Sunday, November 13, 2011

Newsmaker 2010

Priyanka Denoronha | Ragini Iyer | Sria Majumdar| IIMS

Newsmaker 2010

"Yet another year has passed us by and we (Team Markathon) couldn’t help but ponder on campaigns and issues that challenged, and sometimes changed, the status quo in the world of marketing. In this issue, we bring to you five such topics which made the headlines and earned the critics approval"

When Newspapers Talk 
Volkswagen Audio chip Ad

In September 2010, over 25 lakh households in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, were perplexed by a strange looking chip embedded on the last page of the newspaper. A light-sensitive audio chip that switched on automatically when the reader turned to the last page was employed as an advertisement vehicle by Volkswagen to mark the introduction of Vento, its entry level luxury sedan in the Indian market.The first ever in India, this new approach of incorporating voice-recorded devices into newspapers, made Volkswagen the ‘talking point’ in the country. Over twenty two lakh chips were procured for this one time advertisement that marked the launch of Volkswagen’s 360 degree campaign to promote Vento. While the costs involved aren’t precisely known, the promotional campaign is expected to be budgeted at Rs. 5 crores. The German car manufacturer, with its central focus on innovative ads, sought to make an impact in an already crowded automobile industry. Creative and effective, this audio advertisement in print, aimed at capturing the attention of the reader.Lutz Kothe, Volkswagen’s Marketing and PR Head, said that the idea behind a talking ad was to generate awareness for their new product while instantly establishing an emotional connect with the reader. Except for a few worried readers who suspected the chip to be a bomb and hurriedly informed the police, going by the overwhelming tweets on Twitter What worked for Volkswagen was the surprise element it managed to create for readers who had never experienced the sound medium in print. The technique focuses on conveying the benefits of the product through greater consumer engagement, a proven success strategy. Marketing experts who termed this innovation as ‘ground-breaking’ predict that it could set off a new trend in the advertising industry, with companies considering alternatives to print, broadcast and out-of-home advertising methods. It remains to be seen, however, whether Volkswagen’s talking ad will translate into sales for the company. 

Motorola’s Turnaround

History repeats itself and Motorola has proved it yet again. Motorola’s journey in the cell phone market has indeed been a topsy-turvy one. An industry leader for decades, Motorola took a real blow when the networks changed from analog to digital in the mid-1990s. The perception of brand Motorola was closely associated with that of analog networks and Motorola was slow to change. A new CEO and a closed team, toiling day and night on a secret project, managed to uplift the fortunes of this then struggling company. The secret to success was a tiny device called the Razr launched in 2003. Razr was a terrific device, revolutionary due to its size, shape and the sheer R&D that went into the project. Motorola has a good run for a few years but unfortunately, in 2007 the mobile phone division of the Motorola Company was making losses again. The handset division recorded a loss of US$1.2 billion in the fourth quarter, while the company as a whole earned $100 million during that quarter. The company lost many executives to rivals, and the web site Trusted Reviews called the company's products repetitive and unimaginative. Analyst Mark McKechnie from American Technology Research cynically commented that Motorola "would be lucky to fetch $500 million" for selling its handset business. Moto’s story has been no less than that of a phoenix rising from the ashes. In the last couple of years, Motorola has revived and rejuvenated its brand with the help of Google’s Android. As smartphones and iPhones started capturing and dominating the mobile phone markets, Motorola’s smartphones led by the Droid wreaked havoc for Nokia. During the second quarter of the last year, the company reported a profit of $162 million, which compared when compared to $26 million earned for the same period last year, is phenomenal. Its Mobile Devices division reported, for the first time in years, earnings of $87 million. 2011 promises to be a promising year with the amicable split, which was long time due, of the company into Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility on 4th January. With Sanjeev Jha of Qualcomm taking over Motorola Mobility business, and the aggressive strategy of the company in the smartphone market, it won’t be long before each one of us will be vying for that Motorola gadget. 

Vox Populi
Ross Perot

It seems like a number of organizations have recently got wind of what Ross Perot (of Perot Systems fame) once quoted – ‘Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You'd be amazed how many companies don't listen to their customers’. We observed that organizations have started taking a closer look at the grass-root level to understand the gap between what the consumers actually need and what is being provided to them, in the last year. Gone are the days of courtesy phone calls and e-mails in the name of market research and pilot testing. The trend that has been started involves the senior-most officials of the organization. They take time out to interact with consumers in person. It is more popular in the FMCG sector where senior management of Pepsico, P&G, Marico, Future Group and other such corporate honchos claim that personal visits have opened up a sea of opportunities. This has led to bridging service gaps and has also helped in identifying new markets, launching new products and improving the existing ones.These personal visits are not the clichĂ©d chats. The consumers are involved in some creative activities like collage on themes that connect with the brand. This often reveals more about a consumer and his or her needs when compared to verbal interaction. This kind of consumer interaction is more prevalent in the automobile sector.Most of these organizations are innovating continuously to measure the consumer’s pulse and the recent initiative taken up by Hindustan Unilever Ltd is testimony to this fact. HUL has taken personal involvement a level higher by establishing a small phone booth called ‘voices from the street’ in its plush head office.  All the senior managers are expected to spend at least fifteen minutes a week addressing the consumer’s concerns or making note of the suggestions given. They have gone to the extent of including this exercise as an attribute in the performance appraisal procedure of the managers. So far they have gained some valuable insights and the same have been incorporated in their offerings such as the instructions on the Dove Serum. While one can count such initiatives, there are definitely more in the pipeline. Hence, consumers are in for a plump bonus, considering the fact that most of the organizations have finally realized that consumers are the real teachers of brands and the road ahead would be much more consumer-centric.

MP Ajab Hain!
MP tourism

Picture a typical advertisement for the famous Incredible India campaign and you can easily visualize the lush photography and gliding scenic views of the wonderful Kerala or the picturesque North Eastern India. The tourism industry typically uses visuals in advertising and more often than not, they end up looking homogenous. However, Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s commercial created by Ogilvy and Mather, brings a twist to the tale. The fresh language and vocabulary, in the words of Santosh Desai (CEO of Futurebrands), connect with the customers and the viewers on a different level. The exquisitely done commercial using the ancient art of shadowgraphy or ombromanie (the art of performing a story using images made by hand shadows), communicates more than pictures ever could. The creative execution employs the talents of shadow artists from Bengal. Shadowgraphy is believed to be an art form that originated in India and can be found in a Tamil Classic Shilappadikaaram, but is almost non-existent today. It's an art form of storytelling that goes very well with the rustic aura of Madhya Pradesh. In the commercial, the shadows of hands and arms, take the shape of animals, birds, trees and monuments of the state, to the words of the jingle "MP ajab hain, sabse gajab hain". The TVC is the third in a series of MP Tourism advertisements, and much like the previous campaign where eyes talked about the state; this TVC is difficult to forget. Needless to say, the recall is very high. The TVC is supported by a 360-degree campaign, which utilises radio, print and digital to intensify engagement with consumers. A note from the agency said, "Like in the past, our current television commercial stays true to the fact that we Indians love our song and dance.” The television jingle has been sung by famous film and television actor, Raghuvir Yadav, who is a native of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh himself. The commercial captures key landmarks and wildlife of the state in a stark manner against a simple white screen. As far as differentiation is concerned, the TVC definitely carved a niche for itself. If you have not seen it yet, maybe it time you looked it up on Youtube. It’s definitely a treat for the eyes.

Brand IPL
IPL Cricket League

The IPL is no longer a professional Twenty20 cricket league alone. Advertisers look forward to the IPL just as much as the fiercest cricket fan does. With a brand value approximated at $4.13 billion in 2010, this lucrative cricketing event not just attracts large sponsors like DLF, but also lesser known brands from across the country. Smaller advertisers view IPL as a newer and faster avenue to generate brand awareness, increase visibility and enhance brand recall. In addition, lesser known brands like Karbonn, consider sporting events of the magnitude and popularity of IPL, to be apt to launch new products.Micromax, India’s third-largest GSM mobile phone vendor, used not just celebrity advertisements to advance its brand awareness, but also signed up to sponsor all IPL cricketing properties post IPL. This reliance on sporting events to establish a brand name is increasing by the day, the result being that IPL  advertising is often cluttered with a large number of companies vying for customer attention, thus making it imperative for companies to use techniques to get noticed amidst the crowd. Television commercials with a viewership as high as 2 billion (naturally at exorbitant costs), were hugely popular and were typically in the 10 second duration range (compared to the usual  45 or 60 second duration commercials). As little as ten seconds of premium time costing close to Rs. 5 lakhs, and frequent advertising, meant siphoning off a significant chunk of the company’s advertising budget to the IPL. However, what excited brands tremendously was the prospect of getting noticed at the live telecasting on Youtube. Companies looked at making clever sponsorship deals. Karbonn tied up with IPL to become the official mobile partner. It was to organize spectator contests between innings breaks. Premium sponsors like Royal Challengers, HSBC India and HP India used every opportunity to build brand equity.Yet, despite the large number of advertisements specifically designed for the event, except for Vodafone’s Zoozoo ad campaign, probably very few other ads stand out or have become viral. While DLF, Nokia, Samsung, Pepsi and MTV (through its post-match IPL parties) managed to achieve significant brand recall, experts question the real impact of cricket advertising on the perceived brand value of lesser known companies. With practically every IPL property being monetised and television viewers being flooded with visuals and promotions, one wonders if a relatively unknown brand can truly achieve brand recall over and above the din. Additionally, the image of brand IPL changes with the choice of players each season and the composition of various teams. This, coupled with the anticipated increase in ad cluttering, has led to the need for brands to assess the effectiveness of advertising. Ormax Media will be offering consulting services in Season 4 through its ‘Day After Cricket’ product to gauge the impact of advertisements after the event. Whatever may be the results of an assessment of this type, the Indian Premier League will continue to remain a big property for years to come and will continue to lure both big and small brands to advertise with them. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the IPL maybe the Super bowl equivalent of advertising in India.

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