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: Has Baahubali redefined marketing in India?

I may be among the rare Indians who hasn’t seen Baahubali. I may be among few world citizens who haven’t seen Baahubali. The one key question kept the buzz alive for almost four years. One simple question drove the engagement for the movie. Closer to release the movie unleashed brand partnerships of epic scale. Brands were happy to play subservient to the appeal of the movie. By the end of the week, the fantasy saga had re written every rule, broken every record. The movie is an epic hit.

There are lessons for marketing fraternity that are hard to miss.

 

The word National needs to be looked at with new eyes

What is a national brand and what is a regional brand in India? National brands have always tended to start from the larger landmass of upper India and then moved to ‘regional’ pockets. Brands have often tweaked appeals to suit the regional markets. There have been very few brands that had their origination in the regional market and went on to become a national brand in no time. Yes there are brands like Ujala, Sabeena, Nyle, Chic, Wagh Bakeri, brands that crossed over from home states to claim a stake at the national level.

Baahubali has shown that it is possible to be born in the regional market, not speak Hindi or English and yet be a national sensation from day one.

Baahubali, especially Part 2 didn’t remain a Telugu movie, it became a national movie, and therein lies the brilliance of the marketing team. They refused to think regional.

 

Brands need to stick to conviction

It would have been nice to be a fly on the wall listening to the conversation in the conference room of the studio. Did they debate to mute the regional language overtones in the movie? Did they debate to make the idiom a lot more tuned Hindi Speaking market? I don’t know if they even debated these issues. What they did was stick to conviction. The overall packaging of the film remained true to film and what the film needed. The product didn’t even try to hide its origins. They did not add anything to the product to expand its appeal like adding a Hindi film star in special appearance, and such tricks.

Conviction in the product, its values, and the resultant story is very important for any brand; this is the fodder for the appeal that eventually gets created. Baahubali made sure that it didn’t waver from its conviction of telling a story that is grand, lavish and eye-popping. The resultant single mindedness made the brand into a very powerful brand.

 

Being audacious is a great way to build engagement

Building appeal always starts with a great product but needs a very audacious appeal to become a sensation. Audaciousness has been written about, it’s a big jargon in PowerPoint, business even hire consultants to write the audacious goals. If you want to look for an example of being audacious, look no further. The brand did everything with audaciousness built into its core. There were no half measures, there were no shortcuts, and there were no small dreams. They went big. For a new brand or a brand that is trying to challenge the paradigm, they need to be seen as people who are trying to create a new idiom. Baahubali was phenomenally successful in making people accept that they will not be the kind of popular cinema that is most often commercially successful. They would be the outlier that charts its own path.

 

Baahubali sensation has just started. There is a TV series coming, may be that too will capture people’s imagination like the movies. But in any case, the movie has proven that breaking the mold with conviction and audacity can lead to major success.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/05/ad-stand-has-baahubali-redefined-marketing-in-india/

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: Of Fairness and the Celebrity Code

This has been an interesting week. One celebrity took on his entire fraternity over a category they endorse, and Advertising Standards Council released a code of conduct for celebrities who endorse brands.  The trolling of one celebrity and the code of conduct coming in same week are disconnected events, but have set new roles of engagement for the brands.

 

The Abhay Deol Troll War

India has a major fascination for fair skin. At roughly 30 billion, Skin Fairness is possibly the largest category in India. The earliest brand in this category was Afghan Snow. Way back in 1950s they had Miss India’s endorsing the brand, though the brand directly didn’t say fairness cream, it alluded to making skin fair and giving it a ‘snow’ like feel. Surprisingly, The brand is still available on Amazon. Fair and Lovely slowly ambushed Afghan Snow by building a huge guilt trip in would be brides by stressing that fair skin gets better grooms. In 70s, that was a big appeal and slowly Fair and Lovely started to gain acceptance. Today across companies there are many celebrities who do endorse a ‘skin whitening’ cream for both men and women.

In 2014 the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has issued guidelines on the advertising of fairness and skin-lightening creams in an effort to curb the spread of misleading ideas and discrimination.

The new guidelines specified that advertising cannot communicate any discrimination based on skin colour nor can it use post-production visual effects to exaggerate product efficacy, amongst others.

In light of these guidelines the Abhay Deol attack on all his compatriots is a stunning attack. He has raised all the issues that the ASCI has laid down, because despite the guidelines, most brands do flout them and these are large brands that rule the category.

Beyond ASCI guidelines, Abhay Deol has raised the issue on the very existence of the category. His point that should the category even exist as fairness category is worth debating. Fairness is not a fair category, but can the category be really curbed? Thanks to years of cultural imperialism, it is fair skin that is a big definer of beauty in India. So much so that when one odd brand uses a ‘dusky’ model, it becomes big news. This is one war that will need more than a lone voice.

Will ASCI guidelines for Celebrities work?

The new ASCI guidelines that have been put down for celebrity endorsements are very tough.

First, who is a celebrity?

That is defined as someone who receives payment in lieu of appearing in advertising. The definition goes beyond entertainment and sports personalities, but does stop short of ‘influencers’ in social media, may be the code should get upgraded to include anyone who gets paid to propagate brand message.

The second part is what is expected of the celebrity. The Celebrities should do due diligence to ensure that all description, claims and comparisons made in the advertisements they appear in or endorse are capable of being objectively ascertained and capable of substantiation and should not mislead or appear deceptive.

This is far reaching. This means when a celebrity female star plays the role of mother in instant noodle commercial which claims that she feeds her children the noodles because it has nutritional benefits, then she has to believe that the claim is true. Till this point it is still doable. Brands do have tests and data that can be substantiated on many counts. But how will a male film star be convinced that use of a deodorant will have him inundated with female adulation? Or that a particular undergarment is so lucky that it will change his fortune, or that particular slippers’ straps are so strong that he can save girls falling off the cliff or that fairness creams open a world of opportunities, or the film star can jump off a cliff to grab a bottle of cola?

The previous guidelines that ASCI put down for fairness creams have not been followed in true spirit, will we in advertising really follow what we believe are the correct way of using a celebrity? And will we as people who create the appeal for brands extend it to influencers too?

May be we need more Abhay Deols.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/04/adstand-of-fairness-and-the-celebrity-code/

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.

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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.

 

AdStand: Beyond the tokenism of International Women’s Day

The good thing is that brands want to celebrate Women’s Day. Some do it by celebrating their relationship with women consumers, and some by turning it into a joke. This Women’s Day one brand turned it into a shopping day (because it is a retail shopping chain) and other decided to show movies with women in lead (because it is a movie chain). There are very few brands that looked at the International Women’s Day theme of #BeBoldForChange. Inox did it in unique way of declaring woman as the #HeadOfTheFamily, Anouk did it by an online film #SaveItForAnotherDay, or Kriti Sanon did a nice take in it for her brand Ms Taken.

This has become the story of Women’s Day, and I suspect a lot of it is to do with coming of social media. Brands cannot be seen left out on a #TrendingTopic and they have to be seen a part of conversation. The fear of being left out is something that grips most brands for them to push messages out. With social media and shareability on social media driving the reason to do the campaign the messages tend to become overtly preachy.

This is what made me look for commercials that could have been done for International Women’s Day, but were normal everyday brand commercials. Each of these commercials made a deep impact on the brand, they did it by not overtly espousing a cause, were done by large mainstream brand, were definitely not preachy.

First one is a landmark commercial of Indian Advertising. Way back in 90s, TV had just started to become the lead medium of communication; brands were aggressively adopting TVC as the way to connect. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk did this commercial where the girl unabashedly celebrated the success of her friend. The girl jumping up with joy, dodging the security guard to run on to the field and dance with gay abandon. Remember it was 90s, and the message was about joy of eating chocolate. This could well have been the narrative about women celebrating their love without being judged. I know you guessed the TVC, but if you didn’t then here it is

About a decade later, the Samsung Washing Machines did an ad, that in today’s times may carry a click bait headline like: her husband challenged her to play football, what happened next will make you wonder! This was a commercial where the wife dressed in salwar-kameez challenges her husband for a game of football, trips him and beats him at his own game. All the things that brands today will not like to do or do it only for special occasion like Woman’s Day. This was a simple tale, told without the packaging of empowerment and did well for the brand. Here’s the original

 

Around the same time Hyundai broke the rules of car advertising by the tale of a girl, a boy and the father of the girl. It took a brave client to defy research to make the ad. Car ads in those days, and even today was about running product shots, here the car is almost a prop in the narrative. Here’s the ad:

This was the tale of small town India, about the ambitions of women and prejudices of father. In today’s time this would have become the narrative of changing desires if girls and how they are choosing their own partners.

A couple of years later HDFC Life’s ad was a fantastic take on how a girl can make his father’s life happier. The commercial

a part of their ongoing campaign about self-reliance was really progressive without the usual preachy tonality that we tend to see in today’s commercials. Here the daughter’s desire for a better car for father, and that she planned this fir her dad is priceless. I haven’t seen this narrative by brands even as father-son bonding. Compare HDFC to #NayiSoch from Star Plus which they did as a part of their women’s day campaign by roping in Amir Khan. HDFC Life beats the Star Plus commercial hands down, despite being made ten years earlier.

Post 2008, it is difficult to find commercials that can be picked as commercials that made women centric narrative as every day non-preachy affair. Ariel did #ShareTheLoad, but if they looked into their own brand history, they will find a TVC where husband did laundry to win a favour from wife. That too is over ten years back.

The professionals who created these ads are still in the industry. The clients, the agency pros, the researchers, all of them are still around, then where did the progress stop?

And Why?

My hunch is the emergence of social media and the ‘insight’ that social relevance in brand message makes an ad go viral. Now that none of the commercials this Women’s Day truly went viral, brands should relook at their narratives.

No more tokenism should be the mantra.