Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How the cookie crumbles: Oreo's new brand ambassadors

“Celebrity endorsements in India are much more than in any other country, and this is perhaps to my mind another such example of that. Oreo is a widely-advertised brand and is recognised by almost everyone. Its acceptance is more than any other brand, so maybe they want to build on it and distance themselves from everybody else.”

Read more on my assessment of hiring Ranbir Kapoor and Karthi as brand ambassadors for Oreo in this piece on Exchange4media.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Publish Asia 2013

I recently took part in Publish Asia 2013, a three day conference on Print Media. I conducted a session on innovations in print advertising. From Air India and Amul print ads from the vault to implementing techniques like die-cutting, met pad printing, UV printing and other print enhancements. For a summary of the conference, do see the write up in PrintWeek here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Creative Festive Season

How do you make your brand stand out and on consumers' shopping list during the festive season? Find out more in my column below

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pitch Brand 50 awards

I was recently part of a jury for the Pitch 50 brand awards, that comprised Ramesh Thomas of Equitor and other stalwarts and academic professionals.

Together we have awarded various brands for their innovative practices in fields such as the bottom of the pyramid, digital execution, for remaining timeless and for creating significant campaign-oriented buzz.

For the full list and all the details on Pitch 50 Brand awards, do check out

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Change, the name of the game

(this column of mine appeared in Deccan Chronicle on Friday, September 13th, 2013) 

 “Child Bear sold here” is an innovative and evocative signage that one saw in Bihar.

Before the animal lovers get ready to key in a volley of protest, let me quickly clarify. It was really a sign meant to cue your taste buds and to be read as “Chilled beer sold here”! Yes, you can be creative with spelling as well cant you? But this piece is not so much about etymology but about marketing strategy, so rest easy.

My mind goes back to the early nineties when we used to do the advertising for Kalyani Black label beer which was warming the hearts of Bengalis. United Spirits, in many ways the pioneer of beer marketing in India, had an ambition which seemed like a pipe dream to me at that time. “Why should people drink beer only during the summer months’ they asked. “ Why can’t beer be a yearlong product even in Bangalore” asked the head of marketing.

I shivered in the December cold, having come as I had from the sun baked and dusty plains of Madras as my home town used to be called those days. And yet like any advertising professional, I nodded sagely even if I thought he was talking crap like most clients still do. But I must confess that he knew a thing or two.

Now isn’t beer consumed even in the middle of winter in Christmas and New Year parties? It is being consumed in crate loads come rain or shine. It has not happened by accident but by careful promotion over the years. A clear long term strategy and persistent execution has made this change possible.

Let’s change the way you eat 

Probably around the same time another marketer, a leader in the world cereals market was asking “why can’t we change the way Indians have breakfast?” It seemed like another pipe dream. How could the Madrasi give up his “ idli vada” and how could the north Indian give up his “ aloo paratha?”

The doomsayers were right as people resisted and had breakfast cereals only when they were sick! It certainly looked like Kellogg’s had bitten off more than it could chew in more ways than one. “This is India” crowed the Bombay club and the multinational company too realized that India was just another country that they could crack like Philippines or Mexico.

Less expensive Indian brands thrived as people bought the concept from Kellogg’s and the less expensive cereal from Indian companies. But what has happened today. The vast Indian middle class has taken to breakfast cereals even if it has taken some time. People are now talking of oats. Unthinkable, it seems. Not really.

Another long term strategy followed by pain staking execution, promotions and trials coupled with the increasing health consciousness of an increasingly affluent and aspirational middle class has opened doors for this category.

The joy of giving

India’s leading watch brand of the last two decades was doing something pioneering too. It saw people gifting all sorts of things – saris, jewellery, shirts, perfumes, even watches and said why can’t we get Indians to gift Titan watches? It launched the “joy of giving” campaign, created the pair watch for gifting to couples and did that consistently for years on end.

Today, gifting accounts for a small 53 per cent of Titan’s annual sales. Again the first campaign might have been a “happy accident” but it was the work of a savvy marketer to put advertising rupees behind the concept year after year and reap the benefits for two decades. An interesting development though.

Today you can safely gift Titan to an older person, though a younger person might prefer Fastrack.

Gifting? What a brilliant concept in hindsight? And how many other brands have gotten into the gifting bandwagon following Titan’s pioneering example. That’s not all There are many other examples of moving people in a different direction and getting them to buy.

Who can forget the future group’s “ sabse sasta din’ on Aug 15th and January 26th getting India to shop on traditional holidays? Or Viveks new year sale in Tamil Nadu that has since become a way of life? How can one forget the Tamil Nadu retailers’ great honeymoon with Aadi ? The month that was a traditional shopping ‘ no no” has become a great opportunity to sell clothes, durables, talk time, just about everything.

Yes, you can move consumers to change.

But people are like you and me. Apathetic, lethargic, promiscuous even. They need to be cajoled, pampered and worked on .

Not for nothing did David Ogilvy say “ the consumer is not a moron, she is your wife”. And having been married for 31 years and having lost most of my hair in the bargain, I can tell you with confidence, that marketing like marriage is not easy.

Hang in there my friend.

Ramanujam Sridhar is CEO of brand- comm and director in Custommerce an organization dedicated to developing customer service in the country.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Outlook Business - Juicing it up

Why is it important to build a brand around a ubiquitous product like sugarcane juice?

With the rise of two brands in Bangalore, namely Cane Fresh and Cane-O-LA, the much loved sugarcane juice is being served in comfortable, hygienic settings across the city. However, both brands are grappling with the issue of low margins thanks to the consumer being reluctant to pay a premium for the product.

 The only way that a premium can be extracted from this niche product with limited appeal is to build a brand.

I have weighed in with my opinion in this Outlook Business article on juicing it up. Can you think of other such products that can / have been able to charge a premium because a brand has been built around them? Do leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Business Standard - Ujala's new avatar to battle segment blues

In July this year, Jyothy Laboratories relaunched its 30 year old brand, Ujala.

Despite being a market leader in the fabric whitening space, it was looking for a re-fresh with a new tagline and new packaging.

In the face of stiff competition from HUL's Rin Fabric Whitener and Reckitt Benckiser's Robin Blue, how does Ujala measure up?

 I provided my opinion on their new tagline and their new packaging in this Business Standard article - Ujala's new avatar to battle segment blues. Do read through and share your opinion in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Narayana Murthy and Infosys brand

The return of N R Narayana Murhty to the helm of Infosys at the age of 66 has raised a few eyebrows and quiet a few hackles especially in the digital world. Find out more on the article below.

Haven’t I seen this before?

The challenge of advertising is to constantly push the envelope as it tries to produce something that is new, unseen, unheard of and makes people like you and me sit up and take notice. But I guess sometimes it is easier to talk about than to actually achieve. I keep thinking about this and was strongly reminded of the difficulty when I saw the Boost commercial featuring Dhoni and Virat Kohli for their two new flavours. Let me not try to describe yet another celebrity commercial. Watch it and you will see the two cricketers pushing each other and hustling each other to reach an appetizing mug of Boost first.

I first watched this commercial in a Tamil channel and I gaped in wonder. Not because it made me “stand up and cheer” as David Ogilvy would say or make my palms go cold, though I did wonder at the state of creative people who seem to have no time to watch other advertising (unless it is a Cannes reel) or remember stuff done years ago and mind you we are not talking about marginal work or work done for unknown brands.

Here is an old commercial done for Pepsi. It has three, not two cricketers one of whom was the then captain of the Indian cricket team and two other school boy cricketers from Mumbai who thanks to their prodigious run scoring ability made waves soon. Watch the commercial.

I rest my case. But a few questions which come to my mind. Should not Indian advertising guys watch other Indian advertising both present and past? Or should we not have smart client servicing people who will ensure that snafus like these don’t happen?

I realize that many creative people are young and don’t have a sense of history but shouldn’t older people bridge the gap? Are there any older people around - say from the ‘90s?

I think it I have raised too many questions.
Relax boys have a Pepsi!

Ramanujam Sridhar is Director of Custommerce and Founder CEO of brand-comm, a brand consulting, public relations and digital marketing company.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

The Land of Bedouins lures Indian brands

Although the GCC region is fast becoming a haven for Indian marketers, there is still a long way to go before the Indian brands can reach a pinnacle and be ‘the’ preferred choice for Westerners and Arabs.

Zipping down Sheikh Zayed Road, one of UAE’s busiest, biggest motorways, with six lanes in each direction, I have always felt that life here is always on the fast lane. It’s the same feeling you get when you land at the Dubai International Airport in Garhoud for the first time. It is the place where tens of thousands of individuals of different nationalities mingle every day. It is also the place of luxurious serenity. As you step into the airport, the magnificence and the opulence around you can’t be ignored. With large duty-free shops and food courts, the wealth of amenities and services on offer, the Dubai International Airport is the pinnacle of luxury, reflecting the true warmth and generosity of Arabian hospitality.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Marketing needs more representation in company work: Ramanujam Sridhar

The positioning of a brand is focused on ‘how’ you say it, rather than ‘what’ you say. It is advertising that is expected to provide the difference as not everyone can have the first mover’s advantage in business. In an interview with Pitch, Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Integrated Brand-comm talks about the importance of being innovative rather than being repetitive by identifying a differentiating factor in the offerings. Excerpts:

How is the world of marketing changing? What are the new trends in marketing?

Marketing has constantly endeavoured to produce something ‘new’ or ‘exciting’ since the early days. That is the very nature of the beast. So, rather than landmark trends, such as the ‘era of positioning’ or 360 degree communications that have ruled the roost for some time, the last few years has seen the emergence of the ‘digital revolution’ that has dominated marketing discussions. India, which traditionally follows the West, will see this as the next continuing trend. Related to this trend will be the desire to ‘engage’ the consumer rather than to lecture her.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Marketing Innovators: When innovating makes business sense

The term innovation simply connotes something “new” or “different” making the consumer say, “hey, how about that”. How often is innovation carried out in the marketplace and an even more difficult question to answer is – “when was your last innovation?” While Pitch is on a look out to find the top five brands for its category – ‘Marketing Innovators’, it has shortlisted twelve most powerful candidates for the grand awards’ night of Pitch Brands 50 Awards- For Excellence in Marketing, presented by ABP News, in partnership with Percept to be held on June 12 at Leela Kempinski.

While more than 20 brands made it to the shortlist after going through a comprehensive shortlisting process of Pitch’s editorial team, 11 were selected to go to the next level. As the award night will decide the top five winners, let’s take a quick-peek look at the 11 names that went to the jury.

While the jury was chaired by Ramesh Jude Thomas, President, Equitor Consulting, other jury members included marketing professionals and professors such as Rahul Sen, International Brand Advisor; Ramanajuam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Integrated Brand Comm; Subroto Chattopadhyay, Chairman, Peninsula Foundation; Sunil Gupta, Marketing Partner, South Asia, Results International Group; Ashok Pratap Arora, Marketing Professor, MDI

Old & beautiful

In May 2008, mobile handset maker Motorola launched a television commercial for its MotoYUVAw270 variant that showcased a father trying to mimic his teenager son’s carefree, freaky way of speaking with his girlfriend on the phone. The TVC opened with the father coming back from work and finding his son setting up a date with his girlfriend via his handsfree. Post his conversation, the son leaves the room and the father is alone with the MotoYUVA. He immediately picks it up and tries to imitate the son by speaking in to nobody on the other end in a sing-song manner alongside making some awkward dance movements. The film ends with his son and wife discovering this wild side of his and he moving out of the room embarrassed.

In May 2011, telecom brand Airtel launched an ad in which an old grandfather is shown narrating a story of his young days to his teenage grandson. The grandfather tells the young boy that a goon called Kanti Lal Godbole from Kishen Ganj had kissed his wife, or the boy’s grandmother, before their wedding. The grandson promises he will help the grandfather avenge Godbole’s delinquency. He launches a search for the man on, where else but social networking site Facebook, finds hims and takes his grandfather to him. The grandfather, on finding the man with his wife goes ahead and plants a peck on her cheeks. Score settled, the duo runs away from the scene.

In August 2012, Prolife Product teamed up with ad agency Curry Nation to launch a television commercial for 18 Again, a vaginal tightening gel. The ad showed a middle-aged woman making sensuous salsa moves to ‘I feel like a virgin’ number, along with her husband. The ad ends with the oldest lady (presumably, the mother-in-law) of the house trying to find out more on the product ‘18 Again’ by typing in the URL – on her computer while her amused husband looks on.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Made-in-India Globetrotters - Establishing international footprints

‘Jahan Jaaeyega Hamen Paaeyega’, meaning ‘wherever you go, you will find us’ – is the message sent across by our very own Made-in-India brands, who are making a mark in almost every part of the world. This is what Sharad Sarin, senior marketing professor from XLRI, has to say about ‘Globe Trotters’, one of the ten categories of the Pitch Brands 50 Awards – For Excellence in Marketing, presented by ABP News, in partnership with Percept to be held on June 12, 2013 at Leela Kempinski.

While more than 20 brands made it to the shortlist after going through investigative –scrutiny of the Pitch’s editorial team, 10 were selected to go to the next level. While the jury has locked five winners, let’s take a quick-peek look at the 10 names that went to the jury.

Sarin further said, “With changing times, Indian companies are establishing their presence almost anywhere and everywhere. Earlier, it meant geographies inhabited by ethnic Indians, societies with limited economic and social resources or countries near to India.”

While the jury was chaired by Ramesh Jude Thomas, President, Equitor Consulting, other jury members included marketing professionals and professors such as Rahul Sen, International Brand Advisor; Ramanajuam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Integrated Brand Comm; Subroto Chattopadhyay, Chairman, Peninsula Foundation; Sunil Gupta, Marketing Partner, South Asia, Results International Group; Ashok Pratap Arora, Marketing Professor, MDI.

Cracking the code for impactful brands

Is your brand impactful? Does it possess that power to become one of the most ‘Impactful Brands’, so much so that it can even exterminate the giant brands? While Pitch is on the lookout for the five most ‘Impactful Launches’ of 2013, it has shortlisted 11 most powerful candidates for the grand awards night of Pitch Brands 50 Awards – For Excellence in Marketing, presented by ABP News, in partnership with Percept. The Awards ceremony will be held on June 12 at Leela Kempinski.

While more than 20 brands made it to the shortlist after going through a comprehensive shortlisting process by Pitch’s editorial team, 11 were selected to go to the next level. Five of these will be selected as the winners.

The winners will be decided on by a distinguished jury, chaired by Ramesh Jude Thomas, President, Equitor Consulting. The other jury members include marketing professionals and professors such as Rahul Sen, International Brand Advisor; Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Integrated Brand-comm; Subroto Chattopadhyay, Chairman, Peninsula Foundation; Sunil Gupta, Marketing Partner, South Asia, Results International Group; and Ashok Pratap Arora, Marketing Professor, MDI.

Here’s a look at the 11 names that went to the jury:
One of the brands that has made it to the shortlist is ‘Satyamev Jayate’. The programme on Star Plus, hosted by actor Aamir Khan, highlighted several social issues and captivated the entire nation. Aired in the Sunday morning slot of 11 AM, the programme garnered some of the highest TRPs for the channel.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Social Marketers - Brands which believe in People and Planet

Going beyond the mere goal of ‘Profit-Making’, organizations that have an objective vision with a social cause in place, are the ones that are the real growth drivers for the economy, is what Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Integrated Brand-comm has to say about ‘Social Marketers’, one of the ten categories of the Pitch Brands 50 –Awards For Excellence in Marketing, presented by ABP News, in partnership with Percept to be held on June 12 at Leela Kempinski in Gurgaon.

Sridhar further says, “When organizations have a clear strategy in mind that reaches to the grass root level in terms of business and social good, then we have a winning organization in shape.”

While more than 30 brands made it to the shortlist after going through investigative – scrutiny of the Pitch’s editorial team, 13 were selected to go to the next level. While the jury has locked five winners, let’s take a quick-peek look at the 13 names that went to the jury.

One of the brands that made it to the shortlisted list was ‘Punar Vivah’, a daily soap on Zee TV, which is based on the trials and tribunes of remarriage in India. The show wanted to reach out to viewer’s battling the same taboo. So the question was how to communicate with the audience on this sensitive issue? Mobilox and Zee TV partnered in conceptualizing a mobile solution that would provide a platform for all viewers access to live counselling where they can seek professional help on issues enveloping around remarriage right from their mobile phone.

Creativity on the go

The stage was set following a successful launch of the Galaxy Note in 2011. A year on, Samsung had greater expectations to satisfy. The company needed to do little to stoke the consumer’s curiosity ahead of the big launch. The Samsung Galaxy Note II managed to live up to the fanboys’ expectations.

Launched in September 2012, Samsung Galaxy Note II positioned itself on the ‘incredibly creative’ platform. Samsung realised innovation in converged devices alone is not enough in a highly competitive category. Not surprisingly, its marketing mix for the launch of Galaxy Note II included some of its tried and tested as well as new strategies. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Note II first reached its customers through on-ground platforms for a first-hand feel of the product. Next, the company took the initiative to a different level with the ‘Incredible Art Piece’ — a digital art piece with the largest number of artists ever contributing to a single art piece.

“The Galaxy Note II is based on the concept that ‘inspiration doesn’t wait’ and the users should be able to express their creativity anywhere, anytime, taking inspiration from anything. So, we hosted on-ground consumer events wherein the audience was given an opportunity to play around with the Galaxy Note II S Pen and explore its potential,” says Asim Warsi, vice-president, Samsung Mobile.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Is your brand recharged?

While a “new look” is important, it is equally important to offer value to the customer either by way of a sharper focus or a clearer position. Recharger Brands have to constantly keep examining and contemporising themselves for consumers, who are constantly looking for newer and smarter options, is what Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Brand Comm has to say about ‘Rechargers’, one of the ten categories of the Pitch Brands 50 –Awards For Excellence in Marketing, presented by ABP News, in partnership with Percept.

According to Sridhar, the recharged brand is one that has rejigged itself and has done changes to it over the years while retaining its original characteristics and properties, making it attractive to an increasingly demanding younger audience.

While more than 25 brands made it to the shortlist after going through investigative –scrutiny of the Pitch’s editorial team, 10 were selected to go to the next level. While the jury has locked five winners, let’s take a quick-peek look at the 12 names that went to the jury.

One of the brands that made it to the shortlisted list of Rechargers is ‘Cinthol’, which revamped its identity with its adventurous -‘Alive is Awesome’ campaign with a new range of soaps, shower gels and deos.

Ageless Brands: Date the beginning of an everlasting legend!

Ageless Brands are like mighty rivers, which have been flowing throughout the year for centuries as their market remains unchanged and power unchallenged, is what Sharad Sarin, Senior Marketing Professor from XLRI has to say about ‘Ageless Brands’, one of the ten categories of the Pitch Brands 50 –Awards For Excellence in Marketing, presented by ABP News, in partnership with Percept.

While more than 20 brands made it to the shortlist after going through investigative –scrutiny of the Pitch’s editorial team, 10 were selected to go to the next level. While the jury has locked five winners, let’s take a quick-peek look at the 12 names that went to the jury.

Lux is one such brand from the list which has come a long way from early days of Leela Chitnis, Prema Narayan, Rekha, Zeenat Aman, Hema Malini to Sridevi to Shah Rukh Khan to Katrina kaif and still remains one of the leaders in the beauty soaps category.

According to Pitch Brands 50 jury member Sunil Gupta, Marketing Partner, South Asia, Results International Group, all brands want to remain relevant to the changing consumer as well with the changing time. “Ageless brands should not be considered as ‘Old’, and this perception needs to be changed as they evolve with time. “Sticking to their core promise, ageless or everlasting brands have evolved to ensure that they are relevant to the changing consumer,” says Gupta.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brand IPL has seen it all

The Indian Premier League has been a hot bed for controversies right from the start. From one player slapping another to a owner getting banned from a stadium, players getting caught in rave parties to teams getting scrapped and now — cricketers getting caught in spot fixing — one can say that the brand IPL has seen the best and the worst of all.

Not surprisingly, these controversies have hit the brand equity of IPL. Advertisers and experts say that the brand needs to urgently take some measures to clean up its image, else the equity will further be dented.

“Incidents like this leads to loss of credibility. And this is not the first to hit IPL. Owners and organisers need to show it to the audience that they are making efforts to clean up the mess, else the opportunity to be a fast growing global brand will take a beating,” says Sridhar Ramanujan, CEO-Brand comm.

Loyalty programme | A brand is a lot more than a trade name

Malavika R. Harita, CEO of Saatchi Focus Network, spent the first six years of her career at HMT Watches. She was fixated on the brand. Though she moved on from the company, the love story continued. Her mother still wears the HMT watch she gifted her when she got her first salary in 1982. But now Harita looks depressed when she hears about HMT, as an inept management has destroyed the iconic brand and the company is on the verge of a shutdown.

So what is it that makes people like brands? Harita is an expert in branding, who knows how brands are created as a marketing tool. Still, she is not spared from its influence. Harish Bijoor, CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults, likens brands to human beings, who take birth, grow, flourish, live, die and eventually decay. Even iconic brands, with whom we have grown up, follow the pattern.

Many brands that have a bit of history attached to its name have become a thing of the past. The iconic magazine Reader's Digest recently filed for bankruptcy. Legendary music company HMV has faded into oblivion. Earlier last year, Eastman Kodak, which revolutionised photography, filed for bankruptcy. Vimal, which was at the forefront of the textile revolution in India, was shut down by Reliance Industries earlier this year. Dunlop Tyres also shut operations recently.

Sensory consumerism

Japanese scientists have developed a 'smelling screen' that allows you to see as well as smell the coffee or food displayed on it. It works by feeding odours from vaporising gel pellets into four air streams, one in each corner of the screen. The smell of Johnson’s baby lotion connects Jayanti Shroff, 43, to her daughter’s childhood instantly. “It has developed its signature years ago; the recall and association are instantaneous,” Shroff said. This signature baby products smell takes people back to their own childhood.

Software engineer Amulya Batra, 29, says, “The smell of coffee beans when I’m out on the roads or in a mall invites me to have a cup – I turn into a potential customer for the nearby coffee outlet.”

“In India, marketers are finding different ways to use smell. Coffee companies use the ‘beans’ aroma outside their outlets or in the mall, which instantly lets you know there’s a coffee shop nearby,” said Sandeep Kapoor, founder, RelioQuick, an integrated marketing communications agency.

“For a coffee chain like Tata Starbucks, the aroma of coffee lends our stores a strong and inviting appeal. A brand’s experience is not just about the medium but also about something less tangible and beyond the product offering,” said Sushant Dash, senior director, marketing and category, Tata Starbucks Limited.

Friday, May 3, 2013

All year round

It was the perfect battlefield. The enemy was there, the viewers had taken position, the ammunition was all ready, even the timing was right – a scorching summer. Only the two warriors refused to go to war. The sixth season of the Indian Premier League tournament with beverage maker PepsiCo India as the title sponsor would seem to have presented the perfect opportunity for Pepsi and its arch rival Coca-Cola to take digs at each other. After all, the ad war between the two is legendary with the two rivals brands known for their aggressive comparative advertising which poked fun at each other. But Pepsi has launched its marketing blitzkrieg at the start of the season sans any fireworks. Coke, in turn, seems to have given the tourney a cold shoulder and is quietly going about doing its own thing. So has the fizz gone?

The fizz is still there but it is now directed at the market instead of each other. In the last decade, as the market for aerated drinks matured, so did the manufacturers, who now prefer to concentrate on building the category. To start with, both the players are looking to reduce their dependency on the summer season, the peak season for their sales, so much so, that this year they began advertising as early as January. Coca-Cola India hit the first salvo with the launch of its brand campaign, ‘Crazy for happiness’.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Its scam time folks!

Is India the ‘scam capital’ of the world? It’s a fair possibility given the variety, size and frequency of scams that keep hitting our country! The ingenuity of our scam czars over the years make me wonder if a special award could be instituted like the “king of good scams”. Scams that come readily to mind include Nagarwalla of SBI fame, Harshad Mehta, the big bull who sent stock prices and investors into a tizzy and several interesting projects that bred and nurtured scams like Satyam computers, 2G, the commonwealth games and the most recent chopper scandal. The advertising industry has its own share of scams even if these scams don’t run into billions of dollars or consume reams of space in newspapers and magazines. These scams that sadly occur all too often in the industry serve as hot topics for debate in agency smoking rooms (that have more people in them than they should) and in the pubs that agency people love to frequent, suffering as they do from the misconception that creative output is directly proportionate to alcohol intake. However, the advertising industry in India recently experienced the “mother of all scams”.  The  scam ads created for Ford Figo by JWT India had the industry agog as the agency’s Chief Creative officer Bobby Pawar and several others lost their jobs overnight and everybody in advertising had a point of view on what should be done or what was wrong with them. So here is the view of someone who has spent a small matter of 30 years with this frustrating and yet rewarding business of advertising.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Netas slug it out on social media

Senior leaders of Karnataka open accounts on Facebook, Twitter just weeks ahead of elections, aiming to record the highest hits. Most have hired professionals to manage their profiles.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Side Role

How John Abraham survives in Bollywood, with a combination of hard work, canny marketing and average acting skills, and why he has never endorsed underwear.

He traded his dream of playing football at the national level for the safety of an MBA degree. In that, John Abraham perhaps made the best decision of his life. The actor's decade-long career is built on a series of smart marketing moves that have made him into a brand largely unaffected by his stock at the Bollywood box office.

Brand consultant Ramanujan Sridhar says, Abraham's image as an Everyman is his greatest asset. "What he lacks in superstardom, John makes up in endorsements. He comes across as a regular middle class guy who is successful today, which makes him an aspirational figure among young urban Indians," says Sridhar, who believes this image has been carefully worked on for years.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Figo controversy stirs ad industry

That social media is a double-edged sword is a fact well established. But the leak of the controversial Ford Figo advertisement and the fiasco around it has reiterated the power of the social media, which brings with it as many risks as advantages.

Advertisers have for long been celebrating the reach of the internet and viral marketing, but the extent of damage the medium could bring wasn't something that has hit advertising agencies on the forehead.

The leak of an ad for Ford Figo depicting former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a car trunk full of gagged and handcuffed women has created a fury to the extent that the head of the advertising agency JWT India has lost his job over the incident.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Times they are changing...

The winds of change in Advertising.

Havells House Maid Ad.

Havells Registrar Office.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Who is your brand's custodian?

"Brands are like pieces of fine crystal - they take time to create and are easy to break" - Mike Isaacson

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wrestlers endorsing brands on the mat after Olympic tackle

The new found fame of internationally acclaimed Indian wrestlers might be in commercial peril as talks signalling the demise of the ancient Greek game wrestling from the Olympics progress. According to marketing experts, the proposal to remove the sport from the world’s most celebrated athletic event may hold back companies from tying up or renewing endorsement deals with these wrestlers like Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, who have emerged from small towns as national brand icons.

While Kumar has represented for brands like Mountain Dew, Eicher tractors and National Egg Coordination Committee, Yogeshwar Dutt has been the government’s face in public awareness campaigns.

Monday, February 18, 2013

India Inc sees a spurt in Oct-Dec ad spends

CHENNAI: After a year's relief, advertising by FMCG companies is back, and with a bang.

The advertising spends of FMCG and retail companies have gone up significantly in the December 2012 quarter compared with the spends in December 2011 with some companies spending upto 80% more on advertising this fiscal. Godrej Consumer Products for instance, which spent about Rs 58 crore on advertising in the December 2011 quarter dished out roughly Rs 107 in December 2012 and Colgate-Palmolive (India) gave about Rs 99 crore for advertising in 2012 compared with Rs 68.94 it had set apart last year, data from CMIE showed.

"Companies went slow on advertising last year due to the lull in the economy and when they re-enter after a break, it has to be strong," said Harish Bijoor, an independent brand consultant. Globally, companies went slow on ad spends last year but Indian companies are now showing greater confidence in advertising," he said.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cyrus Mistry begins Tata group makeover

Cyrus Mistry begins Tata group makeover. Initiates fresh changes in senior management, appoints Mukund Rajan as the group’s brand custodian, spokesperson

Signalling a generational shift at the helm of the 145-year-old Tata group, chairman Cyrus Mistry has initiated fresh changes in the senior management as he goes about putting his stamp on the salt-to-steel conglomerate after taking over from Ratan Tata, who retired in December.

Mistry, 44, is not only hand-picking members of his A-team with a clear emphasis on youth, but is also creating new positions to ready the $100 billion (around Rs.5.3 trillion crore) group for the next level of growth.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Young ads to sell luxury to old

Why Luxury Brands use youthful imagery to woo older customers.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

10 Brands that got marketing right in 2012

As the clouds of the return of the economic slowdown loomed large in 2012, the business sentiment remained dull throughout. That directly impacted the marketing initiatives of brands too. At the time of the year, when everyone is coming up with the ‘Best’ & ‘Worst’ of the year list, we at Pitch too tried to shortlist best of the marketing initiatives. The struggle to come up with our own ‘Top 10’ list began from thereon.

Reaching out to experts to know their favourites, resulted in comments like, “Despite all the talk and the hype when I sit back and think of the year gone by, there has been very little that has made me stand up and cheer.”

Kiran Khalap, Co-founder, Chlorophyll, could list only three – Flipkart, Satyamev Jayate and Gujarat Tourism.