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October 24, 2010

Brand Update : Peter England is the Beginning of Good Things

It has been almost four years since I updated about this brand. Peter England has always been my favorite brand and it remains so even after all these years. But somehow I missed to update about this wonderful brand for such a long time.

In these four years, Peter England has become a Rs 500 crore brand growing more than 30% annually. In the last IPL season, Peter England hit the branding circuit with a bang by sponsoring Chennai Super Kings. The brand also dabbed into suits as well as casual wear in this time. At one point in time, the brand had a campaign featuring Kareeena Kapoor.

2010 is witnessing another beginning for the brand. The brand has roped in the South Indian Actor Siddharth as brand ambassador and is currently running a campaign featuring the celebrity. Along with the brand ambassador, Peter England is also repositioning itself on a new platform. The brand has changed its tagline to " Beginning of Good Things ".
Watch the new campaign here : Peter England

In their press releases, the brand talks about the new positioning. Peter England wants to epitomize confidence that arises out of self belief. The brand wants to remind the users about their inner strength that will arise of self-confidence and Peter England will be the source of that self confidence.

Although the brand's new proposition sounds good and is a sort of laddering up, I surely miss the first campaign of Peter England - The Honest Shirt . That was a campaign that expressed the brand completely. The promise of a Honest Shirt was embraced by consumers because the message was so simple , direct and relevant.

But how ever, the brand got bored with the positioning and moved over to an aspirational " Honestly Impressive " theme. Although the concept was good, it was no where near the original one interms of relevance and simplicity.

To be frank, I did not like the new tagline -Beginning of Good Things ( personal opinion !) . The positioning almost is similar to Cadbury Dairy Milk's Shubh Aarambh theme ( for an auspicious beginning). And theme of self confidence arising out of dress is neither new nor clutter breaking. Its just another campaign and the brand will see its sales going northward because of the smart selection of the celebrity.

Siddharth will make the brand more appealing to youngsters. The flooding of the market by various regional brands/private labels and the trend among youngsters to go for street fashion rather than branded ones is making the lives of brands like Peter England difficult . The popularity of Siddharth among youngsters will bring back lot of them to the brand.
Peter England as a brand will make sense because of the inherent value proposition. As long as the value proposition remains the same, there is no stopping for this brand.

Marketing Strategy : Celebrating the WoW Moments

Seldom does brands hit upon wonderful ideas that capture the attention of the consumers. During the last IPL season, Vodafone hit upon such a wonderful advertising idea – The ZooZoo. Those white cute characters quickly captured the imagination of India. ZooZoos were all around the media with rave reviews, blogs and viral videos. The entire marketing community was watching how the brand will handle the unprecedented success of the ZooZoos.

Vodafone themselves was surprised at the success of ZooZoo and it took a while for the company to wake up to the idea of capitalizing the success of ZooZoo by launching merchandises, games, contests and social media engagement. To take the popularity to ZooZoo to the next level, the brand also launched a campaign asking the public to contribute to the advertising campaigns by suggesting ideas.

It is important for the brands to capitalize every such wow factors to the maximum. The big ideas can come in the form of a tagline, a celebrity, a brand mascot, a product feature or an advertising idea. Once that big idea becomes highly accepted by the consumers, it is important for the brand to take it to the next level of engagement.

Take the example of the MRF‘s association with Sachin Tendulkar and cricket. The association started off as a brand endorsement. MRF’s logo on Sachin’s bat got the brand so much visibility that cricket fans began to ask for MRF bats at sports shops. MRF later launched its cricket kits to cash on the popularity. To celebrate the brand’s association with cricket, MRF also ventured into launching MRF pace foundation which has become a vital talent school for pace bowlers. All these engagements involved investments that could not be recovered on a short-term. MRF also involved seriously into racing sports which had a direct connection with the brand’s offering. MRF began to celebrate its involvement in rallies thereby reinforcing the brand’s credibility as a modern, tough tire brand. In all these activities, the brand involved 100% and the investments was not blinded by a quest for short-term sales spurts.

It was a wow- moment for Nike when it chose the tagline “Just Do It”. Customers loved the tagline and Nike did not waste a moment in celebrating the tagline. The tagline became an integral factor in the success of Nike brand. In the Indian context, Idea Cellular Ltd hit upon a hit tagline “ An Idea can Change Your Life ”. The brand also signed up Abhishek Bachchan as the brand ambassador. The brand celebrated these two big ideas together with huge success.
Marketers should look for signs of success of their big and small ideas. There is a huge potential for celebration when consumers start talking about those WoW moments. When consumer starts talking about the brand, marketers should take the cue and take the engagement to the next level.

Have a plan to celebrate.

In this highly competitive world, time is a precious resource. The brand should celebrate its ideas before the euphoria dies down. More time the marketer spent contemplating on the planning phase, the less effective the engagement. There has to be a plan to systematically enhance the engagement with the consumers in the event of such a wow-moment.
Celebrating the brand’s wow moments can have lot of positive rub-offs. It can create an engagement with the consumers. Take the case of ZooZoo. These characters created lot of engagement with the brand and the public (consumers and non-consumers of Vodafone). The ZooZoo fan page in Facebook has more than 3.30 lakh fans. Through these, the brand is able to connect with a larger base of existing and potential consumers who hold a positive frame of mind towards the brand or its campaigns.

Use all the marketing opportunities.

We are living in a highly networked world that offers many opportunities to engage with the consumers. Indian marketers are slow in adapting to newer ways of connecting to the consumers. Once Vodafone figured out the celebrating ZooZoo, it went on an overdrive using all the media opportunities. Vodafone is now using social media like Facebook, Orkut etc to create more engagement with the consumers. It also sells ZooZoo merchandise through select outlets. There are also contests and games which consumers can play in the social media that created lot of consumer engagement.

Celebration is an investment.

In an era of spreadsheets,ROIs and quarterly reports it is difficult for marketers to quickly quantify the returns for such a celebration. Hence it would be prudent for marketers should consider such marketing activities as a long-term investment. Although there may not be an immediate spike in the sales, one should be able to see the long-term equity that such a celebration can deliver to the brand.

Link the celebration to the brand.

While there are a lot of advantages in celebrating the wow- moments, marketers should have clarity in linking the celebration to the brand’s big picture. Brand needs to benefit from the celebration either in terms of better visibility, market share, loyalty or engagement with the consumers. Periodic reviews and assessment will help marketers to justify further investments in celebrating brand’s small and big successes.

Originally Published here in

Brand Update : Idea Wants To Break Language Barrier

Idea Cellular has hit upon another smart idea this season with the latest " language barrier " ad. Sirji now wants to break the language barrier using mobile phones.

Taking the concept of " An idea can change your life " , Idea cellular has been relentlessly pursuing new ideas in their campaigns. Whether those ideas have any relevance to the brand or not, campaigns were run with passion. This persistence has paid off for the brand interms of brand recognition and also interms of market share.

This time the brand talks about how the mobile telephony can the solve the issue of language barrier in a diverse country like India. A country with 28 recognized languages and 22000 dialects, language has been a big problem for those people who needs constant relocation.

As a follow-up to the campaign , Idea launched a language helpline across the circles it operates for the general public. Through the helpline, the caller can get the help of a translator . The user should give the message to be translated in English and the helpline agent will translate the message in the language required by the caller. The helpline is open to non- Idea subscribers also.

One of the key lessons from the brand is the power of passion. The brand owners are passionate about the brand's positioning and it invests heavily in the campaigns bombarding the consumers with passionate messages. This passion has made " What an Idea Sirji " line a part of the common lingo of youngsters.

The ad campaign has been well received by the viewers and it needs to be seen whether the actual service will be used by the consumers. Whether it is used or not, Idea should be congratulated on the consistency and the passion in which it approach the core brand positioning.

February 23, 2010

Check out Save Our Tigers | Join the Roar

Title: Save Our Tigers | Join the Roar

October 7, 2009

HORN ...OK ...Please!

It’s ubiquitous and yet one of the most inexplicable taglines in all of Indian communication. Virtually every truck (recommend that you read Sri Lal More Pictures
Shukla’s ‘Raag Darbari’ for perhaps the best description ever of an Indian truck) that rumbles across the country carries ‘Horn OK Please’. Yet no one seems to have a clue as to why, when or how truckers decided to brand their fume bellowing monsters with this line.

Even stranger is the fact that very few truckers or cleaners are likely to be conversant with English. Still no matter where they hail from — Punjab or Pondicherry — they stick to the branding code. We will never know what was going through the mind of the anonymous copywriter who wrote this enduring tagline.

But what we do know is that he/she manage to forge an enduring emotional connection with the target audience — the sort that commercial marketers would crave for.

A connection so strong that logic and powerpoints (not to mention articles such as this one) can neither decode nor wish away. Had this been put into research by a truck manufacturer, in all probability he would have been told that it is rubbish, means absolutely nothing and will never work.

There are numerous other such ‘unofficial’ taglines, which fly in the face of convention and Kotler, anyone of which could have been used as the column title. However, few bring a smile to your lips after all these the way Horn OK Please does, few have such a curious syntax and well this is the phrase that I like best, and as the writer I get to choose.

As for the column itself it will focus on the oddities related to all elements that go into the task of brand-building — be it by large marketers or unorganised efforts — and consumerism in India. It might occasionally stray from the defined brief, and when that happens just think of it as brand extension, no matter how tenuous the link is. If you don’t like it then just ignore it and if you do then ‘Horn OK Please’.

Up in smoke

Few brands in India have, over the last two decades, demonstrated the power of a brand as the cigarette brand, Marlboro. For years, paanwalahs across the country (in an era when there were no cell-phones or
internet) charged the same price for a packet of Marlboro (the smuggled version, since it was not legally available). The pricing that the paanwallahs arrived at was not based on a simple conversion of the dollar/pound price plus (adding the cost of procurement through smuggling.

Instead the brand was typically pegged to the most expensive Indian brand and retailed at a Rs 10 mark up to it. After every Budget when Indian cigarette brands hiked prices, Marlboro prices were recalibrated by the paanwallahs to ensure that the premium for the brand remained (even though it being a smuggled commodity, the budget had no impact on the brand.)

Strangely enough, in the last year or so ever since the brand has been legally retailed, this price premium has totally disappeared. Today it costs just Rs 2 more than a packet of Gold Flake, Rs 4 less than a pack of Classic Milds (at a single-stick level it’s five bucks for all these three brands) and Rs 10 less than a packet of Benson & Hedges (all prices are MRP in Mumbai).

Even more intriguing is the fact that while the ‘Made In India’ Marlboro pack retails at Rs 90, the smuggled ones are priced at a discount. It’s not easy to explain the transition. Perhaps the brand was far more aspirational when it was less freely available. Perhaps over the years with far more people travelling abroad far more regularly, a brand like Davidoff, which is largely of the smuggled variety, has managed to reposition Marlboro into the mass-market cigarette that it is globally, even in India.

Perhaps the MNC never really fathom e d this parallel brand valuation that it enjoyed. Perhaps it is a conscious strategy by the marketer to gain a wider audience. Whatever the reasons, one of the best demonstrations of brand equity for the last two decades by an iconic brand nurtured by unconventional brand guardians (local paanwallahs) has now finally come to an end.

Onida - The devil going to hell...!

According to a report in Economic Times, Onida has decided to send its iconic mascot- The Devil to Hell. According to the report, the brand feels that Devil is no longer attractive to the consumers and hence the decision to remove it. The report further says that the brand is working on a new mascot.

The report gave me a sense of Deja_vu. This is not the first time that Mirc Electronics ( brand owners) has scrapped the Devil.
In1998, Onida withdrew the mascot citing the same reasons that they have given now. The explanation given in 1998 was that Indian consumers no longer find Devil, who symbolizes Envy, relevant. So they scrapped the famous tagline " Neighbour's Envy, Owner's Pride "
together with the Devil. But ever since it changed the tagline and mascot, Onida never found a powerful positioning .

After six years of drifting around, Onida brought back the Devil with much fanfare in 2004. Media and brand enthusiasts welcomed the move and eagerly awaited the Devil in a changed modern avataar. But the comeback was damp squib. The brand suffered heavily due to ownership issues within the company. There was no brand promotion or new product launches worth talking about since 2004. If at all there were launches, promotions were not sufficient enough.

Now in 2009, Onida is redoing its old strategy.

Onida is facing a marketing problem and not a branding problem. Everything is fine with the brand. People recognize the brand, love its mascot. The issue is on a larger perspective. It needs to concentrate on its entire marketing mix not just the brand elements. Changing the devil and bringing in a new mascot is not going to do any good to Onida.

The Economic Times report suggest that Onida is changing its brand elements because of competition from Korean brands like LG and Samsung. These Korean majors has built its position in Indian market riding on Product strategy rather than on heavy duty brand promotions. Their products were good, reasonably priced and well promoted. In the case of LG and Samsung, nobody really cares about the tagline. For them , the product speaks for itself.

Onida failed because its products failed. I was a die hard Onida fan . I loved my Onida KY Thunder Television. But after that there was nothing remarkable about Onida. No high technology products came from this brand.Onida became successful because the Devil was backed by products that really created envy in others. Now there is nothing to envy about Onida. Last year, I bought an Onida DVD player which boasts about playing scratched DVDs but the product failed miserably.

Now in the consumer durable space, brands are coming out with new advanced products on a monthly basis. Technology keeps changing and most brands are moving with break-neck speed to catch up with consumer expectations. In the case of Television, flat is now old and brands are talking about plasma, LCD etc. What is Onida doing in this space ?

Onida is now in one of the most difficult times. The brand needs to come out with a product that will change the game. Changing the mascot is secondary at this point of time.
Onida has launched its new campaign after putting the devil to rest. The campaign is aimed at repositioning and rejuvenating the brand. The brand is trying for a comeback after years of uncertainty which made this (once) iconic brand lose its share in the market.

Watch the new campaign here : Onida new campaign

In my last post on Onida, I commented that Onida's real problem is not branding but marketing. The brand desperately needed break-through products and embrace new technologies. If the new ads are any indication, the brand is moving in the right direction. The brand is trying to launch products with new features, which is the right thing to do .

Regarding the brand campaign, Onida now has a new tagline- " Tum Ko Dekha to ye design aya" meaning " Designed with you in mind ". The brand replaced the iconic devil with a new-age couple as the protagonists.

Onida is now repositioning on the basis of " Customer Oriented Design". The brand is saying that its products are designed with the new-age customer in mind. The new tagline has nothing new in it and "customer-oriented" design positioning is used by many brands before. In comparison with the classic "Neighbor's envy , Owner's Pride", the new campaign falls short of expectation. ( Another viewpoint here)

In the consumer durable space, it is the product features that attract the buyers not the ads. If Onida can give technologically advanced products at reasonable price, consumers will definitely try it out. But there are issues in such a product oriented strategy. Most of the new features can be copied easily by the competitors unless otherwise protected by patents. When Onida launches a DVD player which plays micro-sd cards, other players are bound to follow. It is in this scenario that branding becomes important. Onida needs to convince the consumers that its products are better designed and technologically superior. It is about managing perception .Features can be copied by competitors easily but changing perception is a difficult task.

Onida needs to work hard on creating and nurturing new perceptions about itself in the mind of the consumers. Long way to go for this brand......

Unwanted-72 : Bring Your Lost Moments Back

I-pill now have a competition. Mankind Pharma . Mankind Pharma was established in 1995 and has its presence in antibiotics, ED , Gastro, Antifungal Cardio segments. The company has forayed into the OTC segment with a range of products from sanitary napkins to emergency pills.

Unwanted-72 is a morning-after pill. This emergency contraceptive pill is directly competing with the market leader i-pill from Cipla. I pill is the first OTC emergency contraceptive pill in India. These pills were allowed to market through OTC in 2005.

Unlike other contraceptive pills, emergency contraceptive pills are not a family planning tool. These pills are used to prevent unwanted pregnancy arising out of various situations like unexpected and unprotected intercourse.

I-pill has stirred up the market with a high profile, highly controversial ad campaign. The market has reacted quite positively to the product ever since.
As usual, the moral police of India has been creating lot of noise decrying this product as an anti-moral product. The noise made by these hypocrites have only helped increase the popularity of morning-after pills.

According to a report in Economic Times, 78% of pregnancies in India are unplanned and 5% are unwanted.There are about 1 million unsafe abortions in the country every year. Hence these pills offer a safe way to avoid pregnancy and abortion.

Critics say that the popularity of such emergency contraceptives will give wrong message to youngsters especially teens. These pills often acts as a confidence booster for these youngsters to go wild. These theories are based on the assumption that Indian Youth are the epitome of high moral values...
Another criticism about these products is that the marketers often suppress the information regarding side-effects of these pills.

Coming back to the brand, Mankind has been aggressive in tapping the emerging OTC product market in India. The company has been promoting its Sugar- substitute brand Kalorie 1 heavily using Wasim Akram as the brand ambassador.

Unwanted-72 has an interesting brand name. I was surprised at the brand name when I saw this brand's commercial . First I thought it was naive on the part of the company to name a contraceptive brand as Unwanted -72. The name sounded very amateurish and too theoretical. I thought i-pill was a stylish name compared to unwanted-72.

But later on further thinking, i found lot of logic in using such a brand name. According to text books, brand names have to be simple , easy to understand and remember and should be able to convey the purpose of the brand. If you look at theory , Unwanted-72 is an ideal brand name.

Unwanted denotes Unwanted Pregnancy
72 denotes the hours within which this pill has to be consumed after the intercourse.

So Unwanted-72 makes sense

or does it ?????

Well ... for a lady who is so tense and worried about a possibility of an unwanted pregnancy , does the brand name matters ?

Even if you put the brand name as After-Screwed - Up Pill, consumers will buy it provided it is effective..

My personal opinion is that the brand name is too amateurish .Parents will have tough time explaining it to a kid who sees the ad and asks about the product. In the company point of view , the brand name is so simple and direct, that every one can understand what the product is.If you are targeting a mass market, such a simple brand name is very advantageous