Monday, January 30, 2006

Anti-Smoking Campaigns - me too ...

I have been discussing Smoking and cigarettes quite a bit (2 entries to be precise). I had earlier talked about Jim’s Burnt Offerings and then, a couple of days back, I discussed Chicago’s Smokers’ Lounge.

In order to prevent any conscious and sub-conscious criticism, I decided to absolve this blog of any promotional intentions for smoking…
Here are some good campaigns I have collated from various sources, all underlying the theme of “Anti-smoking”…Have a look..
(Click to view the enlarged version)

In fact, there is a particular graph that explains the entire cycle of rejection or abandonment of a previously adopted product or service. This model was put forward by Everett Rogers and has been discussed as an exception to the “Classic” diffusion model

An effective anti-smoking campaign would be an example of such a trend, where the habit of smoking is gradually abandoned. Another clich├ęd example would be the rejection of an older technology to be replaced with a new one. That is when Java would replace C or Laptops replace PCs in corporates….similar trends are shown.
Not sure at which part of the curve Indian smokers are at this point of time, but one thing is for sure, they really do not appear to sliding downside till now...not at least the way this curve predicts..
Will wait and see the annual report of ITC to confirm the same ;-)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

C2C Communication – Why Consumers get into Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

An insightful research paper by Dr Andrea Wojnicki, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Rotman School of Management, talks about the reasons behind consumer-to-consumer communication, or what is popularly known as “Word of Mouth” Marketing.

What makes Marketers so confident of this mode of advertising that they actually PLAN for such activities? Does the consumer consciously participate in this marketing activity? How can we find out the consumer psyche behind this complete exercise? If there is ambiguity in the behavioral pattern of my consumers, how can I be sure of the effectiveness of WOM? Can I predict if I will fail or succeed in my WOM campaigns?

Dr Andrea attempts to answer most of these apprehensions. The theory she proposes is impression management and it offers insight into why consumers actually engage in WOM. Based in part on motivational theories from social psychology, the theory allows us to predict the relative amount of WOM generated by experts or novices following satisfying or dissatisfying consumption experiences.

In order to generate WOM, certain parameters need to be carefully evaluated. Certain characteristics are essential for measuring the effectiveness of WOM.
Specifically, the self-concept of the consumer and his subjective expertise are the quintessential elements to be considered.

What is Self-concept and what qualifies as subjective Expertise?
Self-concept, per se, appears to be ambiguous. It refers to a multi-dimensional entity that includes various “selves” (e.g. the actual self, the ideal self), roles, or traits, each of which may be more or less salient depending on the situation. However, for the purpose of WOM, the author has broadly associated two main motivational forces with the self-concept - self-verification and self-enhancement.

Self-Enhancement - Consumers could tend to enhance (improve) their self-concept, that is they seek experiences and feedback that improve or bolster their egos. When motivated to self-enhance, people seek to link themselves to positive, and avoid negative, associations leading to brand associations with “ideal” products and brands. In such cases, consumers may engage in WOM as a means to gain attention, social status, superiority, or power.

Self-Verification – Consumers could tend to verify (maintain) their self-concept, that is they seek experiences and feedback that facilitate the maintenance of a consistent self-concept. The underlying objective is to ensure that their behavior is predictable and stable and their image is consistent with what others’ believe and perceive of them.
Purchase behavior in such cases reflects loyalty, higher usage, ownership and established preferences.

Apart from Self-concept, the paper also takes into account two other parameters – Expertise and Satisfaction Levels.
Expertise means the relative competency and knowledge of a person in a particular field or category, based on which a person can be classified as an expert or a novice.
Satisfaction levels correspond to the congruence between what I expected and what I get – if I get what I expected, satisfaction levels are high else they are low.

Following is the construct map taken from her paper
(With due permission from the Author. All Rights are reserved with the Author)

As is evident from the diagram, before the self-concept is applied, one needs to diagnose the impact of two factors –
  • Opportunity to Choose - whether the consumer had choice about which product to consume, and
  • Objectivity of evaluation - whether the salient evaluative dimensions of the consumption experience are objective.

  • The relationships explained above will only hold when both these factors hold true!

    To trigger WOM through self-verification force, not only should the satisfaction levels be high, but also the subjective expertise and competency in that particular category is important.
    According to Dr Andrea, there has to be congruence between subjective expertise and satisfaction levels to activate self-verification. “When they are congruent, self-verification will encourage WOM and when they are incongruent, self-verification will discourage WOM.

    When consumers are satisfied, self-enhancement will encourage consumers to generate WOM and when consumers are dissatisfied, self-enhancement will discourage consumers to generate WOM. In this case, expertise is insignificant, since recognition is the motivational force here.

    Few other determining factors
    (a) High vs Low Involvement - High Involvement entails a high amount of WOM (positive or negative) For instance, in the automobile category, certainly characterized by high involvement, WOM increases with satisfaction.
    (b) High Satisfaction vs Low Satisfaction - Experts would generate more WOM regarding their satisfying experiences and novices would talk more of their dissatisfying experiences.
    (c) Expectations – If there is extreme disparity between what consumers expected and what they got, it results in higher dissatisfaction and hence, higher negative WOM (based on expectations disconfirmation theory)

    Thus, Consumers use WOM as a mechanism for impression management purposes to both enhance and verify their self-concepts as category experts or novices.

    Application in Indian Markets
    Rural consumer relies primarily on word of mouth. Be it HLL’s Shakti or ITC’s e-choupal with their sanchalak, the most effective way to gain inroads into the Rural markets is through Word-of-mouth.
    As is mentioned in the paper, subjective expertise of the Shakti or the Sanchalak is the primary driver for WOM. Once this expert is satisfied, the efficacy of the WOM campaign is much more than would be the case with an external salesperson, whose expertise and credibility is yet to be established.

    More so, Shakti works on the model of self-enhancement, in accordance with the model explained above. The motivator for the Shakti lady is the stature in the society, a desire to enhance one’s self-concept!

    Also, the role of the Influencer is played by the Expert and holds much more credence due to the expertise and his competence. For instance, the Sarpanch (head of the village) is approached more often for any PR campaigns, as he is considered the “Opinion Leader” in the community. Be it painting his house by Asian Paints, talking about Pulse Polio campaigns or authorization for Consumer surveys, all efforts are routed through him. Hence, the critical link!

    As for the predictability of WOM in Urban Markets, expertise, or what we call as “been there, done that” …counts…just have a look at the number of links to Guy Kawasaki’s blog - 1119 sites linking at this point within the last 20 days..!
    Need I say more? ;-)

    [Dr Andrea Wojnicki is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. The contents of this entry have been taken (with permission) from a paper she had authored while pursuing her doctorate of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. Titled "Word-of-Mouth and the Self-Concept: The Effects of Satisfaction & Subjective Expertise on Inter-Consumer Communication", the complete paper is available at this link and the abstract can be read here]

    Saturday, January 28, 2006

    Ads - in, for and of Public Interest

    EPICA-Awards hosts some of the best ads globally. I had earlier talked about Gandhi Ads (Telecom) and then Les Echos(Media). This time, I found some really fine pieces of Ads – the best of the Finalists in the Epica Awards 2004 under the Public Interest Category. Here are my favorite 3 from the film sub-category –
    [Click each of them to view the Ads]

    The first one is for the Home for the Blind, Zurich. With a background score of “I just called to say I love you” by Stevie Wonder, the Ad features blind old men and women attempting to sing the song in their own tunes and styles in a recording studio. Wonderfully shot, the Ad ends with the caption “Not everyone who's blind can earn millions singing. Thank you for your donation. Home for the Blind, Zurich.

    Next, we have a unique message and a definite learning (at leaste for me!). A young boy roams around the streets whiling away his time, gazing at things around him and doing nothing, possibly homeless and without anyone to support him. In his quest for something interesting, he finds a newspaper with French fries in it. Surprisingly, instead of French fries, he is more keen on the cartoon page and smiles on finding it.
    Caption: “Today in France , one million children are also starving for culture”.
    Great work!

    Finally, a funny piece and a brilliant creative to send the message across – classic style!
    Picture a Classic oldie – with the hero fighting his way out to rescue his princess, putting up a strong fight, standing strong in a lone battle against….yet, unable to leave his mark…since he can’t write!
    Might sound kiddish, but wait till you see the execution of the Ad. Wonderful concept!
    Caption: “Illiteracy is a bigger problem than you think.

    The rest of the Ads in the Print and the Film category can found at this link.

    Must say, this is really excellent work. I just couldn’t stop myself in appreciating it. Deservingly finalists – each one of them!

    Friday, January 27, 2006

    Rural Markets – High Tech Mandis

    If you think Rural Markets is all about painted buffaloes and uninformed and uneducated farmers, think again. Read this article and you could ask this again to yourself ... :-).

    Before I move further, Mandis are large agricultural produce markets that trade grains, fruits, vegetables and the rest of the produce with the farmers and act as intermediaries between the industry and the farmers. They act as a central hub and a router between farms to towns.

    Almost 6 months back, Business World, in its 30th May’05 article Taking reform to the farm, mentioned that alternative mechanisms for connecting farmers to the markets was required. The 7,000-strong mandi system needed to be modified for its efficiency, lack of a robust supply chain network and process streamlining. Quoted from the editorial –
    “All these big shifts require huge investments in building hard and soft infrastructure - something that the government alone is in no position to bear. The Prime Minister has already talked about replacing publicly funded R&D in agriculture and rural infrastructure with a new private participation model. But the private sector will not step in till the larger environment itself is conducive for it to function smoothly. That is why a more favourable environment is being created - largely through an overhaul of several antiquated laws.”

    Things did move after that. A few days back, an article in the Business Standard on mandis - High-tech mandis beckon India Inc talked about just the same approach envisaged by experts – a public-private partnership (PPP).

    Organizations are partnering with the Indian government to develop terminal markets for agricultural commodities, or state-of-the-art mandis, that will provide farmers with a modern platform to sell their produce. These include Reliance Industries, the Tata group, ITC Agri, the Adanis, Larsen & Toubro, Pantaloon, DLF, the Rahejas and Lalit Suri’s Bharat Hotels.

    Select projects at 8 locations to begin with - Nashik, Nagpur, Mumbai, Patna, Chandigarh, Rai (Haryana), Kolkata and Bhopal – would function as public-private partnerships. Costing over Rs 1,000 crore per setup, the private partner would hold 3/4th of the stakes. “These state-of-the-art mandis will become the link between farmers and the rest of the country, helping them get better rates without involving intermediaries”

    As per plan, while the private partner will undertake construction, services, auction and warehousing, the Centre will be responsible for compliance and the state governments will have to chip in with fast clearances. Thus, both the systems would complement each other in their respective functions. In short, on one hand voids in direct public initiatives like Bureaucracy and corruption, Lack of technical efficiency and uncompetitive market structure would be taken care of private participation; on the other hand, risk management, scalability and approvals would be coordinated by the respective governments.

    Looking ahead what needs to be done is integration of all these sub-systems and establishment of a centralized network across the nation. Entities like the e-choupal which serves as an electronic kiosk storing information regarding prices for agri-produce in various mandis of a particular region should be networked with these high-tech mandis for real-time quotes. Apart from these, other aspects of hard infrastructure like SCM, vehicle management, distribution resource planning need to be networked (source: Cargo New Asia)

    Role of the government
    In the cover story of Business World May 30th edition, “Fixing the mandi", the role of the government had been clearly stated -

    Unlike during the Green Revolution, the government won't be the main driver of the change. Instead, government will be the enabler and the catalyst. A group of private companies, cooperatives, NGOs and farmers will learn to work together for their own self-interest to gradually revamp Indian agriculture.

    Spot Markets and Future Exchanges
    Apart from these, Spot Markets and Future Exchanges have been introduced in the rural markets as well. Two National spot markets, National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) and Multi Commodity Exchange, have linked physical trading in mandis with traders, growers, warehouses, financial institutions and agricultural institutes. A farmer is able to find out weather data and real-time price of their produce, and accordingly decide to sell or store it for a future date. Thus, there is an element of dynamism emerging in the rural sector, which needs to be supplemented with the corresponding support functions. To ensure that the farmer has adequate facilities to store his crops, warehouses are emerging as a sustainable business proposition. Many private players have stepped in to invest, increasing total warehousing capacity to 300 lakh tonnes.

    Direct Marketing
    According to Agmarket, Direct marketing encourages farmers to undertake grading of farm produce at the farm gate and obviates the necessity to haul produce to regulated markets for sale. Direct marketing enables farmers and processors and other bulk buyers to economize on transportation costs and to considerably improve price realization.

    Direct marketing by farmers to the consumers has been experimented in the country through Apni Mandis in Punjab and Haryana. The concept, with certain improvements has been popularized in Andhra Pradesh through Rythu Bazars and in Tamil Nadu as Uzhavar Santhaigal. Considering the vastness of the country, more and more such markets need to come up in the organized sector so that they can be developed in tune with the backward & forward linkages. The APMC Acts will also have to be amended to permit private and cooperative sectors to take up direct marketing of agricultural commodities from the producing areas and the farmers’ fields, without the necessity of going through licensed traders and regulated markets. Such a reform will spur private initiative in building consumer oriented market infrastructure in the country.

    Moving up the Value Chain
    If poverty elimination has to get a “realistic” status from its current “utopian” position, it is imperative to move to higher value work, be it any sector. So, whether it is value-added offshore work in the IT sector (moving from the cost-advantage tactics) according to Mckinsey, or it is farming, we have to move up the value chain in any case.

    As the father of India’s green revolution M.S. Swaminathan says "High value agriculture is deeply important if you want to make any kind of meaningful dent on the poverty numbers of India."

    The government has started using local NGOs to ready farmers for horticulture. Capacity building is essential according to Mr Swaminathan. When Korea was moving into high value agriculture, it set up farmer schools and methodically trained half a million farmers every year. The Prime Minister said in a speech this year: "There is a problem as the move from a subsistence economy to an economy which uses more of commercial inputs and is dependent on selling its output in the market, risks are bound to increase. Hence, education and social security are quintessential elements that need to be factored in all policy decisions!

    Thus, it is imperative to have perfect coordination between the private enterprises and the government and the respective entities should ensure that their efforts are in consistently in sync with each other. In the next two to three years, industry experts predict a much more mature market and established Rural hubs across the country, entailing profitable private sector units clubbed with regular cash flows and investments, leading to robust growth in "India's greatest living industry" – Agriculture. Such efforts would definitely culminate into what is termed in the business cells as a “sustainable business advantage”!

    Still stuck with the painted buffaloes? ;-)

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    Niche Marketing – Smokers’ Lounge

    A few months back, I had mentioned a unique collection of cigarette packaging on Jim’s Burnt Offerings. That was the product side of the “Smoking” market. Let me talk about a new concept introduced in the service side of this market.

    In Chicago, R. J. Reynolds, the 2nd largest tobacco company in the United States, has introduced a new premium-priced line of smokes called Marshall McGearty as an upscale smoking lounge in trendy market areas. Exclusively marketed at the lounge itself, the smokes are made out of fresh tobacco leaves and will be hand-rolled by a tobacconist. They are available in nine flavors and would be priced at $8 per pack.

    Such a concept has redefined the cigarette market altogether, and if successful, it would follow the other niche market products offered at select retail outlets.

    But how did this concept originate?
    According to Adage,
    Mr. McGearty (creative director of Gyro Worldwide, a Philadelphia advertising agency that has handled tobacco accounts) and RJR blend specialist Jerry Marshall struck up a conversation a few years back about tobacco leaves, likening them to the tastes of coffee beans or chocolates. They identified the emergence of a premium brand in each of the categories - coffee, beer, wine, liquor, chocolate and teas and identified a similar need amongst the adult smokers too. Thus, emerged the concept and the name.. Marshall McGearty!

    Tagging premium cigarettes as “works of art”, their objective was clear - to make some of the world’s best smokes and to build unique sanctuaries where their works of art could be properly enjoyed. This reflects in their advertising campaign too!
    About the Lounge

    A nice description of the place is given in Centerstage Chicago -
    "A quasi-speakeasy for smokers, even non-smokers will appreciate this lounge's calming atmosphere, along with its advanced air-filtration system that clears the air of any lingering smoke. After having your ID checked (the lounge is 21+), the staff will ask you what cigarettes you usually smoke. State your smoke of choice and you'll be given a recommendation from the menu…"

    But wait a minute. Does the very mention of cigarette and smoking ring a bell somewhere in your mind? Yup… The moment you talk of smoking, you have a strong anti-social perspective associated with it to oppose the concept.

    Marketing Cigarettes? Propagating smoking? What about the Law? What about Health? What about the society? What about our children?..

    Here is the deal … Though a 1998 Master Settlement Agreement strictly bans smoking in bars and restaurants, Chicago's ordinance excludes "retail tobacco stores," places where 65 percent of the sales are of "tobacco" or "tobacco accessories," according to the city's Law Department. Marshall McGearty falls under this category. According to a release in RJR’s establishment is technically a “tobacco retail store,” where at least 65 percent of sales of are tobacco or tobacco accessories, making it exempt from the ban. (Many cities in the United States include similar exemptions in their smoking ordinances, including New York, where sales of tobacco at exempted stores must account for more than half of sales).

    But that still leaves the question of the impact on the teens unanswered. While the focus seems to be on the core customers who drive revenue - existing smokers, there are fears that RJR’s plan could make its products appealing to teens, raising concerns over its intentions and setting up a new generation of consumers. Statistics confirm these apprehensions – research shows that 80% of smokers develop the habit before the age of 18.

    Experts comment on the emulative tendencies of the teens– “the fact that it’s for adults only increases its attractiveness to adolescents, because the most effective marketing campaigns to kids are those that make cigarettes a part of looking like a successful, virulent young adult.”

    Some steps have been taken to reduce such anticipated criticism. The website allows only visitors over 21 years, and the same restriction applies to the entry inside the Chicago lounge. Advertising mentions the warnings explicitly and so do the packages. However, this risk still cannot be completely eliminated.
    Despite the restrictions of the Master Settlement Agreement, the Federal Trade Commission reported that the industry spent $15.15 billion on advertising, marketing, discounts and other promotions in 2003. After all, we are talking about an $87 billion industry and that too, only in the United States!

    The market has a divided opinion on this nascent concept. According to New York Times,
    Some experts say that with opening of such joints, cigarettes could start being treated like alcohol - the kind of thing you savor. On the other hand, others like Richard A. Daynard, a law professor, believe the idea will not work since their clientele is not high-end consumers, but mainly working class and poor people.

    Where can one take this too?
    One could develop this into a “cult” brand like iPods or one could look at servicing the luxury market, with a premium stake in the brand. Either ways, a niche market is what the advertisers are looking at. A strong opposition from the communities is highly likely, so is the work around it has jumped upon in the legal implications.

    Whatever the case may be, the concept is definitely unique to begin with. What remains to be seen is the direction it takes in the years to come. Says an industry analyst, “They’re trying something completely different. They’re openly trying to create an allure. If it works, I can see the other companies lining up to try something like it.” For now, none of RJR’s rivals, which include Philip Morris and Lorillard, have opened smoking lounges or employed a glamour strategy.

    Learnings for the sub-continent
    Can this be a cue for the cigarette czar of the country? ITC could well reinvent the wheel and redefine the marketing of cigarettes in India. Keeping in mind the legalities, ITC could market some of its brands exclusively to the premium segment of adult smokers. Restrictions can be enforced to ensure that teenagers are not allowed entry at such joints, and the advertising is only done for adults. Though there are many constraints in making this idea practically feasible, I think a step towards this could be thought of and delved into, considering the “image building” exercises are not sustainable for the corporate giant….

    Is this a summer intern speaking? ;-)

    [via Adage and subsequent Googling!]

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    Comparitive Advertising - Reverse Effects..

    According to a research conducted by Itamar Simonson, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business, a couple of months ago, giving explicit options of comparisons could have a reverse effect on the consumer perception of the products and offerings. Simply put, if you ask the consumer to compare your brand with another competitor in the market, over any parameters (say, price, application, etc.), it could lead to negative outcomes in the purchase pattern of the consumers.

    Comparative advertising, which can be either implicit (when a consumer takes the initiative to evaluate two or more products) or explicit (specifically directed by the seller or advertiser), has long been used by marketers to frame choices in ways that are favorable to their products.

    When we say “product placement at the retail outlets” – we are essentially factoring two important elements – the eye span and the comparative evaluations. In this context, placing products in close proximity would ensure a subconscious comparison of the products based on the parameters laid out by the consumer.

    In other cases, there is an explicit direction towards comparison, which is pushed by the advertisers. Be it price-based, market-based, delivery or service based, consumers are made to assess the effectiveness of the advertised brand after comparing it with established players in the market (or the mind of the consumer).

    Incidentally, when such orientations or evaluations are ‘fed’ to the consumers, they tend to put greater weight on the comparative disadvantages rather than advantages of each option. They could feel that they might be cheated and false promises might be made, and therefore the risk element is attached from the very first step itself (Evaluation of Alternatives).

    Since evaluations post-comparisons are much stronger and influential on the purchase decisions for the consumers, there is a greater amount of risk attached to such approaches and that’s why Marketers need to be slightly careful on this front.

    Consumers would be more risk-averse and would like to take a middle route if possible. They do not want to be on the lower end of the offerings due to the deliverables.
    Such apprehensions are more profound in case of service-oriented offerings and deliverables.

    Such a trend in buying-behavior affirms that the life of mid-range products is still not over and even though some marketers are pretty bullish on a choice eventually between price-sensitive consumers on one hand and quality-sensitive on the other, I think it is time to revise our basic presumptions once again!

    [Source: Explicit Comparisons May Scare Off Consumers; November 2005; Stanford BusinessStanford Graduate School of Business]

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    Rejoice – A Giant Comb for Tangled Hair

    An excellent ambient piece by Leo Burnett, Bangkok on Rejoice Conditioners.

    The message on the comb, as shown, reads - Tangles? Switch to Rejoice Conditioner.
    The creative of the Ad –
    Rejoice Giant Comb.
    "To innovatively highlight Rejoice Conditioners as the solution for tangled hair, this ambient piece was placed amongst the many utility cables strewn throughout Bangkok’s Central Business District."

    According to Arvind, the idea is done by Somak Chaudhury - an art director from Leo Burnett, Bangkok. Identifying a relevant spot in the market to advertise and then ensuring pertinent communication by perfect execution is an art in itself, and Leo Burnett has once again demonstrated brilliance in this art.

    Great work!
    [via Creative Criminal]

    Sales sans Marketing – Rural India

    This entry was triggered by a session yesterday in the Marketing class on Innovative uses in the Rural Markets. On closer research, I did find some really surprising, yet interesting innovations that Rural India has been using –
  • Buffaloes displayed at the haats for sale are dyed an immaculate black with Godrej hair dye.
  • Horlicks is used as a health beverage to fatten up cattle in Bihar.
  • In parts of Northern India, condoms are used by weavers as gloves on their fingers to weave fine threads. Lubrication on condoms allows them fine control on threads and protects their sensitive fingers.
  • In villages of Punjab, washing machines are being used to make frothy lassi in bulk.
  • Paints meant for colouring up the rich-smooth walls are used to paint the horns of cattle to make identification easier and to achieve a long-term protection from theft.
  • Iodex is rubbed into the skins of animals after a hard day’s work to relieve muscular pain.
  • Iodex is also used as a filling between sandwitches
  • Soft-drinks, especially coca-cola, are used in some parts of India as pesticides.
  • [via ET Strategic Marketing]

    Could this be attributed to lack of awareness or clever discoveries? I believe that in the case of Rural consumers, the former results in the latter.

    According to another article in Strategic Marketing, since the consumers are not educated about the uses of products, they use the products incorrectly. So in some cases, villagers were found using shampoo for brushing teeth and toothpaste for washing hair. Providing such basic usage is imperative. However, it is just because the rural consumers do not close their minds and are constantly “learning by using”,(if I may call it) that sales of some of the FMCGs has multiplied, even though the usage may be unintended. It is in such cases that marketers can express concern over the trends, keep harping on education, yet just go to a corner and smile away – after all Sales sans Marketing and Advertising is every Marketer’s fantasy!

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    Save a Life if you can’t Save the World..

    Another Blood Donation Campaign? Yes it is. But this one is different. No, it still tells you to donate blood, but in a slightly different manner.

    A joint campaign by American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, The Advertising Council and Advancing Transfusion and Cellular Therapies Worldwide, the campaign talks about the easiness in saving a life and the difficulties in saving the world…

    The campaign reads…
    For rallying against polluters to lobbying for better healthcare to fighting injustices around the world, you try to do the right thing. Its not easy to save the world. But there is an easy way you can have a positive impact. And that’s by donating blood.
    Every 2 seconds someone in the United States needs blood.
    “Saving the World isn’t easy. Saving a Life is”.

    The best part about the website is that it is perfectly made for Gen Y and the Millenials. Perfect graphics, punk billboards and flashy messages make it an interesting browsing. There is a lot of information on the website including the myths and facts of blood donation and also helping the browsers to locate the camps closest to their areas.

    What I could infer from the website is that the intention is not to increase awareness among the corporate citizens of the world (or the US) to donate blood. It is more to do with orienting the younger generation towards an effective approach towards contributing to the community.

    Our generation is more aware of things around us, our society, our community, our environment. What we strongly feel, right from our teenage introspective days, is … to make a difference, which subsequently translates to giving back to the society..

    Good read and definitely informative website. There is a nice edit by Jeff Yonker on the Ad – reinforces the message the campaign intends to communicate. He also substantiates the fact that there are loads of complications in taking steps towards saving the world..Nice insight.
    But, taking a neutral view, how effective is the competitive campaign or how effective would it be, and how receptive would the target audience be to it?

    Seth Stevenson [via Slate] is not convinced of the campaign. Though he supports the cause, he opines on the undercurrents of competition in the campaign “this ad argues that giving blood is a better choice than advocating on behalf of those child laborers”.

    Substituting blood donation with progressive activism, taking the easier route to make an impact and convincing the generation of the hopeless mess around them - reflects escapism as the solution!

    Though the approach seems to be convoluted, donating blood does not obviate active measures to contribute to the community and make it a better place. What is the point in donating blood if the very people for whom you are donating blood cannot live in a better place? More so if our generation does feel for the society and is convinced of the challenges that lie ahead in saving the world, we are not ready to give up fighting for it anyway.

    Having said that, I think the campaign would definitely catch attention. Which direction it takes and the awareness it generates, remains to be seen. For the time being, Saving the world isnt easy, and we know it – and that’s the very reason we will fight for it ;-)

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Cell Catch Bracelets – Special Items for Special Occasions!

    Customized products for Valentine’s Day have already started floating in the market. And this is one occasion, where the price tag is often ignored, at least when it comes to butterflying. So, for those who are looking for pertinent offerings, here is one such Valentines Special product - Cell Catch Bracelets.

    Offered at, CellCatch bracelets offer a support system for hanging your cell phones to your bracelets. The bracelets are absolutely unique, are made out of pearl and of course, expensive!
    How does this work? Simple. The cell phone can be attached to CellCatch. It is adjustable and one can wear it as a bracelet on those days you want to leave your cell phone at home.
    The cost is immaterial, be it $45 or $95. What is more relevant is what she would wear on that day and what suits her the most – “wood with an iridescent sheen”, “funky green turquoise stones” or “oval faceted sunstone”…

    Tough decision indeed!
    I am not sure how Trendy it is, and how much receptive would the luxury” ladies be to this offering, at least in India. How much can the bracelet be relied upon, for holding cell phones?
    But then, logic sometimes does not work, right? At least not for the next one month, when the Romeos would be surfing the net for the best and most “attractive” offerings for the special day…

    So, What’s next? CellCatch Earrings? ;-)

    [via Shiny Shiny]

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    Re-branding Initiatives – Worldspace

    Loads of re-branding has been happening in India. After Indian Airlines and Hutch rebranding, it is now Worldspace which has changed its logo and added a tagline to “truly represent” its brand identity in the Global markets.
    According to a press release on 6th January’06, Worldspace, one of the world leaders in satellite-based digital radio services, introduced its new identity and tagline “Turn on your World”. These elements, according to the release, reflect the company's commitment to deliver a unique, personal global satellite radio experience to its current and future customers. This tagline would also be used in future marketing and product packaging materials.

    Samples of the new changes have also being given at New Brand Identity.

    According to the WorldSpace website, WorldSpace (Nasdaq: WRSP) is the world's only global media and entertainment company positioned to offer a satellite radio experience to consumers in more than 130 countries with five billion people, driving 300 million cars. WorldSpace subscribers benefit from a unique combination of local programming, original WorldSpace content and content from leading brands around the globe including the BBC, CNN, Virgin Radio, NDTV and RFI.

    Incidentally, the India website does not reflect the new logo yet. Ironically, India is one of its key focus areas to enhance coverage and content for the year 2006!

    [via Logo lounge]

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Rice Burgers from McDonald’s – Glocal Initiatives!

    Intense competition between fast-food outlets worldwide prompted McDonald's to shift away from a standardized menu and turn instead to more localized menus. That is why McDonald’s has made a conscious and aggressive attempt to offer localized products to its consumers. Be It rice triangle wraps in China or McAloo Tikki in India, products are launched to suit the local flavors and tastes. In India, due to religious sentiments, mutton replaced beef, and more stress was given to a vegetarian menu. Thus, items such as McAloo Tikki, Paneer Salsa and Veg McCurry are seen more often on the Indian menu cards and billboards!

    Low-calorie food is another pitching point for McDonald’s to the health-conscious consumers. The fast-food giant has in recent years hosted a series of health campaigns amid growing public worries over the high fat content of its food.Thus, marketing on the health plank as well as offering local flavors were the key elements of the marketing strategy for penetration into the Asian markets.
    One such factor or consumption pattern identified by McDonald’s was the rice-loving societies in this part of the world. This pattern prompted the food giant to launch Rice burgers…and the first country to experiment was Taiwan.
    McDonald’s launched the concept of Rice Burgers (a slice of chicken or beef sandwiched between two rice cakes) in Taiwan initially in Feb 2005. It was the first time rice burgers were on the menu of McDonald’s, which till that time, was only marketed by MOS Burgers.

    The burgers became so popular that within 3 months of launching them, Rice burgers were being exported to other Asian Markets and within six months of its launch, the sales of its home-grown rice burgers reached 5 million units (Courtesy: Taipei Times) inspite of facing competition from established players like Mos Burger and 7-Eleven convenience stores. According to figures released by McDonald's, 30 out of every 100 customers that visited a McDonald's in Taiwan opted to order a rice burger since this locally-developed product was released.

    This success in the Taiwanese market prompted McDonald’s to extend the concept to other Asian countries. Only a couple of days back, it launched the Rice Burgers in Singapore. Singapore's population of 4.4 million people is predominantly ethnic Chinese, Malay and Indian, and rice is a staple food for the three ethnic groups, thus the extension of its strategy of penetrating into the rice-loving societies.

    Rice burgers were popularised by Japanese fast-food chain MOS Burger (pronounced as "Masu Baagaa") which has nearly 1,500 outlets in Japan, 107 in Taiwan and 17 in Singapore. Being pioneers of the concept, they have mastered the art of customization – atleast when it comes to Rice Burgers.

    Thus, the concept of Rice burgers per se is not a new one. But for McDonald’s, it has been a key indicator of their glocal initiatives and source of revenue.

    However, this has not been a sure-shot success formula for the food giant. In certain markets like South Korea, it has failed due to lack of customization and sticking to International standards. Incidentally (as mentioned in the article), McDonald’s lost out to its rival Lotteria Co on ‘Kimchi and rice burgers attuned to Korean taste’.

    So, there is no set pattern or formula to offer to consumers in this part of the world. Though “glocal” initiatives is the norm of the day, it is not as simple as its derivation (global+local). Customization is imperative, but what is more important is
    - it has to be pertinent to the consumers,
    - a detailed analysis of the taste buds and the consumption patterns,and
    - a compehensive evaluation of the local competition

    Anyways, great strategy by McDonald’s and a good case-study.
    What’s next? Roti Burgers? Or Mc Kulcha? ;-)

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint Presentation: Guy Kawasaki

    The latest entry into the Blog world is the famous venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki. In his “Let the Good Times Roll” Blog, which was started almost a week back (but already has 469 links to it), Kawasaki presents his perspective and thoughts, based on his vast experience and exposure. He talks about Venture Capital – the rights and the wrongs, he talks about entrepreneurship – the highs and the lows, he talks about business – the goods and the bads…
    Till now, based on my reading, I can aver that every entry has a definite take away. I am sure it is going to be a must-see must-link blog very soon (just a matter of google showing it I guess!)

    One such entry talks about the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint Presentation. Based on his experience, Guy recommends a structure for the presentations - “a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.

    It helps in terms of comprehension, retention and assimilation by the audience. 10 Slides is justified by the quality of the content, followed by the timeline for the delivery of the content - 20 minutes specifically and finally, presenting the content, which is the text size, the graphics, the display, and movement of the slides. All these elements need to be taken care of, to ensure an effective communication!
    Great insights!

    It always helps to “tag” a vague thought process which runs at the back of your mind, in an unstructured cluttered manner, but which is conveniently structured by such experienced professionals through their experiences of the corporate world!

    Next time, before preparing a presentation, I now know how to structure (and even jargonize) my thought process ….we need to use the “10/20/30 Rule”!

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Starbucks vs Xingbake: IPR Protection in China

    Its hit almost every newspaper by now. - Starbucks* won the case and Shanghai based Xingbake Coffee Co Ltd has to pay the punitive damages amounting to $62,500 or 500,000 yuan or Rs. 27.88 Lakhs!
    According to China Daily ,
    One of the shops of the local company in the city's downtown Nanjing Road has a design similar to that of Starbucks: a round logo with green characters against white background Chinese characters reading "Xing Ba Ke" on the top and Cafe at the bottom."
    Xing, pronounced "shing" means star in Chinese, and bake, or "bah kuh" sounds like bucks Thus the name, logo, graphic elements and meaning are all subject to copyright infringement.

    This is how it all happened and the relevant timelines --
    (Click on the image below)

    In an article in CNN called “Chinese court slides with Starbucks”, the concern of the foreign companies had been highlighted.
    Foreign companies have complained for years that the Chinese government is failing to stamp out piracy of copyrighted or trademarked goods such as movies or designer clothes.
    The entire Chinese Markets have been grappling with these issues of Intellectual Property Rights. In a recent article in Mckinsey Quarterly on “Protecting Intellectual Property in China”, a robust structure has been recommended for the IP model in China, not only from the legal perspective, but also from an operational and strategic perspective. Though the industries facing IP issues are primarily Consumer Electronics, Semiconductors, medical equipment, pharma and software, the food industry has also been impacted with the infringement issues.

    Counterfeiting is one of the most important issues organizations would have to face in the coming year. As has been illustrated above, many local producers are imitating products to sell low-cost offerings to suit the cost-conscious consumers.

    According to the study conducted by Mckinsey, most of the Chinese companies take the legal route to handle IP protection. They would need to take more of a proactive than a reactive approach and strategize accordingly. They should incorporate and institutionalize the IP rights, both internal as well as external to the organization.
    The best companies reduce the chance that competitors will steal their IP, by carefully selecting which products and technologies to sell and manufacture in China."
    Other critical features elaborated in the article include control of the senior Managers, awareness of the regulations and the practices, high ethical standards, preference for internationally experienced Chinese nationals and trusted partners for joint ventures.

    Lately, with further opening up of the Chinese economy, there has been some relaxation on the rule of joint ventures for entry into the particular industry. Even Starbucks has started opening outlets directly as the government loosens regulations on foreign ownership in the sector. An unreliable partner could backfire, so one needs to exercise caution.

    Incidentally, on one hand, Xingbake infringed upon the name of the biggest coffee giant in the world and paid a heavy penalty for it, another Bangkok-based Retail chain “Coffeebucks” does not have any copyright issues! Doesn’t this name sound familiar?

    *The Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation set up the first coffee house in Seattle in 1971. Starbucks Corporation is now the world's largest coffee retailer with more than 6,500 coffee houses worldwide, out of which. 300 outlets are operating in Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    Tips for Advertising – Literally!

    I really admire people who have a passion for Advertising. But it is a different thing to be obsessed with it! With the advent of technology, marketers are exploring new avenues and areas for enhancing visibility. Never knew there will be another P added to Advertising … nail P-olishing!

    Women (and maybe men too) can wear brands on their fingernails now and endorse them in public domain. With the latest digital imaging technology, logos can be printed on the nails in different shades and colors.

    Wondering how relevant would this Fingernail Advertising be in the context of Modern Advertising. Though the images can be very well put on the nails, I doubt if the idea would sell…

    Next time if you are watching Wimbledon, imagine if Sania Mirza has TATA Indicom or Sahara India on her fingernails, and Maria Sharapova endorsing Colgate-Palmolive or Canon!….Most of the celebrities would keep waving hands or pass flying kisses to the cameras flaunting their own brands!
    Maybe even politicians start endorsing brands during their Handshakes in Trade Agreements and delegate conferences….talk of taking Advertising to the next level

    But what exactly is this Level about? Steve highlights this “Level” really well… apart from Logoed Fingernails, he has been talking about headvertising, assvertising, babyvertising, voicevertising, cleavagevertising, bellyvertising or boobvertising ….guess the Advertisers have done a comprehensive dissection of the human anatomy!
    Thanks for the Interesting perspective, Steve!

    However, for those who do find this concept enticing and would like to become the future celebrities, there is no harm in experimenting, is it?
    Gizmag presented this concept a few months back through digital image technology-based Imaginail NailJet Pro
    The Imaginail NailJet Pro inkjets artwork directly onto the fingernail in high resolution at very low cost. Lasting as long as normal nail varnish, the NailJet Pro can print photographs or any other high resolution design and it can print a different design on every fingernail.
    Originated in Florida, Ohio and Japan, Imaginail has even patented the concept.

    Must say…A nice way to aver that you have Advertising on your Fingertips …literally in this case!

    [via Adrants and Papermag Blog]

    100 P-osts..

    This is my 100th post on Read between the Ps.
    For many bloggers, 100 posts is nothing. For others, it might still be nothing...

    The pic here shows kids celebrating their 100th day of kindergarten school. I indeed have completed 100 days of my kindergarten school. It has been a great learning throughout and I must admit - Working on each of the entries has been quite an experience!

    Hope to continue reading between the Ps this year too.. and getting perspectives from my expert colleagues and friends.


    Back to work now….
    Here are a couple of must-see collections of Campaigns which I discovered lately

    (1) The Legendary series from Leo Burnett has some of the best International Campaigns since the 1960s. Though some of them are familiar, there are some pieces that are absolutely marvelous and a must-see for every Marketer!

    (2) The other set of campaigns is closer home – A set of all TV Ads of Fevicol. Fevicol has been known for some of the best creatives ever produced. The brains behind the campaign come from Ogilvy & Mather who have created award winning advertisements with Pidilite. Fevicol Ads have enjoyed very high recalls and some of the Ads are familiar even today. The link contains all the TV Ads from 1996 onwards. Have a look.

    Sunday, January 01, 2006

    Rocombe, Bristol: Ice-creams matching your Character

    Ever thought of personifying an ice-cream? Did someone ever ask you …if you were an Ice-cream, what would be your flavor?

    Bristol-based Rocombe Fresh Ice cream Ltd attempts to get the answers for you, through their exquisite offerings and flavors. Targeting the luxury segment and tagging their supplies as “curiously scarce and slightly subversive in nature”, each flavor is customized for a specific persona and promise to “impart a variety of subtle and intense flavour experiences!
    Through its various flavors, Rocombe brings to you a new approach to life “through the fusion of substance and style!
    Doesn't that sound familiar? Isn't this what almost every other ice-cream maker talks about? Suiting your taste...especially made for you....for your own self...and all that...? This also..

    No, this is not just another promotional gimmick with inflated promises and pronounced will-o-the-wisps. There is a bit more to it.
    The differentiating factor is not only the flavor per se, but the award-winning Packaging of the ice-creams. Have a look at the following packaging for each of the flavors.
    Click on each of them to read more on the flavors and the story behind their personification!

    According to the website, each ice cream or sorbet is associated with a character and has a soul. “Each is mysterious and each is sinly playful”. Apparently, the various editions of the cups hold the key to the soul and their identification!

    Whatever the case may be, Rocombe has managed to beat the clutter of the Ice-cream market. The creatives were designed by Reach Design of Bristol and won them the 8th International Food and Beverage Creative Excellence Awards in Packaging and Design!

    Nicely put and needs well identified. What is imperative in this kind of market and experience is continuous innovation. Rocombe needs to identify new character types and create corresponding flavors continuously to retain the equity it has gained in the market and to ensure that the consumers have something to look forward to!
    Surprisingly, as opposed to the order of the day, Rocombe hasn’t got any Viral campaign running on their Website!

    [via Fab-Awards]