Friday, July 10, 2009

Google OS is on its way!

Last year, I had spoken about how Google Chrome is not just-another-browser and its a strategic move by Google. I thought it was a logical conclusion that Chrome grows into an OS, given the kind of functionalities and independence that they have brought into it. Google has finally broken the news its Chrome OS to be launched in 2010. An open source OS, it is supposed to be focussing on speed, simplicity and security with 'most of the user experience over the web'. Let's wait and watch!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A 'Clear'er name

A short one this time. Harish from Marketing practice had commented long back on how HUL had changed the typology on its Clinic All clear shampoo packs making the word 'Clear' as the most visible element. This, he rightly pointed out was keeping in mind a future rebranding with only the word Clear, as the shampoo is known internationally from the Unilever family. And now we see teasers on TV showing Bipasha, Shilpa Shetty, Asin for a new anti-dandruff shampoo called - Clear (what else). I checked out the new website (the earlier one was called and Harish's prediction is bang on! The new packs have only one change - removal of 'Clinic All' from the logo. Everything else looks the same. So anyone who looks at the pack would not be confused about the new brand. A smart move by HUL for a smooth makeover. Here are the pack shots for ready reference :)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

OOH, what an ad !

Out Of Home (OOH) advertising caught my attention always, and with companies using it innovatively these days its even more fun to watch ! A description to start off - OOH is marketing in forms that you see can out-of-your-home (!), e.g. hoardings in the simplest form. But then, the best part lies in either capturing attention with a clutter-breaking hoarding (like the red Economist's Interpret the world hoardings that you see these days) or by the use of the media beyond the billboards. I have uploaded some of those from the latter category that I really feel deserve an applause for their creativity. (Click on images to enlarge)

Starting with some international ones. AXE, as usual, starts the pack. Here you see the ad being placed over a women's dorm in the form of a calendar, with each window being a day of the month. The concept being obvious - a girl for each day. I am sure it would have caught attention of every guy who had walked past this one in Seoul.

Scotch Brite had another brilliant concept to go with their USP of 'absorbs everything'. They had simply replaced the basins below taps in public places (I think in Australia) with a sponge. And just the brand name and tagline on the sides. Caught the attention & conveyed the message - clear and concise !

Coming to some Indian examples of conveying the USP- recently read about this Pantene's OOH campaign. Had a sticker on doors of common places like salons, etc with hair being stuck to it. They actually replaced the door handles, and whenever anyone pulls them to open the door, he/she was actually experiencing the brand message. And the text - Pantene:Strong Hair. It needn't say anything more, does it?

Closer home, before the elections, UTV Bindass had these hand signs over public places with the inked index finger pointing out (Ungli utha bindass campaign). The messages differed, urging them to vote if they needed development to happen. Have a look at this one - 'Desh khadde mein hain? Vote kar' with the finger pointing to a dug road. Other messages included 'Desh ki batti jala' on a lamp post; 'Batvara nahi, divider chahiye' pointing to a divider on the road.

Though I said that companies should look beyond hoardings, Orient Fans proved that even hoardings can be used innovatively. This ad simply had a large image of the fan and the brand message 'More air everywhere'. Just beside the hoarding on both sides were two hoardings which were almost torn down and looks as if it is due to the fan(I believe they had bought these spaces :) ) depicting exactly what the tagline says.

Pidilite industries - known for their TV ads for Fevicol - also had some excellent concepts for their starch Ranipal. Human-like figures at high footfall areas, but with no heads, legs, hands. There's no message written, but isn't it clear enough that the clothes are standing on their own? And their pose is also natural so that they won't mistaken for mannequins (the one here is climbing the stairs, others include a woman shopping at a store and a guy on a bike in the parking lot). Excellent, though the brand name would be visible when seen closely, which I doubt how many people would have done.

(Thanks afaqs for the pics!)

Talking of OOH, one thumb rule I read somewhere that people have an average 3-4 seconds to interpret the message on a hoarding. Still I saw these four hoardings stacked side-by-side at Bandra (wanted to get the sealink in the background, which I couldn't unfortunately). Why would anyone buy space here, if the audience can spare 4 seconds for the entire spot i.e. 1 second per hoarding. Surely atleast 2 of the hoardings would always be missed out by the viewer. (Unless everything is for the same brand, e.g. Sony TV has recently bought 2 of them and have a big ad for Dus Ka Dum)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Big brands, bigger mistakes

As I type this post from somewhere in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, I wonder - "Can I call these measures by companies as mistakes?" Nevertheless, I continue my rantings..

Start with ICICI Bank, with its signature tune being one of those with a good recall & association with the brand - changed its tagline from 'Hum hain na' to 'Vishwas hain to sab kuch hain'. Why on earth?? We all know that brand elements do not necessarily have an expiry date, as long as people don't get bored of it. And the first thing that this new tagline reminded me of is the advertisements of TMT Sariya or XYZ Cement frequently seen on Aaj Tak. The words are so generic/cliched/old-fashioned that it depicts nothing specific to the bank. The other big change that I saw in the TV adverts, the fast-paced music. Again, a shift from its earlier ads. More importantly, any company from the services industry - banks, insurance, hotels, etc- has a typical soft touch to it, be it in the music or the way it delivers its message. But having a remixed signature tune, the bank is making the message devoid of the 'warmth' that such companies are always known for.

Talking of TV ads and soft music, another campaign run by Godrej Aerospace lab during the IPL telecasts is really intriguing. Why would anyone advertise its rocket building capabilities? We understand from the subsequent revealers that it wants to show how it puts its aerospace learnings to use in consumer durables and other Godrej products. e.g. It applies its high-precision learnings from rockets to make high-precision super-secure Godrej locks. eh!! While buying a RS.100-200 lock, why would I care whether the company manufactures a rocket worth crores of rupees with the same technology. Couldn't they boast of their technology even without the rocket association? Wouldn't gizmos and steel machines have done the job? The company doesn't believe so. It plans to come up with follow-up ads of how its consumer durables too utilise the space technology. Doubt how many would buy such an argument!

Coming to FMCG, I visited a grocery shop today to get a pack of biscuits for lunch, as I do everyday (yeah, the pains of field work!). Generally Good-Day is a good bet for lunch. But the shopkeeper says "Good Day nahi hain. Parle 20-20 lijiye". I thought, I don't want a snack-time (50-50, Monaco types) biscuit- but something that would be filling for the stomach. Shopkeeper says, "Ye bhi waisa hi hain" and hands over the pack. And lo! I realise that this is also a cashew cookie of the same category as Good Day. BIG mistakes! Naming it 20-20, it has confused consumers (like me) who would liken it to Britannia's 50-50 (More still, WHAT has 20-20 got to do with the biscuit, I still wonder!). So, the entire efforts of entering the category with a new product are wasted. Secondly, with such a name and tagline "Short mein niptao", I feel it has degraded the category as a whole and likened it to cheaper biscuits. Cashew cookies always had that premium (if not indulgence) in the consumer's mind, but Parle doesn't wish to project it that way.

The opinions maybe too strong for a newbie like me to speak of, but still, I can't believe that these companies can leave consumers (& marketing enthusiasts) like me, confused. I will return with interesting observations of the OOH media (by far, my favourite media these days) and tibits (jargon:"consumer insights") about the Bihari consumer shortly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The latest Warchips

While I munch Lays and sip Pepsi (brand loyalty not intended), I wonder how a week of market visit and working on a marketing summer project changes your perspective in life (literally!). As you walk on the roads of Patna, you look at the sachets & brands stocked in front rather than the name of the shop. You look at hoardings (thinking - what a visibility!) instead of the car waiting to dash you. While watching an IPL match, you wonder about the visibility of the stickers all over the batsman's shirt (and the umpire's!). An instance - was watching the Kurkure's new Desi beats ad during a commercial break. And thought of how the snacks (specifically chips) industry has changed in recent years. Originally a near-monopoly, the market changed with the aggressive entry of ITC - intentionally advertising the non-conventional variants, thus avoiding a head-on. With its distribution and muscle power, it placed Bingo racks in every other shop. Now we see Pepsico coming up with the triangular chips (against Bingo's Mad Angles) under Kurkure. There are 2 things to learn from this. First, Bingo has created a category of its own, causing the market leader to react. Its not far that we'll see Pepsico replicating all its variants. Secondly, look at Pepsico's strategy. Intentionally, it has launched it under Kurkure and not Lays - to ward off direct competition with a newbie like Bingo. This ensures that Bingo now fights 2 brands - both Lays and Kurkure - and Lays would like to retain its position as the most preferred chips. Even if people prefer Bingo, it can afford to forego Kurkure's market share, not the Lays brand. A masterstroke, I would say. To continue with the wars, Bingo now introduces 'International cream & onion' against the 'American cream & onion' (incidentally the variant that I am munching while writing this!). It has gained the strength to do that now. Take on Lays in its own forte, with people knowing the Bingo brand by now. It would be interesting how this war progresses over time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

From Inbox to inbox

I know its a wrong time to post on the blog, given that I have 2 end term tests today. But a small thing that I noted yesterday morning is running through my mind for a long time. If you have checked your Gmail Inbox carefully, the label is now inbox (with a small 'i'). And they have changed it everywhere today, starting from label, to page title, to all references in the interface, and even the references in the description of the Labs settings. (though they couldn't change pictorial references :) ). Scoured the blogs to find no official/unofficial explanation to it. Do you see it as an April Fool's hoax released a day earlier, so that people start talking about it? If it was something so carefully changed, Google has always broken the news on its official blogs, including changes in its favicon colours. Do let me know if you are aware of the reason.
Update: It seems the change isn't visible on all accounts. Some of my friends still see the capital I. I have tried changing location, theme, switching over to the old version of email, but found a small i welcoming me everywhere :(. Finally, I checked the Gmail gadget on my iGoogle page, and it still shows a capital I (inspite of similar settings)

Update 2: This April Fool's Day is a big letdown from Google. It has posted an obviously hoax feature called CADIE (Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity), an Artificial Intelligence research and blah blah, with images of a Panda cartoon shown its mascot. As if the name wasn't a giveaway by itself, the press release is date 31/3/09 11:59:59pm,it generally doesn't 'time' its releases, though it gives the date), its technical description uses too many scientific/psychology/physics/computer/jargonology jargons, the official post (dated 1/4/09 12:01am) doesn't mention clearly what the 'CADIE' does, and its CADIE's blog is designed like a 5th grader's 'My first Web page - Hello World!'. They couldn't even use the Youtube channel effectively. Google had been improving on its hoaxes in the past, with atleast some amount of beleivable stuff and simple English (with typical Google terms). I am disappointed that this year's prank is not at all planned and seems to have been executed by a 5th grader! I still wish the "inbox" change is a prank so that they can live up to their fans' expectations :)

Update 3: Finally, Andrew Girdwood came to the rescue! The small i is visible only if the language settings are English(UK). I changed it to English(US) and voila!, I see my Inbox intact! And people thought I was playing an April Fool's prank on them :)