Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu.. Shakti Rupenu Samhistitha..

Misty early morning at 4 AM, the mind is refreshed hearing the sanskrit slokas “Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu, Shakti Rupenu Samhistitha..Namostashya Namostashya Namoh Namaha…”
Yes, I can remember very well being grown up with this.. every year on the day of Mahaloya, mamma used to tell us to get up early in the morning, switch on to AIR, Kolkata..and get ready for the Mahaloya hymns and recitations. I remember, how all of us used to get enthralled hearing the slokas, being recited by Shri Birendra Krishna Bhadra...It is the day, Mother Durga leaves her heavenly abode and starts her voyage along with her children to the earth.. We get ready to welcome the Divine Mother on the earth..

I could remember the days at Guwahati, how me and my little sister kept track of the number of new dresses we purchased...because.. we never wanted to repeat any dress twice during the puja days.. the festivities would begin by the evening of Shasthi..(6th day of Navratra) when the idol of the deity was brought in our community Puja pandal.. we, decked up with our new attire (from our latest collections, of course) were totally excited.. me and some of my friends performing matri vandana.. the purohits performing sandhya aarti.. and few others playing the Dhaak to give a warm welcome to the Mother.. next three days, we used to be extremely busy, adorned in best outfit, the menfolk dressed in Kurta Pyjamas, our mother and aunties draped in bangla taant / pure silk sarees… arranging the flowers, offering thaalis for the Puja…. We all assembled together to offer Puspanjali to the Divine Mother….and then the long wait and that too in large numbers for the community lunch.. “Bhog” ( Khichdi, Payesh etc)..

The evenings had a little different story.. we dressed up in another set of new attires, alongwith our parents / relatives hopped around in different puja pandals throughout the city..and yes, I am able to recollect few of them till date…. Durga Mandir and Rest Camp at Maligaon, the idol brilliantly placed on the Silpukhuri Lake… the exotic electrical display at Beltola and Athgaon Puja Mandap, the huge Ashura at Khubchand, near Fancy Bazaar that used to attract huge number of children…. eating out till late night and so much of hustle and bustle everywhere.. the last day (Vijaya Dashami) we used to assemble to give a tearful aideu to the Mother…

Today, on the day of Mohaloya, while on my way to office, occupying a seat inside the cool Delhi Metro, I could not stop remembering my early days.. yes, even today we do carry on with the puja shopping etc.. but the craze of wearing a new attire every time we move out during the puja days, is no more.. The turns and twists definitely bring change in our life….I could not manage to tune in to AIR Kolkata today… however, switched on to E TV Bangla / Zee Bangla, also made sure that my 11 year old son is awake to see the recitations/ hymns on the occasion of Mohalaya….

Hoping to have a great Durga Puja next week… taking part in all the community activities… my naughty little son also has some plans … offer Puspanjali at Matri Mandir, enjoy the community lunch “Bhog” at Kaali Baari..and enjoy good cultural program at Chittaranjan Park…

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Face of Facebook

It's time to discover the face of facebook

A group of individuals spending time either in verandas of homes or in a neighbour’s homes is very much a part of Indian culture for decades. But chances of such jamboree were probably based more on the homogeneity of the group, specially in terms of interests and lifestyles. A social media allows a homogeneous group as well as several heterogeneous groups to blend with one another on variety of aspects. The size and enormity of the groups have been transformed by the digital revolution. This characterization reflects the implication to understand how a social media like Facebook or Twitter impact the marketing of products and services.

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc glint off associations of youth, coolness and possibly constant socialization. The world of social networking seems to have created a peripheral thrill among both consumers and marketers and along with the thrill and excitement, comes the challenge of using this mysterious medium. What is the psychology/sociology behind using these social networks? Would they be useful for marketers and advertisers? If so, would these be useful only for mammoth brands like Mercedez or Gucci or Omega or can they be applied to regular and common offerings.

If iphone 4 has product related troubles, it exponentially and perhaps graphically too reaches millions of FB users in amazing and short span of time. If Nike’s campaign on using Rooney’s real life “on the ground” mistakes are to be a part of the teaser campaign, millions on FB or Twitter get energized and a layer of that gets “rubbed off” on Nike. Trust these are the implications of social media for marketing practice and the formation of brand attitude among a target segment of consumers.

It is not the homogeneous groups that demonstrate similarity on several counts that helps marketers; the need for excitement and gratification of discovering a group that is not compatible with oneself is the digital revolution’s value add to the consumer behavior. Few years back, Adidas launched a game on MySpace, which suggested to the visitor two soccer teams (Predator and F 50). Such digital campaign has a plethora of advantages- an opportunity to explore the profile of individuals who register for either teams and their psychographic orientation by follow up efforts, (if required) tracking the attitudes of individuals on the category and specific brands and even using the concepts of virtual personality to know how consumers try to experiment with groups that may not be oriented towards their own self concept.

While the above example is simply to showcase the potentialities of using social media, there are several facets that marketers need to be clear about the media to deliver results. Social media is not to be viewed in isolation- it needs to be viewed as a part of the IMC associated with the brand. Whether to decide social media is apposite, marketers in today’s clutter need to have a conceptual focus. If that happens, FB will present serious face that is good enough to market the traditional Chikkis, Nokia gadgets or even promote a noble thought of keeping Yamuna bed clean and green.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

They are the unlikeliest brand ambassadors ever-

People are known more for what they do than who they are.
It is a delicacy to free a brand’s communication from an already overcrowded space that has seen brands use film personalities to well known TV faces to celebrity child artistes to sell to the end users. Mahindra XYLO is not alone; even Mitsubishi has launched its SUV- Outlander with an ad campaign featuring fashion designer Rohit Bal. The commercial shows Rohit being inspired by the Outlander 2010 and launching a fashion line titled Outlander Signature Collection, unveiled next to the SUV at a fashion show.

While professionals who have excelled in their respective area have been used by brands—for example Kiran Bedi or even Chef Sanjeev Kapur; marketers at both Mahindra and Mitsubishi say using unexposed famous professionals help break the clutter. If the positioning of the brand is very clear, this strategy will craft wonder. The Outlander has been positioned as a luxury car with a competitive price and the emphasis is on fashion and style. They looked-for someone from the fashion industry who is wedded to Indian proclivities with international standards. Hence, Rohit Bal was the obvious answer. For a person from a tier II city, which is a burgeoning market for both, passenger cars as well as SUVs, Rohit would be just another model endorsing a car brand- which still wishes for the SUV brand.

The benefit of using unexposed professionals is that there is no danger of the brand ambassador overpowering the brand. In the case of Mahindra XYLO, the emphasis is rested on space and comfort; the attempt was to present XYLO in a fresh commercial retaining its brand values. Most of the celebs are over exposed and XYLO will lose its credibility if they use a celebrity. A specific strategy is taken to promote the XYLO as a spacious and comfortable car. All they wanted is someone really tall for the ad—either supermodels or basketball players. Therefore, Atul Kasbekar who is 6 ’3 ’’ is the right pick. However, Mahindra XYLO didn’t depend on just above the line to push the campaign. A week prior to the release of the commercial, Mahindra ran a competition on Twitter asking people to guess the brand from the stills posted online. Approximately, there were 7000 hits on the first day of the online contest, including a comment from the living legend, Sachin Tendulkar.

In such campaigns, aspiration of the creators are more vital than the ad or the creatives itself. Moreover, it stands out in the clutter because they try to compete with a very low brink of quality. Celebrities are usually cast for the entertainment value… the proof will lie in the responses that the brands get on the floor. Both Mitsubishi and Mahindra claim their respective campaigns have received positive feedback. We need to wait and watch if the promise of these professionals will help these brands drive smoothly on a road seldom taken.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cola Wars: Where have they gone?

Summers have set in late March this year, yet we don’t get to see much, the war of coloured, sugared, fizzy water on our television screens.. Usually it is the time, when two cola giants spend a lot on TV and more....

The cola wars are actually confrontations made to look like battles by the major cola marketers. The idea is to elevate an otherwise dull and drab category into a high appeal class that has the entire nation gossiping about the television mêlée. The cola giants depend on community media such as television, print, radio, internet and not to forget the social networking sites to chitchat more and take the battle ahead. These battles have been waged season after season and the ingenuity stands worn out in these continuous conflict. I may not be wrong in quoting, that the USP has been exhausted (my readers, if any, excuse me for that) and if one does the same thing repetitively, things are going to get monotonous. Hence, I believe the lull… Colas will undoubtedly continue to remain a big category as India continues to be a major cola market……..

The only larger drink is water… let us look forward for the battle of waters now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Fourth Screen

The mobile phone is taking over as the universal medium for most Indians. It is drawing the internet onto its small screen and turning into a tool that offers more than calls and SMS. This is making the mobile screen an increasingly favoured advertising tool. Santanu, my bro, is a true inhabitant of the wired world. Right from the moment he wakes up to the time he hits his bed, whether it is the last minute changes to the client presentation or to check the latest cricket score or to catch up with friends on Facebook or even listen to some foot-thumping music……. His world starts and ends with his Blackberry. This shows how seemingly innocuous looking gadget is quietly taking control and touching our lives in ways unimaginable.

As mobile telephony grows rapidly, it is used not just for voice communication. Even SMS is passé today. Multitasking is the operative word here with a camera, computer and music player, all packed into the hand held. From downloading software to games, entertainment to accessing content across genres, mobile users are looking for new ways to personalise their handsets with utilities and multimedia content that make their mobile experience richer.

The Indian media and entertainment industry stood at Rs 58, 400 crore in 2008 and over the next five years, the industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.5 % to become Rs 1,05, 200 crore by 2013. (FICCI ; KPMG) Though internet advertising contributes only 1.8 % of the country’s total advertising expenditure, it has grown a whopping 65% as against 17% growth of advertising on the whole. The newer options for marketing communication are on the shore and are harnessing the hot market of the current time. With the upswing of mobile market and swift rise in their sale, business people are taking the mobile medium as a promising sector for marketing and advertising. For the past few years, marketing practitioners have been suggesting that mobile devices would become the next generation marketing channel and supersede print, audio-visual and email and even web. With 400 million mobile users and 8-10 million more every month, India should be one of the hottest markets for mobile advertisers.

Often called the fourth screen after the TV, Cinema and the Internet, the mobile phone is the way to connect with the next billion and the increasing middle-class consumers in Brazil, Russia, India and China. For consumers, the mobile phone has become more than a communication device, it is now a complete entertainment gadget.. They expect their mobile phones to double as state-of-the-art digital cameras, gaming consoles and web access. These uses increases advertisers’ chances to connect with consumers on the move, who get engrossed in these multi-tasking devices. Mobile advertising will receive another boost because of the shift in the advertising industry itself. Advertisers are focusing away from broadcasting through a one way medium to narrow casting for one-to-one consumer engagement and feedback. Marketing is changing from mass-media-push to mass-customisation-pull… PULL IN ANYONE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE is the mantra.

Will keep updating the latest marketing moves made by the hand held device, from time to time..

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What does a customer want?

Brands are continuously trying to augment their relations with customers. But is it wise to invest in the front end of the business or on product modernization that will keep customers happy in the long run? What is the hush-hush recipe for any company or brand to retain its customers for life? Is it innovative product? Amazing services standards or engaging customer loyalty program? Unmatched store experience or store design of international standards? These are few million dollar questions that are faced by most of the CEOs today.

Today the customers have multiplicity of choices even in the same product / services category. As customers’ aspirations keeps on changing, his / her spends across various categories keep on shifting. When we talk about spending money on entertainment, there are plethora of options- TV to watching movies in a multiplex, to watching cricket matches or even hockey matches, as it is promoted off late, to seeing a musical program or a drama or many more. Each of these are mutually exclusive and cannot be consumed simultaneously and hence fight for the same wallet share. Also we should not forget the fact that, consumers are always hard pressed for time- either travelling for work or for leisure or spending quality time at home. In such a scenario, consumer’s make a choice by using their heads and hearts—the former helps them towards making a rational choice while the emotional appeal connects them to the heart. Whether it is a cute character called ZooZoo or a star brand called SRK / Sachin Tendulkar / Big B.

Besides, this is the age to flaunt. Many marketers believe that a larger than life marketing launch will pave way for brand’s success. They assume that breakthrough clutter free advertising, big stars as ambassadors or even owning media vehicles will lead to enhancing a brand’s connect with their customer. Many leading Indian companies have taken this trend seriously and have been spending big bucks on the touch points of the customers.

Since last 2-3 years, film marketing has taken a new edge. Several contests, events, appearance on the reality shows combined with tittle-tattle about the leading pair (KITES.. Hrithik Roshan -Barbara) or even trade in tie-ups have been able to create a pre-launch excitement about the film. Corresponding to this, technical aspect of film making has improved with bigger budgets, striking locations, better quality prints and sophisticated multiplexes. However, much efforts goes down the drain, if the core product is an average one. In spite of all the media glitz and hype some films vanish. (Chandni Chowk; Blue or even MNIK). We may contrast this with the success of IPL which is now a $4 bn franchise only in its 3rd year. The mishmash of film star power, international cricket star power, the backing of top brass of cricketing authorities, cheer leading ladies, the sponsors big advertising spends would have fallen flat if the games would have been trite and colourless. The triumph of the low – profile Deccan Chargers or Royal Challengers proved once again that at the end of the day, talent and cricketing prowess counts for winning a game rather than a star power.

Marketing fireworks is like Sone pe Suhaga…it cannot breathe life into dead product.. The key for connecting to the customers’ heart & head is the great product / service. Great products brings in large number of customers again and again, bringing in high profits. Winning businesses require such players to fuel their continuous growth making them successful and connect with the customers through a blend of great touch points and superiors products and collaborate with customers all the time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Global Bollywood ?? Global SRK ??

How important it is to have the patronage of a Hollywood studio giant for a Bollywood film to get the kind of visibility of MNIK has got? The answer, as the box office results come pouring in from overseas, is clear: whatever its creative genious, K Jo’s newest film, which marries such incongruent subjects as disability and religious identity to raise the flag of world peace, has attained the distinction of being the biggest Bollywood release till date.. Truly, Indian films are no more confined to Indian territories or Asian borders…it has become a global entertainment service … a perfect example which I was compelled to quote to my students while delivering a lecture on Global Marketing, yesterday evening.

MNIK made Rs 25 crore on opening day and the box office results suggest that, finally this may be the big fat Bollywood movie which really cross over. From the zealous embrace of NRI loyalist, for whom SRK has godlike status, to the non-traditional audience which may finally be willing to experiment with full blown Bollywood film, (thanks to TV channels, I get to see more of SRK these days than my family members) to holding out, as blandishments, the biggest Indian star, unabashed emotional moments, in a subject which had universal appeal. Who doesn’t want world peace? … Again a Global Issue

The film has been slammed in several quarters as being opportunistic, of being made simply to succeed in the west. It needed to be different, so K Jo (director-producer) dreamt up a central character who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a kind of autism which makes brain cells work in superb order, but leaves the person socially inept… Here I am compelled to imagine how a socially inept Rizwan (SRK) could woo Mandira, played by the bong beauty Kajol… guyz need to take some tips from him.… US audiences will probably not accept anything too Indianised or too alien, thus a familiar location… K Jo is known for mounting his films extremely lavishly with foreign locales and MNIK looks lovely all painted up warmly on screen. SRK is both more or less normal than average Asperger’s person, but that’s because it is next to impossible for a normal person to get what is like to be an autistic person. Hats off to SRK’s acting competence !!

However, the box office frenzy over the weekend usually does drop after a Monday, but trade analysts say the film lost out a huge, nearly Rs 5 crore as it was not released completely in Mumbai on its opening day, thanks to Shiv Senas. However, what is noteworthy is the film’s global takings : if it can hold on till next week. MNIK will be the film to bang in the global mart. Shall have to wait and watch..