AdStand: The Milk Sellers

Milk is integral to India, almost every urban home in India is a consumer of milk. The day starts in India with milk, from tea to coffee to a glass of milk. A whopping 10% of global milk production comes from India. Yet for all these years, milk has not seen many brands come in and build traction. We have seen distribution brands being built by cooperative dairies, but otherwise fresh packaged milk has remained a liquid commodity. This has started to change rapidly. In last few months there have been a slew of brands that have been launched in the market. Corporates like Coca Cola are trying their hand in milk market, though not in fresh packaged milk.

Amul has been the leading players in fresh milk. Amul has almost created the category in India. Amul then let many state level cooperatives launch their own brands. Mother Dairy, Verka, Vijaya, Nandini and Saras are the local state level brands that now play at the national level.

Now there are a host of brands that are being launched, some are aimed at the small regional level, some at the national level. There are even tech start-ups that deliver fresh packaged milk to your doorstep. The start-up world has entered the world of gwalas.

The organic food culture has come to fresh packaged milk world in a big way.

There are many small dairies that are aggressively building local offers to supply fresh organic milk. Milcch in Gurgaon, Pride of Cows in Mumbai, Madras Milk in Chennai are all building traction for premium milk. These brands are also creating a new language for milk brands. There is the hyperbole of Madras Milk about being the new standard of milk, to confidence of Pride of Cows about being full of love to Milcch’s claim of being innocent. Farmers are leveraging technology and consumers are getting better choices.

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It’s not just that the action is seen in the niche organic or high quality milk market, the action in the mainstream milk market has also heated up.

Mother Dairy has been very active building both the delivery and fresh milk through a host of campaigns. The challenge to Mother Dairy is coming from aggressive brand like Kwality, which is investing heavily in brand building to gain consumer traction.

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Kwality has signed up a celebrity, known for fitness and is aggressively investing in advertising. As an erstwhile ice-cream player, the brand is not new to the dairy segment. There are two big symbols of milk communication, the milk moustache that Got Milk Campaign uses and the milk splash that is used by many brands. Kwality has used the wings that give Akshay extra power.

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Milk Life, a brand of USA, has been doing the same for many years, and the content it has on the site is extensive. Milk Life became the template for Coca Cola’s campaign for Fairlife Milk. They used milk as fashion statement for today’s models.

Not all appeals in milk advertising are positive. Gurgaon-based Milkor is using fear as appeal to sell milk. Milk is fed to snakes in India in search of blessing; to see milk take the shape of a snake is rather scary. In fear an appeal that can work for a niche unknown brand? Incidentally Milkor is world’s leading brand of Grenade Launchers.

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What is worth pondering over is the fact that despite such a large production base, India does not have a milk brand that is known in the world. We aren’t even known for our prowess in dairy.

Now if cow and buffalo milk is not for you, then there is camel milk available in India. No, not from a home-grown dairy, but from UAE. Check out  https://camelicious.in/

The milk wars may just be beginning, there are many more salvos to be fired. Remember Mahatma Gandhi was fond of goat milk.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/01/ad-stand-the-milk-sellers/

AdStand: The Gender Balance In Advertising

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adstand: Going cashless

In last one month or so, India has learnt two new words. Both can be treated as a stimulous, the response to both has a deep sense of patriotism. One is ‘surgical strike’; the other is ‘cashless’. The two are interconnected. It’s the surgical strike that has aided the rise of narrative of cashless.  Surgical strike has not made it to the brands’ arsenal as yet, cashless has.

We know that India loves cash. Our cultural reference to riches is golden chest with piles of cash in it. Our symbol of someone being rich is someone who sits on pile of cash and carries not just a golden hue, but wears a lot of real gold. With such cultural reference, its tough for brands to build narratives around being cashless. What is helping the brands is the context. The country has gone cashless, not by choice, but driven by circumstances.

 

Cashless is new tactical opportunity

Snapdeal is running large print ads for what they call ‘unbox cash free sale’. For all ecom brands sale is a strategic reason to advertise, unlike brick and mortar brands that treat sale as a tactical activity. The cash less sale is mere branding for another of many sales that Snapdeal keeps announcing. The promise of keeping the transactions alive even if you dint have cash is a but too brand speak. It would have made far better sense if they had nit made it so transactional. Did the brand miss a big opportunity by not being strategic about it?

Toyota is the other brand that has made cashless the theme of its advertising. Every day finance offers are tactical activities for an auto brand and that is exactly how Toyota has treated the subject. Car brands have offered 100% financing for a long time, even if they don’t offer 100% financing, they rarely accept cash. The brand has just used the plank to be in the current context. Make My Trip too has jumped on the wave of cash crunch, and like the others has just mentioned the word.

 

Government’s public service ads

Surprisingly it’s the Government ads that seem to be doing a better job of connecting the issue with how it impacts people’s lives. The series of radio ads detailing how phone can be used for everyday transactions are doing a good job. Government’s entire campaign is to connect with the lowest common denominator and instill a sense of confidence. The campaign may have started late, but does the job. The narrative currently for all the ads is instructional. All the ads are about one urban erudite person telling the other person about how they can make use of phone to transact. May be the next phase of ads will become more conversational and less instructional.

 

The windfall for wallet brands

The wallet brands have seen unprecedented growth. The wallet brands have responded by being aggressively building traction. In last two weeks, PayTM has stolen the lead. It has almost become the default mobile wallet brand. The three options that most merchants today give are Cheque, Card or PayTM. This is making life tough for Mobikwik or PayU or Freecharge or even Mastercard who have been spending money. As the category moves on and becomes big, brands will have to occupy distinct spaces. This is the time when the category is in infancy and often the early leaders tend to become stronger. Its time for all the mobile wallet brands to step up. The challenge for them is tougher with PayTM launching payments bank and UPI becoming the new protocol of payments. The category called mobile wallets itself will mutate into something else. What will become even stronger is payment on the go. This is where the opportunity for brands exists. This is the edge they need to build; this is the long-term asset they can build.

May be there is a new wave of communication coming from wallets.

Today going cashless is driven by extraneous factors. Brands have the ability to impact culture, change behavior. Can they do the same with the need for cash?

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2016/12/ad-stand-going-cashless/

 

AdStand: When Sale is a strategy

There is a lot happening in the consumer space. More brands are on sale then ever. Homes are on sale, cars are on sale, phones are on sale, even brands are on sale. If you are a consumer, then this is the time to go shopping.

Conventional marketing theories have been about building strong pull for the brand by building on core values. Brands should demand a price premium and consumers should seek them out. Price offs are tactical ways to expand the franchise and bring more people in. Marketing managers in past have spared no effort to study the impact of price drop on overall profitability of the brand.

All this is now history. Now sale is the dominant consumer strategy. And if the brand is not on sale, it might have a deal being offered by some deal app.

With opening of ecommerce brands and the race to acquire customers, the money they spend on sale far exceeds the money they spend on brand building. Today Amazon is on sale, Myntra is on sale, Jabong is on sale (and is up for sale).

Meanwhile a brand in US has just introduced drinkable Marijuana Tonics.

 

Myntra is on sale

 

Its not just a sale, its India’s largest fashion sale. Heck, they even have Hritik Roshan getting ready to shop on Myntra. Asking people to create a wish list is simple, that’s what people do before a sale. Myntra even created a behind the scene video of how they are getting ready for the increased demand. There is nothing unusual about the video, just a brand telling its own story.

The big take out from the campaign is simple, you need a big superstar to build traction for sale, that will last two days.

 

Amazon is on Sale

Amazon’s latest fashion campaign has a bus, has a few youngsters who are on a road trip, while on the trip they showcase fashion styles from global ramps. Interestingly, there is another brand that a year ago was doing the same. A bus, a road trip, a bunch of youngsters celebrating life, but not from Amazon, from Jabong.

They called this the Citizen of Fashion campaign, and did a sale extension of the same campaign. Even before Citizen of Fashion could be established, the brand moved on to sale. Clearly offering fashion cheaper is more important that offering fashion.

Clearly, price is a strategy and not a tactic

 

Jabong is on sale

Jabong created a completely different persona for the brand. They went younger and rebellious. This was Jabong’s way of building credential as high fashion brand. They too are on sale. The big brand sale has number of people jumping all over the screen to create high energy impact.

Jabong too has used the sale strategically. Its not a build on the brand tonality they had. They even dropped the brand signature. For the ecom brand, sale is the strategy

 

Sale is the dominant tactic

For most ecom brands, and not just the three fashion brands, sale has become the dominant strategy. Sale has been topped by cashbacks, deals and more tactics that tell consumers ‘we are cheap’. Brands today spend a huge marketing money to ‘announce’ price deals. This is not the conventional branding logic. There are two issues at play here.

One, the ecom brands are actually retailers who leverage the brands they sell. Are they harming the brands by being on sale?

Two, will the consumer go back to these ‘brands’ if they stopped the discounts?

 

Meanwhile there is a store in US has launched a brand called Legal. Here’s the video

Now this may be really differentiated brand thinking

AdStand: BA, Tinder, Nivea and delightful syrupy Hershey

This week, British Airways has been making the whole world teary eyed. There have been millions of views and BA seems to be riding the wave of goodwill. The soppy tale of granny, her business class travel, and her welcoming home the airhostess is something that is neither a fresh tale nor a fresh execution, but somehow the patriotic feeling that the six-and-a-half-minute commercial evokes is working for the brand. #FuelledByLove, I am sure everyone is running to buy business class tickets to London!

If you have been moved by the real life story, do check out this page.

They are overwhelming favourites of everyone currently. May be I am too hardnosed to have missed the love completely. BA’s claim they have been all about love for India since 1924 is one irony that seems to have escaped everybody.

Staying on the long format ads that are currently in vogue, there is a new one from Tinder that is getting huge traction across the worldwide web. Eat, Pray, Swipe is the new tale told by The Viral Factory. In a country where the matchmaking activity is an exclusive domain of elders, Tinder and its likes are actively challenging the norm. Tinder puts women in charge of the mating game, and this video is a hilarious take on what happens when cool, calm women swipe right or left and the clueless men are struggling to cope with it. If you haven’t, then watch it here.http://youtu.be/S50Z-AY2TV0

 

Ask Me Bazaar, the online portal that sells everything across the board, has just released a new TVC featuring Kangana Ranaut for its grocery business. Ask Me Bazaar has a unique tone of voice; it swings between bizarre to outrageous and is difficult to fathom what the brand wants to achieve. This TVC has Kangna learning and torturing everyone around her with her really outrageous dance performance. Why is the song on a new scale of music or why is the dance on an undefined dance floor is something only Kangana can answer. https://youtu.be/a5Y-MJCm3io

 

The big news in the ad is that while everyone is humouring Kangana, the delivery boy who comes with two branded polythene bags knows what Kangana wants him to do, and does it with élan. There is a nice touch in the ad by having the delivery professional wear ear plugs. If anything, the delivery professional knows how to deal with sticky clients and over the top situations. If you have to watch this ad, watch it for the delivery boy. On another note, why is the delivery in polythene bags?

There is a delightful new TVC from Nivea. Nivea released a long-format #BanBodyOdour branded content featuring Suresh Menon as the fiery news anchor.http://youtu.be/2TGygZ3YPyM

The long-format ad is a hilarious take on how news channels create talking heads and debate every mundane thing under the sun. Nivea has now extended the same to a hilarious new TVC. Deodorant as a category is stuck in one groove, and Nivea has successfully created a new narrative. Nivea has a new age take on what happens when men raise their arm and how this has led to creation of new ways of greeting. They have taken it back to origination of mankind. https://youtu.be/8pXmQAZvQHI

 

It’s not that creating emotional tales is a prerogative of India. Hershey’s in the US has released a new ad called “Hello happy, Hello Hershey’s” that is doing extremely well for the brand. The cardboard cutout dad and his clever daughter is an interesting take on what happens in modern busy lives. http://youtu.be/x5jeP4Ftp0Q

Original Published Here: http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2016/02/adstand-ba-tinder-nivea-and-delightful-syrupy-hershey/

AdStand: Looking back on 2015 – Episode 1

The year is coming to an end, and it is a good time to look back at the year that has gone by. Every year that passes by leaves an imprint for the next year to follow. 2015 may be leaving behind a major trend that may be changing the world of communication in a major way.

In June this year Chevrolet sent out a press release in the US written almost completely in Emoji. The press release was for the Chevy Cruise 2016 model for global markets. The release generated global buzz, may be more than the overall coverage that the car launch generated.

Emojis are small electronic images and icons that help users express emotions.

Emoji’s are an awesome development. The start of language for humankind was pictures. As far back as 3300 BCE Egyptians were using Hieroglyphs to write the story of the kingdom. Hieroglyphs were a series of pictures that were used to tell the glory of a kingdom to its citizens. Language evolved to have what we now know as alphabets. And, in the last couple of years, it has evolved to become a series of pictures again. Emoji’s are the new age Hieroglyphs, and mobiles are the new edifices where they are displayed. Mobile phones became central to the way we live in more ways than it can be imagined and changed the language forever.

This is the first big trend of 2015: The Year of the Apps.

2015 will be the year where apps became mainstream categories. Apps till now were mobile presence of mainstream brands, but that changed in 2015.

Take payments for instance. Apps have redefined how people pay, transact and shop. It is difficult to believe that consumers can trust their mobile device to hold money and pay money to another user. The category of mobile payments did not exist even a year back. Not just mobile payments, banks too have adapted to the world of mobile. Bank apps now allow you to do new things like video chat, ask questions and do everything that traditional bank accounts let you do.

Mobiles are making pictures and videos mobile and ubiquitous. With apps like Meerkat and Periscope, photos and videos are now always available on demand everywhere. While pictures were for a long time, now even video is.

The category of Music has seen a revival thanks to music that is available through apps. From Apple to Deezer to Spotify to Gaana, songs are now available online anytime they are wanted. Last year Apple released the new U2 album exclusively online; today this has become mainstream with the possibility that music may never be available in offline format.

Games are the new category that have moved to mobile, what started as an innovation from Angry Birds, became an epidemic with Candy Crush, and now has become mainstream with NFS and FIFA 16 moving to apps on mobile devices.

By the end of the year cops across the country have hitched on to the bandwagon. Now citizens can report traffic violations, file an FIR and in some cases even pay pending challans. This is serious mainstreaming of apps.

There isn’t a category that is now not available as an app. Groceries, vegetables, medicines, doctors, eye wear, beauty products, fashion advice, driving tips, music, movies, deliveries, food, reviews, tickets, and whatever else that can be imagined.

Mobiles phones are no longer about make, price range or features; they are today only about apps that are installed on it. Smart watches are pushing this even deeper with integration between life and mobile device getting deeper. Did you not reach out for your mobile phone first thing today morning?

This is the first of the four trends of 2015. Next trend in next post.

Original published here: http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2015/12/adstand-looking-back-on-2015-episode-1/

7 things research will never tell a marketer

No self respecting marketing executive can live without market research. Market Research offers purposeful information to make plans, policies, programmes and procedures of any marketing activity. Market Research industry is as old as communication industry and many would argue more important than the mainstream communication industry. Yet there are pitfalls, and things that MR can never tell. Here are seven things MR can rarely tell

1. Reflect reality

Market research is a post facto measurement of what had happened. The common belief is that research data reflects the current reality and hence can be used as a basis for predicting future. If that was the case then well researched brands would have never failed

2. Predict future

Research means placing human beings together in one place ask them their opinions and form that as a basis of predicting future. This is like saying that if you watch a lion in zoo, you will learn all about lions. Human zoo is no different from animal zoo, and is rarely the right basis of prediction.

3. Is never free of bias

Any form of research suffers from investigator bias and statistical errors. Research too is a classical case of stimulous response. The answers depend on what you ask, and that define the findings. Can research ever be free of bias?

4.Right answers depend on right questions

The new Coke is the stuff that is now a case study. While the new formulation tested well, scored on blind taste and passed every test the research industry threw at it, it failed when launched. The consumer was not asked the most obvious question; will the formulation change the brand they love? Do they want the brand to change? The result was a massacre in market

5. No guaranty of success

Testing a new commercial for predicting its success in market is a common practice. It is easy to score a commercial on emotional appeal, on message comprehension, on ability to create perception. Yet more commercials fail then succeed. We all know that, yet are slaves to practice

6. Does not replace experience and gut

We need to remember that research is a tool, and not the decision. A marketers gut, experience, market reality are far more important than any amount of research data. Yet the tendency is to live more by research data and less by collective experience.

7. Quality matters

We all know this.

Right?

Yet an average marketer rarely spends time on figuring out who will administer the stimulus for research. Will an average field executive be up to scratch? Will the average investigator strike the right balance of objectivity and expertise? Most researches are spoilt by simple overlooking of this crucial aspect. Next time pay attention to field investigators.

As a simple test try this, ban MR for a while, live by what you know as a marketer, trust your experience, trust your market feel, trust the hours you have spent in field. Take the decisions that need to be taken, and use research almost as the last step to check gross negative. You might speed up the process, learn a great deal more from mistakes, and possibly be more successful.

Experience always triumphs over data