Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mont Blanc : A Story to Tell

Corporate Brand : Mont Blanc
Agency : Meridian

Brand Analysis Count : 432

Mont Blanc is an iconic brand. This luxury iconic brand is now making waves in India. Mont Blanc has a very rich heritage. Created in 1906, the brand was born in Germany. Mont Blanc was founded by stationer Claus Johannes Voss , banker Alfred Nehemias and engineer August Eberstein in Hamburg. The company was earlier christened as Simplo Filler pens but was later changed in to Mont Blanc in 1910.

Mont Blanc which started off as a writing instrument brand soon became an iconic accessory brand selling wallets , watches, jewelery, eye wear and fragrance. This brand thrives on luxury and exclusivity. More than a writing instrument, Mont Blanc is more of an art item, something to show off your success than a functional instrument.
The brand is also carefully crafted. Mont Blanc takes special care in ensuring that the brand communication is reflecting its exclusivity and premium positioning.

Mont Blanc entered India in 1995. The brand has adopted the strategy of slow skimming was initially available in premium boutiques at places like Taj Hotels.
Globally, Mont Blanc built its brand through print media. The brand crafted exquisite ads in the premium lifestyle magazines. This year, the brand deviated from its time tested media strategy and launched its first Indian TVC featuring Bollywood Actor Anil Kapoor and his daughter Actress Sonam Kapoor.

Watch the TVC here : Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc has the tagline " A story to Tell" . This is a positioning that takes the brand from a functional perspective to a higher level positioning. The brand talks about pen as a power to write one's own destiny. This is one of the best positioning statement I have seen in recent times.
In India, Mont Blanc is trying to tell stories of successful personalities who had achieved success not because of heritage but hard work.

The television commercial surprised me because of the choice of Anil Kapoor as the brand ambassador. Even though Anil Kapoor fits well in the brand's positioning based on " story to tell" and rags to riches kind of stuff, Anil Kapoor does not really gel with the over all brand personality of Mont Blanc.
He is an actor who has now virtually retired . Even during his hay days, Anil Kapoor was never considered as an iconic star. So by choosing a star who has faded from limelight seems to be a wrong choice for the brand.
Another question that came to my mind is whether Mont Blanc really needed a brand ambassador ? In the Indian advertising world, stars have become a commodity. These stars only give some 'stickyness' to the ad and other than that there is virtually no value addition to the brand equity.
In my personal opinion, Mont Blanc lost some its premiumness by choosing to get help from a celebrity.

Mont Blanc also was in limelight in India as a part of a controversy. The brand launched a limited edition Pen inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. The pen which was priced at around Rs 12 lakh generated enough controversy for the brand ( worth millions of dollars of free publicity).
The limited edition pen had Gandhiji's image engraved in the nib and also the top of the cap and cone was inspired by the spindle which Gandhiji used to spin cotton.
The limited edition pen with its huge price tag quickly captured the imagination of media and politicians who began a high profile debate on " commercialization of Gandhiji".

As an individual , I was happy that Mont Blanc chose to celebrate one India's finest son with a special edition product. I was more happy because they chose to price this special product with an exorbitant rate. I believe that Gandhiji is not cheap. He lived a humble life does not mean that everything about him should be cheap or priced low. If politicians can choose to use Gandhiji for furthering their goals, why can't brands ? And marketers are not fools to mess with a highly revered icon like Mahatma.

Mont Blanc is a brand that changed the way pens were looked at. The classic white flower-shaped symbol that adored the cap of this pen is considered an ultimate symbol of success. Mont Blanc does not need someone to make it a success it is the other way around.


  1. Dear Harish,

    I came across your website while casual browsing. Really appreciate the passion you have towards marketing. This blog indeed has good amount of content on the marketing brands.

    Keep up the great work :)


  2. In Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire (2008), he shared the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Best Ensemble at the Black Reel Awards of 2008.

    No entry, welcome, race in last five yrs was commerically hit and his role in back and white was critically accalmaied. This is apart of many hits that he delivered during his tenure which includes parinda which was India's official entry for oscars.

    As a producer also his films My wife's murder, and Gandhi My Father both were critically accalmaied.

    What I feel the main reason for chosing him was his role in Slumdog Millionare. And second if we consider Bollywood apart from him only Big B fits into the theme.

  3. I think Anil Kapoor is the apt choice for the brand. The fact that he has never done any ad before differentiates him from the clutter. And as you have already mentioned, he is a good example of rags-to-riches. Ofcourse, he has the film industry background (Father and Brother) but still he has managed to carve a niche for himself and his achievement is that people don't know him as anyone's son or brother, he is known as Anil Kapoor.
    Also, the way he is used in the ad is not as "I-have-used-it-u-also-use-it" type. He is just the story-teller and hence succeeds in conveying the message.

  4. Hi Harish,

    The in-depth analysis that you have made here for the Mont Blanc brand in India is appreciable. There are no mantras to build a successful brand but I have attempted to encapsulate some key points that I call the the four ‘Is’. They are Invest, Innovate, Impress and Inch Ahead.

  5. @anirudh, @mene, I agree that Anilkapoor is a highly successful star but my only doubt is whether he has that iconic status that can reflect in the brand. Secondly I still think that Mont Blanc could have avoided celebrity endorsement altogether
    @ashwani nice insights

  6. Anonymous10:47 PM

    I am working on MontBlanc as a project for my university studies. I'd like to have your feedback on MontBlanc as recommendation towards the : Possible Evolution of this brand, the strategy of extension products , system distribution , media, price strategy


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