Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Glocalized Marketing :Nike in Mexico and China

A small portion of the glocal strategies used by Nike the world over:

In Mexico, Nike strongly associates with the National Sports of the country – Soccer. The endorsers are the local players and Advertising is centered on Soccer itself. Here is a sample of an ambient lately carried out in Mexico. Advertising taken to the streets, literally! [Source: Coloribus] Even this campaign piggybacks on showing associating the soccer ball with Nike Shoes!

On the other hand, the latest Ad campaign by Nike (under its new Ad agency Wieden & Kennedy) focuses on the youth and has decided not to rope in celebrities in the market as such.

Reasons?
A detailed analysis of the Market Research carried out has been described at Adage China, wherein wonderful insights into the Chinese consumer have been provided.

Baseline – Inviting young Chinese who have overcome obstacles to play sports such as basketball, skateboarding and cycling, to bring to life its "Just Do It" tagline. There are already quite a number of contributors, with a few videos streaming at their Chinese website. Nike estimates the contributions to go up to hundreds of thousands eventually!


But what prompted Nike to change this face of communication?

Failure of Earlier Campaigns
Nike ad campaigns in China started in the same manner as it is in Mexico today – the local hero style. But it backfired since Chinese sports fans idealized NBA superstars for Basketball and not their own local athlete.
Subsequently, they involved American basketball stars, which was not successful on a few counts as well. Their Local culture, heritage and values came in the way (Reference: Chamber of Fear – LeBron vs. Kung Fu master) . This led the Ad agency to work out in some other direction to woo the newly found consumers...the youths!

Next Generation – Young Chinese
The young generation associates itself as a different cult and has its own aspiration levels, which is a combination of their learnings from the West and the evolution of the Chinese mindset. This new generation is more internet-savvy, and has a much higher aspiration value. They do not like to be perceived as “emulative” but “original” and "generative" would be more pertinent.
Thus, as this generation gains momentum, Nike wants to partner with them in this movement, and has therefore taken the required ‘collaborative’ measures, by communicating Nike as a forum for expression and not as a sales-focused giant!

Advertising Medium – Information Age
The campaign also entails an interactive medium for Nike to get direct consumer insights, and greater involvement of the Chinese consumers. According to the statistics provided in the article,
There are a total of 110 million web users in China, out of which 70% are under 30, and the growing power of blogs in that market as a mechanism for self-expression.

Thus, these factors combined together have resulted in a campaign largely focused on the young generation – Aged between 15-30 located in Tier 1 (Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing) and Tier 2 cities in China.

But does this mean that Nike has covered its China market well?
Though it mostly caters to the premium segment, it has managed to tap the mid-tier segment in almost all its bases/locations the world over! However, Local competition still inhibits the global sports giant in the Chinese Markets. Income level of a Chinese consumer is still lower than his Western counterpart. However, the shoes cost the same $100. As opposed to this, the price of its local rival Li Ning is almost half of the prices quoted. Thus, competition is still an issue.

According to an article in IHT, “Selling in China? Which one is it?”,
"Industry analysts note that Nike and Adidas dominate sporting brands in China's Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities but that a local brand, Li Ning, is stronger in the smaller cities. Aiming at those customers often requires subtle advertising that takes into account the lower disposable income of the smaller urban areas without appearing cheap or condescending."

Nonetheless, a nice example of customizing to local tastes by the sports leader!

From a Marketer’s perspective, the demographics and the psychological orientation is similar to the current Indian demographics – growing younger generation, with high awareness level and self-confidence. Nike faces the same competition from local Indian players and other multinationals. But, as far as the premium segment is concerned, I believe there are already a lot of takers for the super brand, obviaiting any kind of fears from the local players!

Incidentally, this communication strategy of “involvement and association” with the younger generation has still not reached India till now in the sports business! Insurance and few consumer products have already capitalized on this orientation, and are tapping the youth at places where they behave as influencers. Even at services where their role is the Decider, like the 2-wheeler segment, a whole new communication and branding has emerged, with complete focus on Experiential Marketing. Thus, Sports and accesories could also move on from Sports celebrities to the target audience itself, atleast for a short period of time, to enhance their involvement with the product, and in turn, the brand! Probably, they could move towards the Dove line or Nike line soon enough...or maybe, W&K needs to come down to India and give some tips to our agencies ;-)!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Tradition Marketing: Fantasy Coffins from Ghana

A unique and interesting element of the coastal Ghana communities, that has been present for generations in this part of the world is the concept of Fantasy Coffins.

Meticulously detailed and based on objects of significance to the deceased, such coffins are an important aspect of the burial ritual. According to Arts on the point, this art form is practiced particularly by the Ga community in Ghana.

And what do these coffins depict? They reflect the status, occupation, tastes, or desires of the departed. Some of these depict the mode through which the deceased earned his/her livelihood.The coffins are mainly designed to represent an aspect of the dead person's life -- such as a car if they were a driver, a fish if their livelihood was the sea, a snail-shaped coffin for a snail-seller or a sewing machine for a seamstress. They might also be symbolic elements of his life - such as a bottle of beer, a cigarette, hammers, mobile phones, hens, roosters, leopards, lions, canoes, cocoa beans or elephants.


An interesting article and an audio clip on this tradition on NPR explains the entire setup of the process. According to the report,

"For the Ga tribe in coastal Ghana, funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die, they move on into another life -- and the Ga make sure they do so in style. They honor their dead with brightly colored coffins that celebrate the way they lived."

Just like the ancient egyptians filled up the pyramids with food and water and basic amenities, the localites believe that this represents their afterlife and so it should be beautiful. There is also a downside to this practice - the risk of robbers apparently. That is why some of the most beautiful coffins are partially destroyed before they are buried!

In the report, a carpenter, explains that the the coffin acts as a home in the afterlife, so it must be beautiful. But he laments that after putting so much time into creating the coffin, it gets hidden underground. "By the end of the day, they are going to bury this thing, which has taken so much time, so much energy…" he said.

The coffins vary with size and shape, and some of them might not be of considerable size. But for the localites, what is more important is the "representation" of the deceased than the practicalities associated with the departure!

Getting closer to the real world - the Cost Factor cannot be conveniently ignored. Each coffin costs somewhere between $400 and $800 and can take upto a month to make.
Some of the clients are poor localites, for whom the tradition costs them almost the earnings of an entire year (e.g. Holy Bible is for almost $400, annual earnings of some of them). Thus, tradition does come at a cost. But again, tradition also comes with a strong symbolism.
Quoting a line from the report - "If the designs are fanciful, the business of death is taken very seriously indeed. And the final journey on this earth has to be marked with as much dignity and status as can be mustered. "

Interesting concept indeed and a unique tradition. But, let me talk of something which is more pertinent - The Marketing perspective of this tradition.

Taking a cue from this, there are loads of traditions which are practiced in India as well. Each tradition has some products attached with it. Does this mean that each of these products/symbols are only for sale for the local communities, and can never go beyond the neighborhood markets? Well, in most of the cases, this holds true. Be it Holi, Diwali, Id, Sakranthi, Lohri, Pongal, Kite Festival or Baisakhi, none of these festival celebrations go beyond their local markets. Practically speaking, these are occasions which are not pertinent to others also.
But lets come back to the Fantasy Coffins. Somebody (Paa Joe) thought of a brilliant concept of translating tradition to art work and subsequently, showcasing this art work to International Audience. And what better forum could it be in the current context than an International Games venue?

According to the official website of Commonwealth Games, Melbourne 2006

"A collection of eight exquisitely carved coffins from the Paa Joe Carpentry workshop on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana will celebrate the role of life and death in contemporary Ghanaian life."

Worldy things, wherein 8 coffins of different fishes, animals and vegetables would be displayed as part of an exhibition showcasing some unique pieces of culture across the globe. Picture one of them, which figured on the official invite for the Exhibition, showing a frilled lizard shaped coffin. Wonder what the profession of the dead man be?;-)

Nonetheless, it is a unique way of promoting tourism for a particular nation. It also enhances visibility of unique elements of traditions, which certain communities practice, but which cannot move beyond local markets because of certain constraints. Presenting such elements at a forum which is undoubtedly global is an excellent strategy. If not tourism, this would definitely trigger trade ideas amongst efficient businessmen to craft a feasible business proposition!

Kudos to the marketers and all the best to them!
By the way, Can I order a "P" shaped coffin right now? ;-)

[Source of photographs: Ryan-Silva and BBC Report]

Sunday, March 12, 2006

New Medium of Advertising: Fieldvertising in Germany


It is no longer an exaggeration when one reads that Advertisers are trying to capitalize on every space to capture the minds of the consumers...well, most of them have taken this advice too literally!

Nonetheless, creative juices continue to flow around the globe. Earlier I had talked about how the human anatomy was being tapped to buy Advertising space. That was just one aspect of this developing phenomenon. Recently, I read about this new concept in Germany - Fieldvertising.

Extremely creative, the concept has been pioneered as ArtField in Germany and has been instrumental is introducing a new medium of Advervitising...Fieldvertising!

Fields in Germany are taken on lease and this space is utilized for advertising. Target customers: Obviously, the highfliers, the onlookers and the regulars in the air.

Needless to say, the costs would be very high for this Ad space, plus it has to be near to the runway, to ensure some visibility from the airspace. Low fliers should also be present if some alternates are to be taken care of. Fields near to the main cities would be the natural selections, than the suburbs.
Even the website introduces this concept as "Artfield Landart presents Advertising and Nature's Art with an unusual perspective. " Undoubtedly unusual, but definitely a creative genious!

In India, this art is still 5-10 years away, if at all, since Air Travel is still more or less a prerogative of the middle-income and the high-income individuals. Unless it becomes accessible to the masses, investments in Fieldvertising would not be a viable proposition..

[via Billboardroom]

Monday, March 06, 2006

Vicks Adver-game: Diary defender by First Defence..

A new advergame has been launched for First Defence, a nasal spray that fights colds at the early signs. Taking cues from the old classic spaceship/detroyer game, the game has been conceptualized on the basic characteristics of the nasal spray from Vicks.

Every element in this game has been well thought of, and excellently executed. Be it First Defence Bonuses or killing of the germ-looking enemies by trapping them in the microgel, the game is one of the best pieces of creativity I have seen.

The basic concept makes you run through your diary with the Annual planner mentioned. Keep on moving forward as the days pass by. In between there would be times, when the germs and viruses would attack you and try and spoil your days. This is when First Defence ship will come in and shoot and kill those viruses! Some of the days, which are very special to you, are attacked by enemies, which you need to save. Shoot all the enemies on that particular day with your “First Defence microgel Spray” and save the day. If you can’t, your day is “ruined”.

It is definitely an addictive one, especially if you are the one who liked spaceship! Give it a shot once. I reached July 2006 with a score of 23570 (Global Rank 380).



Created by Inbox digital, the game has been designed keeping in mind the primary target segment – young kids and teenagers. With designs in the form of casual writing and crayoned figures, the games would comfortably connect with the consumers.

Kudos to the campaign, Brilliant execution – from thought to finish!

Upon reflection, why are so many companies investing in Games as the advertising medium? How effective is this medium in terms of generating sales? By launching an advergame like First Defence, would it have any effect on my sales? Would an investment in Advergame obviate investments in other media? Do I need to extend this concept to must-have online promotion campaigns also?

These are some of the questions any marketer who is new to this field would ask (like me). The fact of the matter is that there is still scope for more. There are loads of concepts which need to be built over this, and a host of services which can act as extensions to Adver-games, as they are called (Games used as an advertising medium).

The primary reason for picking “Games” is the nature of their function. Online games are high involvement, emotive and have a strong viral potential. Any game that has been well-designed will attract a number of players. These players would have a high involvement with the game, and in turn, the brand. The high involvement would subsequently entail a high brand recall, along with a strong WOM potential for itself. Primarily, advergames engage the players for a longer duration of time, are interactive, and provide entertainment along with promotions (jargonize this recipe and you would get “promotainment”!).

So far, based on my limited experience and reading, adver-games are probably the fastest to generate WOM and capture attention. Compare this with its nearest competitive media for WOM – print campaigns and you would realize that games have a distinct advantage of – sustained involvement, which the print campaigns do not enjoy (they have their own strength of the "Awe" factor)!

Though advergames do hold good potential of promoting the brands, there is a risk that the promoters run in terms of execution. If the games are not designed well (navigation, clarity, competitive, interactive), the initiative, like any other one, would backfire and could possibly even lower the brand equity!

In India, this concept is still in a very nascent stage, and there are limited number of players who have ventured into this aspect of advertising. Most of the limited initiatives have been taken in mobile advergaming, and are based on bollywood movies itself. Maybe, as is true for most of the other cases, they are just waiting for the industry to get slightly maturer!

[via Adverblog and AdJab]

An advanced version of this concept is the Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) and Alternate Reality Branding (ARB). As per the details and an interesting article in imedia Connection “Alternate Reality Gaming 101” by Joyce Schwarz, ARG has also become one of the “must-have” marketing tools for companies and entails branding of products and services through Games and other promotion tools that enjoy high involvement of the consumers.

But, I will talk about this concept sometime later. Do not want information overload in one single entry!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Kids Marketing in China: Tiger Brands

I recently read about a unique tradition in China, which could be leveraged by the Marketing community in this region – tiger products for young children!
According to a research paper on Chinese culture, the villagers used to make children less than one year old wear tiger hats, clothes, and shoes.

Reasons? A tiger suit is considered good for health and luck and because they believed it can keep mosquitoes and evil away from the child. Also, they were meant to represent a magical power that would chase away evil spirits. Some texts say that it was hoped that by wearing the tiger hat, the child would acquire attributes of the tiger such as strength and bravery!

This particular folk art tradition is called Children's millinery, where babies were given tiger hats and shoes during their first year in the hopes of warding off evil spirits.

Each hat is carefully hand-embroidered and is rich with symbols of good luck and longevity. Even in modern China, children wear tiger-headed caps and shoes embroidered with tiger heads to ward off evil spirits and sleep on tiger-shaped pillows to make them robust. This tiger hat from the early 20th century features three-dimensional butterflies and fringe across the brow.

Another article in Honolulu Star Bulletin talks about the exquisite tradition practiced by the parents. A legacy of children’s ceremonial costumes has been followed for years in China, wherein expensive, royal yet adorable hats were worn by the children.

More so, traditionally, tiger hats were usually meant for boys. Mentioned one researcher, "In Asia, people loved to have many children, but they mostly loved boys. It was the boy that brought fame, wealth and status to families.” In modern China, this is not the case. Girls also have started wearing tiger hats following the same reasoning as above.

But as is the case with every tradition backed belief, there is also a story attached with this tradition.
According to China Online, tiger shoes were worn by a child who in search for his mother (who came out of a picture) wore the tiger shoes and fought his way out to take her back to his father. An interesting read for sure. Just reinforces the strong belief in tiger brands!

Another extension of this practice is the “profession prediction” ceremony of the children.
"In China, for a child's first birthday, they would dress him up put him in the midst of objects and let him pick one, which would then suggest his future profession. Picking up a calligraphy brush might indicate a scholar." Incidentally, this is practiced even in some parts of India.

How can this factor be used in Marketing? If nothing else, this is a great tip for an entry into the kids segment in China. Affinity for tiger products and a rich tradition associated with it ensures a ready market for tiger-related commodities nonetheless.

Am really excited to find out how many Marketers in China are leveraging this tradition to their advantage. With tiger hats, tiger suits, tiger shoes, tiger slippers and tiger clothes – one already has a product portfolio ready. A single brand offering extensions across these lines is definitely workable!

A strong brand association and customer loyalty are obvious fallouts of an approach in this direction. What remains to be seen is how creatively and smartly would marketers apply /have marketers applied this in the Chinese markets!
Food for thought …