Thursday, November 25, 2010

Brand Update : No Idea then Get Idea !

There are times when a campaign thrills you with its simplicity and creativity. Idea's new campaign on number portability was one such thrilling moment.

Mobile number portability ( MNP) is on the verge of becoming a reality. It means that a consumer can switch their mobile service provider while retaining their number for a fee.The allowing of MNP will take away one of the most important switching cost as far as a consumer is concerned. Many consumers ( like me) had grudgingly stayed with a subscriber just for the sake of retaining the mobile number for the fear of losing contact with old friends and acquaintances. When MNP becomes a reality, that fear will go and consumers will be free to switch service providers.

For the service provider, MNP is both a challenge and an opportunity. Challenge because they cannot take a consumer ( subscriber) for granted. Consumers often are lazy and have inertia in terms of taking pains to switch service brands. One has to be too pissed off to take the trouble of moving to a different service provider and then messaging all contacts about the new contact number. This switching cost over the period of time has been lightened with the popularity of dual SIM phones and most of the subscribers are now open to carrying multiple phones with them.

It is in the light of these developments that Idea decided to take on MNP through their latest campaign - No Idea,Get Idea.
The ad uses the most commonly used slang - No Idea to drive home their point. It is an example of sheer brilliant creative which hits you right on target.

The campaign focuses on instances where non- Idea subscribers gets pissed off with their mobile service providers. They encounter network issues, over charging instances and bad consumer services and when Abhishek Bachchan asks them for the reason why they are being mistreated, they responds in the typical slang - No Idea. Abhishek Bachchan pitches with the punchline " Get Idea ". Simple but brilliant.

Watch the campaigns here :

It is clear that Idea has done some research on the burning problems that consumer's face with regard to mobile services. Network coverage , customer service and billing issues feature prominent among the key reasons for customer churn and complaints.

One will know which brand will gain more with MNP only after it is implemented but Idea decided to use this for yet another brilliant campaign. This preemptive campaign puts Idea in a advantageous position against competition. Now competitors will find it difficult to crate campaigns on these features and negate this first -mover advantage of Idea.

Another interesting thing I noticed about the campaign was that " Get Idea " term may have came late to the creative directors because if you notice the ads, Abhishek Bachchan says " Thats What " (not Get Idea) when the other character says " No Idea ". I think that " Get Idea" punchline was later incorporated into the ads.

Idea brand is on a roll . Aditya Birla Group should be applauded for the investment it is making on the brand. Telecom services over a period of time will become commoditized interms of tariff plans and other features.Once consumers are free to chose without switching costs, brand will play a big role in customer acquisition and retention.
A nice take on the current campaign from an adman - Bhatnaturally

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Van Heusen : Evolve Yourself

Brand : Van Heusen
Company : Madura Garments ( Aditya Birla Nuvo)
Ad Agency : JWT India

Brand Analysis Count : #467

Van Heusen is one of the largest apparel brand in India. The brand which came to India in 1990 is on the verge of a new growth trajectory. The exciting new path for the brand is built on the rich heritage that this brand carries.

Van Heusen is a truly global brand. The brand has a rich heritage with a history dating back to 1881. The brand journey started in USA in 1881 when Moses Philip and his wife began selling hand-sewed shirts to local miners of Pennsylvania in a push cart. Later Philips and his son moved to Newyork and began selling shirts.

In 1910 John M Van Heusen from Holland found a unique process of fusing cloth on a curve thus created a comfortable self-folding collar. John Van Heusen and Philips' son Seymour Philips met in US and Philips-Van Heusen Company was created. The company also got a patent for the collar in 1919. ( source : Super Brands)

From there, the brand went on to become the largest selling shirt brand in USA. Now Philips-Van Heusen (PVH) which owns the brand worldwide is an apparel giant which owns iconic brands like Arrow, Van Heusen, Tommy Hilfinger and Calvin Klein.

This iconic brand was brought to India by Madura Garments. Madura Garments hold the right to market this brand in India. When Aditya Birla group acquired Madura Garments, the right moved to AB Group.

Van Heusen was a pioneer in the development of executive -wear segment in India. The brand positioned itself as one for the upwardly mobile executives. The brand positioned itself on the platform of Powerful + Fashionable executive formal wear. The brand introduced the concept of " Power Dressing " implying that the brand users are those who occupy the powerful places in the corporate world.

Along with the aspirational positioning , the brand appealed to the consumers by focusing on fashion.Fashion and Formal wear are seemingly opposite attributes and it is difficult to convince consumers that a brand can have these opposite attributes co-exist. Van Heusen was successful in doing that. The best way to impress the fashion conscious consumer is to innovate. Globally Van Heusen is known for its innovation in their clothing. The brand came out with concepts of Ice Touch, Dura Press etc which reinforced the positioning of Van Heusen as a fashionable executive wear.
The brand endorses the core values of modern, fashionable updated, minimalism and timelessness. The brand targets 25-45 year olds who are in the middle-upper class executives who have a penchant for understated fashion.

The brand captured the attention of Indian corporate through is heavy brand promotion and rich heritage. Van Heusen is now a Rs 400 crore brand with strong presence across the country. The brand which initially promoted itself using the tagline " Power Dressing " evolved over a period of time. The tagline was changed to " Power . Evolved " which communicated that the brand user has arrived to a position of power. Now the brand is sporting the tagline " Evolve Everyday". The brand also successfully ventured into women-wear.

The highly competitive Indian executive wear industry has prompted the brand to devise new ways of growth. The brand launched its range of casual wear under the brand VDot and has now roped in Actor John Abraham as the brand ambassador. ( VDot will be dealt in detail in a future post).

The strong point of Van Heusen is its ability to lead the market with its fashionable range. The high quality , never compromising premiumness ( exclusivity) and understated image has contributed a lot to the growth of this brand. The campaigns of Van Heusen (except for the early ones on Power Dressing) were never clutter-breaking but was enough for the discerning customers to patronize the brand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Harnessing the Power of Brand Elements

American Marketing Association defines brand as a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition. According to Professor Kevin Lane Keller, Brand Elements are trademark-able devices that serve to identify and differentiate the brand. The most common brand elements are brand names, logos, symbols, characters, spokespeople, slogan, jingle, imagery, packages, colour, imagery, signage etc.

It is important for marketers to realize the potential of using all the brand elements while endeavouring to build a brand. Most marketers tend to concentrate their resources only on brand names and logos and thus losing an opportunity to create and develop other brand elements which can act as a powerful differentiator. Successful brands take advantage of all their brand elements there by creating various points of impact in the mind of the consumer.

Take the case of Absolut Vodka. This is a brand which used its simple trademarked Vodka bottle as a powerful brand element. Through consistent campaigns, the Absolut Vodka bottle was developed as a powerful differentiator for the brand. The trademarked bottle has become the most remembered and visible brand element for Absolut creating a distinct identity for the brand. The brand created lot of awareness, loyalty and consumer interest through the clever use of the vodka bottle in all of their campaigns.

Marketers should be able to identify unique brand elements that can break the clutter and create an impression. While most of the brands chose to invest in common obvious brand elements like the name, logo etc, it would be wise to look for something different. A classic example of that can be seen in the branding of Vanish – which is the stain removing detergent brand of Reckitt & Benckiser. The brand used colour Pink as the main brand element. Vanish uses the tagline “Trust Pink, Forget Stains “to promote the brand element. Vanish product is not pink in colour but the brand comes in a pink pack. The use of the “Pink” colour as the brand element acted as a powerful differentiator for Vanish. The association with Pink also increased the brand awareness and brand recognition in a highly cluttered detergent market

Another important criterion for effective use of brand element is that it should be easy to memorize. The brand elements should be easy to remember and recall. The consumer should be able to remember the brand element and the element should aid in the recall of the brand during the time of purchase.

Intel’s famous tagline “Intel Inside” is one such brand element which is easy to memorize and recall. The brand used this tagline and its logo very effectively in their promotions. ‘Intel Inside ‘tagline together the logo became a powerful brand element that created lot of brand recall and identity. Intel is also one brand that used its jingle (melody) as a powerful element. The five note melody has now become an indispensable part of the Intel branding. Intel carefully developed these brand elements through a 3 second animated jingle ( known as a signature Id, audio visual logo) which consisted displaying the logo and the five- note melody after every Intel ads ( Source – Intel Website). Over a period of time, these brand elements became so powerful that consumers will recall the brand once this melody is played.

The brand elements thus created should be protected by the brand owners. Trademarked brand elements become powerful differentiators over time. Since these brand elements are protected, there need not be any fear about competitors copying those elements.

Marketers should try to identify all possible opportunities to create brand elements. And while communicating the brand’s message, all these brand elements should be present in the communication. For example, Idea Cellular uses a wide range of brand elements in its communication. The brand uses its signature Yellow Colour, Taglines and slogans, brand ambassador and its signature melody in all their multimedia campaigns. All these brand elements have become popular over these years that consumers are now recognizing Idea Cellular when they see or hear any of these brand elements.

Having a basket of strong brand elements also helps in tapping in the various promotional mixes more effectively. For example a popular character or a mascot can open up opportunities of promotion through merchandising. A popular jingle or a melody can help to promote the brand through radio, TV or even mobiles. So it is the job of the marketer to constantly look for creating new brand elements and thus giving new promotional opportunities for the brand.

Brand elements have lot of strategic importance in branding. Marketers should take responsibility in identifying, creating and developing unique brand elements. Once created, these elements provide the brand with a powerful identity at a time when features and attributes are increasingly becoming commoditized.

Originally published here at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brand Update : Ceat wants you to be Idiot Safe

Ceat went in for a major rebranding exercise in 2008 when it changed its logo, the mascot and the famous tagline " Born Tough". I was very critical about the whole rebranding exercise especially the decision to discard the Rhino (mascot) and the tagline. The logic for the rebranding was to make the brand contemporary and relevant to the new generation consumers.

Although the company spent some money on rebranding campaign in 2008, it again went in on a silent mode for almost two years . There was virtually no campaign for Ceat in this period. Recently the brand has started making some noise in the media with a series of brand campaigns.

The current campaign for Ceat is for its bike tyres. The campaign is dubbed " Be Idiot Safe ". The campaign runs on the theme that ' Roads are full of idiots and be idiot-safe with Ceat Tyres".

Watch the ad here : Be Idiot Safe

The ads are currently focusing on the " better road grip " feature of Ceat bike tyres. Road grip is an important ,relevant feature as far as tyres are concerned and Ceat has tried to own up that feature.

Along with the 'Be Idiot Safe " television campaign, the brand has tried to take up this idea into the internet by launching the brand site "". The brand tried to engage users by inviting interesting videos about those idiots on the road. Users can upload the videos about rash driving and careless road habits onto the sites. The brand expects that these funny videos will be viral and increase the brand's visibility on the web. I am not sure whether the site had managed to sustain interest among the netizens.

Another interesting aspect of Ceat's brand strategy is that it chose to have different theme for its different product-lines. While " Be idiot-safe " theme is for bike tyres, the brand have a different theme for its SUV product range. For the SUV range, the brand has adopted the tagline " Takes the wild out of wilderness ".

That means Ceat will have separate positioning for its various products. In branding perspective, that is not a good strategy. The multiple positioning can dilute the core brand's positioning unless there is a common thread passing through the various positioning campaigns. MRF uses multiple positioning campaigns for its various products but these product lines have sub-brands. In the case of Ceat, there is no sub-brands but only product descriptors .

It would work well if Ceat can think of a core brand positioning for the brand - CEAT. This core brand positioning will be reflect what the brand CEAT stands for. Then use sub-brands for its product-lines like SUV, bike tyres, car tyres etc .The brand can then use different positioning campaigns for the sub-brands. The sub-brand's positioning should be in line with the core brand's positioning but the sub-brands will have freedom to chose its own relevant themes.

Related brand

Friday, November 12, 2010

Marketing Strategy : Where is Marketing in Your Strategy ?

It is interesting to see how many companies realize the importance of marketing in their corporate strategy framework. Most firms have realized the importance of marketing as an important function in their organizational framework, but marketing has not yet being considered as an important part of the corporate strategy.

Marketing concept evolved through various stages. The first stage was where the firms believed that consumers want inexpensive products that satisfied their needs and wants. The emphasis during this stage was on mass production and focus was on efficiency and low cost. ((kotler, p. (2008). Marketing management. delhi: prentice hall.)

The next stage of the evolution was when firms realized that consumers are not just looking for low cost solutions to their needs but are also attracted to product features and new product innovations. During this stage, firms competed with each other in developing new product features and solutions.

Soon firms realized that mere product innovations and features are not going to lure consumers into purchase. Consumers needed to be persuaded to buy products. During this stage, firms focused on increasing their ability to sell the products in the market. This stage saw lot of investment in building sales departments and channel management functions.

Despite the success of the concept based on the emphasis on selling, firms found a gap in the consumer needs and the product being sold. Increased competition created a need in the firms to look at consumers for fresh ideas. Firms realized that they should be more consumer focused rather than focused on selling products. Firms also realized that it has the ability to shape consumer behaviour and create new wants. Rather than focusing on selling and producing, companies began to listen to consumers and adopt strategies that shaped new consumer behaviour and trends. Products became only a tool to realize firm’s objective. Consumer became the focal point of all activities. It was the beginning of the marketing.

From a function focused on moving the product from the warehouses to consumer, marketing has come a long way. It now occupies a significant position in a firms’ organizational structure. But it is time to reinvent marketing.

Although leaders of businesses emphasis on the importance of marketing in their organizations, the concept of marketing is constrained by the functional status bestowed upon it. Marketing is still considered as a function rather than a strategy. And by giving a functional status, the scope of marketing is severely blocked from realizing its full potential. It is time for firms to realize that business in marketing.

Marketing is not a function but a strategy. This is a matter that has to be dealt with at the board level. While financial performance and analysis is given huge importance in the annual report of publically listed firms, it is interesting to see how little information and analysis is given on the marketing side. I would like to suggest that firm’s should show courage to put their marketing strategy to scrutiny at the highest level.

The advantages of taking marketing strategy at the board level will have lot of advantages. For example take the case of a brand extension. Should this decision be taken at the board level or should it be dealt at the functional level. Is brand extension a corporate strategy or a functional strategy? In most of the firms, these decisions are taken at the functional level and seldom discussed threadbare at the board level unless it require huge capital expenditure. And it is often found that brands lose because of meaningless extensions resulting in a direct impact on its financial performance.

Take the example of positioning. Is positioning of a brand discussed at the board level or decided at the functional level. Should the decision of positioning /repositioning discussed at the board? If business is marketing, then the decision on positioning should be discussed at the highest governing body because the success of the product largely hinges on the effectiveness of positioning. When positioning strategy is discussed at the highest level, it becomes business strategy and not just another element of the functional strategy.

When a firm takes such a serious view of marketing, then branding becomes focused. Positioning becomes consistent, Managers think twice before venturing into meaningless extensions. Brand strategy will not be outsourced to advertising agencies. Consumers will be handled with care. Complaints will be seriously dealt with and monitored at the highest level of management hierarchy.

In highly successful companies, marketing is handled by CEOs. Brands like Apple, Microsoft, Harley Davidson thrive because they are looked after by the CEOs. When CEOs become marketing evangelists, marketing will achieve its true potential.

Originally published here in

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fryums : Eat Smart

Brand : Fryums
Company : TTK

Brand Analysis Count : 466

Fryums is a very interesting brand. Infact how many of us know that it is a brand ? Recently when two of my students visited my home, my wife served them a bowl of Fryums which invoked a sense of nostalgia and we discussed about this Indian snack which failed to fight the invasion of Lays.
Fryums was launched by TTK in 1990. This ready-to-cook Indian snack quickly gained popularity in the Indian market . The brand became so popular that soon consumers began to use the brand name as the generic name for such snacks.

Sometimes too much popularity can be bad for the brand. When brand names become generic, marketers should worry because there is a chance that they will lose the brand. The same happened with Fryums. Consumers started to refer to Fryums as a generic name for all such ready-to-fry snacks. Soon competitors also started using the term Fryums in their packs.

When consumers started using Fryums as generic name, retailers too made use of that opportunity to push the similar product that offered better margins. Soon Fryums became more of a commodity than a differentiated , protected brand.

Along with this unique problem came the competition from Lays. Fryums was not able to counter the competition from Lays. Lays were more up-market, aspirational, convenience and had more perceived quality than Fryums. The fact that one needs to fry this product in oil before use also made it less appealing to the younger generation .

From a generic brand , Fryums fell into oblivion. The brand soon went off the shelves or became one among the many " Fryums " at the stores. The company also was clueless about the future of this ' famous' brand.
However in 2000-2001, the brand went in for a makeover. Fryums was rebranded as Fryums Yummies and the brand had a new logo and even a mascot. In the new avataar, TTK tried to rev up the brand's fortune by launching it in new flavors and also in new product forms. But even this rebranding did not work in the favor of Fryums. The problem was that the brand did not have enough steam to fight the competitors.

Fryums 's issues highlight the need for marketers to fiercely protect their brands from becoming generic. The brand should pursue and protect itself from being used as a verb or as a category identifier. Once the brand become generic, there are chances that legally it cannot be protected by the owners. This fate happened with the likes of Aspirin.

There is future ahead for Fryums. The brand needs to reinvent itself and position itself as a healthy alternative to existing snackfoods. The brand is cholesterol free and contains no MSG or trans fats. The new flavors + new brand campaign can raise the interest about this Indian snackfood in the market.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Marketing Strategy : How to Create a Category

When Tata Motors launched its sub 1tonne commercial goods carrier- Tata Ace in 2005, it created a huge change in the small commercial vehicle segment in India. After five years, Ace is ruling the new category of mini trucks in the Indian market.

India is witnessing a huge surge in the creation of new categories. As the market grows, marketers find new ways of identifying and satisfying needs and wants. With increased competition, marketers often look for creation of new categories where they can avail better share of revenue and profits.

The recent high profile launch of iPad by Apple Inc has put a spotlight on the strategy of creating and owning new categories. Burdened with competition from across the globe, category creation is the magic pill that marketers now look forward to for survival.

Need Gap and Price Gap

When attempting to create a category, marketers broadly look at two approaches – need based and price based. In the need based category creation, marketers look for unmet needs and wants. Sugar Free is the brand of artificial sweeteners which pioneered this category in India. The brand identified the need for such artificial sweeteners in the emerging health conscious Indian market and tapped it quite successfully.

Another broad approach is to look for price gaps in the existing category and carve out a new category based on the price factor. Tata Nano is expected to carve a new sub-category on its own at the bottom of the pyramid with its 1 lakh price tag.

Bundling Multiple Uses

Marketers also try to create new category by bundling multiple uses. While lot of debates are going on about the future of the Ipad, it is interesting to see the attempt to create a new category by Apple through this product. Apple Inc is trying to create a new category by combining multiple uses together in a single product. iPad can act as a eBook reader, play music, surf the internet, play games and perform office related tasks. Marketers can think about creating a new category of products that performs multiple tasks thus solving multiple needs of the consumers.

Emulating successful brands

Mahindra recently launched a new commercial minitruck- Gio which emulates the success of Tata Ace. Gio is a sub 0.5 Tonne goods carrier aimed at creating a new category of compact mini truck in the Indian market. Mahindra Gio is expected to carve a significant customer base out of the existing commercial three wheeler segments. Gio shows that marketers can create new categories by emulating successful marketing practices from other categories.

Break- Away Positioning

Marketers can also look for new category ideas from existing categories. When Swatch was launched in Switzerland in 1983, the watch market was categorized on the basis of price. Watches were perceived to be a functional product and were segmented as premium, mid-range, and low price range. Swatch created a new category within the industry by positioning itself as a lifestyle product rather than a functional product. Swatch adopted the strategy of break-away positioning where the new category is created by breaking away from an existing category Swatch was positioned as a fashion accessory by careful design of marketing mix elements which created an iconic status for the brand.

Think Beyond Products

In order to create a new category, marketers should be able to think beyond products. The focus should be on ideas rather than the physical products. The ideas will later transform itself to products. But to get the right kind of ideas, marketers should be able to understand the life of a consumer. Consumers may not always be in a position to give new product ideas to a marketer. But an observation into the life of a consumer will throw a million insights which can later be transformed to practical product ideas.

Look at the consumers

Consumers are always looking for ways to improve their lives. Some of their needs are hidden or even latent. By closely interacting and observing the consumer , marketers will be in a position to create newer product categories and thereby becoming more relevant in the life of the consumers. For example, Indian computer market is witnessing a shift towards laptops and netbooks. This shift has created a need for a mobile internet service which can enable the consumer to surf the net on the move. This need has enabled companies like Reliance Mobile and Tata Indicom to come out with a new sub-category of internet broadband datacards. The increased health consciousness of Indian consumers has created a huge new category of functional foods and healthy snacks. These new categories are being created only through careful observation of consumer needs and trends.

Consumers are constantly looking for ways to make their life better. There are immense opportunities for new categories that can make the life of consumers a lot easier. Marketers should be willing to experiment new products and categories inorder to cash in the abundant opportunities before them.

Originally Published here at

Monday, November 01, 2010

Crusoe : Who Are You Inside ?

Brand : Crusoe
Company : Jagannath Textiles Company
Ad Agency : Black Swan Life

Brand Analysis Count # 465

It feels good when an Indian brand attempts something ambitious with careful thought and matches it with smart execution. One brand that caught my attention recently was Crusoe.

Crusoe is a premium inner wear brand from Coimbatore based Jagannath Textiles Company. The brand was soft-launched in South India on January 2010 and is slated for a national launch.

Jagannath Textiles Company is a Rs 300 crore company specializing in manufacture of quality yarn. The company later moved over to value added products like home-textiles and apparels.

Crusoe is the company's offering in the mid-premium segment of the highly competitive Rs 1600 crore Indian organized innerwear market. The brand will be fighting for its pie with a host of brands like VIP, Rupa, Amul Macho, Jockey etc.

Crusoe is positioned differently from the rest of the crowd. The brand chose to appeal to a higher level attribute from the launch phase itself ( Laddering ). The brand is calling itself an " Innerwear for Inner-Self ". Crusoe has adopted the tagline " Who are you Inside ? " which is a question that the brand asks its TG.

The brand website - crusoeworld gives the following insights into the tagline :-

Clothes don't just cover you up,
Clothes are a cover up.
Most of the times, it's how
you want the world to see you.
At other times , it's how the world sees you.
But underneath all those layers,
When you are in your bare essentials,
When all you have to impress is you ,
Ask yourself one question.
Who are you inside ?

The concept of ' Innerself ' ' True Self ' & ' Breaking Free ' etc is not a new idea. Many brands have dabbled with the theme before. Crusoe has executed the concept very well and related that to the product - innerwear. The brand is running a series ( 8 nos) of print ads featuring the theme. The brand has also invested in OOH media . The theme also distantly resembles one of campaigns of Kamasutra condoms ( What do you want to be tonight ! ). But the brand scores in the execution and the ads are striking.

Crusoe has three product line extensions - Base, Nxt, and Xtreme each catering to different price points. Xtreme is the premium line in the range of Rs 350 +.

Crusoe directly competes with premium brands like Jockey , Hanes etc . While Jockey talks about fun, Crusoe takes the opposite pole of serious contemplation. That was a smart marketing move on the part of Crusoe to think differently from the rest of the crowd. The mass market segment of the innerwear market is still stuck with humor and sex. Crusoe is a welcome relief.

As a customer, I am impressed with the thoughtful process that the brand has undertaken for their campaigns. The brand has to tread the thin line between aggression and profitability. To make a serious dent in the market, these start-up brands have to invest heavily in brand promotion as well as channel penetration. Experts tell that channels ( distribution) decide the fate of the brand in the innerwear segment.

Crusoe is an interesting brand to watch out for. If the brand is able to consistently invest in distribution and continue its current promotions, we will see the emergence of a powerful Indian innerwear brand.