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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pawar didn’t fail, but JWT India and Ford India tripped.

Scam, sham, shame… Goafest 2013 comes to an end touching a new nadir. The amount of scam work made an entry into this award carnival was not only shocking but also sickening in contrast to the essence of advertising, which should provide with high-degree of accountability – from strategy to creative to media to result.  

What even more bizarre and baffling was, if scams happen to be so vital to showcase one’s creative talent then on what basis Bobby Pawar and the team needed to face the ignominy and insult at JWT India because they had created some scam ads / posters for Ford Figo – the car with an ‘extra-large boot’?

In case the scam was not the issue but the creative was, then fair enough, let’s postmortem the creative in order to understand whether the creative was so evil at all – as it made out to be.  

The functional benefit offered by Ford Figo is ‘extra large boot’.

Why you need a car with an ‘extra large boot’?

So you ‘do NOT need to worry’ about how to accommodate your luggage and belongings in the car while travelling.

Hence, ‘leave your worries behind… with Figo’s extra-large boot’ was just a perfect offer to put the point across and entice the TG.  

The campaign was built with three ads / posters, exploiting the visual elements as gags. As shown below in the following pictures –

The visuals found objectionable and not in good taste rather SEXIST because women were shown in their voluptuous avatar and tied and gagged.   


Now what does the word SEXIST mean?

“Discriminatory on the basis of sex (usually said of men's attitude toward women).”  

So, does that mean… ‘Paris Hilton is a man’ who was portrayed in one of the ads / posters showing discriminatory attitude to Kim Kardashian and her sisters or ‘Sebastian Vettel and other two F1 drivers are women’ who fell preys to Michael Schumacher’s sexism, as shown in another ad / poster?

Any answer to that?

Not really, right?

On the other hand, women were definitely presented in an obnoxious and filthy way in the ad / poster that showed Silvio Berlusconi expressing his joy over having had the fairer sex at his mercy; that was sexist indeed.

So in a three-ad / poster campaign, only one ad / poster was objectionable and vulgar for sure but noway the other two.

However, if the campaign is dissected creatively, for the reason obvious, it has to be said it was an acute case of creative load-shedding where none seems to have taken the load of thinking deep into the communication and therefore worked at a very superficial level to impress some half-brained, half-learned and full-boozed juries at an award show like Goafest.

So, no surprise, the campaign was rejected by the client ‘Ford India’ and in the process it became a scam.

And while a campaign becomes a scam and never gets published officially in a mass media or even a cult media, it can’t jeopardise or endanger any brand’s image even if a huge hue and cry is made over an issue involving the brand.

If some sentiments were offended, tendering an apology in writing – if needed, even in the form of an advertisement or an advertorial or a public notice – from both the client and the agency was more than enough.

In fact, to apologise, a gag on Bobby and the team would’ve been a far better option to minimise the created tension, so as to eliminate it for once and for all with a dollop of self-mockery.

But instead of that, sacking a CCO – Chief Creative Officer – and the creative team responsible for the campaign, as well as terminating the guys on the client side who perhaps singed the entry form of the Abby was ridiculous and a panic stricken reaction that was nothing but a severe PR and Corporate Communication malfunction – could only be equated with a wardrobe malfunction on ramps or on the red carpet.

Aftermath of the event, as Ivan, the editor of ‘Ads of the world’ suggested that in the UK and in the US such a sexist campaign or any communication involving kidnapping didn’t go along well with the people, I would like to ask him see the following pieces of communication one after the other to have a better idea of the reality –

And mind that, as per Toyota and Nissan’s latest reports both the car manufactures are really bullish to expand their market share in the US, and unless they had felt the market was conducive to them they would’ve never proclaimed anything what they did already on their website and to the media.

Also, XEROX is not an Indian brand to be precise. 

Plus, French Connection (UK) – fcuk – is no joke in the UK despite running the controversial, sexiest and sexist campaigns nonstop as per the brand philosophy, precisely to leverage on the brand acronym itself.

Not to mention United Colours of Benetton (UCB) – built and established by controversy only. Even their UNHATE campaign was no exception that they were compelled to remove from media owing to public uproar in no real after the release.

Yet, none was sacked on the client side or on the agency side in any of the cases mentioned above.

No harm in appreciating the fact that no joke, no communication should hurt anyone’s sentiments, but that decorum should also be followed and maintained by the people hailing from the other side of the Atlantic. Even while they crack an innocuous joke or simply indulge in a potentially sexiest and sexist activity – which contradicts the moral and ethical fabric of the Indian culture.

Otherwise, both Jay Leno and Richard Gere should’ve been or should be sacked from their respective professions by now or immediately.

It’s great to respect public sentiments and emotions but never ever at the cost of some innocent people making them scapegoats for nothing. That’s neither professionalism nor a process to ensure any quality for that matter. Rather it’s a poor joke and escapism to wash the hands off in a hurry avoiding the real issue.

Frankly, when an award is won if that becomes an agency’s victory then how come if a crisis takes place that can be only a few individuals’ problem but not the agency’s?

So, if harsh settlement was the only solution in the Ford Figo scam ads case, then Ford India should have sacked JWT as their agency. Or JWT India should have sacked Ford India as the client to protect the employees’ interest.

When neither of that happened, obviously things seemed to be quite dubious and suspicious… why only Bobby was forced to go Pawar-less (read powerless), so was the team, in order to ensure the agency’s face was saved, somehow, in the darkness – while both JWT India and Ford India tripped, very badly, on scams.

The truth must come out sooner than later to stop such a nuisance from happening in future. Because advertising is a serious business, not a circus, and creative people are not jokers.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Paper Boat AAMRAS needs proper marketing, advertising and communications support.

Rs. 25/- for 250-ml is no price actually, if metro city pricing model is followed - especially for a product that really tastes soooo good and offers a seriously rich experience.

Paper Boat 'aamras' is one such product which might give Maaza, Slice and Frooti a run for their money.

However it might NOT. Because if a product is so 'reluctant' in its marketing and communication approach, things could hardly happen in its favour.

For instance, in the back of the product, with a great attitude, in all caps, it's written: "No colours. No preservatives. No artificial flavours. Basically, none of that junk."

Whereas it's also written in the back only: "Contains added flavours (nature-identical flavouring substance)."

A dichotomy for sure.

Plus, there is a URL: which only leads to: - Godaddy page asking to register the URL!!

A shocker to say the least!

There is also a Facebook page: - which is equally inept as it seems.

The entire situation once again amplifies the soggy mindset of a marketer in India in contrast to a marketer in a European country or in the US. Despite having such a superior product.

I wish any agency in Gurgaon could approach this product owner: to make a great brand out of nothing.

In fact, I'm ready to accept the challenge in case I get the infrastructural, servicing and billing supports from any agency out there. 

The product surely has a brand life in it unless of course the owner kills it thanks to the typical ownership ego and false attitude.

For now, that seems to be a possibility in fact.

Coca-Cola's Maaza might lose consumers' love on Sachurrday and everyday.

In India, summer matlab (means) aam (mango). Aam admi (the common man) irrespective of one’s uncommon and unique trait and taste gets agog to savour the sumptuousness and slurp of mangoes the way he wants.

This mango-greed leads to and creates a market for mango-pulped soft-drinks across the country where Parle Agro’s Frooti; PepsiCo’s Slice; and Coca-Cola’s Maaza are most favoured.  

So no wonder all these brands fill in the air with their marketing and communication drives in order to get the maximum pie of the market share.

While Frooti talks about ‘Fresh and Juicy-ness’; Slice offers ‘Titillation and Sensuality’; and Maaza promises ‘All Season Availability’ to entice consumers.

To garner more eyeballs, celebrities, precisely Bollywood stars: Shah Rukh Khan; Katrina Kaif; and Imran Khan and Parineeti Chopra are roped in to endorse Frooti; Slice; and Maaza, respectively.

Among all three brands, it’s actually Maaza which has tried to scale up the brand philosophy by adding an edge to its positioning notwithstanding the lacklustre effort the brand put into the creative execution of the new TVC: Sachurrday.   

In the commercial – which is a sequel to the earlier one that showed Imran won Parineeti’s heart by wooing her with a Maaza even in the winter – ‘love’ happens to be the value-addition to the pay-off ‘Har Mausam Aam’. To establish the fact that there’s no particular season for aam (mango) and ‘love’ i.e. with Maaza, anytime, every time is the time for ‘love’.

It was shown: Parineeti was enjoying mangoes at her desk during a break. Imran proposed to take her out next day that was a Saturday (pronounced and emphasised by Imran as Sachurrday, may be for some fun – incomprehensible though), evoking Parineeti’s refusal, instantly, because she was not interested to leave mangoes behind for any date out. (Bizarre logic, but still okay, for the sake of creative liberty, or lamentation – whatever you may call it). Then Imran offered Parineeti a bottle of Maaza and said, there’s no season for mangoes and love, as per the quote of a Mahapurush (preacher / great soul). Parineeti duly bought into that statement and accepted the bottle, indulged in Maaza, promptly, and gave into Imran’s proposal, readily, and both of them were about to go out. And on their way out, Parineeti enquired whether the Mahapurush would treat her to Maaza everyday, answering to which, Imran nodded and sounded positive. The film ended with the product shot and the super: ‘Har Mausam Aam’.

Frankly, the expansion of the brand philosophy by ‘love’, leveraging on Imran and Parineeti – who are believed to be sure of themselves, trend-setters, go-getters, etc. – was not really presented convincingly in the film.

In fact, it seems to be a sheer case of lost opportunity and tired and hurried creative wherein no such strategic thoughts came into play for a big idea to expand the existing philosophy and own that. And that too, when, with their ‘Haal Kaisa Hai Janab Ka’ commercial, Slice has literally thrown quite an air and fire into the competition: and Frooti has created quite a buzz around (if not with) their ‘Magic of Frooti’ TVC: – starring SRK.

Given the Maaza campaign, it looks rather unclear whether the agency ‘Leo Burnett’ has at all dug into the basics of mango even if the intrinsic value proposition of Maaza was not considered.

To understand the basics of mango, one doesn’t need to know rocket science in case he is willing to visit any local market and follows consumer interactions with a fruit seller.

The inevitable inquiry or question that crops up always is, “Mishti hobe?” (Will it be sweet)?

That underlines the single-minded governing factor for mango-purchase is nothing but ‘sweetness’. And thereafter come in other functional values like: strength, stamina, health and energy.

Altogether the said values create an aura or persona of mango that summons emotions like: happiness, love, fun, status, and accomplishment for an individual or family or society. In short, mango stands for something ‘wholesome’ all the time.

The website of Coca-Cola India has also harped on Maaza's ‘wholesomeness for family fun’; however, on the contrary, the brand’s campaign has hardly addressed that. Instead, some stuffs were produced, which definitely tried to be innovative and creative to push the category by ‘love’ but somewhat lost the plot in the middle thanks to the sole intention of exploiting ‘Imran-Parineeti chemistry’ more than ‘consumer-mango chemistry’.

Resulting, nothing memorable was created but run-of-the-mill that might have jolly well been produced with anyone else but Imran and Parineeti.

But, things would’ve been different and pretty solid, had more insightful thought process been brought to the table and idea blocks been developed gradually in order to derive at the final block to justify ‘love’ as a derivative of ‘happiness’ – which is also the brand core of Coca-Cola.

If that was done, the communication would’ve been exceedingly well for a greater brand recall and, in the process, for more sales.

Below is the picture that aptly shows how it could’ve been done, actually. (Click on the picture to enlarge for a better view and understanding).

All said and done, it goes without saying; the philosophy or plank extension ploy of Maaza is right on the money and very prudent and pragmatic, albeit it might not click in terms of sales and equity generation and rather lose considerable ground to the competition because of its marketing communications which couldn’t raise above mediocrity and push the bar… thereby defeated the image of mango, so of the brand, handsomely.

After all, mangoes mean ‘man goes’, so a mango-drink campaign should be such that it makes aam admi – the common man – move with an inspiration, aspiration and ambition to choose mango-drinks over mangoes and / or other soft-drinks in summer; otherwise it’s very tough, if not impossible, for a brand to fly off the shelf in spite of a huge spending on media and PR.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Smart phones won't do unless brand owners, marketers are smarter.

'Bishwa' – what’s written on the rickshaw – i.e. 'the world' is SMART now.

Watching movie clips, especially a song sequence, on mobile is the easiest and most-favoured form of entertainment that almost everyone indulges in to relax or to kill some time. And there lies in a huge scope for marketers to expand the consumer touch point by manipulating content.

For that, a piece of content should offer: a) simpler communication – ideally in regional / local language; b) greater usability – by easy-to-use and engaging user interface designs; and c) instant gratifications.

However, ‘instant gratifications’ don’t necessarily mean that there cannot be any BIG IDEA to encourage a consumer think and act besides just react and forget. In fact, that’s the ‘challenge’ – how to club ‘instant insanity and inanity’ with ‘prolonged sanity and intelligence’. 

And that could be possible, if, and only if, a brand owner / marketer takes extra initiatives to bring both the mainstream agency and the digital agency together and help them work in absolute sync.

For, no divide between the mainstream and digital agencies, and the present work-culture of 'tu-tu, main-main' (yours is yours, mine is mine) will help a brand owner / marketer… whereas the agencies' respective billings will keep increasing on account of lip-service minus any such accountability.

To conclude, those days are long gone, actually and factually, when an agency's service happened to be only providing with communication solutions. Today is different. And that’s why, an agency is bound to create sales, and if it can't, it's not worth even a single penny, so got to be chucked out immediately.