Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Youth brand universe

John Abraham is sitting in a cafe. He puts on a pair of sunglasses. A girl pulls up her chair and sits behind him. Then another, and another. John tilts to the left; the girls tilt too. Then to the right, and so do the girls.

He grins and pulls off his glares. It's an ad for Fastracks' new 'biker collection'. And they pull it off without showing a single bike, which I think is tres cool. Because that would be the obvious thing to do!

What's more, your 'biker' collection now reaches out to a much larger group of people. The message is, you don't have to be a biker, but wear these glares and girls will think you are!

Now of course, whether the glasses sell or not depends on many other factors - designs, pricing, accessibility. But the advertising is just right. A worthy follow up to the original Titan Fastrack watches ad which was quite a hit.

It's also interesting because this is more of a 'brand building' kind of effort - even though it uses a Bollywood star. An effort that a number of companies seem to have simply given up on.

What we see generally see is :
a) celebrity driven advertising
b) product-benefit driven advertising

In category 1, lame attempts are made to be 'creative' with the same set of stars. The latest ad with the overused Abhishek Bachchan, for example is 'American Express'.

The Big Idea is AB jr being referred to as 'Big B' because he now has an Amex card ('membership changes everything'). There's not much to be said about that idea, or the small Big B's acting - in the commercial. Perhaps it works anyways, at least in terms of making the Amex profile in India more 'youthful'.

But it's not good advertising.

In category 2, one of the lamest ads on TV right now is Stayfree 'drymax'. I mean, sure, you want users of 'Whisper' to sit up and take notice that there is a better sanitary napkin.

But who leaves a Stayfree on a table, so that water is accidentally spilled... And the napkin miraculously soaks it all up! Do users really need a product demo? I just don't think you build a brand in a sensitive category in this very in-your-face way.

Aside: My 7 year old thinks it's a 'diaper for adults'... Yes, I have given her the explanation, but!

Lastly, we have the 'let me bribe you into buying my brand' variety of advertising. Chlormint, which tried valiantly to be cheeky and cool with its advertising (but did not quite succeed) is going that way.

"Buy a Chlormint and sms the code to 8558. You can win Rs 1 lakh a day and a Nokia phone every hour".

The irony is that the sms will cost more than the Chlormint... which sells for all of 50 paise (ie 1 cent!). It's clear that some brand manager has done complicated calculations to arrive at a winning formula.

My back of the envelope estimate:

30 crore Chlormints being sold with this offer over 2 months. That means around 50 lakh Chlormints a day. At a conservative estimate 3-5% of users will send an sms. Which would work out, on an average to 2 lakh smses.

The cost of sending the sms varies from Rs 1 to Rs 3 (Airtel users are getting fleeced the most!)Of that Chlormint is likely to be getting a revenue share of 40-50%.

Which means the Rs 1 lakh a day giveaway pays back for itself - at the very least. If the amount of smses or % of people who sms is greater, then sone pe suhaaga. Thoda advertising cost bhi cover ho jayega.

It sounds like a lottery scheme to me, which could possibly get Chlormint into trounle. Because as far as I know, in India, only the government is allowed to conduct lotteries (yes, that's terribly weird and rather unethical but we'll get into that another day).

Besides, I see one GIANT loophole in the Chlormint scheme. The lucky number is printed outside the wrapper. I bet smart paanwallahs and kirana store owners around the country will be busy smsing all the numbers on all the Chlormints they have in stock.

The smartest ones would be smsing from Reliance CDMA, which costs only 15 paise!

And finally, what happens when the promo is over? Coz efforts of this kind don't have a lasting effect. So you're back to thinking of more promos. When you should be thinking about creating products people want to buy. And brands, which stand for something.

19 comments:

  1. In the Amex ad, I thought they cleverly built it in a way that they could fully leverage the brand 'Big B'. Abhishek actually talking to his dad on the phone may lead one to believe that the real Big B is also part of the ad./endorsement. I am sure that they've not paid the real Big B anything in the end but the company got all the benefits that his endorsements bring.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This Chlormint contest is nothing but buying a lottery. They too admit that in some way. In the Terms and conditions they have clearly said that in cond. 4) Entries to the Scheme will be void where applicable laws prohibit participation in the Scheme. The Scheme is not available in the state of Tamil Nadu. Fyi..In the state of TamilNadu, Lottery is banned.
    By the way Lucky winner of Rs. 1 Lakh for 27-Nov is from Chennai!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. me thinks the e-serve is now citigroup global services ad is pretty bad too. Its almost as if the lead is being ironic about the name change and tries to prove that everyones excited about the naem change by shouting the name change to a baby, in the middle of a sports ground where bungee jumping is going on. He cites the fact that both shout excitedly after he shouts the name change as proof that everyones excited.While the attempt is to be humorous, the ad just doesnt have a strong enough punchline to carry it through, i fel.

    ReplyDelete
  4. HLL is all over the town and its FM channels with its "Mumbai dhoyega, Mumbai jeetega" campaign, where users have to sms the no. of stains / spots they could remove using HLL's detregent and the "score" is added to a fund that can go upto Rs. 5 lacs to be used to help Mumbai's needy children. No doubt HLL will be more than compensated for its 5 lacs - from the paybacks received from mobile service provider, leave alone the actual product sales. The cost of promotion on FM itself wil be more than 5 lacs. I'm sure a corporate the size of HLL can afford to give away 5 lacs to needy [ corporate social responsibility - thats another discussion topic altogether] without a sms campaign etc.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous7:08 PM

    hi i like ur blog

    ReplyDelete
  6. agree that soe advt. are walking too much length to get noticed. the best way of getting through people's mind is to tell them what they can easily relate to. showing product in Advt. is too obvious thing to do. taking cue from everyday incidents happen around and embedding that with product idea is what can appeal most. famous Pepsi Ad by Amir khan is example to see. Hutch Ad with small puppy tell that what more HUTCH gives you.

    ReplyDelete
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  8. Anonymous2:56 PM

    I am not into eating candys so i was unaware of the chlormint saga and the loopholes... but the Sanitary napkin on table... you observed it well great insights.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous2:25 PM

    REF:In the Amex ad, I thought they cleverly built it in a way that they could fully leverage the brand 'Big B'. Abhishek actually talking to his dad on the phone may lead one to believe that the real Big B is also part of the ad./endorsement. I am sure that they've not paid the real Big B anything in the end but the company got all the benefits that his endorsements bring.

    So what thyere saying is:

    you need to be A Bachchan in order to avail prefertial treatment.period..so owning one is those cards is pretty pointless then,isnt it..

    it sort of deals a crushing blow to amitabhs image as a 'global superstar'..cuz chinese working in an indian restaurant have no idea who he is...'big b' should sue..

    in short,they brought in ab jr for his celeb pull(well duh i guess)inspite of the fact that theyre totally distorting the message the company spent lakhs to put accross(that owning an amex platinum ushers you into a world of priviledge)..its like that ol 'car ads NEED girls' theory..

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous2:26 PM

    REF:In the Amex ad, I thought they cleverly built it in a way that they could fully leverage the brand 'Big B'. Abhishek actually talking to his dad on the phone may lead one to believe that the real Big B is also part of the ad./endorsement. I am sure that they've not paid the real Big B anything in the end but the company got all the benefits that his endorsements bring.

    So what theyre saying is:

    you need to be A Bachchan in order to avail prefertial treatment.period..so owning one of those cards is pretty pointless then,isnt it..

    it sort of deals a crushing blow to amitabhs image as a 'global superstar'..cuz chinese working in an indian restaurant have no idea who he is...'big b' should sue..

    in short,they brought in ab jr for his celeb pull(well duh i guess)inspite of the fact that theyre totally distorting the message the company spent lakhs to put accross(that owning an amex platinum ushers you into a world of priviledge)..its like that ol 'car ads NEED girls' theory..

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Hi Rashmi,

    This is in response to Alok Mehta's comment on your blog (10:13 AM). As a person who has been closely associated with the campaign and as a fellow blogger, I would like to clarify some misconceptions that you seem to carry about the Surf Excel 10/10 donation drive. Please refer to the parts in red in your comment copied below. Firstly, HLL is not receiving any paybacks from mobile service providers. The SMSs sent by the consumers are charged at the circle rate and at no special rate. As far as revenues from product sales are concerned, this campaign is a very small part of a very large promotion exercise (the Surf Excel 10/10 campaign). HLL could have chosen to spend the money on this campaign instead of going out of its way to invest resources in this campaign.

    This campaign is being run in 5 metros in partnership with some very well known NGOs who are doing exemplary work in the field of child education (Udayan in Kolkata, Pratham in Mumbai, Parikrma in Bangalore, Prayas in Delhi and Udavum Karangal in Chennai). This takes the donation amount to 25 laks (not a small amount by any standard)

    Your are right in saying that the cost of running the campaign is much more than 5 lakhs, but you seem to have construed wrongly the spirit of the campaign. It is not about the donation of the said amount. In its own small way, the campaign aims to sensitize these urban conglomerates towards the plight of the millions of underserved children. Radio and SMS were used as means to achieve the said end.

    For your kind information, HLL does undertake huge CSR initiatives. Please visit www.hll.com to know more about the same.

    Do write to me at prashant.jain@unilever.com for any other queries regarding the campaign

    Alok Mehta said...
    HLL is all over the town and its FM channels with its "Mumbai dhoyega, Mumbai jeetega" campaign, where users have to sms the no. of stains / spots they could remove using HLL's detregent and the "score" is added to a fund that can go upto Rs. 5 lacs to be used to help Mumbai's needy children. No doubt HLL will be more than compensated for its 5 lacs - from the paybacks received from mobile service provider, leave alone the actual product sales. The cost of promotion on FM itself wil be more than 5 lacs. I'm sure a corporate the size of HLL can afford to give away 5 lacs to needy [ corporate social responsibility - thats another discussion topic altogether] without a sms campaign etc.

    ReplyDelete
  12. fantastic post!!! how wonderful it would be if both marketeers & their agency counter-parts had an iota of perspective in their 'marketing strategy', the term would actually end up having some meaning!

    ReplyDelete
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