Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Microsoft's branding will be difficult after Nokia

Microsoft has officially dropped the Nokia brand name and is working on rebranding its mobile phones division. It continued launching the Windows based phones under the brand name Lumia and held on to the Nokia name for the other existing products. Last week, the company also killed the Nokia Asha branded low-end smartphones, and is now on its way to completely doing away with the Nokia brand in one country at a time, including India, where the phone was at one time ubiquitous.

Snake anyone?

The consumer is also getting promiscuous. The consumer wants a good product and even the most loyal ones are moving away from the brand, particularly of late since a lot of negativity has resulted from the news of the shutting of the manufacturing plant in Chennai and the resultant loss of jobs. Although Nokia was considered to be one of the most trusted bands in India, despite it still being on the list, it will require Microsoft being proactive to garner some of this trust.

You can read the full piece on the merger in the Times of India here.

Formality Hatao, Coke Pilao

I had been approached by Afaqs on the new campaign created for Coke India, by McCann Erickson. Coca Cola moves ahead of it's "open happiness" proposition and positions itself as the perfect drink for social gatherings.

I am of the opinion that there is nothing earth-shattering about the ad and it uses the old concept of family occasion or social gathering. It is just one more execution of the core theme of Coca-Cola on happiness, family, occasions and togetherness.

The old couple carrying a bottle of Coke is more like a 'Gift' or the joy of giving Coke. This isn't Coke trying to enter the tea/coffee space and I dont think they could make a dent there either.

You can read all my thoughts on the campaign and coke's over all strategy in this piece in Afaqs here.

Kenstar Oxyfryer: Deep fried A la Carte

The Oxy Fryer is targeted at people who love eating fried food. It is touted as the perfect solution to eating fried food in the healthiest manner. Kenstar has identified a surge in demand for appliances that enable healthy and hassle-free cooking and has even launched an advertising campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan and announcing its launch exclusively on Flipkart

Launched on Flipkart

When they first launched the microwave, they priced it much lower than the usual price tag from other brands. This strategy helped the brand to get to the masses easily. With the Oxy Fryer, they have done the same thing. This is Kenstar's tried and tested way to break into the masses considering the competition (Philips) is retailing at almost double the cost.

You can read more about the category and how the e-commerce tie up strategy would work in this Afaqs piece on the category and this entrant here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

RIP Time Machine: HMT

The announcement of HMT's imminent shutdown seems to have rejuvenated interest in the brand and its memorable timepieces. It definitely gave me a dose of nostalgia, having worked on the brand in the late 80s in my stint at Mudra in Bangalore.

The technology was then shared by Citizen

Somehow, the marketing division in HMT figured that quartz watches would not work in India and concentrated on manufacturing its mechanical range. Indians who were going to the Gulf to get their watches suddenly found alternatives in Titan, with its elegant range, and HMT failed to see that. The communication then positioned owning an HMT as a point of patriotism, but this did not work with the evolved Indian consumer. 

You can read more on my take on what set back HMT, in this piece in Open Magazine, here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

How Dare They?

Do you remember the Fair and Lovely air-hostess commercial? 

It was a commercial that hit complexion-conscious India in the gut as it also attacked the Indian predilection for a male child. Having grown up entirely in an environment where the colour of one’s skin was paramount, I could certainly relate to it. It did wonders for the brand and yet it raised the hackles of the educated, affluent Indian elite who had no use for the product.
“How dare they?” thundered the elite in their cocktail circuits. When I asked Balki (whose agency had created it), about the ad, he smilingly said “Pedder Road does not seem to like it”. I remember showing this to a delegation of international students and explained how the ad ran the risk of being banned because it had tackled sensitive issues head on. The global audience was really impressed as they believed controversy helped any ad and brand gain visibility by leaps and bounds.
Many of them were envious of the ad’s ability to evoke such strong reactions. “In the UK, if an ad is banned it is phenomenal, we would give an arm and leg for that,” said one very excitedly. I remembered this when I saw the new Airtel TV commercial.

Is the ad sexist?

 To my mind it is a needless controversy and probably an engineered one.
Why do I say this? I strongly believe in the communication principle “Either love me or hate me but for God’s sake don’t ignore me.” Today, with a smart social media strategy it is possible to ensure that an ad is not ignored. You can certainly pick up certain elements in the communication and create a controversy around it.
How can the wife be the boss? Why should she rush home to cook? Why are bosses like Hitler? We can certainly pick up enough angles and create a storm around a TV commercial, making even those who have not seen it go to YouTube to check it out.
Mobile ads set the tone

Having said all that, I still need to give credit where it is due. When I first entered advertising it was so long ago that I can’t even remember when cola advertising was the ‘hot’ category. Creative types yearned to work on Coke or Pepsi.
Today, mobile services are the colas of yesterday. Brands like Airtel, Vodafone and Tata Docomo keep us entertained with their charming, witty and, on occasion, controversial commercials. I am not complaining as often these commercials are a lot more interesting to watch than the programmes in which they are featured. But shouldn’t these companies that spend millions on advertising worry about their basic offering? Or is that asking for too much?
You can read the entire piece on the Hindu Business Line.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lessons to learn from Infosys

“Wooing the press is an exercise roughly akin to picnicking with the tiger. You might enjoy the meal but the tiger always eats last.”
_ Maureen Dowd

Let me begin by clarifying that I am great admirer of Infosys, I have worked with them in their early days and have written about how Infosys has been built by PR and not by advertising. In that context, their taking the media to court has put them in the spotlight and I believe that there are lessons that can be learnt from this.

As the baton is passed

Was it the cold shoulder to advertising in their marketing initiatives or the PR strategy that could be faulted? From the days when the company made news thanks to the net worth of Narayan Murthy's driver to the current news items, that are focussed on the state of flux that the leadership is in, I look at what they need to implement to bring back the good old days, in the Hindu Business Line.
If you wish to read the whole story, you can find it here.

Bye Bye Bangalore?

I moved to Bangalore in the early eighties and haven't left since. The weather, the people, there are a lot of things that are agreeable in our city that have aided the migration boom that we've witnessed over the last decade.

But is it still a coveted destination for talent and entrepreneurs? After the Zomato incident, I was approached for my thoughts on where Bangalore stands.

Still preferred?

I believe that in terms of Tech talent and having the right ecosystem, players in the IT space still need to treat Bangalore as a priority. You can read the full piece here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lessons from the Narendra Modi Campaign

As the dust settles on a historic election with an unambiguous result after almost three decades, its time to look at the campaign that did it all, and what we can learn with regards to marketing and management.

Was it just a matter of being in the right place at the right time?

Or was it changing the rules of the game, to reposition people's voting decision as a choice between one PM candidate and the other? Almost akin to the Presidential election in the United States.

Modi was given the same prominence by the BJP as Sachin Tendulkar was by the Indian cricket team in one of its more troubling phases.

Remember this ad?

They got the right team in place with a mix of heavy weights and enthusiastic rookies, with "Abki Baar, Modi Sarkar" being coined by Piyush Pandey for the same campaign that witnessed Lawyers, Engineers etc quitting their jobs in Bangalore or Singapore and pitching in.

There are many learnings from the campaign for marketers, and you can read my full piece in The Hindu Business Line, here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A time to start up?

In 1987, I was asked to open a branch for Mudra Communications, a growing agency of that time. My boss, an outstanding Manager, asked me a question - “What do entrepreneurs do when they start up?” Having been an employee all my life, I waited for him to guide me.

“They are so keen to succeed in business; they will even pawn their wife’s jewels if the need presents itself. I want you to have that attitude even if you are only a Branch Manager.” I took his advice seriously and threw myself into the venture. I ran around looking for office space, getting a telephone connection, finding clients, finding people…. The biggest challenge was getting a telephone connection and I had to move heaven and earth and do stuff that I am ashamed of today.

Things have gotten a lot easier for the entrepreneurs of today. I look at the Start up ecosystem as it exists in Bangalore and the challenges and the eco system that they will deal with today.

I've also talked about startups that I know of personally like this one. You can read the full piece on Money Indices here.

VIP Skybags and their attack on black

You must have noticed the new ad campaign for VIP skybags featuring John Abraham to mark its foray into the Backpack segment. I was asked to weigh in on the campaign and the segment.

The new Skybags campaign

I believe that categories like watches, vehicles, clothes and women's bags have all undergone change and have become products that are used to make a statement, and backpacks are no different, as I mentioned in a campaign profile on Afaqs.

You can read the whole article and my other thoughts on the segment here.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Brand "Amma" in the run up to the elections

I was interviewed on CNN-IBN on Jayalalitha and how she has built her brand in the run up to the upcoming elections and her PM aspirations on the eve of her 66th birthday.

You can see it here: Jayalalithaa makes her PM aspirations clearer

My opinion on Jayalalitha as shown on NewsX

My opinion on Jayalalitha and the "Amma" brand that she has built with her initiatives as shown on the NewsX channel

MTR vs Maiyas: Bangalore and Beyond

As a true blue Bangalorean, this is a market share battle that is close to my heart (possibly in the stomach region!)

An interesting piece in Business Today, on the Maiya's brand and how it will compete with the MTR foods business that it started and sold. Although the market is big enough to accommodate the two and more, I feel distribution and other factors will play a deciding role.

Datsun In India

India is a "have to be present in" market for most brands and Datsun is now being launched here as well.

Given its global story and the negative perception of its products, my two cents in this Business Standard article on what it will need to do to gain Market Share and consumers in India.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When ads are better than soaps

The advertising industry realizes that the remote control is an even more potent destroyer of poor advertising than clients and is hence pushing the envelope more and more to ensure that we don’t switch channels. 

The Tanishq ad was memorable

For my take on advertisers, television viewing habits and programming you can read the full article at the Indian Television website.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Himalaya bets on Personal Care

When Himalaya entered the market, herbal products were relatively new. In a way, they were early entrants in the space and grew the category to a large extent. More often than not, in such cases, larger players can walk in and reap the fruits of the work of smaller early entrants, by virtue of their muscle. My thoughts on what strategy Himalaya should follow to take on the larger players.

You can read the entire write up here at the Business Standard.