Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Best Marketing Practice : Guerrilla Marketing

It has been a long time since I saw a guerrilla marketing action in Indian market. Now I had a chance to witness one.

Guerrilla marketing is a term coined by Conrad Levinson through is best selling book titled Guerrilla Marketing. The term is used to denote the unconventional marketing tactics adopted by firms to outwit the competition. These tactics are generally used by smaller firms using limited budgets against their competitors. The term is derived from the military tactics of guerrilla warfare which uses stealth and unconventional tactics to defeat or unsettle the enemy.

As the term implies, these are tactics ( short term ) and should not be confused with long term strategies.

But guerrilla marketing is practiced by many large firms also. There was lot of instances of Guerrilla marketing or ambush marketing fights between Nike and Adidas, Pepsi and Coke , American Express and Visa in the past.

The context of this post is the fight between two large firms Reliance 's BigTV and Airtel DTH.

DTH stands for Direct- to Home service where the reception of satellite television programmes is made through a personal Digital Dish antenna .Currently the major players in India are Tata Sky, Dish TV, Sun Direct Doordarshan, and now the recent entrant -Reliance's Bigtv.

In the recent past, I was noticing a teaser campaign featuring some funny animals/characters and a red large chair with the line " See you at home ".

Watch the TVC here : See you at home

Later through the press reports, I came to know that this was the teaser campaign for the DTH launch of Airtel.
Then came the BIG surprise.

Now there is another set of commercials featuring the same red chair but with the message " See you at home with digital picture and sound " from Reliance's BigTV.

The ads of Big TV uses the same elements of Airtel's campaign like the color schemes , lines, chair etc. Thus those who have been seeing the tv ads only will think that the teaser campaign was for BigTV rather than Airtel.

Through this move, BigTV virtually took the steam out of Airtel's teasers. Infact it is the teaser who got teased.

Iam not a big fan of teaser campaigns. The fundamental flaw about teasers is that they are terribly expensive . And the success rates of teaser campaigns and the subsequent follow-ups has been negative in the Indian market.
Another drawback for such campaigns is that you are giving lot of time for the competitors to prepare an assault on your launch . The above example is a classic case of the competitor hijacking your teaser campaign .

Some times the teaser campaign build lot of expectation in the market but the follow up campaigns let down on those expectations . The case of Digen Verma is an example of such a teaser failure.

Now what will Airtel do about the teaser campaign. I have noticed the Airtel logo being pasted in the teaser campaigns now. But the entire air -time investment on this teaser campaign has got wasted.
Having said that , teaser campaigns can also be a successful strategy if you
a. Have an entirely new product
b. No competitors
c. Lot of money to waste.

So kudos to Reliance BigTV and the advertising team at Mudra.

Picture source ; Afaqs
Read related report on afaqs here