Monday, August 22, 2016

When a dream maker chases his dreams

R Balki's move to quit advertising and focus on movies has a lesson for us all

R Balki, one of the stalwarts of modern advertising, Chairman and Creative Chief at Mullen Lowe Lintas Group has left the agency to (hold your breath) do films which was his original dream even when he came to advertising way back in 1987. I first met Balki in 1987 when he was a cub writer in Mudra Bangalore, an office that I had started for the agency as its Branch Head. Even if he was wet behind the ears as a writer, he had enormous passion and as I later realised his passion was to make films. He used to keep talking about Ilayaraja who was God to his generation and PC Sriram and I remember the first film we did in those fledgling days had PC as the cinematographer. I also subsequently found out that he used to keep writing film scripts in his spare time, some times in the blazing heat of Ahmedabad sitting in the terrace while he was doing the training program at Mudra Ahmedabad. I was so touched when nearly two decades later he invited me for the premier of Cheeni Kum, his first movie and not surprisingly it featured both PC Sriram and Ilayaraja! To me who had spent his entire life in the frenetic world of advertising where people don’t even have the time to breathe, much less work he had found time to not only do great work but also to produce stand out feature films. Dreams have the capability to fire our imagination and lead us to greater heights of achievement it seems.

First and last, a writer
While Balki wore multiple hats he was first and foremost a writer and I guess that is what he would like to be known as. And it was as a writer that I first met him and over the years his reputation as a writer grew and my respect for his ability multiplied. While we did great work for the six years that we worked together in Mudra, I will pick just one commercial that he did for ‘Van Heusen’ that I particularly liked.  Interestingly these were the heydays of the liberalization wave when everything foreign was aspirational including the models!

Then we took different paths, I went to a different agency and Balki too left Mudra to join Lintas. We were in touch sporadically though I kept following his work. I thought it would be more appropriate if I focussed on his work as I believe work is the best expression of a creative person.
While I have admired Balki’s work and we will come to that as well in time I admired his ability to take on the world on his own terms. He truly embodied the philosophy of “Love me or hate me but for God’s sake don’t ignore me”. He ruffled a lot of feathers by refusing to enter his agency’s work at Advertising Awards. It was difficult to digest initially but he took the agency with him. He created a culture of creativity within the company and as someone who has run companies; I know how difficult it is to transform organisations, cultures and people. He did this with ease.

These are a few of my favourite ads
I tried to figure out a few of Lowe Lintas’ ads which I particularly liked and there were quite a few but here are a few given the paucity of space which thankfully is more than 140 characters here at least! One of the brands that he got great work done for was ‘Surf Excel’ and here’s one commercial that has his touch.

I must mention Surf Excel in particular as clearly the brand’s advertising quality improved dramatically over the years and I do know the contribution which Balki and Lowe had in this improvement. Another brand which owed a lot to advertising was ‘Idea Cellular’ and I have been impressed with  the brand’s advertising not least of all with the signature tune which is much a tribute to Ilayarajaa as it is to Balki’s love for the icon. Here’s one of my favourites.
Of course Balki had a tremendous capability to touch with youth and their aspirations and here is 
another commercial that I loved.

Miles to go …
I suppose when someone of lesser ability could be more than satisfied with Balki’s enormous achievements, he is going back to his first love and that is making films and while he has already done a couple of outstanding films like Cheeni Kum and Pa I am sure his best is yet to come. Tomorrow, when the world speaks of Balki I am sure it will speak of him as the greatest film Director of our times not merely as an outstanding advertising professional. And what are the lessons for us?

  •     Always follow your dreams.

  •    You can always do a lot more than you think you can.

  •    Don’t get satisfied too easily in your life and remember only the sky’s the limit when it comes  to following your dreams.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Paperboat pushes in-home consumption with 500 ml Tetra Pak cartons

We spoke to brand owner Neeraj Kakkar about the shift in focus from individual to shared consumption and the challenges involved.
Paperboat, the ethnic drinks brand from Hector Beverages, has launched its existing flavours Aamras and Anar in Tetra Pak's distinctive tetra prisma aseptic (TPA) 500 ml cartons with the re-sealable screw cap. Priced at Rs 55 and Rs 75 respectively, these variants will be available across the country at modern trade (MT) stores.

The brand already has 11 varieties of drinks in the market with its existing 250 ml doypack (a sealed plastic bag that is designed to stand upright and used by ready-to-drink beverages). It plans to release the rest of the flavours in 500 ml cartons in the market soon.

Kandarp Singh, managing director, Tetra Pak, South Asia, says in a press release, "The TPA 500 ml package with the re-sealable screw cap will give consumers not just a superior drinking experience from a modern and distinctive pack, but also many opportunities to share Paperboat's delicious ethnic flavours with special people in their lives. We are happy that this pack will help further strengthen Paperboat's brand appeal and offer differentiation on the shelves."

Neeraj Kakkar, founder and chief executive officer, Hector Beverages, tells afaqs! the reason behind launching Paperboat in 500 ml cartons.

Edited Excerpts

What made you take this decision? Was it led by consumer research or consumer feedback?
Like hawks, we sit on the edge of our seats and listen to each and every (piece of) feedback that comes from our consumers... Our consumers just didn't have enough of us, and would always tell us how much happier they would be if we gave them a larger pack to take home. How could we say no?
It appears as though you're looking to increase in-home consumption for Paperboat...
Absolutely. People always share the drinks they take home with their family members and guests. It is convenient to carry a larger pack... 

Are you looking to target a new demographic through this offering? How different would this TG be from that of your grab-and-go 'single consumption' 250 ml offering?
We are not predicting a massive drift from our existing TG. A lot of our existing consumers would carry six to twelve doypacks home, but would keep asking for larger packs. They are going to be very happy to see that we have responded. And yes, we should get a new set of people to buy Paperboat - those who only buy large packs from modern trade outlets. 

Paperboat loyalists are used to the curvy bottle - shape, design, look and feel. What went into designing this new pack? What obstacles did your team face while working on the cosmetic bits and how did you overcome them?
... In terms of design restrictions, the team faced challenges when it came to colours. Paperboat's personality is resonant in the colours on the pack. On a doypack the colours react in a different way. But the substrate on Tetra Pak is different. Ensuring that the colours are a copy of a doypack was a challenge. 

Working around the back of the pack was challenging, yet fun. We got a window to illustrate small memories which are very close to the fruit. This gave us another platform to tell a new story.
It was extremely important for the design team to ensure the pack is very close to the doy version as that is a very strong identity for the brand and going far away from it would have been a huge risk for us.

How do you plan to promote this new pack? What media channels will be mobilised for this?
Along with Tetra Pak, we plan to spread the news across our social channels. We are selling on Amazon as well, so more people have access to this version. This pack will be available across MT stores with a large display space. 

Now, your competition has also changed. Existing players in the 500 ml or 'shared consumption' segment (Frooti, Tropicana, Real Juice, etc.) are now competition for you. How will you differentiate? Are you only banking upon Paperboat's loyalists to drive initial trials for the new pack?

Our biggest point of differentiation is that we make authentic recipes. Our drinks are free of preservatives and made with the best quality spices and fruits - just how you'd make it at home.

Juice Wars?

Shripad Nadkarni, co-founder, Fingerlix (food startup) and MarketGate (brand consultancy), and investor, Hector Beverages (marketer of Paperboat), says, "I think what the brand is doing is just catering to an occasion which is in-house. Fundamentally, in homes, the juice occasion is very high compared to carbonated soft drinks, and it is more convenient to have multi-serve packs because it gives you terrific economy. I think that is the fundamental reason why the brand's gone into this."
He adds, "Paperboat is defined less by its style and more by the brand. It's all about the authenticity. Right now, it is only available in single serve packs, but now, it will help more in-home occasions. I am convinced that it will replace Maaza and Frooti in the fridge."

Good move, but all flavours may not fly...

Ramanujam Sridhar, founder and CEO, brand-comm, a brand consultancy, says, "The takeaway is that the brand is improving its acceptance across segments. In every category, whether it is confectionery or snacks, there is one prime user who takes the packet home. In the case of confectionery, it is children, while it's teenagers in the case of snacks. The other adults in the family consume it once the products are brought home."
He adds, "In this case, the youth who have been individually consuming Paperboat are expected to take the larger pack home so that other family members can consume it as well. As in the case of other fruit beverages, flavours such as Aamras or Jaljeera that have a wider appeal, are likely to be consumed by the entire family, while something like Rasam, may or may not have appeal across ages and segments."

Brands have to constantly upgrade with new flavours and pack sizes, Sridhar's guess is that Paperboat's move is an indication of its wider acceptance. "It's a good move which should certainly help the brand both medium, as well as long-term."

Monday, August 8, 2016

The importance of building a personal brand

It is now established that people can be brands and we are not talking about Sachin Tendulkar and Priyanka Chopra only. We are talking about people like you and me who have a career and are aspiring for leadership roles. Let’s quickly step back for a moment and figure out what makes brands successful. Successful brands are “relevant“ to their consumers and “different” from their competition. The same applies to personal brands as well. While in earlier generations this was a slow and even arduous task given the paucity of media and the difficulty of getting into it, today, the growth of the internet and the way it’s being consumed, (at times even consuming us) presents great opportunities for brand building at a fairly rapid rate.

It’s not only Facebook silly
Many people tend to be allergic to social media as they are probably put off by the manner in which people bare their souls in public or by the flippant nature of the medium that they tend to totally avoid being online. Sadly several of my clients share the same aversion and trepidation. This reminds me of a concept called “reverse mentoring” that companies like IBM are using to great effect. What basically happens is that senior leaders in the fifties get trained by twenty somethings on how to download videos and how to keep their LinkedIn posts relevant. This is simply because young people take to technology the way ducks take to water whilst many of us older folks can be “technophobes”. And today the smarter older people are harnessing the power of LinkedIn and Twitter to get recognition and followers and in a very short time at that.

“Will GST affect the GDP? Not immediately but an upside of around 2 % after 2 years or thereabouts. Will certainly improve economic efficiency.” – Shankar Khasnis

What will be your sentence?
People who have aspirations of brand leadership must stand for something. Gandhiji stood for nonviolence, Abraham Lincoln for abolition of slavery and Winston Churchill for tenacity in the face of adversity. Business leaders like Ratan Tata, Jack Welch and Richard Branson too stand for strong values. So it is important to figure out what your area of expertise is going to be. Will you be the greatest expert on monetary policy, brand building or even cricket statistics? Carve a niche for yourself, be known as an expert in that chosen area and use social media to own that space. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet it calls for a clear strategy and error free execution as brand building is in the details. 
Here are a few people I follow in the social media with diverse abilities and skills.

What are some of the best practices of the social medium?
Don’t shout for attention. If you go to a party and want to get attention you don’t take your shirt off do you? You work yourself into groups, make interesting, often self-deprecating conversation to get noticed. The same thing applies to social media as well. Don’t try to get there too soon.  Numbers don’t matter as much quality and substance of the interaction.

Have a point of view
Some of us are talented and interested enough to write blogs while the reality is some of us are not. Though I must quickly tell you that writing is a bit like Maths, the more you apply yourself the better you will be. The other interesting thing would be to share interesting things that you see online with your own comment on the same. You need not necessarily agree with the author all the time but making an interesting observation about a well written piece which can be brief establishes your own credentials and confidence on the chosen subject. Contrast this with the old days when all of us built our reputation only by writing articles, books and delivering lectures!

Don’t go into overdrive
I have stopped following a few people on twitter as they are jamming my timeline with so many posts! I am also put off by people who are constantly selling themselves or their organisations. No one wants to go to bed with a salesman who is constantly talking about his product. In my opinion revealing some aspects of one’s personality breaks the tedium and gives an insight into the character and interests of the person which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Rome was not built in a day
Sometimes we expect too much too soon. Building brands today is quicker but can rarely happen overnight unless you are a Kabali! I remember this adage from my working life “chase success and money will follow”. The same principle applies to building your online brand as well, don’t look for results, just be consistent and the results will follow.
And finally be yourself! Each one of us has some unique characteristics and traits, further them rather than being someone you are not.

All the best! Hope to follow you soon!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

TimesJobs is the CEO for all career aspirants in its new campaign, #IndiasMostLovedCEO

The campaign conceptualised by Innocean Worldwide aims to position the job portal as not just a job provider, but also a career enhancement company. The innovative campaign grabbed eyeballs and evoked mixed reactions


Conceptualised by Innocean Worldwide, the TimesJobs campaign launched on July 27 has grabbed a lot of attention on social media. As the part of the integrated campaign, a print ad, OOH, social media initiative and a television commercial were launched. Two teasers were also launched to build curiosity among viewers ahead of the commercial.
In the teasers, a girl, in a ‘pleasing’ voice, says, ‘I spent some time with CEO’. She then looks down, takes a pause and says, ‘…and got a promotion’, suggesting that she got a promotion as she associated herself with the CEO. The print ad goes the same way. The ad depicts a woman who ‘spent some time with the CEO and got a promotion’.

The ad, at first instance, seems to be cheesy, but has a witty twist attached to it. Most of us would first think ‘the other way round’ and form opinions. Then comes the humorous part in the ad: For Times Jobs, CEO stands for ‘Career Enhancement Officer’! This was intended to mark the transition of TimesJobs from being a mere job portal to a career adviser.

The social media buzz and the interest of people in a rather unusual hashtag #IndiasMostLovedCEO made it trend on Twitter on the day of the launch. Interesting guesses were seen floating on who could be this most-loved CEO of India with some witty exchanges too.
After the teaser, the company launched a full-fledged commercial where not just females but also males had a role to play. In the commercial, two girls fooled a man by telling him of getting a promotion with the help of the CEO. They incite the man to go to the CEO and ask for a promotion. The man goes to the CEO and asks for a promotion but the CEO shouts at him instead. Towards the end of the film, the girls let out the abbreviation of CEO as ‘Career Enhancement Officer’ and have their share of laugh.
Saurabh Dasgupta
Saurabh Dasgupta, National Creative Director, Innocean Worldwide, said, “Our effort has been to bring alive the advantages career-seekers can get by getting the CEO – Career Enhancement Office – on their side. The users of the site are mature career builders who are looking at real world insights and not some verbiage. Hence we have stayed true to the product promise and strengths.”
Dasgupta added, “The pun is around the right ‘CEO’ and spending time with the CEO or taking help from the CEO.”
The marketing objective was sharpened to relaunch the portal with a new feel and purpose. It also highlights specific aspects of TimesJobs such as company reviews, salary benchmarking, interview insights and skill assessment, going beyond other competitors’ offerings.

Nilanjan Roy
Nilanjan Roy, Head of Strategy, Times Business Solutions, said, “Now the job seekers want to take decisions based on long-term growth and not short-term gains. Aspects such as company culture, work-life balance, career growth prospects, role adaptability and role transitions, all play a significant part in making career choices. TimesJobs has transformed to address their needs.”
Innocean undertook the task with a deep dive into the mind of the prospects, which included both the career seekers and the career providers as in heads of HR and talent acquisition. Their needs and the product’s key aspects were cross mapped for synergies to arrive at the insight that would propel the brand forward.

Vikas Deep Verma
Vikas Deep Verma, Product and Marketing Head, TimesJobs, said, “High-performance professionals who may not be looking for jobs still actively seek resources that provide them intelligence around companies, provide personal skill assessments, give interview insights and benchmark their salary against industry norms. We have pivoted to provide all these services into one complete solution. We also provide the largest collection of jobs if they do decide to actively pursue a change.”
The Twitter Troll
‘Did no one at TimesJobs proof this ad before it was released?’ asked one Twitter user.
The ad was presumably being clever about using the abbreviation CEO not as chief executive officer but as Career Enhancement Officer – a term that the company used to describe itself in the copy. But social media users didn’t see it that way. The copy seemed to suggest a woman boasting that she’d go ahead by associating with the Chief Executive Officer.
The conversation soon snowballed into a discussion about other instances of sexism by the company and whether it was an error on the part of the ad agency or TimesJobs itself.

Vivek Srivastava

Countering the troll over Twitter, Vivek Srivastava, Jt. Managing Director, Innocean Worldwide, said, “The intent of this campaign is single-minded: establish TimesJobs equal to the CEO, i.e., Career Enhancement Officer. The usage of CEO is meant to make it impactful. No hidden meaning or intonations. Any intent to call it sexist or some such thing is purely motivated and in bad taste. I would go a step further and say it exposes the misogynist mind of the person commenting in this vain. CEOs can be women or men these days. They meet, travel or hold discussions with their juniors and colleagues regardless of their gender. I have personally had the privilege of working and interacting with a woman boss for quite a while but a thought like this never crossed my mind.”
Further strengthening his point of view, Srivastava added, “I think those trolling show the petty thinking they harbour that stereotypes women and their corporate existence in an undesirable fashion. A clean, witty, purpose-driven communication with a defined objective of redefining the acronym CEO as Career Enhancement Officer needn’t be given this uncalled for filter of sexism.”
Mixed reaction from experts
BestMediaInfo spoke to some experts in the field to gauge their opinion on the ad campaign and also the way it is trending on social media.

Asheesh Sethi

Asheesh Sethi, Founder, and Noshe Group, said, “What I feel on the face of it is that advertising is something where whatever gets noticeability and attention is good advertising, even if you play with words and get an impact, irrespective of the implicit meaning. TimesJobs has been able to create a noise in the market. The object was to create interest in the campaign. TimesJobs  has not presented anybody on the wrong side. It’s just that you may draw your own inferences. As long as you are able to raise an eyebrow, get attention towards the brand and get it noticed, it is good advertising. It’s a very clever idea and a very creative way of putting things across.”

Amit Damani

Amit Damani, Co-Founder, Pixel Fox Studios, commented, “I just had a laugh about it. Our mind works to find double meanings in everything that we hear or see. We feel that the marketing strategy has worked for the brand. In the era that we are in, there is a double meaning in everything that we say or write. This marketing strategy may not have sent the right message but has surely brought about some hardcore publicity. Like they say, any publicity, negative or positive, is good for a brand. The ad has been differently done. It’s quite a bold approach for a job portal advertisement.”

Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO of brand-comm, said, “One should not worry about what is happening on social media as there are a lot of people who are underemployed. It’s just a clever way of advertising. Young people have a good sense of humour. The brand is just trying to be smart. They are trying to make a proposition and giving a new definition to CEO. If humour has any chance of success, then it is with the younger people. Older people sometimes don’t understand the humour. If I were the client, I would have bought the idea from the creative agency. I don’t find any major issue with the idea of the campaign. Without the implicit CEO intent, the commercial would have come out flat.”
Some did not like it
But the ad did not go down well with a few from the creative fraternity.

Anupama Ramaswamy

Anupama Ramaswamy, Executive Creative Director, Dentsu Creative Impact, said, “Well, I really think people need to spend more time on strategy than opting for some cheap tactics like this. Totally dislike the whole series. It has been done to get eyeballs but how? The whole spending time with CEO and CEO wanting to give someone a raise just doesn’t cut it for me. It leaves quite bad taste instead. The whole ad fraternity is trying to become more and more gender sensitive and here we are still stuck in the 1980s. C’mon, can we all grow up a bit? Of course, the whole renaming of the CEO or calling TimesJob the CEO could have definitely been done more tastefully and a bit sensitively. People would have taken it in a wrong sense and that must have been the intention too. To get attention and then say ‘Oh, we meant otherwise’! Again, we all need to grow up and be more responsible in our communication.”

Nisha Singhania

Nisha Singhania, Co-founder and Director, Infectious, commented, “Honestly speaking, why are we assuming that a CEO can only be a man? They have tried to create a sensation. It is much like the Tehelka kind of news. But to my mind, you should not give it any importance. These kinds of ads should be ignored. It’s no big deal. Anybody could be a CEO. If they are trying to promote the most-loved CEO, then is promotion the only thing for which you love your CEO? This ad doesn’t deserve the kind of attention it is receiving. The most-loved CEO has nothing to say about the product.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Live Issue: Can int’l brands compete in Patanjali’s ayurveda arena?

Industry practitioners say pricing is not a factor when it comes to health conscious consumer choices 

Colgate Palmolive is about to launch an ayurvedic toothpaste, Cibaca Vedshakti. The market leader in toothpastes said to have over 50 pc share in India had variants under Colgate Herbal, but this quarter’s launch won’t sport the ‘Colgate’ tag. As consumers seek attendant health benefits and choose natural products, Patanjali has reaped the rewards and prompted several others to ride the wave. Toothpaste is but one of the categories in which this has been evidenced. The marketplace also consists of herbal variants from Dabur and Himalaya, which have their own rightful place in the 'nature' products ecosystem. 

Ramanujam Sridhar, founder and CEO, Brand-Comm, believes that Colgate's entry into the market is a delayed reaction to Baba Ramdev's Patanjali’s success. 

"Normally, MNCs are more comfortable (launching) global products that have done well in other markets. You take products like Surf, Tide, Coke or Pepsi – they're doing well in other markets and it's about launching in another country. This time (Vedshakti's launch) is a reaction to an unexpected phenomenon. They didn't expect the magnitude of impact Baba Ramdev's products had. The success or acceptance has surprised them (MNCs) and showed them an emerging market for health-driven products and maybe they've missed it. A local company may have done it quicker. For an MNC the way they approach, the research is important and it explains their previous long-term successes," he explained. 
Colgate is making a conscious effort to earn a share of the space through Cibaca, invoking the vedas while doing so. And the branding is reinforcing the perception that when it comes to ayurvedic products, Indian consumers may prefer home-grown brands with some roots in the country's herbal heritage. 

Jitender Dabas, chief strategy officer, McCann Worldgroup India, believes otherwise. He notes, "It's not about Indian or foreign, it's about having stronger associations for credibility in the space. For example, just being an Indian brand doesn't necessarily mean that you can make better ayurvedic products... unless you are a brand like Dabur which has credentials and heritage in the space. But at the same time, since India is the place of origin of ayurveda, a non-Indian MNC company will always have a bit of an uphill task to establish its credentials in an Indian space of ayurvedic solutions." 

Jaideep Shergill, co-founder, Pitchfork Partners, believes that it's a matter of perception, and a name like Vedshakti can make consumers believe that the roots are Indian. 

He explains, "It's about the product being customised – from the name to the packaging. It's about how it is (going to be) marketed and sold. Today, if you look at entertainment – Star or Colors – they are leading GECs. How many people know they're owned by MNCs? They were never sold to customers as MNCs. Today, housewives think it's an Indian channel. At the end of the day, you look at any category from financial services to entertainment, you'd find such examples. In that sense, Colgate has named it well but whether it works or not time will tell. In theory, what they've done is fine."

Dhunji Wadia, president, Rediffusion Y&R, adds that there's no real rule when it comes down to a product and being Indian or from an international MNC. "The biggest rule is – ‘There's no rule'. It depends entirely on the offering and how good or effective it is. The consumer will vibe with the brand that fulfils their desires.” 

Does pricing matter? 

At a recent Kantar Worldpanel briefing, an IMRB representative revealed findings that pointed to Patanjali being bought for its promise of health benefits rather than prices that are a notch below competition. 

With Cibaca Vedshakti, the equation is different. Priced at around Rs 50 for 175 grams, it has a lower entry point than Patanjali’s Dant Kanji, which costs Rs 75 for 200 grams, while Colgate Herbal sells a tube of 200grams for Rs 89. 

Chlorophyll's Kiran Khalap believes that the price alone won't define success for the brand. He says, "If you look at Patanjali (and its success), it's a mix of the credentials of ayurveda, the product ingredients, rather than the price. Colgate won't attract for price alone. It will come down to Colgate's years in dental care to a natural version. The specific benefit it communicates and how strongly it is a subset of the overall equity in the overall dental care market is important to find out." 

Sridhar concurs that price doesn't matter in the ‘high involvement’ category, where people are not willing to compromise. “Even middle class parents when it comes to stuff like education, health and the like are going that extra mile to make sure their children don't lose out,” he adds. 

McCann’s Dabas too agrees that price doesn’t matter, but adds a rider. He notes, “I don’t think you can lure those people who are buying ayurvedic products (with lower prices), because they find them more effective. Everything else being equal, only then price will become an advantage." 

It isn’t ever about an individual attribute but about the value proposition, contends Wadia. “Once you get that right all other parameters fall in place,” he notes. 

But when the core value proposition is ayurveda, could credentials make all the difference? Consumers will tell.

Industry practitioners say pricing is not a factor when it comes to health conscious consumer choices

Read more at:
ndustry practitioners say pricing is not a factor when it comes to health conscious consumer choices

Read more at:
Industry practitioners say pricing is not a factor when it comes to health conscious consumer choices

Read more at:
ndustry practitioners say pricing is not a factor when it comes to health conscious consumer choices

Read more at: