AdStand: Positioning. Impulse. Transaction. Delivery.

Jack Trout passed away earlier this week. He along with Al Reis wrote the book “Positioning. The Battle For Your Mind” in the late 60s. For over fifty years the marketing and communication practice has looked at the term and what the term represents almost every day.

70s was the era of manufacturing boom in America (the theory originated in USA) the retail shelves were getting filled with new packaged products, the brands needed to stand out.

The concept of positioning is based on a simple principle of identifying a ‘differentiator” and then owning that differentiator in consumers’ mind. The ownership of the differentiator creates a lasting impression and becomes the driver of business in a wider sense of the term.

This remained unchanged and unchallenged, despite the second book that the authors wrote. They amended some of their theories, but somehow the updated book did not become the kind of anthem the first book had become.

Positioning was all about narrowing the brand to one thing that could be owned in the strongest way in consumers mind.

Positioning actually built a buying shortcut

I am not sure if the theory was intended to build a buying shortcut. The singular focus of the brands meant that consumers could identify what the brand stood for with ease. That ease fuelled the entire impulse buying. As the consumer crossed the shop shelf, or stood behind counter asking for the brand or interacted with the brand at any place, the singularity triggered the reason to buy.

Singularity meant that consumers could use twisted heuristics – unconsciously held rules of thumb – that help us make quick decisions that we’ve learned generally work out well.

Impulse became the currency and positioning strengthened impulse every day.

Now if the brands had to enter the buying basket, they had to displace the ones already there. What was called brand loyalty was actually twisted heuristics, and rival brands raided the others to weaken the twist.

At some stage with more and more brands proliferating, with every brand trying to occupy mind space, the whole singularity started to become a drag for the brands.

 

Impulse got ambushed by transaction.

Positioning as a theory lived in the context of broadcast era. Brands could be singular and deliver the same message to a wide range of diverse audience every evening, in the same way, every day. Digital changed that fundamentally. Messages are now not broadcast driven, they are individual driven. Narrowcast is not the word that can be used for digital messaging. Brands now don’t have to bother about building a context. They look at the consumer and make an offer. Heuristic went out of the window because the new currency is all about better value here and now.

Transaction rules the new message from brands. Brands becoming transactional is the exact opposite if what the Gurus of Positioning say. In being transactional brands are many things to many people. They are about moving hands and feet, they are not about moving heart and mind.

 

Transactional is now delivery, that too by drone

The new frontier of branding is neither positioning nor the transactional competence. The final frontier is about how quickly the brand can be delivered to the consumers. Before you think this is kite flying, consider this: Mercedes-Benz is investing USD 562 Million in a drone delivery setup. This system is designed to deliver packages faster to consumers using drones. This in 60s when the positioning theory was written would have sounded like a far off science fiction thing. The future is here, the future is in drones

 

Jack Trout has passed away. The theory he co authored is also passing through transitioning times.

The future itself may need new positioning

Originally published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/06/adstand-positioning-impulse-transaction-delivery/

 

AdStand: Government as Advertiser

India’s largest advertiser is not any brand or organization, it is the Government of India, and if you add all the state Governments to it, the sheer volume of advertising will be staggering. I am not adding the campaigns that the Government does for tourism or vaccination or cleanliness or any such cause or business. The communication that Governments do for themselves is phenomenal and keeps scores of agencies busy all round the clock.

Despite popular perceptions and some ordinary creative quality Governments are skilled advertisers. They have a clear idea of what they want to communicate and to who they want to connect with. They craft the message with a good sense of audience, their receptivity and political leanings.

Advertising by definition has to connect with the core audience and say one thing. Both these rules are not applicable to Government. They are not selling a product or a service. Government is not selling anything, they are showcasing their ability, their acumen, their achievements. They have to showcase a lot, create a positive influence and make the audience feel everyday that their choice was the correct choice and they should exercise the same choice in next elections. All this without showing the party symbols. Being everything to everybody is not easy. Being an all pervasive campaign is not easy. Being able to have multiple subjects where the citizens find what appeals to them by themselves is not easy. The Government ads have a different challenge.

The current regime in the center has elevated the art of Sarkari advertising to a new level. They haven’t done this by improving the quality or by better art direction or by better copywriting. None of that has changed in the ads. The ads remain plain and information driven.

What they have done is better segmentation. Each subject the Government wants to convey is a campaign. Each subject has its own slogan. Each campaign has the PM posing in the right context. Each campaign also has its hashtag, presumably for digital conversation.

Take the three years of NDA campaign that is going on currently. From GST to Skill India to Swach Bharat, the campaign has many subjects. All the campaigns have been unified using one slogan: Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. This has been the Governments continuing slogan from the campaign which transitioned from the BJP election campaign.

What the Government has done is understood the Indian mindset. The success of brands in India is built on Sachets, every brand that sells a large pack uses Sachet to drive penetration. This is the Government that has driven the messaging in the same way. If you happen to catch a flight from a smaller airport in India (managed by AAAI) you will see boards proclaiming how the Government has ensured that fares have fallen in last 3 years. This has not been done by any Government ever.

For me, as a communication professional, there are many lessons that Government campaigns do teach me.

Originally published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/06/ad-stand-government-as-advertiser/

 

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

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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/