Saturday, September 29, 2007

Scores, Wickets & Endorsements -- Justified ???

Brand:    Reebok
Agency:  Reebok Footwear handled by McCann-Erickson (India) Ltd.
                  Reebok Sports accessories handled by J.W.T.

How does it feel when you find rivals like Australian Cricket Team with savage hitters like Symonds, Hayden, artificers like Hussey & Ponting & my favourite Adam Gilchrist all back to back lined up to take a toll of your day long planning, strategizing, field placing …U see runs on board, statistics of the bowlers bowling, the agonizing sight of fielders standing all in trepidation & grief & watching the ball soar heights & into the crowd ….

ho ho ho …
Now that might a pleasant for a neutral not for the fielding side. (Remember EA Sports Cricket 2007)

But then it has been very aptly said

“You never know … What You can become!!!”

BCCI has a five-year contract with Nike for the team uniform. Nike had won the sponsorship rights for the Indian cricket team in 2005 with a bid of Rs 199.66 crores, to be very precise (the way I love to be as well as long to be …) beating Reebok whose bid stood at Rs 119.48 crores and Adidas Rs 127.50 crores. But then who knew that there was a blessing in disguise for the loosing ones.

Nike v/s Reebok & Adidas combo has always been adversaries.

Remember Adidas acquiring Reebok being acquired by Adidas in August 2005, for $8 billion. The deal has overshadowed Nike’s acquisition of Converse. And now its team India or should I say Team Reebok …might sound exaggeration to some extent, but is not truly. It’s just that it’s so subtle that You as Nike never came to know when You started loosing your ground. Na na…relax guys & fellow mates … I know, many among us have a strong EVP (emotional value proposition), whether the product is a wrist band, deo-spray or shoes. But this time, call it fluke …fortune favouring the brave … or determination – the way Dhoni says – “Low expectations led to high determination” – Reebok has given Nike a run for its money without even defying its domain. Sreesanth and Sehwag being an exception, all the members of the India’s Twenty20 World Cup winning squad endorse the RBK brand in some form.

Remember Gautam Gambhir with the vector logo on his bat.

What looked like lost opportunity – key cricket stars going to other brands leaving Reebok with lesser known cricketers to choose from – five years ago, became a blessing in disguise on Monday with India’s last-over win over arch-rival Pakistan at Wanderers. For example the blustery & bazooka blade Dhoni was picked up by Reebok only for 20 lakhs four years ago. Today he is known to charge a crore annually.

Reebok had to settle for the likes of Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, R P Singh and other newcomers, when the rivals were wooing big daddies of Indian cricket with unheard & obscene amount. Sachin Tendulkar has been endorsing Adidas since 1997 and Nike, which got apparel sponsorship of Indian cricket team, paid large sums to Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan. Juxtaposing to this Reebok has an arsenal of brand ambassadors comprising of Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa, Joginder Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla and Dinesh Karthik. These names might sound insignificant but then they are the ones who brought home the “T20 World Cup – The youngest child of the Game.”

But then don’t you think that cricket is perhaps the paltriest, obsolete & secure way of betting your money when it comes to marketing & communication strategy. I believe it’s like hitting a sitting duck. People from ad industry have commented in the past saying there is a difference between using cricket & using cricket effectively for advertising.

I am waiting guys….what do you say …kyaa ….zara zor se !!

(I dedicate this writing to all cricket lovers out there…. & obviously that encompasses all those who had been a part of that uproar, shouts & swears on the semi-final India v/s Australia & of course the Grand Finale & how can I forget the bowl-out, The India v/s Pakistan head-on. There always had to be smth to commemorate the win…. & I think this is gonna be a good fusion talk – hence went for it... Mrutyunjay)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chips & Tale !!!

Brand: Lay's (Packaged snack)
Agency: J. W.T.

An unlikely weapon of global domination in an arena of super-brands (irrespective of the category of course)!!!

The product features are a hundredth of an inch thickness, light golden colour with a perfect “saddle curl”, salty to palate with a hint of chilly. Lay’s potato chips have proved it time & again. The Chinese might have their “nyen gao ping” - made from rice flour, and the Indians have their lentil (and other legume) namkeens, but Frito-Lay believes they would rather be eating potato chips. The company's research has shown that when given a choice between their local snack and a Frito-Lay chip, consumers in most countries will choose the chip.

Forget the company research, & also forget Lay’s, consider our consumption pattern on campus. There are many who find a differentiation in colour by saying “I want a green & a yellow Lay’s” or may be “a banana chips” as the other option. Putting all such findings & more into practice, Frito-Lay has expanded on all five continents by buying up local snack makers or defeating them with its marketing expertise.

Frito-Lay whetted strategy for moving into new countries where a local snack industry is already established. Rather than face the costs of building a new business in an unfamiliar market, the company identifies the leading local snack manufacturer and offers to buy it out. If the local manufacturer refuses to sell, Frito-Lay moves into the market on its own, using its size and marketing experience to cut into the local manufacturer's sales. Often, at that point, the local company gives in and sells, sometimes for a lower price than the original offer.

For instance Frito-Lay, after buying Walkers, a dominant chip in Britain, the Texas company evangelized the Walkers logo into the red "banner sun" design, as a first step toward changing the brand to Frito-Lay outright. Similar strategies have been implemented for Sabritas in Mexico and Simba in South Africa. The strategy heads at Frito-Lay say that people know what they like & they just want people to recall it as Lay’s – now onwards.

Now that’s assertion -- & why should it not be? -- After all it has been widely acclaimed that potato chips have always been very common at almost all possible geographical area where it made its presence. R& D dept. of Frito-Lay had something similar to say when they claimed that it has never been that “Lay’s potato chips have been unsuccessful. It's been successful every single place we've introduced it."

Sometimes Frito-Lay's products are so unfamiliar (not because of as a new entrant in a new market altogether but catering to a pre-existing snack market & bringing clarity to tap consumer) that the advertising campaigns focus on educating consumers in the hope of changing their "consumption habits." In China, Frito-Lay ads show potatoes actually being sliced, so people know where the chips come from. In Turkey, the company distributed pamphlets suggesting new recipes and eating habits: "Try a tuna sandwich for lunch, and join it with a bag of chips."

Its interesting to notice that flavours signed in within the last 15 -20 years but what existed before that & still acquires almost 4 / 5th of the total palate share when it comes to potato chips is the conventional one.

Taste Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega -- Seriosuly seems as if “You can't eat just one....Lagi bet! --- What say???

(Inspired by this person on the fact of argument that why was it that “Ruffles Lays” which had well been accepted as a brand had to undergo a transition & be re-incarnated “Lay’s”???…

Honestly speaking ….even I haven’t hit upon as to what exactly happened….I solicit to all those who have been through my writings prior to this & will go through again this time to please help me out….Your responses is highly esteemed….Mrutyunjay !!!)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mad Angled to Tikka Masala

Brand: Bingo
Agency: O&M

ITC hasn't had a very smooth maiden run in this market. Its first product “Bischips” was an odd combination of a baked biscuit and a chip and it didn't go down too well with the consumers. So after eight months of making little or no impact, ITC pulled the brand off shop shelves. ITC claims it's the positioning of Bischips that failed. Stocking flavoured potato wafer packs is no longer a wafer-thin business & ITC proves that very well. After taking a beating on the bourses and witnessing a decline in cigarette volumes by 2% in the first quarter due to a price rise brought about by increased taxes, ITC seems to be on the right track again. Consumers appear to have accepted the price rise and volumes are set to go up. This is critical as the tobacco business contributes 40% of ITC’s sales and 72% of its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).

Erstwhile market leader, Frito-Lay's share has dropped from 60% to 45% of the total pie of 2000 crore (20 billion), Bingo has started making an impact with its slow but continuous increase. Bingo flaunts of its 16% market share in less than 8 months & is confident of gearing up to 50% by the end of this year.

Now that’s being aggressive yet dauntless !!!

For nearly a decade, Frito-Lays India grew to be the undisputed champion of the branded part of the salty snack segment. Competition for majority of this period was principally from local brands or by companies whose commitment to the segment seemed suspect. Manu Anand, managing director, Frito-Lay India says, “Our successful model attracted people to this segment for quite some time. Kelloggs came in with Cheez-its and ITC with Bischips.”

While Bischips was a less than successful attempt at cracking the market, ITC’s second foray is a lot more focused, and has met with some pleasing initial results. Bingo was launched in March this year, and in a comparatively short span of time, has managed to create quite an impact — market leadership with a 53% to 54% share in Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore, if ITC is to be believed. With pricing at par with the national market leader, Bingo has kicked things off with a large portfolio: 16 different flavours — 10 in potato chips and six in finger snack. In reply Frito-Lays is ready to dawn with 8-10 new flavours, very soon.

Researchers have found that where ITC scores on its distribution channels, Pepsi works it out on “brand recall”. Frito-Lays "Lays" worked it out well with roping in Saif & bringing with the youth link with clear message.

ITC’s retail success has put Pepsi to redo its commercial terms with the Future Group which runs Big Bazaar. As competition picks up, consumers are going to spoil there palate for choice.

The TVCs were created by O&M, which was selected by ITC after the company called for a pitch in June last year. The only thing that I would like to comment on these ads is that they grabbed some attention for people do view non-sense (in true sense & literally)
Well the obvious answers were:

—Wilderness— I mean just have a look at those ads – never expected that from O&M. No connection at all –just look at wht it convey – Bingo. No confusion. Great combination. People said that they would not remember the product but to some extent the ad of course – only because that it was --- Horrrrrrrrrible !!!

The company's target audience is people in the age group of 20-35, the company began with Internet. It created a website, which has free offers, games, downloads and even mobile games. The site has been advertised with banners on websites such as Yahoo, rediff and Sify.

Digital Marketing getting its bit of exploitation !!!

But do all its TVCs convey as per the target audience is defined – or should I ask that “Does it convey anything at all?”

Whatever the case may be – One thing is for sure -- ITC have given strategic diversification a new definition altogether. I would rather call it Morphology.

What do you say? – Do Opine !!!

(I read a lot & tried a make a decent presentation with that write up. But somehow or the other I feel I could have arranged things much better…I do feel the urge to bring in all facets & manifestations together …but then I feel like may be it would get monotonous & people might loose interest…do tell me what You feel like ….Mrutyunjay !!!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Angle of Elevation tilted on an AXIS

Country's third largest private lender, a thirteen year old financial services brand, boasting of a customer base of 6.5 million and a new acquisition pace of 2 lakhs every month – still they say “What’s in a name”(“”).

Incidentally AC Nielsen had recently tabulated country’s “Most Valued Brands”, where in a bouquet of brands from all sectors UTI made it to rank 41. This shows that it has found some attention. The recent re-branding has brought about a lot of discussion among my friends & many others. Especially the TVC; has caught eye-balls almost everywhere.

I remember talking to Arka this morning. In verbatim he said, “Kolkatta mein, agarr tere paas UTI ka debit card hai, toh samajh le tere paas paise hain….Har 5 minute …10 minute ke baad you will find an UTI ATM. They provide the best banking service solution”. Well obviously the best which he said was a kind of vox populi.

I traveled the western line by Mumbai local, during my summer internship everyday. I had stepped down on almost every station on the western line & always used to find an UTI ATM on the eastern or western side. Accessibility is what, I think that have capitalized on. The corporate lingua franca speaks of an ambitious plan to diversify into non banking financial sector. The bank, with a customer base of six million, is planning inorganic growth for its ventures dealing with new areas. It is also overhauling its corporate banking with the involvement of McKinsey.

“We had to change our name to have our own brand and identity. We had to give up the UTI name after using it for 13 years as we were not prepared to accept terms and conditions (including royalty) from UTI AMC to use the name,” explained PJ Nayak, chairman & CEO, Axis Bank, adding that the new name was chosen considering the bank’s pan-Indian as well as international presence. The reason for changing the name UTI to AXIS, what I found was rather an attempt to shed the “public sector connotation”.

The need arose with the fact that the board felt the existence of several shareholder-unrelated entities using the UTI brand, and the consequent brand confusion that the UTI brand generates. Brand UTI is wholly owned by UTI Asset Management Company, which is owned by shareholders who have nothing to do with UTI Bank’s shareholder, SUTI. UTI Bank was authorised to use the UTI name for five years, a covenant that expired in January. In 2002, UTI was split into two — the MF and the special purpose vehicle. A decision was taken then that, the brand name will go to the mutual fund. The shareholding in the bank is with the special purpose vehicle. Other entities will be allowed to use the name till January 2008. Today because of synergies, the brand was as much associated with the bank as it was associated with the mutual fund. Most people think about the bank, when they think of the brand. UTI Bank was always a private sector bank. The RBI has certified it with a private license & out of 11 directors on the board, seven are independent directors. There was always confusion among many of us that UTI Bank meant Unit Trust of India, which gave a perception of the bank's brand name belonged to the government. This confusion will speak no more, as expected after the re-branding.

(Will be coming up with the rebranding strategy of UTI Bank to AXIS in the next post so that the bigger picture comes out after the reasons stated here. This post took me quite a long time -- may be because Banking & Financial Sector is not in my interest but what was exiciting was to find the reasons as why after all this happened --- was there a latent need -- or was it just another marketing & communication gimmick, hope you will find the substance stated worth the effort & attempt behind it...


Friday, August 3, 2007

“Bhaiya …Ek Bisleri Dena”

A brand name getting generic is perhaps “the” pinnacle, it can ever achieve. When it comes to recall value, it’s a kind of home runs scored if people recall your brand’s name for that product. The commonest of examples is “Xerox”. It’s very unusual for a layman using the word photocopy. It is like getting communicated not by getting or grabbing attention rather by being so non-specific that people obviously opt for it or rather see it in other brands too. Getting copied is also adding value to your credential. You are the buzz hence you are being copied.

There have been attempts in the past to achieve this coveted wish by many brands. Some made it big, some came close. When it comes to scooter, what I can recall right at this moment is “Bajaj”. No doubt “Pulsar” being their brainchild, which also has made a mark of its won by acquiring the largest market share in 150 cc two-wheeler segment. But “Bajaj” will always carry the tag of being referred to as a scooter. I wont say that it became completely generic, at par with the word “scooter”, but to a large extent of course.

Internet search engines have eased of the work of research agencies, advertising agencies (to some extent…hope I am not wrong) & at last for students like who do some intensive search on “Google” to get content on the 4th or 6th page that can be easily copied & your assignment is done. (Not to hurt the sentiments of those who make it a point to go through the content & form their own view point as far as assignments are concerned.) But the search ought to be on “Google”. There have been other popular search engines like Yahoo, Wikipedia, Answers, Ask, Find Articles & the list continues. But the largest share of recall value goes for “Google:”

Drinking water or mineral water has a market of its own in India. The organized market has “Bisleri” on top, which has a market share of close to 63%. While the total market (organized + unorganized),it has been found that there are more than 200 brands that exist & 80% being local player.
Still “Bisleri” – matlab mineral water.

So guys put on your thinking cap & think of brands you think have made or will definitely make such a mark, will achieve the zenith of branding ever. And of course what all could be the possible reasons other than “first mover advantage”. Because as a first mover you do not always end up being “generic”.