Thursday, August 31, 2017

How much do you love your wife?

That cue to a strong ad line for pressure cookers resonated with its middle-class audience
So, do you really love your wife? Now isn’t that a leading question? Almost as bad as ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’. But to someone who started his advertising life nearly three decades ago, it’s a cue to a strong and hardworking advertising line which said ‘Jo biwi se kare pyar, woh Prestige se kaise kare inkaar?’. It’s quite likely that what I’m saying means nothing to you, so let me try and jog your memory by directing you to an old TV commercial that created waves when it first aired.

Matter of ‘Prestige’
With all the razzmatazz, bells and whistles that today’s advertising is full of, this simple commercial, set at a dealer outlet of a multi-brand pressure cooker company may even be considered ordinary, but it certainly had its value then. It is a focused TV commercial set in a dowdy shop, with a typical middle-class couple going to purchase a pressure cooker.
The main character is a dealer who, in his typical frank and forthright way, asks the man: “How much do you love your wife?”. (In those days, and probably even today, people in India asked even strangers the most pointed of questions, such as: “So, what is your salary?” or “Why don’t you have a child yet?”.)
The dealer quickly explains that if the customer loved his wife even a little, he would give her an ordinary pressure cooker; if he loved her more he would give her a better one; but if he really loved his wife, he would give her a Prestige pressure cooker! When the bemused husband asks the dealer why Prestige, the latter explains that ‘the unique gasket release system of the Prestige pressure cooker was designed for husbands who really love their wives’.
Today, when we look at this ad, we might be bemused and wonder how it could have been so successful then (I can vouch for its success). One must not forget that this was when television advertising was in its nascent stages. It was before the days of computer graphics designed in London and television commercials shot in New Zealand. The ad had a strong idea that resonated with its middle-class audience and a tagline that, when carefully-handled, became brand property over the years.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Good ads do the disappearing act
One of the greatest challenges with clients and advertising agencies is that they get tired of their campaigns long before their consumers do and are anxious to change them, even when the old ones are delivering results. After all, it’s boring to run the same commercial, however effective, year after year.
So, for quite a few years, Prestige went ahead with a variety of commercials, offers, and products, each different from the other, that bore no theme holding them all together. The advertising did not have the single-minded appeal it had in its initial years, even if the brand continued to do well.
Let’s not forget that Prestige was a dominant brand then, particularly in the Southern markets, where mothers continued to gift their newly-married daughters Prestige pressure cookers. It was not uncommon for the humble pressure cooker to make its way into elegantly designed houses in New Jersey or San Jose. And yet, something was missing and that was the emotive appeal of the husband’s love for the wife, which seemed to have lost its way.
Celebrity couple demonstrates love
Then, as expected, the brand realised that it had been sitting on a gold mine whose value it had refused to acknowledge. With the help of a star biwi and her husband — Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan — it launched new commercials nationally.

The brand effectively capitalised on the idea that Prestige is the pressure cooker for husbands who love their wives, who deserve the best. Today, it has moved away from celebrities to ordinary couples, as this commercial in Tamil shows.
The brand’s advertising story continues and I am sure that it will be successful in the future.
So, what are the learnings?
Brands attain properties, usually created by good advertising over a period of time, that consumers easily recall and identify the brand with. It requires effort, resources and commitment to build a brand property. And, as the TTK Prestige example shows us, it is quite easy to lose sight of what you have. Brand managers should be vigilant to ensure that their brands don’t go off track though, sadly enough, it is often the advertising agency that is guilty of throwing the baby out with the bath water!
So, does your brand have a property? And are you ensuring that it is preserved?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bisleri invests Rs.60 lakh in local language labels; "Consumer in villages should not be cheated" says marketing head

 Bisleri's marketing director, Anjana Ghosh, tells us the effort is a move to tide over problems like counterfeit products and language barriers in the heartlands.
'Bhaiya, ek Bisleri dena' - you've probably said this yourself or heard someone else say it when asking for packaged drinking water. If you are a consumer from a metropolitan city and can clearly read the packaging then you won't be fooled with any counterfeit product but what about a person who can't read English?
Recently, mineral water brand - Bisleri, in an attempt to connect with local consumers, mainly those who are not comfortable with reading in English, announced that their bottled water will soon be available with labels in regional languages. Phase one will see regional labels being rolled out in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, parts of Maharashtra and UP. Within the month, the brand will have presence all over India in its new avatar.
Packshot of Bisleri 1 ltr bottle with labels in Hindi, Marathi and Telugu language
Counterfeit products have been in the market for a long time. afaqs! spoke to Anjana Ghosh, director, marketing, Bisleri International and asked her the reason behind this move.
Packshot of Bisleri 500 ml with Marathi label
Ghosh says, "We all felt that when you do something in the local language there's a better connect with the consumer. Even in Maharashtra, every dealer would need to have the name in Marathi, so this bi-lingual thing is very apparent now. So we thought that's how we can touch the consumer's heart - by doing something in their local language."
Is it something to do with the fact that not every Indian knows to read and speak English?
Anjana GhoshAnjana Ghosh
"Yes," admits Ghosh, "and we want people at every level to be able to read the name, Bisleri. This helps us ensure that our consumers in villages can read the brand name correctly."
The brand has 122 bottling plants present across India. Ghosh adds, "All label manufacturers have to change the plate on which they are printing the label and that's an investment we've had to make, which is around Rs.60 lakh."
Adding about how the new move will help the brand fight with counterfeit products, Ghosh says, "Now shopkeepers can't just hand any bottle of packaged water when a person, in a hurry, asks for a "bottle of Bisleri". We don't have this problem in the metro cities but at the local level, people do struggle."
Talking about how people in rural areas and smaller towns are cheated with counterfeit products, Ghosh says, "Our consumers, who can't read English, identify us by our packaging, the green colour and the font style in which Bisleri is written. The trouble is there are many other brands with similar packaging, making it difficult for them to recognise what they asked for. My consumer at the village level should not be cheated."
Currently, the brand is ready with production and distribution, and once it goes on the shelves across India, Bisleri has plans to promote this new offering via communication in various states in local languages.
The brand certainly hopes that this move will solve the problem of counterfeit bottles in the hinterlands. We asked our design and brand experts if it really will tackle this problem.
Ramanujam Sridhar, founder and CEO, brand-comm, a brand consultancy, says, "Bisleri is a huge brand. You can almost say it's a category and the challenge the brand is facing is that when someone says "Bisleri dena", it actually means a bottle of water, a problem that even Xerox and other dominant brands have."
Sridhar points out that people in the United Kingdom drink tap water but that's not the case in India.
He says, "In many India markets such as, Chennai, the quality of drinking water is poor so people invariably use packaged drinking water. So it is logical for them to look at the regional language, and since the brand is already familiar, in terms of its appearance, there's little chance of confusion. Very few people buy mineral water at the supermarket. Here the target audience are those who go to a small kirana store near the bus stand and ask for a bottle of Bisleri in Marathi, Telugu or Tamil."
Sridhar gives us the example of Coca-Cola being called Kekoukele in China.
He says, "Brands are recognising customers. Kekoukele sounds like Coca-Cola but is actually conveying the position of the brand. Therefore the brand name or the design isn't really sacrosanct in that sense of the term. This could be a ploy by the brand to handle the issue of consumers not knowing how to read Bisleri in English."
Ramanujam Sridhar
Ramanujam Sridhar
Ashwini Deshpande
Ashwini Deshpande
Does it solve the problem of people being able to differentiate between the original the fake product?
Sridhar says he is not sure. "It is going to be a question of time. It may give Biserli a head start but unless there is some sort of mechanism that deters one brand from riding on another brand's popularity it is going to be difficult. That is one of the biggest challenge brands are facing so we need to check on things like that."
According to Sridhar, given the fact that India has a problem of fake brands and labels, the brand should promote this change aggressively.
Ashwini Deshpande, founder, director and practice head, Elephant Design says, "I am all for local languages and native motifs. However, for a brand that took the bold step of changing the category code of blue labels by going teal, recall and own-able visual identity is already in place. So I don't see the need to use language to be able to have recognition by non-English reading audiences. I am also curious to see what happens to towns along the state borders where language and script are not just a nuance of geography or political                                                                                      decision."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When ads cross the line

Why ad makers are moving away from modesty to sell their products
Today, we are living in a world small enough to bring everyone close to each other no matter the distance. Well, not literally but virtually.
Gone are those days when we had to wait to know about the things happening on the other side of the globe. With a click of a button, we can see things happening live.
Everything has progressed, and in the midst of these changes, so have advertisements. Remember the cute commercial of Dhara cooking oil where a kid pretends to leave his home, only to return back on the mention of the sweet ‘Jalebi’? Or for that matter the jingles of Nirma washing powder which we till date hum away. However, they say: nothing is permanent, and so is the case with our advertising field.
Now we have a celebrity making lustful expressions while enjoying a fruit juice, or a man attracting a fleet of women on a mere spray of a deodorant.
So, why has this change happened?
As Harish Bijoor, brand domain specialist and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, says that ads reflect a nation's changing attitude and that’s why they have been different for each era, starting from the time we got independence where they were more patriotic in nature and giving precedence to the concept of ‘Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisan’ to the Seventies and mid-Eighties where the concept was the ideal family of four and the ads were around the concept of ‘Hum do, hamare do’. “The change as per him started around the Ninetees when people became more aware about themselves and the nuclear families emerged. The mentality drastically changed in the 2000’s when narcissism became the calling and that is when the concept of ‘sex and sensuality’ came into being.”
“Although sexuality was still sold in the adult ads but sensuality stated overtaking the day-to-day things and even commodities like deodorants and juices took the form of sensual ads for those 30 seconds,” he said.
Yes, agreed we are progressing and the fact is that sex does sell, but does it mean that ad agencies and brands add sexual appeal in every advertisments made just to sell a particular product or service. “Nowadays, the emotional connect with the audience has diminished,” says KV Sridhar, founder, Hyper Collective, adding that due to the emotional connect going missing, people are crossing the line and making mindless concepts. According to him, “With the evolution of e commerce and social media, everyone wants to do things quickly and in the process, the relatability factor which one had with the ads earlier has gone missing.”
Says Sridhar, “With the advent of social media, each one wants to share their story and that is why it’s all about ‘a story lived is better than a story told.” This makes advertising more concentrated and meaningful in telling a three-minute story on the social media than on TV in just 30 seconds.
Ramanujam Sridhar, founder and CEO, Brand-Comm, says that ads in India are changing also because of the liberal and progressive attitudes of its people. “What was considered a taboo around 20 years ago is very easily acceptable in the modern times. Hence, one can see more of sex, lust and sensuality in ads.”
But do these ads have a future? Would they continue to be more lustful and sexually progressive in the future too? Sridhar does not see a change in the situation and just hopes that good sense prevails when one is back to making more family-oriented ads. Bijoor is of the view that although ‘greed is good, we have given away too many things to achieve more. He, however, believes that in the world of sensual ads, “even if one non-sensual ad comes, it will make people sit up and maybe that would be the starting of a change.”
All these changes would not happen in a day and might take years to happen and that’s why Ramanujan says that the government should put some regulations to the screening of these ads, so that the family can sit together and watch them during prime time.
All said and done, there is no doubt that advertising plays an important role in the life of a common man. Hence, one can self-reglate and come up with simple ideas instead of bringing a sensual touch to every product being sold.