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August 20, 2009

Ford Fiesta : Go Fida, excuse me GO What?

Brand : Ford Fiesta

Agency : JWT

Base line : Go Fida

This exciting new powerhorse from the Ford Stable is set to hot up the Indian automobile scene.

Ford has tasted its success with its josh machine which is considered as a stylish and powerful car which is priced sensibly. Then the entire market witnessed a large number of product launches and the competition was carving in to Ford's market. Hyundai with its aggressive marketing was able to beat Ford with their Accent .Ford is fighting back with the launch of Fiesta.Fiesta is priced aggressively at around 6lakhs is set to capture a fair share of the market.

As usual Ford is also relying on the bollywood stars to sell its car an this time roped in Abhishek Bachchan to endorse the car. The campaign is executed by JWT.

Regarding the campaign, I have my own reservations. I know hindi but the term Fida is strange to me, so it will be for the entire south indian market. josh although it is an Hindi word, south indian languages also have similar words. but Fida is a real strange word. Only yesterday I came to know that it meant "mad about something" .............well fine....

Ford will have to spent some money on teaching the Non hindi speaking consumers about the main positioning statement " Go Fida"
Marketers should be careful about the positioning statements and its linkages with the market. It is important that they understand a diverse maket like India with 17 odd major languages and million dialects. So does it make sense to have a positioning statement that is simple and could be understood by the target market.

Fiesta will be successful because it offers excellent value for money proposition, the one and onluly one proposition that works in India, but for the campaign and positioning , I have my doubts

IMAGE Branding !

CONSUMERS are exposed to several kinds of advertisements during a day — some of them may have a conscious impact and some sub-conscious. (A consumer may start liking the brand or develop a certain association with it because of the constant exposure over a period of time even without realising it.

During a TV serial which may be watched by thousands there are several kinds of advertisements. There are consumer products. There are durable category brands and there are services brands. Some of them use lifestyle appeals and some use celebrities. Given the clutter of marketing communication and the limited time which consumers have to comprehend these, it is critical to have the right kind of imagery associated with the brand.

Imagery is the kind of associations a brand could get linked with over a period of time. It has an impact on how consumers perceive the brand and how they will react to it in the long run. For example, Horlicks had a `drink for the sick' association a few decades ago. Will consumers have clear associations for Boost? What kind of association would a niche drink like drinking chocolate have in the minds of consumers? Brand imagery plays an important role in shaping the association in the consumer's psyche. Several years ago there were only a few brands in most categories so it was easier to develop an association with a brand. Once an association was developed it stayed with consumers for a long time. Today's context is different, with several brands attempting to create an image.

Old brands are in a complex situation — it will be difficult for them to suddenly develop trendy new imagery, and the images which they have developed are either not very relevant today or competitive brands are developing more relevant images. For several years, Robin Blue was associated with whiteness in fabric wash. The packaging and the bird on it symbolised whiteness and was a household brand. Bajaj Scooters had a `family vehicle' image. Now Honda, which leads in the scooter category, has developed a different image. Iodex, a brand which was identified with sprains, is overshadowed by other brands which have developed several associations which may be relevant to the times. It may be interesting to find out how many consumers currently think of pioneering brands in any category and the reasons they probably do not think about them when the need arises. (Several pioneering brands have a low market share or are no longer there in the market. Brand imagery or not being able to sustain it is one of the reasons for their being absent in consumers' `consideration set.
Why is brand imagery important?

It is important because it conveys the stance of the brand. Raymond's current TV advertisement shows the corporate type playing with pups. The evolution of this stereotype is conveyed by this positioning, which places an emphasis on the finer aspects of the lifestyle which executives would like to follow. It uses imagery which goes beyond the functional attributes (for which the brand has established a reputation).

Imagery is important because a brand has to adapt it to the changing environment. Vicco's facial cream for skin has all along been positioned amidst the occasion of a wedding. Fair & Lovely, a brand which was launched later, had taken a different kind of imagery and is adapting it to the changing scenario with the use of variants. HMT, which was positioned as a value-based Indian brand of watches, was overshadowed by Titan which developed distinctive and memorable imagery (besides providing sophisicated technology).

Imagery is important because a company which has several brands for several segments could use it to ensure strong associations be created with each of its brands. Creating the right kind of imagery prevents confusion from arising in the minds of consumers. Fast Track and Sonata brands are both from Titan but have a clear image with regard to their target segment associations.

Imagery is useful for a brand to create a contemporary image. VIP, the luggage brand, for several years relied on the `attribute' image but has taken a new approach to create a `mood' around the brand with its `Bye Bye' commercial. The commercial, apart from bringing emotion into the travel situation, also showcases the ease of handling which may be an attribute which consumers look for when they select their luggage brand.
Imagery is required to sustain a brand's association (managing imagery is a different aspect in itself and is not addressed in this article). Advertising for Vicks' popular offering of yesteryear, Formula 44, which has not been seen in recent years, has resumed. Imagery has to be sustained, especially when competitive offerings arise. Imagery may also be useful to create fresh associations with a brand (circumstances under which such strategies could be adopted is again a conceptual issue which requires in-depth understanding of the market and consumer behaviour). For almost three decades, Liril was associated with fresh, green and waterfalls but has attempted to create novelty through the `orange' variant, in packaging and visuals. The new bike brand, Centra from TVS, attempts to create imagery associated with fuel economy.

When several brands in the category were using functional attributes, Caliber introduced a brand personality to convey the self-esteem associated with the brand by the use of a story with appropriate imagery. Fortitude, courage and perseverance were the personality traits which could be associated with the brand.
Imagery could also involve logos to enhance awareness levels among consumers about a brand's proposition. Air India's Maharaja symbolising hospitality is an example.

Imagery is very useful when a brand attempts a new and radically different strategy. Timex entered India with its low-end offerings and in the last two years, it has introduced a number of high-end watches creating the appropriate imagery in its advertisements. Without such a change, consumer perception about the brand cannot be altered. Eno's (digestive powdered drink which probably created the category in India several decades ago, Iodex pain balm and Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate, Ezee liquid detergent from Godrej and the Brylcreem brand of hair cream are probably some of the brands from the past which could have made better use of imagery to create a contemporary perception about themselves.

Decades-old brands such as Lifebuoy and Lux have managed themselves with several kinds of imagery during this period of time with variants. Imagery is useful when a brand introduces a variant after it has established itself on a specific benefit. Dettol soap, after establishing itself on the protection-from-bacteria proposition, introduced a variant with moisturiser and employed a different kind of imagery.

Kinds of imagery

There are various kinds of imagery brands could use. Attribute imagery consists of amplifying the specific characterstic which is being used by the brand. After a long interval, Promise toothpaste has started using its clove oil attribute in its TV spots.

Imagery could be created through visuals or copy in the advertisement. PUF was highlighted by Godrej in refrigerators to create `attribute-based' imagery and enhance the brand's perception. The current positioning of several brands in durable categories attempt attribute type of imagery supported by visuals. The `Sixth Sense' pitch of Whirlpool refrigerator and the Atom (denoting compact size) air-conditioner from Hitachi are examples.

This imagery helps a brand if it could constantly stay ahead of competition through its attributes which are well received by consumers. Sony with its strong thrust on technological innovation is an example. Its Trinitron and Wega TVs were advertised with this kind of approach.

An attribute conveying a strong benefit could also be used by a pioneering brand if the benefit is relevant to the consumer. Herbal ingredients as an attribute were blended with the stereotype of an elderly lady by the Himalaya brand (formerly Ayurvedic Concepts) which specialises in herbal over-the-counter products. Certain kinds of attributes such as oxygen in a toothpaste or colourless cola may not convey clarity from the point of view of consumers.

Colgate was perhaps the earliest of toothpastes to advertise the benefits of using the brand. Low-involvement categories such as lubricants can also use benefits. BPCL's Speed brand showed the reliability of using the brand through an emotional reunion of alumni. Ericsson's mobile phone advertisement illustrated the compact size of the brand. Samsung conveyed its `extra space viewing' or one of its TV models using a theme. LG's Golden Eye too used a `story' to convey its benefits.

For certain categories of products, benefits could be conveyed directly so that consumers can quickly understand the benefit. Fast-moving goods which do not have a glamour aspect (like a dishwashing bar) could make use of this approach. Vim followed this approach to reinforce its durability. Sunfill, the soft drink concentrate from Coca-Cola, conveys the benefit of economy to appeal to the segment which may not frequently be consuming soft drinks.

Moov, which was not the pioneer with regard to pain balm, created an appealing benefit-based imagery leading to the brand's acceptance. Moov also effectively used imagery to compete with Iodex on the `staining' aspect of the offering. Britannia's success in the biscuit category could be attributed significantly to the use of imagery with a focus on health. Kanan Devan's tea brand captures the freshness benefit in its packaging.

Symbolic imagery which revolves around fantasy, status, self-image and group fun is popular in certain categories such as soft drinks, cigarettes, apparel, liquor brands, cars and television.

Onida was probably the first TV brand to use the status appeal. It created the Onida devil which symbolised the jealousy of the `neighbour.' The visual was effectively backed with the copy `Owner's pride: Neighbor's envy.' It should be noted that in a durable category the brand should offer technological features concerning the quality of the offering or the aesthetics to sustain such a symbolic imagery. It could be observed that this imagery did little for the brand when it came out with other electronic products.

Even well-known brands such as Mercedes and Rolex strengthen their symbolic imagery with attribute-based positioning at periodic intervals so that consumers would be able to perceive the brands as superior offerings. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are well known for their imagery associated with symbolism in the Indian context with the backdrop of celebrities.

As mentioned in the earlier part of the article, this approach is used by apparel brands for men and women (Be: and Allen Solly being the brands for the latter). Almost all cigarette brands at the higher end of the market were using this approach and may continue to do so with the new categories they are into in the form of brand extension (Wills Lifestyle apparel brand). Bacardi used this approach to create awareness about the sub-category. Hero Honda's Passion Plus and Kinetic's Zing had `cool' features to back up symbolic imagery.

Imagery and its management is a crucial aspect as brands are perceived through associations and not reality.

Alpenliebe : From the Alps

In the 1200 crore sugar confectionery market, Alpenliebe is the single largest brand in India estimated to be worth around 160 crore. The brand is positioned as a family candy and has been one of the most successful brand in a highly competitive market.The brand came to India with the entry of the global giant Perfetti in India in 1994. Van Melle came to India in 2001.

In 2001 the Italian and Dutch companies merged together to become Perfetti Vanmelle ( PVM).Now the Indian venture is the second largest of their global portfolio next to China.In the products of PVM, Alpenliebe is the star. With effective and aggressive brand building , this brand has grown to become the single largest brand in the segment. The brand is a unique case study because of its peculiarities ie the name and the size.Alpenliebe is a very complicated name. I searched for half a day to understand what it means.

Their website does not have the answer nor do other marketing sites.Then a friend
of mine suggested that it is related to mountain Alps. Taking half hour on the , I found Liebe means Love. So by all probability Alpenliebe means From Alps with Love ( its my guess, inputs are welcome).So it is a Herculean task to teach Indians ( with 24 languages and a million dialects) pronounce a brand name that does not have a meaning. Theory says that the brand name should be simple, reflect the brand values and easily pronounced. Alpenliebe broke all rules.It is said that the initial 30 second ad of Alpenliebe pronounced the name 5 times to ensure that the TG pronounce it correctly.

Why such a complicated brand name is another question all together. But this risk paid of in that the name became the biggest differentiator and reflected an International image. It is known fact that Indians are crazy about foreign brands and Alpenliebe capitalised on that.The shape was also unique because most of the candies at that time was rectangular or cylindrical but Alpenliebe came out with a round shape.More than the shape and the name , the product was really good .The company changed the taste of this brand to suit the Indian Palette making it more Caramelliar ( my usage) than the international one.

The brand is available in three flavours: milky caramel, Cream strawberry, Chocolate. A lollipop extention was launched last year.Perfetti knows the method to build the brand. It is not hesitant in spending lot of money on Alpenliebe through high decibel interesting ads. The brand is positioned as a Family Candy with kids and elders sharing the limelite. The ad where the boy imitates the "father at Home and Office" is a hilarious one.

The market for Candies is expected to degrow in coming years. We have to see how Alpenliebe copes with this.Alpenliebe is a classic case of marketers defying the theory and also highlights a simple truth " If You have money to spend, you can make a consumer sing in your language without understanding a bit of it . " anything is possible"

August 3, 2009


One of the most heartening things about teaching or writing is finding someone who wants to listen and act on what you said or wrote. A few I bumped into expressed their desire to jump into entrepreneurship as well.
I have never felt any better!One common refrain I hear though is ‘what business should I start’. My simple answer has been, ‘Whatever that interests you’. You see, you don’t decide to be an entrepreneur and then search for an idea. You get this fantastic idea that makes you want to get into entrepreneurship. In other words, you nurture a dream and go in search of realizing it.
Abdul Kalam in an interview to a Tamil TV channel explained what he meant when he said ‘the young should dream’. He said ‘a dream is not what happens when you sleep. A dream is one that doesn’t allow you to sleep’.A quote, worth its weight in gold, which should be pasted on every room and etched in everyone’s heart - especially in every aspiring businessman.
To help those looking for the next big idea to venture into business, here are a few. These are virgin ideas – untested and unexplored. Well, that’s why they are virgins, aren’t they!
A book store only for kids: Agreed, there are more than a few book chains and standalone book stores. But my point is, are there many specialist kids’ book stores? A book shop only for kids? A place filled with cartoon characters; kids’ music; smaller racks for kids to browse easily and friendlier staff. Wouldn’t you feel better taking your kids to a pediatrician rather than to the doctor you go to?
That’s what a kids’ book store would be for them!A book store only for English novels: Staying on the subject of book stores, a bulk of books bought is of the fictional kind. So why bury it within philosophy and photography? Why hide fiction among management and material sciences? Why cover it with computers and cooking? Open a store that is filled with fiction – by genres, by authors, by time period, by classics. You can create a place of pure fantasy, unfettered with other nonsense.
A chain of Laundromats: More and more women are going to work; more and more men are choosing to live single; more and more bachelors move to newer towns to study and work. All this means one thing – lots of dirty clothes and no time to clean them. How about a chain of Laundromats a la Yankee style. On a Sunday morning or weekday evening, picky your clothes, walk to your nearest Laundromat, drop a few rupees, dump your dirty clothes, hang around a nearby restaurant or coffee shop, come back, pick up your clean clothes, go home…… hygienically every after!
Funeral services: This is an idea whose power can be seen, unfortunately at the scene of bereavement. It’s sad when someone passes away. But it’s terrible to run the funeral amidst the loss of a dear one. Minds are numb, feelings are overwhelmed and rationality is clouded with heightened emotions.
How could one still plan for everything, administer the arrangements and finalize every little thing. What about a ‘Funeral Services’ company that would enter the scene and execute every little thing smoothly – arranging for purohit, getting the funeral van, booking the cemetery, getting the doctor’s certificate to letting the body be cremated there, cleaning up the house post the departure etc., All for a fee, of course. So the loved ones can share their grief in peace.
Two-wheeler service centre: Aren’t there mechanics and 2-wheeler service centres dime a dozen in every neighbourhood? There is, agreed. But when 2-wheeler owners need to give their vehicles for a service, it’s a day they have to depend on public transport or the unreliable autos since most service centres are closed on Sundays.
Now, if only there were a chain of 2-wheeler service centres (now that itself is a relatively new idea) that were open 24x7. You drive back from work or college, drop your vehicle in the 24x7 centre and go home; next day morning, on the way to college or work, you stop by your branded service centre, pick up your beauty and bingo you are on your way.
A new idea, wouldn’t you agree!These are just some starters. I am sure you have an incredible new business idea yourself. Maybe you would want to jump into it later. But if you don’t intend to, don’t let the idea die with you. Post your idea here. It’s as good as organ donation.Someone might pick it up, pursue it, progress on it and prosper from it.
And when the business becomes big, you can probably tell your grandkids that it was your idea.Who knows, the guy who borrowed your idea might one day come back and buy you a beer!


It takes years for a product to become brand. What is it that a product needs to be able to build brand equity? First thing is that you have to start with a commodity. Soap is a commodity. Salt is a commodity but still it has been branded, right? So you take a commodity and then through very clever positioning in the market depending on the pricing, packaging and quality - then you build an advertising campaign around it. Take the very famous example of Liril - it is an ordinary green soap. We embedded the idea of having the lemon feel, the fresh perfume, then we gave it the stripes. People felt aah! Nimbu taazgi! Today's century we are talking about Brandvertising. It means to take a brand and give it extra qualities - both rational and emotional. For eg. just two years ago a brand was launched which did not exist and today it's a 100 crore business. It is called 'Fair and Handsome'. It was padamsee idea and with the Emami company they built a brand. The competition was Fair & Lovely which you can't beat. For women it's a gospel, a god brand. People completely believe in it. Thirty crore or more just on one product. So they thought the product could fit the male market cause the males were using fair and lovely but not admitting it embarrassed the. So they positioned it for the males - everyone laughed and said, males won't use a fairness cream. And they proved them all wrong. In the first year it went from 0 - 40 - 50 crore. Now it's 100 crore. Advertising people are the smart guys who think of what the consumer wants. To build a brand you have to know the consumers' insight. They made the brand macho SRK was the brand ambassador and he said, I used this. Male skin is tougher - why use a woman's cream?

Take MRF - 30 years ago we said the 'tyre with muscle'.

Air India Maharaja is based on graciousness, Indian hospitality and luxury. A lot depends on how you take care of your brand. You have to create, give it a symbol, give it a human quality.

Lalitaji revamped Surf - Surf was going down. Today I see a lot of brands doing funny ads. Humorous ads are ok when they are selling a Mentos - dimag ki batti jalao - low priced products. But when you are selling a TV, car, a fridge... I don't remember one fridge ad which is not like all the others. Positioning it differently is important. You need a switch factor from competition. To build brand equity even in a market that is hit by recession, people's wallets have been squeezed - so you have to see how you can give value for money. Never reduce the price - that?s a big mistake. Cadbury's, Coke, Dalda in the olden days - got into a big problem because they used mattu on in dalda. It happens sometimes there is a small truth and it is exaggerated by the media. They like scandal. Truth is boring. You should see what is the problem?

For eg., Dettol had a problem when Savlon said the leading antiseptic has only one antiseptic. We have two. So Dettol said hit back.padamsee said no - your's is a god brand. The minute you retort you loose the advantage of being a god brand. They came up with a simple line saying trusted by docs for over 25 years. Savlon was new - they had no 25 years. So eventually their sales came down. Don't ever be defensive.

Like in the Satyam scandal the owner has admitted the fraud but is the company a fraud or just the owner who tried to milk some money? Take a look at it. Saying Raju has done this but the company has so and so assets - take the rational route, not emotional saying do you want to throw the whole company in the gutter?

What Cadbury's did was excellent. They didn't bring Amitabh Bachchan immediately. They improved their packaging. The 5 rupees Cadbury packaging is the best! Then they got Amitabh in the Cadbury's plant saying is completely safe and he feeds it to the child. They had to correct the product first - first rational and then emotional. Then customer is happy.

Colas need to look at what Cadbury's did. People say the water used is contaminated, it's no good saying we use the same water in America, in
UK. That doesn't make any sense. First correct the product, then bring in an ambassador. It is very difficult because worry is an emotion. It is investors. In such case to bring in Deepak Parekh is a great decision. He has an absolutely clean reputation. He's not flamboyant, he's not Vijay Mallya. He has a great past record in HDFC. They should have him speaking.Shareholders will certainly look at other options. If the person who takes charge after the scandal is willing to correct the errors cooking books and takes charge any company that gets into trouble - if Ratan Tata says I'll take over that company, people will invest, like in the Satyam case Deepak Parekh.