Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Virility of Virality!

Jonah Berger explains what it takes for ideas to be contagious in his bestseller of 2013. While there are some interesting use cases globally, India has its own share of small sucessess! Incidentally, the numbers in India favor the not so 'contagious' ideas as well, as little virality in limited circles also gives good enough numbers for marketers to drive 'promotions' (pun intended!). 

While I won't go into the theory bit of it for now, there are some clear applications of the STEPPS (Social Currency, Triggers, Emotions, Public, Practical Value and Stories) framework in my recent readings!

Here are some remarkable recent cases, which seem to be working –

Surf Excel (Ramadan), Pepsi Pakistan

What gets shared - Interestingly, two ads that struck a chord instantly are one from Pepsi and the Surf Excel Ramadan ad that got viral on the social media - 

Incidentally, if one were to go by the STEPPS framework, the former draws higher social currency through strong inner remarkability (we share what we find highly remarkable), while the latter drives an emotive appeal - the emotion driven through this ad is what mostly makes people share it.

Interestingly, one brand drives CSR as a measure to build PR, while the other looks at driving a consistent association of "daag acchey hain" through socially relevant festival-based emotive associations.

Kohinoor - Getting attention (and its not the condom brand)
Kohinoor, while constantly struggling to stay away from its namesake contraceptive brand, has to still get more eyeballs that translate into walk-ins. The chain has, off late, evolved into smart advertising, from listing its assortment and discounts (which, surprisingly, still continues for few other brands) to being secretive and creative to make readers feel a part of an 'exclusive club'

This, to my mind, is a classic application of the third element of Social Currency, as defined by Berger - giving a feeling as if you are insiders and not showing all their cards all at once. Having said that, it is imperative for the chain to live by its commitment of something really remarkable - else it would damage the brand and make it worse - and something that won't stay a 'secret' for sure! They might get a high social currency, but for all the wrong reasons!

Amul - Moppet
One of my all-time favorites have been the Amul Butter Ads - applying 'butter' and 'wit' to the latest news that has the highest social currency (or potential of being one) - something that Amul has been brilliantly executing so far. Even though they cross the line sometimes, it mostly works in their favor itself! [Source 1, 2, 3, 4]

Have written about Amul multiple times before, but surprisingly, the theme and learnings haven't changed much.

Theoretically speaking, what is it that pulls the consumer towards this form of advertising:
Based on an initial assessment, it should be:
(a) Humor that entails Interest towards the advertisement, and subsequently, the brand.
(b) Top of the mind recall for the brand,
(c) Consistency in the campaign, similar to the legendary RK Laxman's "Common Man"
(d) A different perspective to the things that stress your brain, and pointing to events in a lighter vein.
(e) The intention of the Advertiser seems to be more of arousing humor for the consumer than trying to market it's client's products. This ensures a certain level of acceptability in the consumer's mind. This is then leveraged to market the product.

Thus, the features or attributes per se are not marketed, but just the brand name and likeability for that brand, which is converted to sales at the POS itself. Even Da Cunha avers that it is the product's taste and price that are the linchpin, with ads just ensuring high recall
"There's a constant dialogue between the product and the consumer. As an icon, she's contemporary – she changes every day with the world."

Pokemon Go
And then you have the find of this year - Pokemon Go. While this topic itself can take up one full post, Nintendo has certainly ticked a lot of boxes, when it comes to virality 

From getting banned / killed on the roads to winning sponsored tour of the world for catching all pokemons, from crossing the border of Canada into US while trying to find Pokemons to universities launching credit courses on Pokemon, and from getting caught for pokemon-ing and driving to being shot for possibly Pokemon (SF), the game is almost intimidatingly covering every corner of the news and your share of time, even if you are not a fan (like me). And of course, all this while the company earned more than $200 million in its first month of launch.

Irrespective of your love or hate for mobile gaming, you are bound to ask sooner or later, 'what is this pokemon go?' or deeper questions like 'do you know where I can find Ditto / Chansey?' [Via 1, 2]

'Baba' in India is generally associated with faith – blind faith of being the panacea of all personal and professional issues or a shelter for escapists! But there is one baba who has become a sensation and the new poster boy of the FMCG world - Baba Ramdev [Via 1, 2]

Again, Patanjali is a different story in itself, and will park it for another time - will restrict the 'virality' for now. 

Big faith and scale is the dimension that is driving the biggest brand building activity of the decade, where one brand, by its sheer virality, has disrupted more than a few multinationals and domestic bosses off their chairs, snatching a larger bite of their market shares, almost overnight (around 10 years). 

Yes, this is the true reaction that Baba Ramdev would be giving to all those marketers out there, who have over intellectualized what it takes to become a hero in the mindspace of customers - as Baba Ramdev summarizes in his recipe - a large portion of faith, translating into big emotions, with products triggering faith, topped by a strong call to action with brilliant cost-plus (or maybe minus!) pricing.

The brand equity of Patanjali products are built around yoga and Baba Ramdev (Reference - Ashita Aggarwal Sharma, professor of marketing at SPJIMR). Consider the potential captive market Ramdev can address: some 20 crore, or almost a sixth of the Indian population, has attended a class of the Ramdev school of yoga courtesy of some 5 lakh trained yoga teachers working with Patanjali. 

Red Bull Stratos
Traditionally associated with adventurous and exciting sports, Red Bull builds on its Awe-inspiring proposition to drive recall (and potentially, sales!).

Launched In 2012, Red Bull Stratos was a mission to the edge of space that surpassed human limits that existed for more than 50 years. Supported by a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner undertook a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120,000 feet / 36,576 meters and made a record-breaking freefall jump to become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall (an estimated 690 miles / 1,110 kilometers per hour), while delivering valuable data for medical and scientific advancement.

Clearly, there was Awe created by Felix 

One comment summarizes the responses -
Dude, he reached about 700 mph, broke the speed of sound, landed on his feet and all while almost 23 miles up. Astronauts in the shuttle usually go 5,000 mph, this dude was almost at 1,000 mph just in free fall.

Amazing. Fucking amazing. [Re-MaliaDus]

And does it fit into the "Red Bull gives you wings"

[Video, 1, 2]

Jumping 25000 feet without a Parachute
And finally, just few days back was this feat - Luke Aikins jumped 25000 without a parachute and made a sensation, thanks to the awe it generated – almost similar as Stratos, but this time with little more realism and less branding around it.

Almost Missing the Boat!
However, not every viral content lives up to being contagious - while some create a wow factor, some of them fall slightly short of traveling the distance from being 'wow' to generating 'awe'.

There are news that are published at multiple places, but are not necessarily the ones that are the most likeable or shareable in the long term. These news give a short-term blip to the impressions / eye-balls they generate, but somewhere the chain breaks down, and takes away the virality along with it. If you disagree with any of these, feel free to voice it out!

Take some of these cases - 

Golden Baba (1)

'Golden Baba' is a famous saint who wears gold jewelry worth Rs. 3 crore on him, including gold lockets, armbands, heavy rings on all fingers and specially crafted diamond watch worth Rs. 27 lakh.
'Golden Baba' was in garment business in Delhi before taking sanyas. When asked about his decision, the Golden Baba said that he committed several mistakes during his tenure as a businessman and hence decided to give up everything he owned.

Couple hanging and getting married
Sometimes everything weird does not cause a social epidemic [Via]- 

On July 31st, a couple in Kolhapur got married in a valley. Kolhapur trekking enthusiast Jaydeep Jadhav, 33, married Reshma Patil, 26, while on a temporary 350-foot-long three-line ropeway. The couple and a priest hung from the three ropes overhead as they performed the rituals on Sunday over the 250-foot-deep Jakhani valley, 70km from Kolhapur.

The spectacle was witnessed by friends, relatives and curious onlookers. The ceremony lasted 15 minutes. [via]

The 'pay and get seen space' of India

This is a trend I have noticed with The Times of India. While I like the paper in most cases, I have often heard phrases like 'overhyped' and 'completely commercial' as preferred adjectives for them! Nonetheless, I continue collecting them for 'Jitender Paper Mart'.

While you get half cover to drive a strong communication, while the impressions are huge, am not sure how would the 'investors' of this cost measure the ROI. Does this strike a connection? Does this elicit stickiness?

Nothing striking comes to my mind, but nonetheless, it does act like a sweetener on someone's P&L for sure! ;-)

In a nutshell, none of these ideas are bad and each of them has got their own share of publicity (disclosure - none of these guys are known to me or my relatives - they reached people like me through their 'V' factor only). However, some of these would continue exciting the share button and carry long term social currency, while others would eventually die their natural death. 

The take-away for you is to get a pattern through these cases and check out the Virility Factor of the claimed Virality (hopefully, you don't end up swapping the 2 words!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Let go - Not Yet!

The fingers are indifferently dancing on the letters...the keyboard is double minded.....the eyes are reviewing dispassionately....as if all of them are staring at me questioning in unison..

Are you sure you are going to press the publish button today? Or is this going to stay like hundreds of those previous attempts that kept sitting in drafts till they became too archaic to publish, eventually succumbing to redundancy? Is this blog going to be another of those 'vegetative' ones?

Not Yet!

So - Maybe this doesn't make sense. Maybe this is out of turn. Maybe this is not worth a post at all. But its that tiny little itch that just made a hole and peeped out of the big black box called "busy life", inching its space out.....merely whispering that yes - I am inside, and am urging to come out. Yes, I have stories to tell and I have patterns to fill - and I am about to jump out.

I will make some space soon, and I am putting my heart and soul to keep pushing - and pushing till I make my way out and shouting loud - hey life! For every million of NOs I told myself - here is one YES.

Gearing up to oil the engine, repairing the tyres, adjusting the steering.....just a little more push is needed maybe!

Determined yet a bit skeptical. There are times one has to take a hard call and let go - when that's the only choice you make....but this time for this place has not come.

Not yet!

Lets Restart. For I am not done.
Not done to Let go of this passion of reading the world through my eyes
Not done to stop learning as I keep sharing - not to increase readers, but for the joy of sharing
Not done to stop reading - reading between the Ps around me......

Not yet!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Pay it Forward - and be happier!

Call it Gift Economy, "Pay it forward" or selfless, or just Social Impact - it has now been proven by Experts at Harvard also, that there is nothing more gratifying and nothing gives you more happiness than helping others and making them feel good! :)

Though not sure of the connect with the brand, but would rate this high on the emotive appeal! :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Below the 'belt' Advertising!

Legs are not an uncommon 'prop' to be used in advertising. Be it for epilators, skin creams, sports shoes and of course, erotic products. 

Case in point is the series from Morphy Richards. Interesting Campaign by Morphy Richards on "Legs so beautiful"

The campaign says, "Make the most of your legs with Morphy Richards Epilators, that gently remove your hair from the root leaving you with smooth and silky skin for long. Legs so beautiful that you just want to show them off"

In other parts of the world, Venus has also shown smooth legs. Not to mention few weird ones by Prestobarba as well. But Legs are not only used for selling epilators, but also skin creams as well as Shoes! Reetone campaign and Panasonic Glow are a proof of this. 

Did you notice that in most of these campaigns, long legs are common..Do you know why?

Well, firstly, legs are second most attractive part of a lady that men get most attracted to (any guesses what takes the top spot?). But that's when you are marketing to the opposite gender.

Research has proven that longer legs are more appealing to both men and women. More importantly, legs that are 5% longer than normal are most suited.

Reason for that is that longer legs are associated with better health. Shorter-legged men are more likely to have higher levels of triglycerides, which are linked to arterial disease and strokes.

Longer legs were one of many subtle cues that suggest good health, especially in women.

Am not sure if we think so hard before appreciating someone, but yes, whenever you do, now there is a 'healthy' logic to appreciate someone's legs..er...good health!

Incidentally, long legs have always been used to represent clean looking bright legs - be it the shavers or be it skin creams. And yes sometimes fitness too!

So will you buy any of these brands to get those legs? ;-)

Another 'yamraj' to your rescue !

Interesting initiative by the western railway - hopefully some creativity might help travelers become a bit conscious..,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

'Ogle-We' Advertising!

Guilty as charged!
It is time to 'reflect' upon ourselves
Dekh le tu dekhtey......Kaisa Dikhta hai!
Brilliant Campaign!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

E-tailing: Order Returns lead to Customer Returns lead to Investor Returns!

eCommerce is one industry, where the word 'returns' has various connotations - right from the order to customer and to the investor, as the subject says! 

Which is the most important out of these or are these just a mere 'cause' and 'effect' of the same purchase cycle? 

At Rs 13,000-crore, India's e-tailing industry accounts for just 1% of the total retail business. However, it's the fastest growing segment of e-commerce (non-travel) growing at 59% annually, as per industry estimates (TOI). However, profitability and eCommerce are mostly avoided in the same sentence by Industry experts. 

One of the main reasons is the claim of 'building' the industry in the initial few years (the quantification of which increases with increasing valuation!), owing to high operating losses for most retailers. 

One of the biggest challenges that retailers are grappling with are the returns, that can go upto the tune of 25% of the total orders (TOI). One out of every four products sold online gets returned, a study by logistics firm Gati showed. Roughly a lakh shipments are returned every day! So while this is a good cash cow for the logistics firms, it might not be a sustainable one for the cows, per se! 

Returned goods bump up the average cost of delivery by 50%, pushing their break even point even further. The total loss to the e-tailing industry only due to shipment costs of returns stands at close to Rs 330 crore a year. Even though return policies are crucial for certain retail segments like Fashion, most of the e-commerce companies are promoting that as the key differentiator. Agreed that the biggest barrier to online fashion purchase is the ‘touch and try’ habit, but there is another factor of choices that e-commerce companies win on today – somehow that is no longer the ‘promotable’ point, with so much clutter around. 

Product sizing constitutes two-thirds of all returns, according to various e-tailers. Add to that the losses of damaged products and additional manpower, and it ensures that the Investor deck comes much before the balance sheet! 

The situation is not so bright outside India as well. Zalando, a big German Retailer, used to promote with the slogan, “SCHREI vor Glück oder schick’s zurück!”, i.e. “Scream for joy or send it back!” But so many people took up the second half of the slogan that Zalando now uses just “Schrei vor Glück! ” in its marketing. 

About half of the goods purchased on Zalando are returned..But, of course, if you have generous investors, then such policies can be ignored till it moves the decimal! Zalando (built by Rocket Internet) considered as one of the fastest growing e-tailer in Europe – return policy is an over marketed term across Europe and Latin America (after free shipping), with retailers focusing on taking stock back more than selling it (Reference)! 

And it does payout if you are lucky, but some day the truth shall 'return' (no pun intended!)  -

1st - Fast growth comes at a cost – while the company’s EBIT margin (a measure of profitability) improved from -12 per cent of sales in 2011 to -8 per cent in 2012, operating losses as a lump sum still increased from €60m in 2011 to €90m last year. 
2nd - Zalando continues to struggle with operating losses. The European-wide offer for customer to return unwanted items for free has severely impacted the bottom line. 

Return rates can be alarmingly high: for some online retailers up to half of everything they sell comes back. More so, the regulations seem to favour these impossible-to-please customers. In 2014 the European Union will adopt a law similar to Germany’s, obliging online firms to offer a no-questions return period of 14 days. American law is not so generous, but online firms there still face hefty costs from customer returns. In India, it is still in its initial stage. Known players, Jabong and Myntra offer returns with 30 days, and the new biggie Amazon allows various return policies 

So what is the solution? Even though Returns are critical, there are ways to reduce risks associated with this 'customer retention oriented' effort. You cannot aim to please the entire world and have to balance financial discipline with Service excellence. 

There are few ideas that can be / are being explored – 

  • Mini-warehouses for fast running items could be rented out at locations where there are high returns, and a grace period for repeat orders of the same items could be given, post which the stock could be returned (most items don’t have an expiry!)
  • Incentives to reduce return rates to your loyal customer base is also suggested – but intuitively, this might not be hitting the right channel – as the highest incidents of returns would come from first time consumers.
  • Analytics would play a key role for loyal customers, which would entail lower returns for them as well. 
  • And finally, the ‘evil hand’ step still not being considered in the fledgling E-commerce space is to bid adieu to some customers! Mollifying sacked customers to come back might be a better option that retaining them in the fear of reprisal. 
Some studies have shown that without the returns, the retailer’s profits almost grow by 50%! So there IS merit in controlling this big ‘expense item’! Incidentally, as per a recent study of top 10 retailers, like Amazon, Walmart, Sears, JCPenny, the best ones don't usually do good on returns [Source] - there might be a implied pattern here to infer :)

But that's where the maturer markets are moving towards. Closer home, the Indian Clone of Zalando, Jabong.com is following her elder sister.. Not very far from SCHREI vor Glück, Jabong’s campaign of ‘go crazy shopping’ aimed to delight customers with the range and offers at Jabong.com. Results are for everyone to see! Undoubtedly, like Zalando became one of the most memorable brands in Europe, within a few months of its launch, Jabong.com became the most trafficked e-com site in India (Google.com traffic stats).

Incidentally, there is a lot of buzz around some campaigns. If you thought that there is a lot of creativity in Indian E-commerce companies, here is an interesting campaign to make the shopaholics ‘go crazy’! :-)
The best part about the campaign is what is mentioned in the brief…
This commercial showcases a situation where in the middle of a bank Robbery, a fashion conscious female staff member is seen talking to her female colleague about shoes and dresses available on Jabong.com showcasing the strong fashion connect among shoppers…. The concept has been artistically developed by Jabong.com in-house.

Yes! Absolutely! Well, the 'in-house' seems to include the entire house of Clone King, Rocket Internet! [BusinessWorld]

Both companies are funded by Rocket International

On a serious note, returns are a challenge in the nascent e-tailing space, but innovations around reducing returns and not just customer acquisition, would define 'the last survivor' in this online game!

And by the way, did you think that the customer is a nincompoop, and will smile at the goodies you throw at her? Though all these innovations are to build customer trust, am not sure if it is taken in similar light everywhere and by everyone!

Like physical stores, online clothes sellers suspect they have a hard core of habitual returners. Interestingly, some consumers have identified a superb opportunity to abuse this ‘consumer-centric’ policy of the e-commerce industry. In Germany there has been talk of “Zalando parties”, with giggling teenage girls ordering crateloads of stuff for a big weekend, only to send it all back (complete with forgotten car keys and other such stuff in the pockets) [Economist]

Can you avoid Jabong parties from happening? Well, with the current return policies, and the focus of the companies on ‘building’ the industry, you might just be part of one!

So imagine a world where you select your favorite weekend outfit out of thousands of choices available online, from your bedroom, get a 65%+30% GOSF discount on fashion as part of Big 5 Days, get it delivered the next day by a drone at your doorstep for Cash on Delivery, celebrate the weekend with your friends and return it to the retailer the next weekend – all at the cost of the ‘return’ hungry investors!

By the way, do you know if they sell cars online? ;-)

P.S. (updated later) Sometimes you just have to wish! Seems Nissan is taking my question seriously! [Source]

Photo Sources: Return policy, Image girls
Articles: Times of India (TOI), ‘Return to Santa’ in the Economist, BusinessWorld

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Mom and Olympics - 2014

Since the time P&G focused on moms, the creative+Emotional quotient has been inspiring, to say the least. The previous campaigns (covered in 2010 and 2011) have been rated one of the most viewed campaigns.

Winter Olympics are coming - and they sure promise to be exciting. And if the mere thought of the competition and challenges does not get you excited, then here is something that will surely get your adrenaline levels running, atleast in your eyes!

If your own Olympics of life, if you have ever fallen and then fought and got up again, this one will inspire you! Those of you haven't....well, LIVE life :)!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Never Ever Give up....Find your way...in 2014!

2 months after my promise of 'expression' in 2010, there are barely 4 entries - from March end 2010 till date - that's 4 entries in 3.5 years! The worst promise to break is the one you make to yourself - you don't have anyone to explain and feel less guilty - you are your own judge, so justifications don't work mostly!

As 2013 draws to a close, setting a benchmark for personal as well as professional challenges, while trying to rediscover myself, I realized I kept an integral part of myself away - this expression of reflection was lost somewhere in the intimidating environment. I undermined the power of expression as a great evolutionary platform (and a stress buster also!)

While I was grappling with which part of me to stick to, happened to watch this TED video of Diana Nyad, an inspiring young lady, who swam 100 miles at a stretch when she was 64! Like most things, this came at the right time as well!

Diana Nyad had some great tip to follow....
"You have a dream and you have obstacles in front of you, as we all do. None of us ever get through this life without heartache, without turmoil, and if you believe and you have faith and you can get knocked down and get back up again and you believe in perseverance as a great human quality, you find your way......"Let's find our way"

Undoubtedly. Where there is a heartburn, where there are potholes, there is a way as well - if one way does not work, you simply have to find another one. 

"Its impossible. It cant be done" - seems a common phrase across the board. But the optimist in me tells me that there is a lot to look forward this year - achievements, learning, better failures, smaller milestones, and a much more evolved self! 2014 is promising, not just on 1st january, but mostly, it would be...right through the end!

Challenges won't stop coming - embracing them with a broader smile is what will change! Failures will happen - getting up stronger from those failures is what will change! Dreams don't need to be curbed - just the way to chase them will change..... 

So be it personal challenges, be it the intimidating startup world, or be it this reliving my expression at this blog, I will.....and I am sure I will...find my way!

While most things are impossible, partly due to the challenges, and mostly due to our mindset, the reason to still fight for it, is not so much to get it, but more to see through to the end of it, in this process, you simply make this life a bit more worth it! :)

So explore and have fun in 2014 - and make your small little piece of life a bit more worth it..
Just find your way!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Incredible India!

Sometimes, words are too less to describe a campaign - but this campaign should inspire a lot of Indians as well to travel and explore the country...

Inspired me for sure - have to just connect the clippings with the locations! :)
Incredible India!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


If someone called your plan ridiculous, read this note from Seth Godin - and see if you can turn the tables, and make the naysayers turn back to you and call it remarkable!

Gutsy, Daring, Outlier, Maverick, 'Different', unique - all might have different connotations - but given this definition, probably, all of them have similar undertones.

Do you have something ridiculous in mind?
Remarkable - just go ahead and do it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's your moment?

It’s 11:11 on 11.11.11 – an auspicious moment to do something significant. 
So what is that one thing that you always wanted to do and feel inspired whenever you think about it? 

Something that makes you just get up and do it with so much passion that if you don’t get up, you regret the most? Something you dream of on every frustrated or lazy day? Something that brings that small unknown private smile on your face every time you think about it? Something that makes you believe in yourself, gives you an identity and tells you – yes, you lived your moment? 

My moment is here – and it’s moving every bit by bit every bit – if it’s one thing that I stand for when all the 1s stand together – it’s the creation of a healthy World :) 

What’s your moment of 11:11 on 11.11.11? 

Keep watching this space for more moments from Healthy World
Have a happy 11.11.11!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ready…Get Set…One decade…two decades .. three decades…GO!

Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Days. Months…. I have kept the count, the count of “inactiveness”, but that’s not all what I have done about it. The silence here has been duly compensated for, outside this forum. Change has been partnering with me for quite some time now.

Change - of location, from the lazy Delhi to the hyperactive Mumbai, from the insecure bachelor to the responsible family man, from the cushy professional to the struggling entrepreneur and from the fantasizing planner to the realistic doer.

Few more hours and I shall complete 3 decades on this planet. Not an easy thing to digest the fact, when the ten’s digit of your age changes.
As I move forward, few things are nearing closure, and few things beginning to take shape.

Last birthday as a bachelor, Last month as a ‘single’ status, Last time to feel am still in the twenties, Last 20 days to marriage, Last few days of abysmal revenues

First company to be proud of, First setup I can call my own, First sale in 4 digits, First DPIN number, First TIN number, First designation as a “founder”, First instance of being called a CEO, First testimonial from a consumer, First sign of translating my dream into reality – and putting bricks and tables on it

The firsts and lasts would continue to be listed. But the optimistic in you realizes that more often than not, the “firsts” would be more than the “lasts”, and that is how we move on. Interims would be remembered and forgotten as well. The days would go ahead, and translate into successes and failures. The journey continues.

However, something will stay where it is. This dormant partner shall get up again. The phoenix shall rise, maybe not for revenge, but maybe, just a laxative, to help me digest, that life is moving, and the clock is ticking.

The ship of my dream has set sail, when the sun shines for a brighter new day, and the sea roars shouting out loudly the endless opportunities it offers. The journey continues..

Your blessings, dad, and your support. Love you

The mind is no longer in Ps (peace!). It is time I begin from where it paused. Its time I fuel the engine, and it makes some noise. It is time I break the Ps around me, and read…read between the Ps.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Creative Advertisements of Cars - For those who are first, and those who aren't!

You can always learn creativity from Car Ads - they have something new to offer everytime one of the big companies (or their agencies) come up with their adverts. Sometime back, an Ad from Honda won them the Grand Prix at Cannes. Since then, Honda Ads are always popular among Creative enthusiasts. Last year, even Fiat "eco Drive" won them a grand prix at that Cannes Lions.

So here are 2 more I could manage to fish out, for their sheer creative brilliance - one in print, and the other a video clip.

The first one is a creative from Lexus Hybrid Cars - leveraging their superiority in Hybrid cars, claiming to be the first ones to conceptualize the "hybrid" technology in a brilliantly executed manner.
Click here for the video - worth a watch!

The second one, is completely on the other side, from BMW - claiming that even if the cars are not the first one, the experience is simply out of the world for the user (or that is what one can interpret!)

Worth a watch...even if you are not the first! ;-)

Monday, March 15, 2010

P&G – Proud Sponsor of Moms (Olympics)

Holly would always come up with something that inspires you – that triggers that naughty bug that is sitting inside you wanting to jump out and explore that whole new world – this time, it is the world of moms – full of only moms and to-be-moms – young moms, new moms, happy moms and tired moms!

This time she gives a direction to work upon, to make commercials women love – an old, light piece, but an insightful read - be where the moms are, talk to them, ask them questions, listen to them when they are talking and pay attention to what they are saying. “You’ll have fabulous, relevant, memorable commercial ideas coming out your ying yang” says Holly.

If it sparked a thought in your head, shoot out and explore the world of moms – for that is exactly what I would attempt to do, in one of my next few entries (after of course, Tiger Woods and Japanese Consumers have been talked about!).

As a thought starter, have a look at this wonderful ad shown during the Olympics Opening Night - Rated almost A+ on emotive appeal, this ad from P&G makes you fall nothing short of appreciative of the sweetness of the creative, and how wonderfully it engages you during the entire piece. You can have a look and agree / disagree with me:

The ad speaks for itself. Fabulous job of tapping into exactly how moms feel. Excellent Corporate branding by P&G, with the tagline “Proud Sponsor of Moms”!

Coke and the Toyota Ad are there as well, worth a look – but of course, nothing beats this commendable emotional piece of work!
[Via Marketing to Women Online – Why I love Moms and How to Create Commercials Women Love]

Monday, March 08, 2010

Smoking Creativity on a Burning Issue – the old and the new! (New York & France)

If you are into creatives, you would know (more) - Chicks, Children, Canines and Cigarettes – you don’t need to sell them, for they sell on their own. But for the sake of sheer creativity, though, they are, what one can say, ‘essential ingredients’ of any viral campaign.

No wonder this space has mentioned Cigarettes in a lot of previous entries (as it has Chicks, Children and Canines as well)

Imagine cigarettes being a cure-all for physical and emotional ailments, or one your kids are proud of, for their daddies or best case, smoking curing asthma for you!

A brief report by Adage raises a question which I keep asking myself, while appreciating the creative geniuses behind some of these campaigns – whether one should criticize the horrific results that these campaigns entail, or appreciate the stunning creativity behind them! Even though the video is inconclusive, unfortunately, one can’t help but go for the latter sometimes (at least I did)!

Click here to see the report about the exhibition that was displayed almost a year back at the Science, Industry and Business branch of the New York Public Library, and covered ad agency output from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Though this exhibition was displayed more than a year ago, it reflects the various facets of cigarette advertising in the first half of the 20th century, with the subtlety in their advertising, where cigarettes are recommended by one and all – from children for their “daddies” or dentists to their patients, women for their sex appeal, or, doctors to cure various ailments, and even Santa Claus in some cases! Some great work around Cigarettes – worth a look!

A key insight about the industry is what pains you though – according to the report, most companies target the entry segment, which is children in the age group of 12-22 years, spending billions of dollars in enticing children to smoke! Adults, once regular smokers, are loyal to their brand, and do not change brands easily. Hence, this segment is their focus! Also, 40% of these young consumers belong to 2 countries - China and India! Quite sad and unfortunate!

But there are people / workgroups that are concerned about this fact, and work on exactly the opposite – enticing children to come out of smoking, or better, not get into it at all! One such creative, in France, done by BDDP & Fils, has come out with a brilliant campaign on anti-smoking, where Smoking is termed akin to slavery, and might also make you so addicted to tobacco that you might just be ready to do just about anything to get it!

But, if you were to read (rather ‘over-read’) it as Smoking alluding to Sexual abuse, it might not go down everyone’s throat so well! As expected, this campaign has received criticism for its allusions!

The tagline reads, “Smoking is being a slave to tobacco” – I personally liked the subtlety in the print. However, not everyone appreciates such black humor. According to a report at Youtube, Sexually-charged Anti-smoking Ads Rile France, the ad is misinterpreted as smoking leading to sexual abuse.

The ad, according to critics, gives the impression more about sexuality than anti-smoking and alludes to oral sex, which has irked a lot of parents! Though the supporters of the campaign argue that the harsh message is deliberate and the sexual connotations are inserted to make young people aware of dangers of smoking

As mentioned above, the worst hit are the teens - Teen smoking is a health issue in France, where a third of 17-year olds smoke, despite ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. And other campaigns don’t work with them! So it was required to send out strong signals that dissuade them from smoking. Hmm – would sexual allusions / innuendoes actually push them away from smoking or attract them further?

And do bans on smoking or its advertising really help? I don’t think so, as revenue streams continue to flow almost at the same pace for the cigarette companies, whether advertised or not!

So, as I said, one of the 4 “Cs” – does it really need advertising to sell? Or let me put it the other way around, does anti-smoking advertising really help in de-selling? Maybe, just practicing creativity for such virals is good enough! And all this talk of ban on advertising and anti-smoking campaigns, is probably, just “Smoke in the Air”, literally!

[Advertising Agency: BDDP & Fils, France ; Via Ads of the world, Adage, girl smoking, Girls Smoking]

Puppy Marketing at Pedigree – ‘Catch’ the Cuteness (Toronto)

Can cuteness sell?

Well, in case of puppy lovers, it can –for a new commercial of Pedigree definitely has created ripples in the online world, with more than a million views, which, in all probability, would entail positive publicity for the brand, which, in turn, might or might not translate into more packs being sold for Mars. Spend 2 minutes to appreciate the simplicity behind the creative:

Simple. Creative. Masterpiece – excellently shot!

According to Creativity Online (via Mashable) , the video was shot with a Phantom camera at 1,000 frames per second, which explains the underwater-like quality of this viral commercial. Director Bob Purman (Agency: TBWA, Toronto) explains the spot thusly:

“The ‘Catch’ spot was to be a series of shots of dogs looking with anticipation as a piece of dog food is flying through the air towards them. We shot close-ups of the dogs at 1000 fps. The result was really wonderfully anthropomorphic. The super slow motion really captured this intense sense of desire in the dogs’ eyes. To me it was equal parts awe inspiring and hilarious to see so rich a palate of personality in a dog’s facial expressions…(the ad) really exploits the dynamics of the dogs’ athleticism and their emotive personality in slowed time.”

According to Lori Luechtefeld at iMedia Blogs, this ad is rated high, as it not only has Adorable pets, but also no digital effects to make it more appealing, and so is worth every penny that is invested on it.

Natural Videos of cute Pets are bound to get attention, which is why this ad has a high emotive appeal as well, considering the “viral” quotient of this ad.

But, does this mean any ad with pets will sell? Not always, says Lori. Another ad of Friskies has a cat and a lot of digital effects. However, it lacks the punch and the connect completely. Reason? The audience is pet lovers and not ‘Avatar’ lovers, and so the flavor does not go down well with the right target group. A leaf to be picked from Marketing 101, I presume!

Also, some argue that is a copy of the another ad from Vitalic and the creative team did receive some flak for copying the essence of an existing ad. However, looking at the cuteness quotient, TBWA seems to have done a far better job of getting that emotional flavor out of a lot of us! Kudos to the team for this one!

[via Mashable, Creativity Online]

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Leveraging Social Media - Crop or Crunches (Costa Rica)

Just realized that I still haven’t posted the post on Tiger Woods, that I had been working on for almost 2 weekends. Actually, I was too busy with my social media world and trying to exercise.

That’s why, when I glanced through a campaign which is a mix of social media and Gymming, it had to be posted here. Have a look at this campaign, and if you are a regular at Facebook, twitter or messenger, you would realize that it does reflect the situation around most of us.

The tagline reads as “What you leave out of Twitter, put it into Gold’s Gym” or “What you leave out of Facebook, put it into Gold’s Gym

Very well connected with the Couch Potato Gen Y! That’s what Social Media does to us. So you have an option - for those who are too lazy or busy for crunches, learn how to crop your pics! :) Others can choose Gold’s Gym!

Few more examples on what you can do with your pics (Messenger editing and Cropping) (for those looking for some tips)

[Advertising Agency: jotabequ Grey, San José, Costa Rica, Print Ads-Twitter, Messenger, Facebook]

Friday, February 12, 2010

Secrets of the Mountains - in the 'Fast Movie-ing Consumer Goods' Space!

When you see the world's biggest retailer teaming up with the world's largest FMCG Company for a totally different field that none of them are more famous for, you know there is something cooking!

According to C21 Media, Walmart and P&G are getting into movie production starting with their first tele-film titled “Secrets of the Mountains” to launched on NBC in a couple of months from now.

Starring Paige Turco and Barry Bostwick, the two-hour film is about a mother playing a single mom who ends up taking her kids to a mountain cabin owned by her uncle, who embark themselves on the adventure of a lifetime (according to P&G Productions, which has been producing soaps, variety shows and telefilms for many years)

Why movie production of all the things?
The rationale given by Stephen Quinn, Chief Marketing Officer for Walmart is to give what shoppers want, and delivering their brand promise to "help families save money and live better".

On the other hand, Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer for P&G, said: "As a company of family brands, we know that context matters," adding that the films coming from the alliance with Walmart would allow P&G to "advertise our brands in this broadly appealing content."

However, according to one of the reports at thewrap.com, the movie is intended more as a "backroom pilot" for a possible series, as the time slot for airing the film do not pin very high hopes on the project.

So, even though big names are producing the movie, the movie per se doesn't seem to be a promising one! So is this another source of cheap advertising for the company (s) or another hot sector they want to enter into, given the limited cash flows FMCG sector has to offer?

Whether it is an extension of their growth strategy, or just a cheaper option to advertise to a captive audience, only time (and banks) would tell.
Maybe that is why the title of the movie has aptly been taken as Secret of the mountains ;)!

[References - Paige Turco, The Wrap]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

MarketingProfs Articles : Don't Let This One Get Away!

An interesting way to keep your price-conscious consumers stuck to you - Employing a pricing tactic like this one, which creates a unique sense of urgency, may encourage wary consumers to buy more immediately.

The concept, called "steadily decreasing discounting" or SDD, by researchaers, entails discounting in a manner to keep the consumers attracted to the offerings.

Either keep on reducing prices, adding promotions to your offerings, to keep the consumers engaged (leveraging the transactional utility) or once reduced significantly, raise prices with one/two intermittent break - to create a sense of urgency that prices are going to be raised shortly.

Net net, Higher future price expectations and greater anticipation of inaction-regret appear to be the underlying mechanisms that lead to the effectiveness of the SDD tactic. Read the article and the research to get more details.

Photo Ref: Tollipop

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In the Shame of God!

This Christmas, St Mattews Church (Auckland, New Zealand) decided to celebrate in a different way – it put up a controversial billboard on Joseph and Mary, challenging Christians the very foundation of their religion!
Result – Thousands of criticisms, hundreds of praises, and tones of vague logic. But most importantly, global publicity of the campaign, engaging half of the “clicker universe”!

The advert was designed by M&C Saatchi, Auckland, with the brief that it had to be sufficiently provocative to keep most other churches from allowing it. It was designed to challenge stereotypes about the way that Jesus was conceived, and get people talking about the Christmas story.

The initial intent behind the campaign was to invite people to think about the virgin birth and the nature of God, be open to more than one Christian way to think about God, to promote the Progressive view of Jesus having 2 human parents and God being the power of love in his life and to invite people outside of the church to see a type of Christianity here at St Matthew’s that they might be able to relate to.

What turned out was obviously far more provocative than they expected. The billboard, carrying the slogan, “Poor Joseph. God is a hard act to follow” received global attention..

According to the article, “Losing Your Message but Gaining Publicity”, "Most Protestants & others with no church affiliation thought the billboard was simply comparing Joseph’s ability in bed to God’s. Catholics were outraged as the billboard implied Mary wasn’t a virgin. Others thought it was a good joke and it was about time “the church” got a sense of humor.

It outraged many Christians throughout the country--so much so that it was defaced within a few hours. The church replaced it with another print. That, too, was ripped apart by a knife-wielding vandal. And the church replaced it with yet another print. The billboard was stolen again, and the church finally decided not to replace it. "
For more on the campaign, read A Tale of two billboards!

Bottomline….Did heads turn, and were links double clicked? Yes – A BIG Yes in fact – it did manage to break the clutter and get noticed – not only in its local community, but virtually around the world!! However, from a marketing standpoint, does this fall into the right “spirits”? (No pun intended!) Did it fall in line with the often misused term in business, “ethics”? Can this be generalized and reapplied across religious institutions the world over? Did people over react, and not allow any space and respect to others with a different point of view?

Specifically speaking, what is the bigger point of contention? Is it a question of crossing the line to grab publicity or is it a question of superimposing one’s beliefs and interpretations on others?

According to a research report on Marketing of God, the term ‘spirituality’, which encompasses beliefs, social changes as well as cultures, is often decontextualized, and is often co-opted, commodified, and misused for purposes that are anything but spiritual. It took me some time to get this piece, but with the examples below, I realized the true essence of this statement. Read on...

Back home, there have been numerous cases recently wherein certain desperate attention-seekers not only disrespect others’ beliefs, force their own unto them, but also are shrewd enough to manage good publicity behind these cowardly acts. Attention of local media, rebuke by mature citizens, thoughtful debates by over-intellectual political analysts and elaborate discussions by lazy bloggers (like me) follows them and their immature acts. What emerges out of such controversies are brands like “Bajrang Dal”, “DYFI” and “Sanskriti Bachaao Manch” – I wonder then, who actually is responsible for ‘marketing’ them?

Consider this - here is the local version of the ‘hard act to follow’ – does this look similar?

Well, this is a picture, not of another God, but one of God’s Own Country - a local politician (Former Kerala PCC General Secretary Rajmohan Unnithan) was arrested few days back for “allegedly indulging in immoral activities”. Well, simply put, a woman and a man were caught together at night in the man’s house (ya, and a small piece of info – she was not his wife)!

Though the rest is open to interpretation, and anything might have happened, but then, our value-valuing political valuables barged into his house, dragged both of them out disrespectfully, and called all of this as an exposure of a ‘sex scandal’ - Brand Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI)!
And this is the state with the highest literacy rate in the country! Maybe, they should not have skipped their Moral Science classes!

Moving forward, sometimes the crimes that you do might just be notional – like thinking of immoral activities such as sex! So then the chief ministers of the states, who have the highest standards of morals, and all the time in the world, come forward and save you from these crimes!

For instance, consider this - most men (including me) would get distracted by scantily-clad women, and that’s understandable. But, now if you start getting distracted by scantily-clad Mannequins…..God save you! Well, that’s Men who are Pervert or MP state for you……No wonder, the state has the highest number of rape cases in the country registered every year – MP accounts for a shocking 15.0% of total rape cases reported in the country (and these cases exclude mannequins, by the way)!

But, for now, if God cannot help them, the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will – and save the citizens of MP on committing such heinous crimes, atleast on mannequins! So his followers, the saffron brigade, donning the role of moral police, asked shop owners to remove mannequins displaying women's lingerie.
Enter Brand Sanskriti Bachao Manch!

According to an article, "We have directed shop owners of Bhopal's posh New Market to remove dummies (mannequins) used for displaying women's lingerie in an obscene manner within five days failing which the Sanskriti Bachao Manch workers will forcibly remove them", Manch's State President Chandra Shekhar Tiwari told PTI.

And more so, they believe that Ads of condoms would again distract people (they think the men might just start using them!) - Maybe the Chief Minister realizes that if not the economy, one thing that is rising sharply and has made the state proud is (not GDP but) the number of AIDS Cases in the state – Why would someone want to put a check on that, with stupid devices called Condoms! They aren't for humans, anyways!!
(For a different perspective on the tabooed Condoms, you can refer to previous posts here)

Am sure you would are familiar with an existing brand Bajrang Dal. All this was nothing but another campaign of this brand - According to NDTV reports couple of days back,
"Members of the Sanskriti Bachao Manch, an offshoot of the BJP-affiliated Bajrang Dal, tore down condom ads saying they were against family values and ordered shopkeepers and traders dealing in lingerie to 'not hang lingerie in public.'

Marching down the New Market area, the activists raised slogans and issued an ultimatum to the shopkeepers, giving them five days to comply or watch their wares go up in flames in a bonfire. They warned that undergarments must be boxed and kept away.

The activists were apparently inspired by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who had ordered the removal of the poster of a local spa in front of a girls college that showed a semi-clad woman in a chocolate bowl

''Obscene ads will not be allowed in Madhya Pradesh. I have asked concerned officers to prepare new rules that will filter out obscene material in advertising,''

So Madhya Pradesh follows Goa, which recently banned ads with bikini-clad women to promote the state as a family holiday destination (Go here for more details)

So, all men who have families – beware! Don’t even dare look at bikini-clad women – it’s against family values (when you are without family, it is ok!) ;-) Interestingly, India's tourist state is fighting a media tag dubbing it a "destination for sex tourism" and local government has announced it will censor advertisements showing scantily-dressed women. The Chief Minister Digamber Kamat this time wants to move from a brand of “Sex Tourism” to “Clean Tourism” – Brand “Clean Tourism”!

Incidentally, both MP and Goa both figure in the top ten list of sex crimes in the country. Must say, the government there is quite focused on the core issues!

Coming back to the original question, which is the core issue here – privacy infringement or publicity stunts?
In a culture which terms itself as the 3rd world, and is conscious of still calling a “developing” nation, cultural calendars seem to be moving backwards. From clandestine talks on sex to sex education, we are now again moving to a time-zone where Sex is taboo – is this part of a progressive nation? Or are we a progressive nation with a regressive culture?

As for the publicity stunts, there is no harm in going the extra mile to grab attention, as long as you know where the boundary ends. There is always a reason for which those billboards are up there – it is precisely the reason for which such billboards are pulled down, that is why they are put up there – to remove the stigma associated with safe sex, and enable people to talk about it, and save themselves to stay ignorant! By removing the visuals, we are not only eviscerating the concept per se, but also diluting the very purpose of putting it up there!

Having said that, there IS merit to control expressions keeping in the mind the balance that needs to be maintained – if kids start associating feminism with sexuality, then you know that you are crossing the line – which is what happened in Melbourne recently, when a highly provocative billboard advertising the world's thinnest condom was decided to pull down after creating a community uproar.

Objections that termed such acts as “sexploitation” and “sexualizing" children were raised. Such campaigns were “teaching younger girls, especially teenagers, that their purpose in life is to be a sexual object” and "This sort of highly sexual imagery is harming the development of children and teenagers," – one can understand that this is beyond the set boundaries.

But here is a view of our objective shrewd Marketers…. “Marketing experts say although many ads are pushing the provocative boundaries, and some even go too far, they have been sexy for a while and are not necessarily getting worse. RMIT marketing senior lecturer Con Stavros said billboard ads needed to grab people's attention in a split second and sexual images did that.” – Sexcellent point!

Sexcuse me..er..I mean excuse me, although billboards that deliberately provoke the audience to gain publicity have definitely overstepped the line. – where do you draw the line between grabbing the quick attention, and getting negatively influenced? Am sure, there can be an endless discussion over this, as no one in the marketing world would have a clear answer to this

But for now, Lets save our culture – in the Name (shame?) of God – at least that’s what we all say when it starts and when it is over!

Interestingly, there was a nice line in the media reports at NDTV,
Condoms are against family values and lingerie must be kept under wraps. The Saffron moral police is out in Bhopal tearing down posters, knocking down displays and decorously offering clothes to show-window mannequins that turned up in undergarments. They warned that undergarments must be boxed and kept away.

Maybe politics coaches these moral policemen to kick on people’s bums rather than enabling them to cover them!

And here is a nation, where the “culture saviors” will do everything possible to help men not get distracted, except of course, educating the men themselves! – Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala are in – who’s next? WHO do you think will truly redefine the “State of our country”? (pun intended!)

Jai Ho Indian Politics, or should I say, ….Jai “Haww” ?? ;-)
Photo Links: Church Billboard, Angry Man, Mannequins, Rainbow Condom Dog, Unnithan, Condom Billboard, Chocolate Spa