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.