Archive for the 'Advertising' Category

Less Ad(d) More News

Recently, as I was flipping through channels, I came across a Kannada channel where there was news highlights going on and on the left hand side there was a large photo of Akshay Kumar taking almost 40% of the space. For a moment I was confused whether the news was about him. When I looked closer, I realized it was an Ad within the news flashlights.

We continue to sink to new lows day in and day out….

Whacky book launch ideas!!!

I’ve this strange quirky feeling inside me at times that wants to take the way things are done mostly and put them upside down, shake them up a bit and change how they look – while trying to achieve the same goal! It gave birth to my new venture and you will be hearing about it soon on this blog – so keep reading. But now, about book launches.

Why book launches and why this itch to revamp them? Well, I was at a large book store yesterday and frankly, quite overwhelmed by the number of books and new titles out there. More importantly, a question stood out for me – how can someone stand out in this melee? Of course, after the launch you are one amongst the crowd, so the launch is critical – so here goes the list!

5 whacky ways to do book launches:

1. Get everybody to answer a puzzle of some kind through your promotional materials that gets solved only when they get to the venue of the launch (assuming there is one!) – of course, you will need to give away prizes!

2. Get a poll going on various social networks on some relevant topic and create awareness about the book – make it interesting

3. Create a controversy (now, this is controversial, if you ask me – but I’m just throwing ideas around)

4. Do activities to get people to experience the book (don’t read it yourself, it is the tried and tested way, right?)

5. Last but not the least, get the most unconventional location possible for the launch – based on your target segment, it could be anywhere from the pizza place to beauty parlors and honestly, they will appreciate the foot falls more than the book stores!

The art of “restrictive” gifting

Recently we received Pizza Hut gift vouchers from Airtel and Citibank. I generally don’t look at promo mailers. I was about to throw it when the picture of food caught my eye. I looked at it carefully, it said that we could get a medium “Tuscan singles” pizza free if we present the voucher. I had three such vouchers and wondered if we might just do a pizza today. Well, alas! turn the voucher around and there in fine print lies the art of “restrictive” gifting.

One cannot redeem multiple vouchers together, need to have a bill of Rs. 500 or more to be able to use the voucher and worst still – need to be a dine-in order to be able to use the voucher. Needless to say, I trashed the vouchers anyway. Why?

I don’t remember the last time I did a dine-in for pizzas. I don’t remember the last time my bill order went to Rs. 500 at a pizzeria (there are too many offers for meals for two floating around and we don’t do any pizza parties) and if I can’t use all my vouchers, then?

I understand that one of the reasons for launching the campaign must have been to push people to dine-in at pizza hut, raise the bill to Rs. 500 and come multiple times to redeem the multiple vouchers within the expiry date. But, isn’t it too much to ask for from me? What if, I’m not a big fan of Pizza Hut pizzas, then you need to induce trial and this is no way to do it. What if, I’m looking for the best value meal in pizzas, then you have just blown away your chance for a consideration.

Ok, I can go on and on. But the point I was trying to make is that the art of sending vouchers is not all about what you want it is all about figuring out why things are the way they are and then trying to address that through incentives (namely, vouchers – if that is the case). I’m sure to get into the mailers of Airtel customers and Citibank customers, they must have paid a bomb. What a sheer waste of money to do so on a “restrictive” gift that screams selfishness and lack of understanding of consumer behavior at its best.

Or do they really think consumers are that stupid that on the receipt of such a gift voucher they would go rushing to change their habits? Anybody listening from Pizza Hut’s marketing team?

The Sweet Deal in India

I read an interview by Perfetti’s MD in Business Line recently where he was talking about how difficult it was for them to convert the 50p price point and raise it to Re 1 and another article here on how the main issue with Indian market is price points (MRP), that the costlier, “stylized” chocolates are better sold in “malls” and that the Indian chocolate market is largely limited to children and has not been able to convert the adults.

I beg to differ with the concept that “price” is  an issue with sweets. The people (both adults and children) who crave for sweets don’t care about price, it falls under “crave” items. The problem with Indian scenario is that overall there is a dearth of options, lack of quality and absence of richness in the confectionery and chocolates category. In fact, there are no lollipops worth its salt (sweet) that an adult would buy (even if they craved for it), chewing gums are ok but now there are too many clones in the market (especially with the sugar-free version) and can I please get an eclair that does not get stuck in my teeth (I mean, I used to like eclairs before these cheap versions started flooding the market)?

Chocolates is another disaster story, for the price I pay mostly there isn’t even a bite-full to eat (things have changed slightly with Cadbury Silk in the mix and some imported German chocolates). I can do far better with most of the traditional Indian sweets in all their variety and richness right around the corner. Of course, not to mention that dark chocolates are more chocolate than dark (cocoa) and the difference in taste between the “Indian” and “Foreign” versions of “Kit-Kat”, “Ferrero Rocher” doesn’t make them taste any better (in fact, they are worse).

All of these “sweet” guys (Perfetti, Nestle, Nutrine, Parle) who are talking about price, placement and segment issues in India, my question to you is, what have you done to understand India and put together an honest, good quality product mix for us? We might be a disparate market, we might stand divided by caste, creed and religion but we stand united by our sweet tooth and reject products that lack in quality or range thrown at us and oh, yeah! no amount of advertising is going to make up for the fact that the products don’t stand up for themselves.

PS: I should give a special mention to Cadbury as they have always attempted to work towards this goal. They are having to run three separate ad campaigns – one each for dairy milk silk, temptations and the regular dairy milk. I can see what an uphill task it is for them in Indian market to stand up for quality when everyone else is gunning for costs!

What do you think? Any special chocolate stories to share?

Wants vs. Needs

I was listening to Melinda Gates at the TEDxChange talk aired on Sep 20th on the Millennium goals. It was wonderful to hear all the speakers, but one thing she said stuck in my head.

She was narrating the story of the reach & success of Coke and comparing it with the success of the Millennium Goals. She said, as she travelled all over the world trying to spread the message of a life without disease and misery, even where there was no electricity, education or sanitation facility, there was COKE. For quite some reason, coke had figured out the secret formula that eluded the best of the international efforts at alleviating poverty, disease and lack of education!

She pointed out that it could be broadly ascribed to three things – they are very data oriented, they  tap into local entrepreneurial culture and create incredible marketing campaigns. In short, make you aspire to something you don’t even need in the first place! However, for some reason, she said, “We don’t seem to think that we should make people want what they need” when it comes to poverty, education and disease eradication. This results in colossal wastage of the best laid out aid efforts in the poorest of countries. Since, we don’t craft the messages with “sufficient aspirational value” they don’t seem to get through to the people and she gave some very interesting examples (Go watch the talk for examples, I’m not giving them away :)).

This is so beautifully said that I can’t add anything to it except for the fact that, what “they need” is generally a “perception” from an outsider’s point of view, for them  it is something in their core – a “habit”, “culture”, “religion”, “chore” – that you want them to change and instead do this “other thing” which they are not familiar with. Why should they trust you? Why should they put in the extra effort?

Inspiring someone enough for them to “want” to do something is the best way to create a “need” – marketers figured this out way long ago. But making someone want what they need, while making it available is the best way to reach out and make a difference in the society, probably the most exalted job for marketing there is to be!

PS: Seth Godin wrote an article on the same topic in his blog recently –Needs don’t always lead to demand.

Blackberry boys (un)welcome change?

Truth be told the new Blackberry boys TV advertisement is cool (if you haven’t seen it, take a look here) and I love it.

You can clearly see that Vodafone is signaling (along with Blackberry) that it is not just for the “guys in suits” and the message is conveyed brilliantly. But, here is the million dollar question – it is a bold move and it takes Blackberry away from its corporate stronghold, is it a good strategy for Blackberry?

Even in the ad, you can clearly see the discomfort, confusion and alarm on the faces of the 5 “suited” people who were the only people in the frame originally. It could well be the case that Blackberry purchase decisions are made by “corporates” who don’t make it based on the image but on practical price-feature-network partnership parameters and Blackberry might pull off this brand extension exercise and come out all smiles (I hope that is what the research showed and hence they are doing this!).

If not, this could cost them their stronghold with the confused businessmen demanding to be given a choice of “iPhone/Blackberry/Nokia/Samsung” and the B2C market (in developing countries), being cost conscious that it is, opt for the local Blackberry rip offs instead!

It could well be that Blackberry has not seen the kind of traction with corporates in India that they generally see in other countries, in which case, this is a desperate move for them to expand their visibility and hence market share. Could they have done it with another brand name instead of extending the current one? What do you think?

Delighting your customer

I’ve to acknowledge that in this world of “heavy” sales pitch and large budget marketing, we fail to notice people who provide us service quietly, efficiently and go out of their way to do a good job, yet don’t make a big fuss about it. We give these people repeat business because they are good at their work, but they don’t get written about or awarded or given accolades for helping make people like do better. I want to talk about a printer guy that I’ve been working, who has done an excellent job of delighting us. (I’ve to mention he is tardy and never keeps time, but this post is not about that!)

We are a startup and I don’t end up giving him large quantity orders. Orders range from 500-1500 pieces for print and at these quantities most (offset) printers refused to give me good rates. He on the other hand, the first time I worked with him, took up the job gladly, did it in reasonably good time and offered me a very good price for the order. The second time I worked with him, he gave me a substantial discount on a price that we had agreed upon (which was already a good price as per the market) and he did it again the third time round! I was surprised when I saw the bill.

I never had the time to thank him for this gesture and he never made a hue and cry about it either. I finally did it today and I’m giving him repeat business for sure. But, more importantly, I learnt a thing about “delighting one’s customer” without making a big fuss about it from him today. If you are good and you are giving your customers something of value, they will realize it without you having to do “heavy-duty” pitching.

This lesson is even more important because he doesn’t speak English or Hindi that well at all, at least not well enough to have a “misunderstanding-free” conversation and so much for the importance of learning “English” that we place in India. Anyway, I’m tending to believe more and more that in life it is really important to do one or two things really well and just get the rest of the things “right” enough, that defines success more than well-roundedness! What say guys?


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