Friday, May 29, 2015

OLX tickles the funny bone with new campaign featuring Kapil Sharma

opular online classifieds site OLX has come out with an interesting mix of digital and TV ads in the last few months. Last week, it rolled out three hilarious digital ads with comedian Kapil Sharma for their campaign ‘Shaadi Ke Funde’- Just Married. The videos take a funny stand on how the overdose of wedding gifts end up becoming used-less. The campaign is conceptualised and executed by the in-house team of OLX. On Twitter, the brand was also running an online #ShaadiKeFunde contest on Wednesday.

Click here for the videos:

The overall brand communication is being managed by Lowe Lintas for the last two and a half years.

Speaking about the brand journey since then, Amer Jaleel, National Creative Director, Lowe Lintas elaborated “When we came on board, the kick-off of the brand had already happened and they had their legendary line ‘Bech De’. The brand was playing on the insight that there are unused items in your house, which consume a lot of space, so why not sell them on OLX. They were in the right space because at that point of time they had just launched their brand. When they came to us, we took on to that premise and made the first set of commercials. While, they were good, but the sort of big happened when we did the app campaign, set to the tune of the popular Bollywood song ‘Womaniya’, where the focus was on how to use the cell phone to sell items on OLX. After this campaign, there was a nice buzz around converting your ‘cell phone to sell phone’ and it made a sort of impression of the work from our side.”

While keeping humour intact, the brand has moved on from their popular ‘Bech De’ proposition to the tagline ‘Keemat Bhi, Kuchh Keemti Bhi’ and the focus is now on building consumer relationships. In January this, year the brand communication was such that it showed buyers urging sellers to post their ads on OLX, emphasising their own need.

Speaking about this, Jaleel cited, “New age brands are very different in their communication and can carry off anything from corny cheap humour to profound and intellectual stuff well. People’s expectation of the brand has changed and now they don’t need any selling proposition, but a unique take to sell things. The brand thus can accommodate every kind of story and that is how we came up with the line ‘Keemat Bhi, Kuchh Keemti Bhi’. We wanted to pitch the site to people, who will need the site tomorrow or sometime in the future. Basically our attempt was to tell people that OLX is not for people who need money and are therefore selling things or for those who don’t have the budget so are purchasing old things. It is basically a convenient way to make your life better.”

According to Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Brand-Comm, OLX as a brand has been doing really good because of its unique concept of selling things online. It is a great boon to consumers who wants to upgrade to a better life. Infact, it is also doing well in smaller towns to those are looking to sell old things.

Today the site is no longer associated with only selling of old things, but has become more personal and is often referred as a colloquial term with people frequently using ‘Isko OLX pe Bech De’ in their day to day lives. “The biggest growth for us is that the brand is now getting into the popular culture, sometimes it is being quoted as a joke or sometimes as a threat. It is a great sign for us, that the brand has become generic and it is best signal which you can get of owing the category. Secondly, getting into the consideration of people and coming naturally to people’s mind is one of the biggest achievements of ours,” added Jaleel.

So from Bech De, to empowering women, to getting Kapil Sharma on board and roping in actor Dhanush and Sudeep to tap the Southern market, OLX has been everywhere. For the record, OLX is a global company and it was founded in the year 2006 and is owned by the global media and digital company Naspers. According to a 2014 media report, the company has grown to 1,200 employees and operates in more than 40 countries. With 11 billion page views, 25 million listings, and 8.5 million transactions per month, it is the largest marketplace in countries like India and Poland.

Click here to watch the other ads:

O Womaniya:\

GenX Nano for 'trendy customer', but analysts sceptical

India's automobile major on Tuesday launched the GenX Nano, a new technologically-advanced hatchback aimed at the "trendy, youthful, bold and stylish customer". Some analysts, however, expressed their doubts about the new entry-level hatchback.
Stressing that the Nano -- originally conceived as a Rs.1 lakh car -- has put on the world motoring map by demonstrating innovation and frugal engineering, the company's president for passenger vehicles Mayank Pareek said: "It continues to remain an important brand in our passenger vehicle portfolio and we have been constantly evolving the product."
The launch of the GenX Nano is very crucial for the automobile giant, with the Nano sales having dipped over the past three fiscals.
The car has a starting price of Rs.1.99 lakh, and the company plans to sell it across 450 outlets throughout India.
The company said the compact car was aimed at the "trendy, youthful, bold and stylish customer".
The successor to the Nano brand comes with a starting ex-showroom Delhi price of Rs.1.99 lakh for the base model, while three other models are priced at Rs.2.49 lakh, Rs.2.69 lakh and Rs.2.89 lakh.
Pareek said the new car was smart, stylish, efficient and a practical city car which has strong potential in the compact hatch segment.
A section of analysts, however, expressed doubts about the new entry level hatchback.
P. Karthikeyan, research analyst for Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Ltd., told IANS in Chennai that the new Nano may log in some numbers during the initial period.
"But in the long run, whether it would succeed is a big question. Nano is generally known as a Rs.1 lakh car and it was launched at that price with much fanfare. Now if the same brand is priced at a minimum price of around Rs.2 lakh, then people may not like to associate with that car that is seen as the Rs.1 lakh car. It is very difficult to erase the Rs.1 lakh brand," Karthikeyan said.
Stating that the Nano was rather a marketing failure than a product failure, Brand Comm founder and CEO Ramanujam Sridhar told IANS: "Car in India is considered a status symbol and the Nano was positioned as people's car. This positioning killed the product at the marketplace even before it was launched."
"It is doubtful if people would buy the new model priced between Rs.1.99 lakh and Rs.2.89 lakh given the brand image that Nano signifies Rs.1 lakh car," he said.
Tata Motors said it thought of the idea of the GenX Nano around two years ago.
Interestingly, the sales of Nano fell by more than 60 percent in 2012-13 - the same time when this idea was projected.
Conceived by the company's then chairman Ratan Tata, the small car was first unveiled at the auto expo in January 2008.
Tata wanted to set up the "people's car" Nano's factory in the rural hamlet of Singur in West Bengal's Hooghly district, but had to abandon the plant in October 2008 following massive protests by farmers led by the then opposition Trinamool Congress against what the party called "forcible land acquisition" by the Left Front government.
Nano got a home subsequently in Sanand of Gujarat, following the personal initiative of then chief minister Narendra Modi.
In April 2009, the car received a historic pre-booking order of 206,703 units.
In 2011, the car faced starter motor issues, which resulted in recall of 14,000 units.
From 2010 to 2012, the company sold 144,959 units of the budget car, with sales peaking during 2011-12 at 74,527 units after which it has steadily declined.
Losing unit sales by 27.7 percent at 53,848 units during 2012-13, the company came up with easy EMI and credit card schemes in March 2013 to boost the dampened market sentiment. It also tried to reposition the car as a smart-city car and introduced power steering in it, but it proved not to be enough.
During 2013-14, the car's sales fell by 60.8 percent at just 21,129 units and the following year, sales went further south.
By that time, Tata Motors realised it needed to come up with something new -- to appeal to the younger generation and the idea to empower the Nano with new technologies was perceived.
As for the fiscal year 2014-15, Nano unit sales accounted for 16,901 units - a drop by 20 percent.
The company said its passenger vehicles business has witnessed a growth in the last four months and in April 2015 has recorded the highest growth at 37 percent and has pinned its hopes high on the new GenX Nano.
"With the addition of the GenX Nano... the company is all geared to expand its sales network from around 450 outlets to 1,500 outlets in the next five years. This year, the company will add 200 outlets, across the country," it said.

VIP’s Blind Girl Ad: A Not So VIP Treatment?

Everyone wants to travel. Be it poor, rich or from a middle income group, they all wish to travel to their dream destinations given they have time and adequate money. Catching on this insight, the Indian luggage manufacturer, VIP has launched its latest campaign titled 'Where Do You Want To Go'.

Set in an Indian household, a young girl is seen getting ready to leave for a vacation with while her family is apprehensive on how she will manage alone as she is specially-abled and cannot see. She hugs her grandfather to assure him that she will be safe with her friends. In the end the protagonists is seen having a good time with her friends at a foreign destination with a voice over surmising, "Light, sturdy, easy to move bags from VIP. Where do you wanna go?"

It is definitely an emotional advertisement, where a young specially-abled girl is willing to travel to foreign destinations with her friends, something which is less heard or seen at least in the Indian context. But the question is, where is the connect with the brand?

The brand's idea behind the TVC is that everyone likes to travel and if people will travel more then only they will need the luggage, and hence, the bags which the brand creates would be used more and the brand would grow in its category. "We believe that the travel should be done by everyone, then be it a normal or a specially-abled person as it makes them feel good and happy. And if people travel then only the luggage category will grow and become large. The idea of featuring a specially-abled protagonist was that if normal people can travel, then they also can travel," adds Sudip Ghose, Vice President, Marketing, VIP Industries.

Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, (the agency that conceptualized and designed the TVC), says, "'Where do you want to go?' is an attempt to portray the change in the new confident India through the differently-abled whilst subtly displaying the new collection of VIP. This creative thought is built around celebrating the new emotions around the journeys that Indians are undertaking, and the story of the blind girl as a protagonist is a creative metaphor which represents the emotions of a new and bolder India that is forging ahead. The entire team has stayed true to VIP as a luggage brand which has always remained part of Indian popular culture and this commercial represents its contemporary role in the Indian society."

The question here arises is what the advertisement wants to say? Is it that with the VIP bags people can travel light, then why there is a need to feature a specially-abled girl or if it is like exploring the passion or aspiration of traveling, then why only show the aspiration of one single person in the family, and why not show others?

We think that the ad does not clearly define what it wants to showcase. In the press communique, the brand also exhibits its new range via this campaign but then there is no visual or time spent on showing how different the bag is from its previous range. It is one of the cases, where a brand tried to do too many things in one single campaign but couldn't manage it.

Speaking further about the campaign, Pradyumna Chauhan, National Creative Director, McCann Erickson, says that VIP is an iconic brand and we have grown up with them and their current day products are light and sturdy and could be used to travel anywhere. "We could have used a normal person instead of a specially-abled girl for this campaign for example a struggling artist, but then the story would have shaped in a different way, however the product then also would have remained the same. Current campaign with a specially-abled girl is a heart-warming and a compassionate one."

Another question that arises here is that would the campaign have looked different even if there was a normal protagonist instead of a specially-abled girl. Is it to break the clutter in the category or to just make it appear more dramatized?

Brand consultant Sridhar Ramanujam, founder and CEO, Brand-comm points that it is a usual luggage ad and not a path breaking one apart from the fact that here the protagonist is a specially-abled girl. "Once the ad is gone, people will not remember the brand because the TVC does not have a recall value but will only remember the girl. It does not capture the aspirations as the campaign says 'Where do you want to go'. Adding a specially-abled protagonist in the commercial is just like adding a hook into it."

To this, Ghose of VIP Industries adds that they are not in a usual category and here advertising is not easy.

The media plan for this campaign is across the mediums such as digital and TV. The brand has also tied up with an NGO 'Make a Wish' where it is attempting to fulfill the wishes of specially-abled children of which many have requested to travel. VIP has decided to fulfill their wishes and is supporting their travel along with their family.

The advertising from VIP has seen many phases. In the 90s it was about reunion with the tagline 'Kal bhi Aaj bhi', where it showcased how the brand moved ahead with the people in their lives. Later the brand started focusing on its style and looks which was further followed by other features such as lightness, spacious and easy to move. In recent days the brand has adopted more contemporary look and trying to connect with the youth.

Maggi’s social media strategy to handle food safety concerns falls flat

Food is a high-involvement category and Maggi is loved by children and adults who have grown up consuming the instant noodles. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Mumbai: Brand consultants have criticized Nestle India’s clumsy damage control attempt on social media after news reports said its instant noodles brand Maggi could be banned in Uttar Pradesh following the state’s food safety department allegedly finding harmful substances in some of its samples.
Tweeting automated responses and sharing heavy text files with clarifications seem like a move by someone who does not quite understand how the micro-blogging site Twitter functions, consultants said.
A look at Maggi’s Twitter handle @MaggiIndia shows how it responded to angry tweets about the alleged presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG), an artificial flavour enhancer, and lead in some of its samples.
Responses such as ‘We do not add MSG to MAGGI noodles. Some ingredients may contain naturally-occurring Glutamate, which can be mistaken for MSG.’ And “Maggi Noodles is not banned anywhere, continue enjoying them!!” crowd @MaggiIndia’s timeline.
Times of India report on 16 May said the Uttar Pradesh government may ban Maggi noodles, after the Lucknow Food Safety and Drug Administration found traces of MSG and lead in some samples. While lead in large quantities is considered lethal, MSG too can prove dangerous for some people consuming it.
Many people who felt food safety norms were flouted vented their anguish on Twitter, while others spoke fondly of growing up with Maggi. Yet others shared morphed images of preacher Gurmeet Ram Raahim Singh—famous for his movie MSG: The Messenger—on Maggi packs.
With rising bad publicity, the brand on Tuesday drafted a letter filled with legalese to defend its stand and shared it in a pdf format on Twitter—again, a strict Twitter no-no.
“I think they’re being advised badly. When someone interacts with a brand online, they expect a human response rather than a robotic one. This is typical of FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands. They seem to have lost the plot by posting PDF files on twitter. Most Twitter users access it through the phone. Who is going to see a PDF file on their phones?” asks Mahesh Murthy, founder of Pinstorm, a digital brand management firm.
Moreover, the brand is at the risk of underestimating the problem. Food is a high-involvement category and the brand is loved by children and adults who have grown up consuming Maggi. People in India are lot more health-conscious and reports such as this may need to be addressed immediately.
“The brand will have a real crisis on their hands if they don’t handle this well,” says Ramanujam Sridhar, founder and chief executive officer, Integrated Brand-comm Pvt. Ltd, a brand consultancy.
Nestle’s approach differs from that of its peers. Way back in 2003, when reports surfaced of a few instances of worms in Dairy Milk bars made by Cadbury India Ltd (now Mondelez India Foods Ltd), the company launched a public relations campaign for the trade in two weeks. In three months, the company revamped the entire packaging and launched a major advertising campaign featuring actor Amitabh Bachchan to reassure consumers of the safety of the product.

Similarly, when reports of high pesticide content in Coca-Cola soft drinks emerged, the company got on board Aamir Khan to improve its image.
Nestle India’s parent, Nestle AG is more proactive on this front. In 2010, when Nestle was targeted by environment activist group Greenpeace for sourcing palm oil from a company that was said to be destroying sustainable forests and endangering orangutans in South-East Asia, Nestle AG managed it well.
Initially, it tried to censor opposition by taking down a YouTube video by Greenpeace citing copyright issues, which showed a person eating an orangutan’s finger from a KitKat pack. The approach faced customer hostility, leading to negative feedback on Nestle’s Facebook page.
The company then took a step back and took a more inclusive approach, starting a dialogue with Greenpeace to know more about the issue. It then stopped its trade with the company that supplied palm oil and appointed an independent NGO to verify the credentials of all of its raw material suppliers.
The smart social media and crisis management that Nestle had displayed in the Greenpeace case seems to be clearly missing from the Maggi situation.

The comic path to customers’ hearts

Raising some laughs: Appealing to the funny bone can make your advertising memorable. Voltas’ Murthy

A few brands are using comedians to connect with their target market

What is that grabs your attention in an advertisement or promotional campaign these days? Is it the much talked about Bollywood celebrity who seems to be endorsing every single product known to mankind? Is it the relatable situation being played out in the ad? Or is it the humour element?
In a phenomenon associated with the latter, of late a few brands in India have chosen to market themselves through a technique which is not as common as the others, but is still proving to be popular with the masses; humour that represents the ideals of the brand being promoted, while entertaining audiences and making it memorable.
Murthy and his journey 

Voltas is a name synonymous with air conditioners in India. In 2012, along with the launch of its Voltas All-Weather AC, it introduced everyman Madurai native Murthy (played by South Indian television actor DV Vivek).
Murthy, whose boss constantly transfers him to extreme climate zones, remains calm about the situation thanks to his All-Weather AC. Murthy was first featured in Mukteshwar, followed by Cherrapunji and Kota, all in the same year. The character continues to move across India to this day, followed by his wife who joined in his travels in 2013.
The product was improved, and so Murthy had to become smarter. In 2014, Murthy met his match in a battle of wits when his father-in-law, played by popular Tamil film actor Delhi Ganesh, decided to visit him wherever he was transferred.
Fast forward to the present day. With the introduction of Voltas All-Weather Smart AC, Murthy becomes smarter to tackle his father-in-law, thanks to his ‘smart’ air conditioner.
According to Deba Ghoshal, Head of Marketing at Voltas, Murthy represents their real consumer.
“The whole chemistry of Murthy and his boss, Mr. and Mrs. Murthy, and now Murthy and his father-in-law, is very consumer centric, and the target audience can easily relate to this. We have always believed that consumers are our biggest ambassadors, and with Murthy, our customer is right up there – right in the middle of action and gratification. The character of Murthy cuts across multiple segments, entry, mid-, and high-end, and appeals to a broad spectrum of customers.” Industry experts appear positive about Murthy as well. Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO of Brand-Comm, a communications consultancy, says that while humour is not a universal emotion, it has been successful in the case of Voltas.
“Humour only works in select categories. Brands keep changing strategy, and for a character like this to work and have the desired effect on audiences, it must be long-term, because it takes time to develop. The reason I like what Voltas is doing with the character of Murthy is that it continues to develop him year after year, bringing in new elements and characters to support his appearance.”
So how has Murthy translated into tangible monetary results for Voltas? According to Ghoshal, since the summer of 2012, Voltas has had the highest market share in the AC category.
“This success can be attributed to a combination of factors, such as our evolving product range, our revamped distribution network, increasing conversion and extraction from our point of sale, a distinct brand positioning, and our clutter-breaking campaign. Our market share stands at a high of 20.8 per cent, and as of FY 2014-15, it remains the highest in the category.”
A policeman’s advice 

Ordering a cab is easy. Simply download an app, tap at your smartphone’s screen, and you’re off! Taxi for Sure is one such relatively new player. Its latest campaign came in the form of traffic police inspector Constable Chowriappah, played by popular Bangalore-based radio jockey Danish Sait. (Sait also plays the role of Mr Nags, the RCB Insider in IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore’s videos.)
Chowriappah features in YouTube videos made for the cab company, and sees himself as a crusader for the public good, advising the public to not drink and drive, speed or give into road rage.
“We have always used humour to connect with our customers across all our communications, right from our first mass media campaign to our recent communications. Constable Chowriappah is a natural extension and execution of this strategy, where our brand spoke about the several advantages of taking a taxi, in a fun manner,” said Arvind Singhal, CEO of Taxi for Sure.
What impact has Constable Chowriappah had? “The campaign’s prime objective was to engage with our customers online and it did pretty well for us. The campaign showed fantastic results with the video reaching over 13 lakh viewers and having 2,500+ shares on Facebook. Business also experienced healthy growth across parameters during the time of this campaign,” said Singhal.
Today, stand-up comedy in India is becoming all the rage, be it to influence public opinion or to entertain. One prominent example of comedy the current generation of youth identifies with is the series Pretentious Movie Reviews, a YouTube series helmed by Bangalore-based stand-up comics Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan. In October last year, Channel [V] India collaborated with Gill and Kalyan as part of the promotional campaign for their show Dare 2 Date.
Gill and Kalyan reviewed the show by mocking several aspects of it, thereby taking the road of ‘even bad press is good press’.
Lure of comedy

Sridhar believes that this kind of branding is ideal for Channel [V]. “Channel [V] in itself is aimed at a younger audience, which is why such content works. The channel keeps making fun of itself and its customers, which is what makes it stay true to its character,” he said.
Brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor says there is both a good side and a bad side to having comics promote brands. “Comedians add allure to brands that desperately need it. However, the downside is that the comedian draws much more from this exposure than the brand. The moment a comedian is up endorsing a brand, customers expect the comic act and content. That is really a diversion from the brand, and so lesser known comics work better,” he says.

A Lookback At Narendra Modi’s Year Of Being India’s Prime Marketer

It's a year of Narendra Modi taking oath as the 15th Prime Minister of India. Modi's election juggernaut in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls has been held as an example of how to prepare and successfully implement a marketing and branding campaign.

Irrespective of faith, ideology and voting decision, there has been no escaping 'Modi'. His image and in-your-face messaging have overshadowed all other brands - even that of his own party.

And since Modi came into power, India has emerged as the global giant in terms of foreign policy and economic stability. He has been successful in reviving the image of India in front of international communities.

Modi is not just seen as an administrator, but as the acting CMO of India, who knows that fame and success for the country comes in when you are creating the right buzz, spreading the right message and talking the right things at the places that matter.

So, as the man is completing one year at the centre today, we decided to speak to leaders of the Indian advertising industry to know what they think of Modi—the CMO of India.

Brand Modi
Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather India, was one of the guys who handled Modi's election campaign. He was of the view that Modi has laid a great foundation and going forward it will only grow and reap benefits for the country. "He has set the ball rolling with his plans such as Swachh Bharat, NE Policies, Bima Yojna, Mudra Bank for small entrepreneurs, and others. He has four years to go and these plans along with others will fructify because the seeds are already sown and people will have to wait before they start reaping benefits. It is not like instant coffee, people will benefit but they will have to wait," he added.

Pandey further believed that there is a positive feeling and sentiment across the denizens of the globe. "I travel a lot and when people talk to me about India in a positive (and these people do not have an agenda) it feels really good. People tell that the governance of the country is in the right hands and it's on a positive track. So on that front he has done a great job.

Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director Samsika, says, "Brand Modi has become stronger and stronger with a clear performance oriented approach, through internal and external marketing, building up Brand India on the development path. No other Indian leader has been able to positively catch the imagination of the world in such a short period of time. His usage of social media, his travel and speeches and his 'Mann ki Baat' on radio have propelled Brand Modi to a higher positive level."

Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder and CEO, brand-comm thought that what Modi has done in a year is pretty good. But in the relative terms, after what people saw in the previous government the expectations are sky high and unreasonable.
"On the foreign part, though he has been abroad for 53 days, I think his priorities were clear and that was to get brand India recognised globally. I see all his attempts in the larger context are a message saying that give us our due in world politics. And I think it is his greatest contribution. I think his image abroad is far superior to what he has in India. I think his priorities were clear that India's image is bad outside and the NRI Indian should have a say and he needs confidence in the country of his origin. Many of these countries where he has visited, his dynamism has done a great deal for India and Indians," he adds.

Modi, The CMO
Modi has a way of saying that India wants to be a global player and he believes in the inclusive growth and wants to be included. As per Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director Samsika, Modi is clearly the CMO of India. "As the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Modi has inspired Indians all across the world, acquired world stage spotlight, aspired many in India and the world to lead better and cleaner lives and the best of all has marketed Brand India very effectively to the entire globe. Cleanliness, yoga, economy, IPR, development, growth, humanity are all ingredients which the CMO has propagated about Brand India."

"The biggest aspect of his one year governance is that he has been seen as a disciplinarian. He is positive about the future and does not want to sound like veterans. He is talking to the youth in a language that they understand and want to listen. He is present on all the platforms where youth spend their time which is social and digital media. Other platforms such as Mann ki baat where he is reaching out to a larger number of people, he is respecting the past, and trying to create a future and create a leadership which creates leaders. This is the difference that we see in the Modi and previous leaders," states Pandey.

As per Sridhar, Modi's greatest achievement is what he has done globally and his greatest failure has been his inability to curb his ministers. "He has been very focused. One might get sidetracked because of these things but he has kept away from this. The only place where he has not scored high is matching the expectations of the people. Expectations are high and that is something you cannot control because you yourself have built them. I believe that soon you will see the evidence of what he is doing. And all the signs are there and we just hope he is effective and deliver results and action on the ground."

According to Kapoor, brand Modi emerged as a global leader and has put Brand India, strongly and positively on the world map. The impact has been a positive benefit to Indians all across the world with present and future gains for the economy, for development, for brand image and for self respect.

Performance Chart
Modi's brand quotient has grown, and so has India's. The core-values of Brand Modi have been strengthened and sharpened. Brand Modi is involved, is visible, is action oriented, is proactive and not reactive and is purposive and clear.

"Brand Modi has put Brand India on the world stage with great respect and aspiration. I would give Brand Modi 9 out of 10 on his brand quotient," states Kapoor.

Piyush Pandey however would like to see is that more team members are contributing. "CEO and CMO's are the people who create leaders and they are known for it, so I would like to see a scenario where each player is performing. Alone captain cannot do, they need the support of their team. He is a great captain so we need to see his team performing," he adds.

"To my mind, he is a very pragmatic person. I think Gujarat had been fairly easy for him to show what he can do and was like a cakewalk, but he is not able to enjoy the same free run in the country. I would rate this performance as very good. 7/10," comments Sridhar.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Aiyoo Madrasi, look at your fate!

Advertising professionals need to go beyond stereotypes and create culturally relevant ads
I have a pet peeve and that relates to how the advertising czars of Mumbai and Delhi look at the South. Sadly there is a complete lack of awareness, and (if I may add) a reasonable lack of interest in the South as a market and South Indians as consumers by the advertising fraternity at least.

We have enough evidence of anyone who lives south of the Vindhyas being classified as a Madrasi, never mind the fact that there are four different states and so many diverse languages and people who live in this part of the world. My favourite story relates to my friend of over 30 years who lives in Mumbai and who knows me extremely well, calling me and wishing me for Onam! “Onam,” I almost shouted at her, “is a Malayali festival and I am a Tamilian!”

The rest of India seems to struggle to understand that Carnatic is a genre of music while Kannada is a language. “You speak Carnatic,” they ask me politely and I have difficulty in controlling my emotions! All this could be the subject matter of conversations and could be entertaining after two drinks even, but the problem manifests itself in many ways that are more serious in the marketplace affecting credibility, comprehension and business in that order. Let me explain.

Vodafone unites India or so it thinks

While there have been a number of translated commercials that have annoyed me in the past let me give you a recent example. The brand in question is Vodafone, a large visible global brand (with advertising that keeps winning awards and accolades). Have you seen the latest commercial for Vodafone for M-pesa? Click to view and Click this to view the second ad.

I have deliberately given you both links, of the commercial in Hindi and Tamil to make a point. Okay, as the commercial depicts, it is the story of a father and son. The commercial features a young, conscientious son who believes in sending money home to his father to pursue his hobby of repairing transistors. The son is a taxi driver living in the city while his father lives in a small town.

The commercial is about Vodafone’s new service and with the benefit of this as the son tells the father, there is no need for the father to go to the bank, as all he has to do is go to the Vodafone M-pesa store to get his money.

The commercial is clearly set in some part of North India, a very cold part at that as depicted by the clothes worn by the shopkeeper and the father. They wear balaclavas that cover the ears, mufflers and heavy pullovers. The beauty of the commercial is that it has only a voice over and can be easily translated unlike other commercials which have characters speaking, and which are messier and more expensive to handle.

But if you watch the Tamil commercial it says the father is in Tirunelveli! Have any of you ever been to Tirunelveli? Do you see people wearing clothes as though they are going on an expedition to Antarctica in the heat and dust of that town? And this is my problem. Clearly neither client nor agency have stepped out of their office in Lower Parel and have no clue about this unfortunate town which is the setting of this commercial. Whatever happened to old fashioned “attention to detail?” Why couldn’t the person have said Ooty or Kodaikanal or Yercaud even, the only few places where it can get remotely cold in Tamil Nadu? Is it ignorance or indifference?

Kotak too befuddles me

There is another big campaign for Kotak Mahindra Bank which has just taken over ING Vysya bank (see press ad). The ad talks about how Kotak Mahindra bank is in the remotest of places. Thanks to ING’s network, now Kotak is in a whole host of places. The commercial is fairly direct and yet the tag line is in Hindi (we advertising people want continuity you see). So the tag line says “KonakonaKotak” which probably means that Kotak is in every corner. The eyes and mind have trouble in adjusting from a swift transition from English to Hindi in the same communication, and how many Tamilians have the fluency in Hindi to read, understand and assimilate?

Why don’t advertising people look outside their immediate circle? Why don’t they land in Chennai Central by train and look at the target audience for their communication? Why don’t they watch a Tamil movie to understand the extent of dependence on Tamil as a language? Take the tag line for the ongoing IPL tournament: India ka tyohaar. A friend, a cricket buff, but who grew up deep south in Kumbakonam in TN, called to ask what the word meant. Click on this to view the ad.

Mind you, I am not a Tamil chauvinist, just a communication specialist. The purpose of communication is to be understood and that is where these bits of communication seem poorly planned and sadly this is not the first time it is happening and if my experience is any indication, this will not be the last time! Sadly I am a Madrasi!

Time to bat for other sports

I spent five years learning Economics and one of the few things I learnt was “In India agriculture is a gamble with the monsoon.” I could almost picture the lines of worry on the Indian farmer’s face as he squinted at the sky, more with hope than with any other emotion. I believe the Indian advertiser who bets big bucks on cricket telecasts like the World Cup is in a similar position.
That too is a gamble as everything depends on the Indian cricket team’s performance which has been inconsistent at times. When India does well the advertiser is smiling as that means fantastic TRPs and great ROI, and when it fails, it is doom and gloom.
The mother of all cups

Cricket means big bucks in India and the World Cup is the mother of all cups. Let’s not forget that India is the current holder of the Cricket World Cup. Nor should we forget the tremendous hype that Star Sports is capable of generating with its immense media clout and the slew of channels at its control. And yet, as the Indian cricket team sleepwalked through the Australia tour without winning a single game, the large advertiser empathised totally with the farmer and knew exactly how he felt in the face of a dicey monsoon for he had already bought time at exorbitant prices on World Cup Cricket.
The spadework, however, had been well done. India games were on Sundays and during the day, which would ensure ease of watching. The first game was against Pakistan and in case you didn’t watch the commercial, it features the hopeful Pakistani cricket fan, waiting anxiously, ready to burst crackers but just unable to do so as India won – again. As we all know now, India won by a mile and the ratings went through the roof. The next game was even bigger, the following Sunday, as it featured South Africa, one of the favourites. The build-up was phenomenal, featuring South Africans who, in another ad, condescendingly reminded us about the three previous encounters. Nearly 86,000 people wended their way to the MCG (80,000 of them Indians) and watched in disbelief and later ecstasy as India smashed South Africa! And so India’s merry ways continued with another win over UAE and a place at the top of the pool with interest, viewership and discussions around our famous World Cup campaign at an all-time high!
Now India has won all its six league games convincingly, leading us to believe that retaining the World Cup is eminently possible. So all is well, as we speak, with the Indian cricket team and the advertiser who has completely forgotten all his fears and is patting himself on the back for getting it right again. And yet, being the pragmatist I am, my mind always goes back to 2007 when we did not even make it past the first round.
But is all really well?

But is all really well with advertiser and advertising?
This brings me back to my famous refrain. Despite being cricket-mad it pains me to see the Indian advertiser’s absolute dependence on cricket. If it is not World Cup Cricket it seems some meaningless entertainment like the IPL. Let’s not forget too the inherent controversies that seem to dog the game. Match-fixing seems to rear its ugly head far too often for the liking of genuine cricket fans like me and in our darkest moments we wonder if we are wasting our time – and life – following this game with its attendant evils. The shenanigans of the BCCI, which seems worried about everything other than the game, is a constant source of disquiet and it needs the highest judicial authority in the country to guide this body.
How worrisome is that? If this is the state of mind that cricket lovers like you and me are experiencing, you can be sure that advertisers are even more acutely aware of the lack of choice when it comes to an interest that delivers a huge national audience across languages. There have been some attempts by trying to support and create interest in other sports such as hockey, football and even kabaddi. It is early days yet and while the signs are promising, there are miles to go.
Someone must bite the bullet

Having said that, I still think it is important for one advertiser or a few to realise that cricket cannot and should not hold them to ransom. They must continue to invest not only in other sports but also look at other interests. This leads me to what I believe is an important point. Indian youth is changing, by the moment. In fact, people in the metros don’t watch as much cricket as people in the smaller towns. Could not some specific programming be created that catches the fancy of Indian youth instead of waiting for some sports events to happen? Reality shows are probably boring today but someone did aKaun Banega Crorepati even if it was not the most original idea ever filmed. So what’s the next big idea?
I am sure it is not the IPL!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why is customer service so boring?

Last week I was in Chennai to attend the Board Meeting of a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting customer service in the country. The meeting was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Either because the Directors were too smart or the agenda too thin, the meeting wound up by 12.  I wish I were part of more board meetings like this! The Chairman decided to reward us by taking us for lunch to the ITC Grand Chola. Let me quickly tell you that I have been a great admirer of this hotel and speak about it in some of my presentations. They had ‘wowed’ me a couple of years ago when I stayed with them by giving me an iPad to take care of the controls in my room which enabled me to switch off lights, see who was at the door, switch on the bathroom light, etc. With that experience still in my memory, we went to the restaurant at 12.30 p.m. only to find the place still reluctant to take guests. A surly looking lady made us wait for 15 minutes before she found a place in the then empty restaurant. Breakfast litter were still around and someone apologetically told us that the IPL teams who were staying at the hotel had come in late for breakfast. Poor MS Dhoni, he is blamed if children do poorly in exams or if the restaurant is not ready for lunch. How much burden can the broad shoulders of the Indian Captain take!
Oh the days of the Empire!
Though the lunch buffet was priced beyond the reach of poor advertising professionals, there was an offer for a brand of beer that I had never heard of called ‘British Empire’. But then again Tamil Nadu has never really had a choice of liquor, but that is not the problem of the hotel. What was the problem was the poor service - like serving one person on the table leaving the others unattended, a failure to remove anything that was consumed; stone cold herbal tea … the list goes on. When I drew the attention of a senior hotel official dining at the next table, he just sent someone else instead of coming up directly to understand what the issue was. To me, one of the greatest things about the hospitality business is that even if a General Manager comes to your table, he will pick up the dishes because he is a service provider, however high his designation might be and I find that particularly stimulating. But here we had soiled napkins, dirty dishes and plates and no one even thought of cleaning it. Since we had a service expert in our midst (not me) we asked to see the Food and Beverage Manager.
Whither service retrieval?
Without going into a long harangue of whatever went wrong, let me quickly tell you that we told the Food and Beverage Manager everything in graphic detail. He listened patiently, made all the sympathetic noises, apologized profusely and thanked us for the feedback. Could he have handled the situation differently? Certainly. The people who were at the table were fairly important corporate clients running large corporations. Could he have given them a cake as a gesture of good will or a discount voucher for the next meal, a bunch of flowers… who knows? I am hardly a service expert but we were left severely disappointed even as we kept discussing it on the way to the airport.
So what is the learning?
Service is all about expectations. Was our expectation because it was the ITC Grand Chola? Did our experience seem worse than it actually was because they did not meet the basic “hygiene factors” which such a luxury hotel should attain? Customer expectations are rising by the moment and is our organization being left behind in the shifting sands of expectation? Have people forgotten the importance of a smile, an apology or a gesture? Are they painstakingly adhering to the boring repetitive aspects of consumer service - like cleaning the tables immediately after someone finishes eating? It is non adherence to these basic routines that both irritate and turn away customers. And finally one sobering thought. If this is the situation with a reputed high-class service organization like ITC hotels, where does it place ordinary mortals?
Thankfully every day is a new day and you can start afresh. But like we say in advertising “you are only as good as your current campaign”, every service organization needs to remember that it cannot sit back on its former achievements and begin every service day with a completely new slate. Have fun serving!