok Nath, Sunny Leone and Deepak Dobriyal have an indulgent anti smoking tale to tell. At almost 3.5 Million views in a week, clearly the star appeal of the actors has helped in the film becoming a super hit.  The comments across online forums suggest a warm welcome being given out to the film.

Is the film successful in pursuing smokers to kick the stick?

The film follows the usual narrative of smoking kills, this is known and most smokers know this. The claim of cigarette reducing life has now jumped to 11 minutes, how does this pious number come in being is left unexplained.  Is it 2 minute? Or 4?,Now it is 11. If a smoker gets into calculating the time left to live, they will laugh it out.

I think the film misses out on the wider narrative. While the netizens have been effusive in praise, there have been very few that have pledged to quit smoking, just a few who have thought of doing so. This is where the film could have had a deeper impact.

Why is the film not ending with a platform that helps people helps quit the habit? Why is the film not helping them taking the first step?

Why is the film not connecting those who quit with those who want to quit?

This is where the film could have risen to greater heights.

That leads me to the wider question: why do anti smoking campaigns generally fail? The answer lies in many behavioural studies done across geographies by many academicians. These studies are in public domain and are a wealth of insights. The basic thrust of most of these studies points to one factor. Anti Smoking campaigns stigmatize smokers, and while it may motivate a few to quit smoking, to a vast majority it makes them angry, resist the message and isolate themselves. This makes them light up the stick more then quitting the habit. Death is not the promise that motivates them to quit. Could the 11 minute long format narrative move beyond death and be in positive space? May be there is a next version coming.

The third TVC to catch fancy is Ariel’s Share the Load. Father has a moment of enlightenment when he sees his daughter balance home and office by being at two places at the same time. Father’s decision to correct his own mistake and share the load of housework with his wife is told with sincerity and humility. The brand could have become even more enduring if the final payoff was not just sharing laundry, and the product integration was a lot more muted. In its own archive, Ariel has a TVC where the husband does the laundry to win wife’s love. Kuch pane ke liye kuch dhona padta hai. This was before the social media became the force that it is today. This commercial was even more sensitive and loveable than Share the Load one.

Tea, detergent and anti smoking are three very disconnected categories to come across socially appealing narratives. Brands should continue to do this irrespective of timing of award shows. 

Original published here: http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2016/03/adstand-the-public-service-ads/

AdStand: Breaking stereotypes or strengthening them?

Celebrity is the most commonly employed brand strategy to stand out and build image. In this hyper connected world, the strategy is to find a provocative social problem and create a branded message around it. There have been a slew of brands from telecom to fashion that have used progressive feministic appeals to cut through clutter.

Latest to join the battle is Biba.

Biba is an ethnic wear brand for women; its early days were about being the official partners to movies and dressed up many a star. End of last month it released a campaign – #changeisbeautiful – about breaking a few stereotypes and creating a new convention. It uses adusky protagonist, questions conventions and establishes new conventions. It has been rewarded with thirteen million plus views on the web. Clearly it has been a viral hit and has generated a conversation.

The commercial starts with food (how can I marry a person over samosa) and ends over food (does the groom know how to cook?). Somehow in our progressive brand worlds, cooking and dusky skins take centrestage. Biba while having good intentions and wanting to get into progressive conversations actually stays in the conventional zone. To a certain extent it is comical in its characterization, and that takes away from the hard-hitting appeal it could have had. Biba I feel missed more than it scored.

I would like Biba to look at these two TVCs from Bharat Matrimony. The first commercial is about husband seeing off wife who has had an opportunity of lifetime, and the second is about the husband being the critic of the wife’s stage performance. These two are not viral hits on net, but are far more compelling and could easily fit the #changeisbeautiful narrative. Bharat Matrimony does not get into overt drama, or into a preachy mode and definitely stays away from Kitchen. Bharat Matrimony scores many points with its sensitive portrayal. The ads are about letting wives chase their passion, about giving wives the space they need, about husbands that stand by them, and all this is delivered with powerful portrayal. To me Bharat Matrimony broke the stereotypes that we in advertising have built over the years.

Brooke Bond tea’s latest transgender band is attempt in the same direction. Co-created with YRF, endorsed by Sonu Nigam, Brooke Bond has taken the initiative to further the cause of gender equality in India. The band’s first song is the cover version of Pharrell William’s global hit ‘Happy’. What the brand does well is to stay away from meddling with the overall construct of the narrative; it’s not overtly branded for a tea brand. What it does not achieve is true gender diversity conversation. It leaves the conversation in the known stereotypical zone. I hope as the initiative progresses, they actually do something about the problems of community and truly work towards generating equality. For me, it is an initiative that has the ability to grow into something very substantial for the brand.

The way to merge social stereotypes and have a hard hitting commentary about it has been shown by Kalki in this video.

Printing Machine, written and narrated by her, is a powerful statement on what today’s news media does to women. How everything is seen from sensationalizing angle, on how every event that happens will be used to create commerce.

Click click clika lika lik lik the tap on the lap goes zip zap is very much a commentary on how we in advertising sometimes mindlessly use social cause to create messages to be vain, progressive, forward thinking, when we are actually stuck in our own stereotypes. Remember this too is a commercial message from a brand of cosmetics, and that makes it super powerful.

original published here http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2016/01/adstand-breaking-stereotypes-or-strengthening-them/

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/