Marketing Idea No. 210 – Learn it from Shahrukh

How much is a true brand ambassador worth?

A lot actually, if someone like King Shahrukh Khan is what we are talking about.

The beauty of a good brand ambassador is he himself can win battles for you. The vice versa is of course always possible. Just ask those who endorsed Micheal Phelps just before his bong incident or Mike Tyson before he went on in his infamous ear biting rampage.

But lets focus on the good stuff. Even better, lets focus on what Shahrukh the brand ambassador has done.

1. When ITC was planning to launch Sunfeast in India in a market already dominated by Parle and Britannia, its the Shahrukh magic that made place for Sunfeast. In fact even though, Parle roped in Hrithik later on for its “Hide & Seek” line, it didnt work. Parle continued to lose share.

2. Its Sharukh Khan who was behind the turnaround of Compaq in India with the clever line “computer is personal again”. Lenovo brought in Saif Ali khan. Hrithik again was called in for Acer. But there is always going to be one winner in that battle.

3. Who was behind making an otherwise ordinary domestic cricket league called IPL into a money making bonanza? Its Shahrukh Khan and KKR. Infact, according to latest financial information, Kolkata Knight Riders are the most profitable franchise in IPL, despite not going through to semi-finals of any of the 2 IPL sessions.

4. When people thought Amitabh Bacchan cannot be replaced, who stepped into the shoes of Don and turned a film into a PR campaign success?   King khan of course. Again. 

There is so much a good brand ambassador can do for your brand. Ask Shahrukh. He can tell.

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Marketing idea no. 208 – Line extension: How much is too much?

In the world of branding “Number 1” is the phrase that builds brands. But its the sequel to number 1, “The Second Coming”, that brings the big bucks. And there is a fancy name for it. Its called line extension.

The  pulling power of sequels can never be denied. If all the blockbusters are taken into account, it will present a clear picture. The sequel makes more money than the original. Spiderman may have dangled and amazed from the rooftop, but its Spiderman 2 that made more money. Shrek was a family entertainment film with big laughs. But Shrek 2 is the one that brought big money along with the big laughs.

But there is a hidden rule of thumb here. And it goes like this – one will amaze, two will make money, three will bomb. Thats why Batman 1 and 2 was a great success, but when it came to Batman 3 (Batman forever), it bombed in the box office. Same applied to The Matrix, to the X-Men and all the rest of big money earners. Because once the initial film creates the fan, they simply cant wait to get more of the same film and same character. But when it comes to the third installment, usually boredom sets in and the makers run out of fresh ideas.

In the world of line extension, same things happen. You should only extend it to the second level. If you have a successful Lifebouy brand, extend it to make it a Lifebouy Plus. But dont follow it up with another extension called Lifebouy Plus Ultra. Take it to one level extra to build on it. But dont overdo it, unless you have some serious value additions to make, not just mild tinkering of formula.

Marketing Idea No. 207 – Zoozoo and Zoozooisms

For one whole month, it seemed the world cares nothing but Zoozoos. And we can feel it even now, when the ads and the iconic figures are not on air.

So what can we call this Zoozoo phenomenon? A brand building masterstroke? Or a case  study of failed advertisements with very limited effect on actual results?

Lets start with facts.

1. Vodafone needed something that can de-touch themselves from the clutches of the Hutch “Pug”. I guess, the Vodafone executives are sick and tired of the Pug, after all they paid three times the asset value for the hutch brand simply because of its pull created by the iconic pug.  Now with the success of Zoozoo, Vodafone India finally can claim about something thats their own.

2. Like it or hate it, Zoozoo itself has become a phenomenon. The number of Facebook fans of Zoozoo have swelled to 3,07,072 (as on June 17, 2009) far surpassing the number of fans for cricketing and Bollywood icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan, legendary superheroes like Superman and even comic characters like Asterix.

3. Before launching the Zoozoo campaign, Vodafone crossed Airtel in monthly sales for the first time in their history. But after the campaign, Airtel has gained back some ground.

The real test of effectiveness of Zoozoo lies in its objective achievement. Yes, this campaign didnt generate the sales number to justify the return on the massive investment. Yes, this campaign will never create the pull for Vodafone value added services or increase revenue to that extent.

These were never the objectives of this campaign, therefore we shouldnt judge the effectiveness based on these parameters. What this campaign set out to do is create some much required buzz around the brand and break the clutter among the frenzy surrounding the IPL. Did they succeed?

Hell yeah. In fact, the IPL 2 will forever be remembered as the season of Zoozoos.

This brings forth the most important question of all. Should brands spend money in times of recession purely to generate buzz, not to generate sales?

The answer lies in the depth of brand war chest. If you got money, why not. If you dont, tough luck.

Marketing Idea No. 206 – Micheal Jackson and the art of branding to everyone Black or White

The greatest trick that Micheal Jackson ever pulled on this world is asking them to “Beat It”.

Here’s a man who sang in his own terms, danced in his own terms, lived and died in his own terms. And you can be Black or white or any shades of gray in between, you cannot deny the tremor that the world felt with every click of his moonwalking heels.

As the messages pour in from all corner of the world, we make a silent tribute to the biggest brand in music. Here are a list of things that the world of branding can learn from Micheal Jackson.

1. The power of rituals: When you hear the word Micheal Jackson what comes to your mind? Moonwalking, screaming, those crazy socks and shoes, signature pelvic thrusts, great videos etc. These are nothing but rituals that reached an iconic status after 20 years of doing it over and over again. Thats the power of rituals. He did it over and over again until he completely owned it from now till infinity. Thats what iconic brands do. They own things that none else can own.

2. The power of differentiating: His was the breakaway voice. In today’s world of wannabe rockstars and painted up divas, he showed the world what originality can do for your brand. His was the most original voice coming out of radio. When the world was spending money on distributing LPs, he spent millions on music videos. He tore up the cliched concept of music vidoes as a sort of pseudo-concert. He said, like all video based medium, music videos should have a starting, a middle and an ending.

This kind of original, bold thinking can do wonders for your brand.

3. Dont segment. Unifiy: Who was Micheal Jackson? Is he a black singer with a big mo-town presence? Is he a cross over artist with a fantastic R&B vocal? Is he the King of Pop?

Thats the strength of Micheal the brand. You cant typecast him. There is none that ever lived (Yes not even Elvis my friend) whose tunes helped people to swing from Alaska to Australiz, from Japan to Madagascar. He was the first ever truly globalized personal brand. He was the Coca Cola of music world.

Thats why the label “King of Pop” is not fitting for Brand Micheal. He was simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived. And when it comes to entertainment, there is no segment. There is no segmentation, only unification because everyone needs entertainment. And thats the strength of Brand Micheal. Everyone belonged to one music genre like Pop, Rock, Progressive Rock, R&B etc. But he belonged to entertainment. Thats what good brands do. They position themselves in a way, that makes all the people in the world stand in one common pedestal having one common need for one one common brand.

Marketing Idea No. 205 – Mediocristan

What is mediocre?

To answer that lets talk about Transformers: revenge of the fallen. Here is a film that has got some of the worst reviews in history and to be honest, it is really a bad movie. But it ended up becoming the second highest opening five day grossing film of all time, only behind the awesome Dark Night.

The million dollar question is, how can a mediocre movie earn overwhelming profit when a great movie earn hardly any profit? The simple answer to the mediocre question is, most of the people in this world are mediocre. And they are not concerned about the greatness of the next best oscar winning movie. Because they are interested in mediocrity, not greatness.

Most of us want a safe mediocre career. Most of us prefer mediocre, middle of the road products. We dont want great intricate products. We want simple mediocre solutions.

So next time when you wonder why so many follow such brainless music, watch brainless films and buy safe products….you have to know my friend…you are the minority…not them.

We live in mediocristan. So cater your communication and products to mediocre people, not to the great people you love to hang.

Marketing Idea No. 203 – What does your designation say about you?

They say employees are the face of the brand. If thats it, what does their designations and titles say to customers?

Here’s a situation. You go to a party and you meet people. You strike up a conversation and as a matter of fact (without being too obivious) you push your visiting card to the other person. It says you are the “Customer Service Manager”. But what really does your card say to the receipient of the visiting card? He thinks, you treat potential customers like him as ….customers. Whats so great and exciting about that? Absolutely nothing.

But here’s a designation for you, “Manager, Creating Special Moments.” Now thats magical. Thats something you might be interested in. Thats a conversation starter. Thats inspiring.

I know of a company who called their Head of Marketing as “Head of Excitements” and their Head of Sales as “Head of New Opportunties”. Now tell me if thats exciting or what?

What it makes your employees and your brand is…it helps you stand out. It helps you become humane. You are no longer a Customer Service Manager. You are a “Manager, A Friend in Need”.

What can possibly top a friend in need?

Marketing Idea No. 202 – How to stamp your authority in a strategic alliance

We all know about the co-existence of Intel and CPU brands like Dell & Gateway. Its one of the most unusual and yet one of the most successful co-branding exercise ever. It also has an impressive sounding name called “Ingredient Branding”. But just like any co-dependent human relationship, brands must constantly ask who is benefitting from these co-existence more.

Its amazing how many brands actually depend on other brands for their product to function. Boeing depends on carriers like Singapore Airlines and Emirates to make their product appealing to end users. Nokia depends on telecom service providers like Vodafone and AT&T to make their product usable. After all, whats a handset without a connection?

In such complex situations, three things are key.

1. The brands should fight it out with their co-dependent category and ensure they are calling the shots, not the other brand from other category. i.e. – For all the good R&D benefits Boeing is bringing, its the inflight experience provider like Virgin and Southwest who are stealing the show. No one talks about how wonderful Boeing is, but everyone goes ga-ga over Southwest and Virgin’s service. So in this co-dependent category, Virgins and Emirates of the world are calling the shots. Poor old Boeing and MCD Douglas can do nothing about it.

2. Find your unique place, that is not dependent on your co-dependent different category partner.  i.e. Nokia’s vision of “Connecting People” is heavily dependent on their telecom service providers ability and vision. So there’s a strong overlap. When people think about connectivity, they usually attribute it to the connection provider (i.e. AT&T) not the handset provider. So that is a grey area that Nokia should discuss.

3. Nothing is black and white. From case to case how much horizontal integration is required would change. For someone like Gillette, who provides the full line for anything to do with shave, might be the best way to go. Then for others like airlines, it would be ill-advised that Boeing starts it own airlines service provider business to win back control from Virgins and Singapore Airlines.