Monday, December 25, 2006

The Thinkers50 – An Elite Club…

Have been consistently inconsistent in blogging for while now; Would it would take a New year’s Resolution for me to be back to this forum again? Maybe…Maybe not. A bit of extra time would be just fine :).

Guess, this is where most of the blogs lead to. Too much of thought and too much of dreaming. But little on execution. Incidentally, this place will NOT be like most of the blogs, and I am pretty sure about it.

However, till the time I get into proving that part of the practical and actionable side of my thoughts, there ARE some great leaders, some living legends who have done it, and done it with some perfect finesse. So much so that they are now honored with the “World’s best thinkers” Awards

People who have made a difference, people who belong to an elite class of thinkers, people who not only have thought about themselves, but have oriented the entire world by providing an altogether new dimension to their thinking, people…..who are probably underrated by being called “people” – Some of the finest and most admired Thinkers – are part of the elite club called the “The Thinkers50”.

Started in 2001, the Thinkers50 for 2005 is probably history now. But, the best thinkers for this year would be out pretty soon.

Some of the names that have the highest recall are featured, be it Michael Porter, Bill Gates, Tom Peters, Philip Kotler or C K Prahalad - these men surely share top of the mind recall, when it comes to Management Gurus – Deservingly the best thinkers of our time. Read more on the rankings and the methodology followed.

As the year comes to a close, maybe its time for us to look back and admire few people who have made a difference to the way business is done, who have influenced many with their perspectives, who are idealized by more than a few across geographies, across cultures, across functions, and across societies.

Will look forward to some of the prominent names this year as well…would post an update as and when it comes!

Are you thinking? ;-)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Keeperless Shops in Rural India – Still workable?

If someone told you to keep a vegetable shop open 24 by 7 next to the busy bypass roads of Delhi, without a soul to guard it, and a tray kept for collections, even having change inside for the convenience of the customers, would you be interested? :)

In all probability, you would mock at the idea itself or discard it as pure rubbish! Well, Delhi might be an extreme case, but most parts of the country would never function with a business model, that is based on unmanned shops for purchases.

Surprisingly, such a model IS functioning in India currently, in the state of Mizoram, on the Aizawl-Champhai Highway. And not only is it working, it is expanding and scaling up, too! Just found this nice piece in the Hindustan TimesKeeperless shops. Interesting read – an interesting business model in Rural India there!

Read the article to gain an insight into this business. Why and how is it possible to run this model, considering that poverty and honest means are perceived to be too difficult to co-exist in the same environment and instigate mutual discomfort?

For one, the commodities/products on sale are vegetables, poultry and eggs – something that the poor farmers produce in-house. So, chances of them wanting to go and get these purchases are almost zilch. Then, The clientele is the passers by, who are generally traders, traveling to the Indonesia-Myanmar border for trade. Thus, cash is not a problem. More so, since it is vegetables, and the intent of the shop is trust, most of the customers reinforce this trust with honest purchases (that doesn’t mean that there are NO thefts there!)

Must say, the initiative is commendable. However, it is slightly difficult to digest this as a “workable” and “replicable” business model. Unless you have vending machines, which have a control and a security mechanism, such a concept might not work on its own.

Want to try? ;)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Want to be a millionaire in Arizona? Simply vote!

Was browsing through New York Times, when an article struck me – a new way to get voters to vote – by offering them incentives!

According to the article, votes are being promoted as “lottery tickets” in Arizona, wherein a voter could win a million dollars by voting. They would be given ballot-cum-lottery tickets, which would be used for lottery post-elections. One lucky winner would get a million dollars, and many others would get 1000 dollars each!

Funding would be done by the unclaimed amount of lottery winnings (around $2.7 million!). Promoting “very high odds” as the underlying theme, this sort of promotion would definitely attract attention from majority of the population, who would not mind a “free shot” at the lottery. Meanwhile, they just have to go and vote alongside!

One could argue that this is not a correct way of pulling voters, and that "socially conscious” voters do not need such financial incentives. However, there was some convincing logic provided in the article to argue on this point.

Most of the voters who do not turn up for voting are from the lower and middle income groups, thereby the socioeconomics working in favor of this concept (or could be the other way round too!). According to Mark Osterloh, as quoted in the article, the man behind the campaign, “Today, it’s the poor and minorities who vote in the lowest numbers,” he says. “The nonvoters are usually people working two or three jobs and struggling to pay the bills.

Is such a method/initiative within the purview of the social marketers? Is this ethical and impartial?
According to me, as long as the incentives are being provided for unbiased voting, as long as the motive is simply to get people to vote, and not vote for some xyz and as long as there is a tangible change in the social habits with something to counter the indifferent helpless attitude of majority of the stakeholders, I think the initiative is absolutely pertinent and commendable. It is only when this initiative takes a biased turn that things tend to go ugly.

Can this serve as a direction for the subcontinent? Going by a typical Indian mentality (including myself), such a concept seems difficult to digest, and most would consider it incomplete, if not irrelevant. Incidentally, “financial incentives” during election time is not a new concept for most of the Indians living in the hinterland. The Problem is that all of it is oriented towards “voting for so and so candidate” and not simply voting, per se! Some of the parts are even notoriously famous for such tactics. This is where the initiative crosses the line!

This area could be explored further, with certain incentives being provided to the potential voters, which pushes them out of their comfort zones, and forces them to get over their indifferent and given-up state regarding the elections. Unless there is a concerted effort from both the marketer as well as the customer (voters, in this case), public administration would maintain its status quo – something we have been cribbing for generations now!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lebanon – Advertising against Sectarianism – through Sectarianism!

Could you think of resolving the sectarian divide between Hindus and Muslims during partition in India through media? Could you make people conscious of the implications of the divide and the rationality behind it?
Unfortunately, that did not happen...
Probably, the awareness levels were never there…. probably, the resources were never there… or worst, probably the will was never there.

But, if anyone believed that advertising is not a solution to religious conflicts and is ineffective, he needs to reconsider, and have a look at a small organization which is present in a small country called Lebanon, but is doing something that would make a difference to the larger part of the world.

In a country, where every faction of social structure is based on your background, where intra-group affinity and inter-group animosity seems to be rising, where reservation is present in all domains of the political, economic and legal environment, sectarianism seems to be pervasive.

This system of specific reserved rights for various indigenous groups, commonly termed as Confessionalism, is becoming detrimental to the growth of the nation. More so, considering the recent tensions among the ethnic groups with the latest being the killing of a 20-year old, it has become critical to make the locals more conscious of the implications of this divide.

A commendable attempt has been made by a voluntary organization to take this forward –
05 Amam (Al mujtamah Al madani), which is “made up of voluntary people from all religious denominations and not affiliated to any political party

They have recently launched the Stop Sectarianism Campaign, through Billboards, Ambient and press ads, wherein the basic underlying communication is “Stop Sectarianism Before It Stops Us

According to them, this Campaign is an Awareness campaign on sectarianism, wherein the idea is to apprise their fellow countrymen on the fallouts of the increasing divide between various ethnic groups, and how their personal biases could hamper their professional lives as well.

Already, 18 different recognized sects are present in the country, with little affinity for each other.
Picture this – According to a story at Chron,
"Traditionally, Lebanon's president is Maronite, the prime minister is Sunni and the parliament speaker is Shiite. Other posts are reserved for Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic and Druze. Even TV Channel Stations have their own sectarian bent — the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. for Christians, Future for the Sunnis."

As one can notice, Sectarianism is so ingrained in their daily lives that the entire thought pattern and decision processes have an ethnic base to them, which could prove to be detrimental to their personal growth, and in turn the society as a whole.

The campaign, designed for free by Leo Burnett for Amam and doing the rounds among thousands of expatriates and many locals, mocks at this tradition and animosity by taking the divide to an illogical farcical level and explores options for the near-future – cooking lessons by Greek Orthodox, doctors treating only Muslim Sunnis or Maronites, car for sale never driven by non-maronites, phone directory categorizing names based on their religions, building for sale to Druze, hairstyling by an Armenian Catholic or a fashion agency looking for a beautiful Shiite face.!!

At the bottom, the ads read in English, "Stop sectarianism before it stops us" or, more bluntly in Arabic, "Citizenship is not sectarianism"

It is hard to believe if such things would realistically exist; However, the unfortunate part is that it is not completely unreal, and there is some element of reality already. This is why the advertisements force the community to look at itself.

The campaign is definitely provocative, but it might not appear satirical to some sections of the Lebanese population, as they might be able to relate to most of it. But, to a large extent, it would instigate an introspection of how deep has confessionalism penetrated into the minds of the locals.

To what level this would be effective, time would tell. For the time being, it does make the locals uncomfortable, and to my mind, that’s the first step of success of the campaign.

Kudos to the creative, and the creators!

Reference: Ad Blog Arabia – A blog I found only recently, but something which is pertinent for anyone who would like to know about the communication and marketing developments in the Middle East. Would be visiting this more now. Thank you Zeid and Ahmad!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Where’s the Consumer? There’s a Consumer!

"Then, a consumer wonders…. Is there is any place where I would not be noticed?? "

Advertisers are no longer satisfied with the media they have for Ad exposures – the traditional media is history. Outdoor media is no longer restricted to billboards and road signs. Globally, the trend is changing.
A few examples..

In Shanghai, China,
a giant ship carrying an LED advertising board patrols the Huangpu River in Shanghai.
According to a news item, "the LED board is 30 meters long and 8 meters high, more than half the size of a standard basketball court. During the sail, the board will display various ads. Currently it is mainly showing public service announcements, but the company is looking to sell time to commercial enterprises."

The medium has got mixed reaction from the public, with shopkeepers finding the bright light uncomfortable in the evening, while tourists are awed by the scenery. However, Even though there are complaints by the troubled shopkeepers, local authorities can do little to remove the advertisements, as Mobile advertising is currently unregulated in Shanghai.
[Source: China snippets]

Just to put things in perspective, China, about to be the fifth largest ad market soon growing at an average of 7.5% annually, already has around 72,610 advertising companies, spends almost RMB 243.9 billion on advertising, and roughly RMB 20 billion on out-of-home advertising! [via 8 days magazine and Adage]

At another place…in Vienna, Austria

Advertising pillars, used for unofficial or free publicity, are being used by advertisers to advertise a health school, by projecting a pot belly shaped poster on the pillar. Consumers walking on the road would pass by the pillar and read the URL of the health school advertised.
Incidentally, from the photograph, the road seems to be on the back side. Wondering what the pillar would look like from there ;)!

In Tokyo, Japan, train stations attract a huge media space for advertisers. Innovative methods and media are identified to advertise. So much so that there is a list of “Top 10 advertising tricks for train stations in Tokyo

A particular case in point is the giant tea bottles put up at the station in the form of pillars. In one of the stations in Japan (Shinjuku as it says), pillars in the form of Ucon (Tumeric) Tea Bottles are put, to advertise the tea brand.

and finally, in Melbourne, Australia, the eternal place of advertising is back again – the public bathrooms! According to Adpunch, LCD advertisements are placed above the hand dryer in the public bathrooms at the Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine).

Every consumer would spend around 5-7 seconds in front of the hand dryer. Why to let that space go unaddressed? You never know he might just plan to buy another mobile during that time!

[via Coloribus]

Undoubtedly, consumer-hungry advertisers around the world have left no space untouched to lure the consumer and advertise to him. Be it public transport, tourist destinations, stations or even the bathrooms, the idea is to keep the consumer engaged with advertisements.

From looking at targeting a particular segment, OOD seems to be literally hunting for a consumer! Probably, the lessons that marketers learn “capture the mind space of the consumer” was misinterpreted as “capture the consumer’s space” somewhere…

"Then, a consumer wonders…. Is there is any place where I would not be noticed?? "...

The 21st century woman – No Strings attached!

Been ages since I wrote something. Something or the other kept me occupied. Am sure generations of blog-tourists would have come and gone. Though I have enough to self-justify for this absence, there’s no point in harping over it since it seems to be irrelevant and out of context at the place!

A few days back, I came across an interesting piece in Pune Times that covered a rising trend – a trend that has entailed an emerging psychographic segment for the Tourism Industry – a trend that would evolve and be reinforced with the changing consumer mindset and maturing economy – a trend of women preferring to travel “solo” as independent tourists!

According to the article “Go Solo!”, Indian women are beginning to explore the country and outside on their own, in their own ways, on their own terms!

TILL some time back single women exploring the world on their own was a rare thing. In a country like ours where holidaying with the family is a norm, traveling for pleasure was not something very common as far as women were concerned. But now the trend of women traveling alone is picking up with lots of young girls, middle-aged and even aged women traveling on their own. And travel agencies too are coming up with special travel packages for such travelers.

Special ladies-only packages have been designed for South East Asia (Singapore, Mauritius, Thailand), Europe (Switzerland, UK, etc) and India, and are getting pretty good response from the target segment.

Primarily arising from the innate need of expression of freedom and independence, the Indian woman has decided to move out of the bounded family circle, and venture into a free independent world. Unfortunately, most often, “independent” becomes equivalent to a single woman and carries a different connotation in the typical Indian mindset. Incidentally, this is a perception which is shared in certain other European nations (like Italy) too. Will be discussing this a bit later

With increasing awareness of the world outside, greater proportion of working women, and rising disposable incomes, the trend is gradually evolving. Positioned as “Self-gifting” by most travel agencies, traveling entails certain derived values for women – some explore greener pastures, some explore challenges while some simply take it as a means to escape their monotonous routines and social rut.

Another trend is that although there has been an increase in the number of women willing to travel, the majority of women want to travel in groups. Age, too, is no longer a concern, with agencies getting reservations from 20-year olds to 66-year olds. Although this seems to be a recent trend in India, solo women travelers have been a specific segment in the US and Europe for long.

However, it isn’t all rosy and exciting proposition entirely. There are definite risks attached to solo women traveling, the most important ones being theft, harassment and loneliness. In fact as mentioned at Travel Sense, American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has actually documented the steps to be taken by solo women before traveling. Some of them have been reiterated by transitions abroad.

Though most of these are logical enough for a sensible travel planner, sometimes essentials like deciding clothes based on the local social environment or adopting a more introverted approach in the rustic areas are ignored, leading to unforeseen events. Nonetheless, the roadblocks by no means discourage solo traveling, and workarounds are always possible. As detailed by one of the tourists visiting Delhi, ladies-only queues and seats came to her advantage! “There are ladies-only lines at train and bus stations, one advantage that I found extremely useful to avoid standing in long lines, and getting the best seats on these transportation media

To add to that, there are some really interesting tips I read regarding solo travel. Have a look – a nice read for sure:
  • In southern Europe, men may think that if you’re alone, you’re available. If a man comes too close to you, say “no” firmly in the local language.
  • If he’s well-meaning but too persistent, talk openly to him. Turn him into an ally. If he’s a northern Italian, ask him about southern Italian men. Get advice from him on how you can avoid harassment when you travel farther south. After you elicit his “help,” he’ll be more like a brother than a bother.
  • Usually men are just seeing if you’re interested. Only a few are difficult.
  • Learn how to say “pretty baby” in the local language. If you play peek-a-boo with a baby or fold an origami bird for a kid, you’ll make friends with the parents.
  • Be aware of cultural differences. In Italy, when you smile and look a man in the eyes, it’s considered an invitation. If you wear dark sunglasses, no one can see your eyes. And you can stare all you want.
  • Ask for a room on a higher floor near the elevator but away from emergency exits, stairwells, and any renovation work. Never accept a room if the clerk loudly calls out your name and room number.
  • Wear a real or fake wedding ring and carry a picture of a real or fake husband. There’s no need to tell men that you’re traveling alone. Lie unhesitatingly.
Incidentally, I managed to read an interesting thread for Foreigners planning to visit India – some handy tips by experienced tourists, their stories and suggestions – a must read for first-timers to India

On a serious note, this global trend, termed as “feminization of migration”, has emerged in India as well, reflecting the changing attitude and the face of the Indian Woman. One can no longer typify an Indian woman as a “shy housewife with her face covered, clad in sari, and standing in the shadows of her husband”. It has more to do with self-expression, greater confidence and being more proactive in her approach. She is not only receptive to and reflective of the social environment around her, but also assertive and adaptive to change – a change to which she herself has largely contributed to.

Some food for thought for travel agencies and package designers!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Consumer Engagement - From Intrusive to Co-creation..

With rising consumer preferences, and emergence of more discerning consumers, marketers are revisiting their marketing and communication strategies.

Shaping up a consumer’s mindset no longer seems to be an effective mode. Instead, higher consumer involvement in the early stages of Marketing activities seems to be the mantra in the marketing world of the future.

In a recent article at imedia by Jim Nail, titled "The 4 Types of Engagement", the future of advertising has been mapped to the consumer’s decision making process. The author discusses the various kinds of engagement and their corresponding implications. A proposed model based on a level of engagement suggests disbanding the traditional model of AIDA (Attention Interest Desire Action) and incorporating Engagement Marketing instead.

The AIDA model prescribes getting attention of the consumer, arousing interest in your brand, creating a desire for it, ultimately leading to Action (purchase) towards the brand. Seems logical and effective; However, how and why does it no longer vibe with the marketers as such?

According to a brilliant post at Ageless Marketing, this sort of marketing is known as “Interruptive Marketing”, where one thinks in terms of intruding the consumer’s mind and taking control of his decision process. The trend of marketing needs to move from interruptive to engagement oriented. That is, rather than attempting an intrusion into the consumer’s mind, it has become imperative for the marketer to engage the consumer and co-create the product development and decision process with him. This would lead to a stronger relationship with the consumer, and help the marketers focus on a communication plan which is more consumer-oriented and has been worked based on the inputs of the consumers themselves.

As mentioned by David Wolfe, "Bilateralism versus unilateralism marks the differences between postmodern engagement marketing and modern interruptive marketing". Thus, a consumer needs to be more involved and engaged with the entire communication procedure not only to recall and repeat the communication, but also to live through the communication, to get engaged with the brand. This is possible, when the consumer “co-creates” the meaning of the brand and its elements.

Engagement, defined as turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context, involves a subtle, subconscious process in which consumers begin to combine the ad's messages with their own associations, affix symbols and decode metaphors to make the brand more personally relevant and palatable to the consumer. [Source:Imedia]

Interestingly, the research inferred that consumers engage with the ads at an emotional level first and then recall the ads, that is, the process of consumer purchase is “Feel, then Think, then Do”. Consumers process a lot of new information, including ads, on a subconscious, emotional level first, and later engage their rational mind to lead to action. So, a marketer should focus on raising stimulus to sensitize the consumer, to seduce the consumer, than provide fact-based push factors.

The 4 types of engagement cited in the article as part of Consumer Engagement are Media Engagement – Ad Engagement – Engagement Marketing and Brand Engagement.

Media engagement provides a context that can facilitate this engagement. The relative preference of one media over the other sets a platform, and engages a consumer to a particular set of media. The next step is to connect with the Advertisements, known as Ad Engagement, where the consumer relates to the ad and receives a personalized meaning out of it. Once the connect has been established, a stimulus must be provided to the ad to give it personal relevance. This is done through Engagement Marketing, which reactivates the associations and symbols at a time when the consumer is ready to move from the emotional, subconscious form of engagement to an active form.
The last step, Brand Engagement, ensures sustainability and loyalty towards the advertised Brand.
This happens when the messages and experiences blend into a combination culminating into a strong association with the brand per se, and not only the communication.

Impressive concept, and has more to do with the subconscious decision process of the consumer. Need to delve further to identify the stimulants and other support functions.

Interestingly, while I was looking for more material online on Engagement Marketing, I hit upon Communities Dominate Brands. Must admit, this blog is truly addictive, and if anyone wants to get a perspective on Engagement Marketing, and its nuances, this is undoubtedly THE place to spend some time on. Have a look and decide for yourself! ;) Definitely something I would refer to, in future discussions.

Did you get engaged with this post? or was this a consumer disconnect ;)?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Maggi (Romania) – If Women spent less time cooking..

It’s been a while since I wrote about something. Have a few pending subjects, but need to delve a bit more before I post them here.

For now, I read about this interesting campaign at Ad Punch by McCann Ericksson for their client Nestle Romania (Brand Maggi). . This campaign recently got shortlisted for the Golden Drums Awards 2006.

The theme of the campaign reads ‘if only women spent less time cooking’, and reflects the places women could reach, beyond the kitchen. Undoubtedly, very good execution, but the concept per se does not seem to be too appealing. For one, it reflects a strong gender stereotype. Though the creatives include popular male-dominated reflections like Godfather, Tarzan and Mount Rushmore, the “connect” is missing, somehow. How does spending less time in cooking relate to being Jane, or Godmother, or for that matter, the President of the United States?

However, all said and done, it does entail a good recall and has a strong “entertainment” value, and is a well-deserved contender for the Golden Drums Awards.

Talking of the Brand Maggi in Romania, the agency responsible for Nestle in Romania, McCann Ericksson has been aggressive consistently in the Romanian Market. Last year, it launched the “Cook from the bottom of you heart!” campaign for its client Nestli, where every flat was appeased to put a heart-shaped sticker with a "Maggi" logo on their window, in order to win a prize.

According to an article last year "Free Advertising" at Yo MaG In this campaign, Almost everyone living in 40 selected cities of the country received stickers in their mailbox, representing a big red heart `Maggi` and were asked to stick it on their window. A "Maggi Patrol" traveling through 40 cities of the country rewarded those residents with 200 euros those who had a Maggi heart on their window. For every Maggi product they had in their kitchen they received another 50 euros, up to 1000 euros!

Worked well with the kids, and in turn, their families! Kudos to the creative team at McCann Ericksson. Innovative concept indeed.

Ironically, this campaign reinforced the fact that women spent more time in their kitchen, sticking Maggi logos, so that they could win prizes.

Now, may I ask “What if women spent less time cooking?” ;)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Missed Call Marketing (Australia) – Innovative Telemarketing or Cheap Spam?

A new wave of telemarketing is getting a lot of attention in the Australian Mobile market and annoying a majority of mobile users in Australia. Termed as “Missed Call Marketing”, it is the practice of giving a missed call to mobile owner, who upon seeing the “missed call” notification would perceive it to be a legitimate call and ring back. On ringing the number, he/she would hear a recorded promotional message.

Normally, telemarketing is done the other way round. This method, however, passes the cost of the call to the mobile owner, and leaves the choice of calling/hearing the promotional message with the owner itself. Thus, it is a marketing tactic which tries to shift the cost of a telemarketing call to the consumer – whether or not they want to hear about the promotion.

There is a debate going on these days at various forums over the classification of ‘Missed Call Marketing’ as Spam. Some relate it to email spam which includes link to an unknown website. Some others believe it is an “abuse” of people’s trust. So much so that people in Australia have preferred not to call back to an unknown number. Bad luck for the other telemarketers as well! The Australian Communications and Media Authority believes that it is spam and is scrutinizing whether it is in breach of the anti-spam legislation [Ref: Textually]

What is the promotion all about?
According to,
If you call back the number, which is Sydney or Melbourne based, you get put through to "Simon" who, in a chirpy, pre-recorded message, says: "Did I just call you? Then it is your lucky day today as you're a winner and you're about to collect your personal mobile content gift with the value of at least $40. And that's not all. You might also win up to $10,000. Congratulations."

Seems to be a lucrative offer and a good deal for sure. But listen to this - To collect your "gift", which includes a range of mobile phone ringtones - you have to ring a premium 190 number charged at a minimum $2.97 a minute. To get the content, it takes almost five minutes, or about $15 worth of call time!
I wouldn’t call it something less than spam..

On the other hand, the company responsible for it, DC Marketing does not believe that it is a scam. It says the missed-call marketing technique does not breach any Australian law, code or regulation, including the Spam Act.

Justify the owners - "This has been used in Europe and also Australia for a while and is considered a soft telemarketing approach. Opposite to other telemarketing concepts, all the concept does is leave a caller ID on the display. People then can call back the number at a time that is convenient to them, and they are not interrupted while having dinner, or getting their kids to bed. On calling back, customers can listen to the pre-recorded marketing message, and if they do not like the offer, they can simply hang up."
More so, it claims to have given away more than $1 million worth of free mobile content and that complaint rates are "very low given the size of the promotion". Australian authorities say DC Marketing runs its competitions legitimately and pays out all the prizes on offer.

Convenient statements to wash off your hands! But the fact remains that little can be done to avoid human curiosity and general etiquettes. Returning a call from an unknown number could be out of general curiosity, or in most of the cases, simple courtesy. In such circumstances, company is breaching someone’s trust and leveraging human curiosity to find out about the unknown for their marketing concept.

More so, since the demographics of mobile owners is spread across all age groups, right from 11-13 year old kids to 70-year olds, missed calls like this being made to potentially vulnerable consumers like Kids, tourists and housewives is NOT good a marketing practice, and would definitely tarnish the brand image of the company.

To tackle this scam, a team of seven youngsters aged between 17 and 21, have created a company known as “4 wise Monkeys”. It stores and displays problematic phone numbers and attempts to track the miscreants, and the source behind the campaign. According to their website, their forum about the spam and its source is attracting more than 7000 unique visitors each week, many of whom have "googled" the mysterious phone numbers that appeared on their phones after receiving a prank call.

Incidentally, DC Marketing claims it has access to "every single mobile phone user in [Australia]" and supposedly has technology to "contact ALL 16 million Australian mobile phone users in a period of only two months!"
Where did it get so much data from? According to a report, the company is being accused of buying a massive database from a Cyprus company involved in porn and gambling websites and Australian-based nightclubs and DVD rental companies.

Such a marketing tactic is justifiable, when the cost transferred to the consumer is very less. In a country, where the mobile charges are moderate to high, shifting the burden to consumer would definitely entail outrage and annoyance.
On the other hand, if such a tactic were to be used in a country like China (or for that matter India), the mobile calls are pretty less.

How is it handled in India currently? There are automatic voice messages running a promotion from either Airtel (Bharti Group) or Reliance. Interestingly, the number received is a local number, and in cases, where the receiver “misses” the call, it is not returnable. When you call back the number, it fails to connect, since the number is blocked for incoming calls.

However, the convenience is something which is not passed on to the consumer. You could get calls from 8 am to 9 pm through this.

At the end of the day, the last thing a marketer would want is to irk his potential customers. The way DC Marketing is moving ahead, and the negative vibes it has generated in the market as of now, it is not doing good for its own brand image, at least not from a Marketer’s perspective.
Hopefully, Missed Call Marketing shouldn’t translate into a Missed Marketing Effort altogether!

[Photo Source: Angry Kid, Phone Kid and Cell Phone Spam]

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mahatma Gandhi – “Think Different”

Exactly a year ago, I had celebrated the 136th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at this place. Logically, it is his 137th Birth Anniversary today.

Last year, I had discussed “Brand Gandhi” and how he has been instrumental in endorsing brands. Elevated to Celebrity status, the use of his name and stature has been instrumental in attaching credibility to a lot of companies.

Taking it forward, I intend to discuss one such illustration which highlights incorrect use of “Brand Gandhi”. How ethnic differences impact marketing and what are the implications? Wait for the next entry.

For now, a smart application of the legend, by Apple- “Think Different”

Could not really understand the one with Hitler and Stalin (I think). Maybe I will have to wait till I understand some Russian!

Incidentally, there is an entire generation of people (mostly Europeans and Africans) who know him as "Ghandi" and not the actual "Gandhi". Am clueless about the origin of this word, but some portion of the literature I found on the Internet has consistently misspelt the name!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bagvertising: Handling your Targeted Marketing Campaign

Proliferation of Media channels has entailed a decline in the effectiveness of existing traditional channels. Measurement of the efficacy of the traditional media is no longer treated with enthusiasm by the industry professionals and new requirements and expectations are emerging for innovation, insight, experimentation, and measurable returns.

According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, titled “Darwin Pays a Visit to Advertising” – Opportunities for Action in Consumer Markets

Marketers have moved beyond the “Mass Marketing” era, and there is a need for much more precision in targeting consumers. The traditional value chain has been disintegrated and has led to an evolved framework in the advertising industry with “targeted marketing” as their measurable goal. A concerted effort is being made towards an integrated, holistic campaign across alternative channels.

Thus, New and unconventional methods of marketing are being looked at and experimented with. There is greater focus on PR, guerilla marketing and the Internet, with the advent in technology wonderfully complementing this shift.

Therefore, customers need greater attention, much more personal communication, and tangible returns. Innovation is the key to reach the consumers.
Innovation in communication is passé. A couple of years back, the communication was the idea. Today, the media vehicle is the idea itself. New and innovative packaging, guerilla campaigns and aggressive marketing tactics are considered to be “effective” vehicles for Advertising.

One such advertising vehicle is the Carry Bag. Advertising on the carry bags, jargonized as “Bagvertising”, has experienced brilliant levels of innovation lately. Various Brands, spread across all categories, have leveraged the carry bags for their communication and positioning and are using it on a regular basis for their marketing campaigns.

Since Bagvertising is more precise in nature, there are specific advantages linked to such form of advertising –

- Greater visibility of the brand, leading to enhanced brand awareness
- More sampling opportunities
- A billboard effect without prohibitive production costs
- Effective targeted marketing
- More measurable media

Incidentally, most of the creatives on the bags are built around the “handle”, keeping in mind the grip of the bag, where the customer holds it. Others (like Blush) focus on how the bags are carried by the customer or in some cases (like Alinna) the threads holding the bag are modified. In most of the cases, however, Innovation is applied around the tags only.

Looking ahead, this channel will be exploited further by the Marketers. Considering the visibility it entails, and “perceived” returns from an innovative bag-vertising campaign, this advertising vehicle stands out of the media clutter and therefore, has been given greater preference over other channels. In certain aspects, however, there is scope for further innovation.

Possible areas which can be worked upon –
(a) Discount coupons can be attached to the specific bags, which would directly map to repeat purchase and loyalty programs.
(b) Reusable bags can be made, which can be used by customers for other purposes as well, keeping in mind the shopping pattern of a typical Indian woman customer
(c) Apart from the retail outlets, where they would be mostly used, other touch points such as Bus Terminus, Railway Stations and Airports should be exploited as well
(d) Similar innovation can/should be extended to backpacks also
(e) Linking the Bags with the customer profile and integrating it with CRM and targeted in-store advertising. However, as per my limited understanding and knowledge, this might be slightly difficult to execute and get pertinent data, since the same carry bag might be used by various family members. Nonetheless, this option can be explored further.

Am sure there would be more options and avenues for Marketers to exercise their grey cells. But for now, innovation is being “handled” fantastically on these carry bags…

Have you been bagvertised lately?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Guerillas with a sense of Humor..

Some creatives invoke a thought process, others simply make you smile...Found some of these creatives at Arvind's Blog Though some of them may be tagged as "cheap humor", they do make you laugh. And yes, you need a bent of mind for this kind of stuff to understand these as well...;)

The Campaigns are:
- Zandu Ads created by TBWA India "Dont Sneeze"
- Mini Guerilla in the Urinal "Test your handling Skills"
- The "It can happen anywhere" Axe Campaignm, and
- Jik Cleaner...

Check your sense of humor..