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From No-No to Yes-Yes

 

NanoTwist

I’m generally indifferent to cars and know them only as a system with four wheels, steering and seating that get me from point A to point B with minimum effort on my part; yet I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of the Tata Nano GenX. The journey of the Nano has such interesting twists and turns that it rivals a Bollywood potboiler, and as a student of marketing, I really want to see how Team Nano manages the tough task of making consumers warm up to the Nano Gen X. ( I’m hoping it succeeds and wishing the Nano Best of Luck, by the way). Meanwhile, in the run-up to the launch (until I have fodder for another post, that is), here’s the story of the Nano thus far :

Phase I: The people’s car The 1 lakh car

Launched in 2009, the Tata Nano was supposed to be ‘a people’s car’, the savior of the Indian middle class family which relied on a scooter or bike to transport all four members, offering them a safer and more comfortable alternative. To ensure affordability, the initial price was brought down to as low as Rs. 1 lakh per car through frugal innovation. Watch this ad to get a taste of what this brand was supposed to stand for and the role it was expected to play.

However, most of the hype around the car was focused on its cheap price and it became known as ‘The 1 lakh car’. For the middle class, both urban and rural, owning a car is a matter of pride and self-esteem. So, rather than gladly discovering that this fantastic upgrade from a two-wheeler actually had a reasonable price, Nano’s portrayed image put the product in the situation of being viewed as a compromise , not an upgrade.  “Ek prestige view se thodi down hai,” as one respondent expressed it during a transportation related research a few years ago, while another respondent termed it ‘the No-no’. Dangers of letting a low price be the defining feature of your offering!

Mr. Ratan Tata gives a crisp explanation in this article , “I always felt the Nano should have been marketed towards the owner of a two-wheeler because it was conceived to give people who rode on two-wheeler an all-weather, safe form of transportation, not (the) cheapest,” Tata said. “It became termed as the cheapest car by the public, and [also] I’m sorry to say, by the company when it was being marketed,” he added.

Another problem that the Nano faced was that of high expectations from those who did see it as an end to their transportation woes. During the same transportation related research mentioned earlier, we also found that the same Indian family that would uncomplainingly seat four people on a scooter or bike and balance their shopping bags too, somehow morphed into a demanding set that wanted adequate boot space in their car to keep luggage – just in case they had to drop a relative to the station.

The performance problems with the initial batch of cars did nothing to boost Nano’s image either. Soon after the cars hit the road came reports of some of them catching fire, which was seen as an indicator of low quality and a lack of reliability. While only a few such issues were reported, we’ve found that some people still mention these spontaneously when the Nano is mentioned.

Phase II:

Here’s where the change begins and the marketing team begins explicitly targeting a different TG –  young professionals in urban centers ; you can click on the links here  , here and here to view the ads and see for yourself  the distinct change in tone and style of ads from the earlier people’s car ads. By now, the no-frills car also had some add-ons such as the ‘best – in –class A.C.’ mentioned in the print ad shown below.

nano pic 3

 

Phase III :  Launch of Nano Twist – from ‘cheap car’ to ‘smart city car’

This is when an attempt was made to radically alter the Nano’s positioning in order to make it appeal to the new TG of urban professionals. The ‘you’re awesome’ campaign targeted  young urban folk and tried to showcase to them the new stylish Nano – new colours, better interiors, a car that could seat a couple of friends , a fun n’ smart car to hang out with. Did it work? I recall discussing this campaign and its effectiveness with a young colleague early last year and she felt that it was having some impact, two of her friends had noticed the ad and actually purchased the Nano Twist. Multiple news reports also mention that the customer profile for the Nano had indeed changed over the years, a heartening sign – the proportion of Nano buyers in the 24 -34 years age bracket had expanded to 40 percent, from the earlier 15 to 18 per cent.  Another interesting change happening in the Nano script is the growing base of women. Today, they account for 28 per cent of its customers, a substantial jump from 12 per cent in the earlier ‘people’s car’ phase.

That’s only part of the story though; take a look at the sales data for the rest – as per this article, in the April – December period of ’14-’15, Nano only sold 13,333 units, down 18.64% from the same period of ’13-’14.  

What could have limited the impact of such a high decibel campaign? NanoTwistWell, one reason could simply be that the impact of the initial launch advertising and PR campaign in ’08-’09 was so strong that the ‘cheap car’ story could only be over-written over the long haul , and it’s not a task that one ad alone could shoulder. Another could be that while the ‘You’re Awesome’ campaign did have a smarter , more stylish feel to it, there was no over-arching product story communicated about how the Twist was better than the earlier version of the Nano, neither about how it was better suited to city travel than other cars. While some shots in the ad did imply easy maneuverability, it was not explicit enough, and got overshadowed by the messaging on style and aesthetics ; the ‘smart city car’ benefits were explicitly mentioned only in print ads. When a repositioning as drastic as this one is being attempted, consumers probably need to hear that the car has improved significantly too.    

Phase IV: Launch of the Nano Gen Xnano pic 2

And thus to the eagerly awaited launch of the Tata Nano Gen X later this month! Now clearly aiming for the ‘smart city car’ tag, the Gen X has a host of improved features, see details here here and here

But has the 2013 campaign succeeded in erasing memories of the 1 lakh car launched in 2009? Will the Nano get to make a fresh start? Only time will tell…  

 

  • Zenobia Driver

May 14, 2015 at 10:57 am 8 comments

Why Snapdeal sponsors Big Boss, and Flipkart / Pepperfry / Fabfurnish / Jabong / Amazon etc. advertise on mass media

The sudden surge in e-commerce firms advertising on mass media has surely not gone unnoticed by readers of this blog. While Flipkart has been advertising on TV for a few years now (read our posts on their ads here  and here) , in the last few weeks every e-commerce firm (with deep pockets and / or investors) has jumped on the bandwagon. Switch on TV and ads for Pepperfry / Fabfurnish / Jabong / Amazon etc. appear as often as those for soaps, soft drinks and biscuits ; drive on any major artery in Mumbai and alongside posters of political parties that contested the just concluded state elections you’ll find those for Pepperfry.com ; print media has been used extensively too with some players even splashing their ad on the front page.

Of course, with the Dussehra – Diwali festival season approaching, one would expect any retail venture to step up promotions and advertising, we see almost all brands and supermarkets doing so too. But what drives the young e-commerce firms to advertise on mass media ? Surely they’re masters of advertising on the internet and on social media, which are not only cheaper media, but allow the brand to fine-tune targeting their audience in a manner that mass media simply cannot match. So why spend big bucks on a (relatively) scatter-shot approach when you have a finely tuned laser at your disposal ?

Ah, take a look at the results of the same. As per this news report, Snapdeal’s sponsorship of the popular teleserial ‘Big Boss’ resulted in them recording highest ever sales. This article quotes Vikram Chopra, CEO and co-founder of FabFurnish, “During and after a few months of the television campaign, our traffic increased two and half times.” And I’m not even getting into describing Flipkart’s Big Billion Day sale, as the furore afterwards has ensured that everyone knows all about the record number of prospective customers that logged in on the day. Would advertising on digital and social media alone give e-commerce companies the same outcome ?

One simple fact can help answer this. Amongst the Indians who are active online, a low proportion actually shop online; we gave the data related to this in a post a few weeks ago. For instance, in Russia and China, almost half of the population that are active online also shop online ; whereas in India this proportion is a little less than 10%.

pic - infographic and e-commerce firms' logos

There are various reasons for this. Firstly, the number bandied around as the number of Indians that are active online includes even those who access the internet infrequently. As this post shows , in the top 35 cities which account for 42% of Active net users, only 54% access the internet daily. The All-India figure for percentage of active internet users who access the net daily is much lower.

Now, layer this with the fact that a significant proportion of sales for e-commerce firms are from tier 2 cities, and you see the importance of getting their residents transacting online. The best media for targeting these markets is still TV. As this article mentions Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl saying during a conference, “All e-commerce companies want to penetrate the tier-II market and Big Boss is a great medium for that.”

Hence, the necessity for e-commerce firms to advertise on mass media and attract more people onto online media, simply advertising on digital media just won’t suffice as not enough people are active online.

  • Zenobia Driver

October 20, 2014 at 6:36 am 3 comments

Colors of India – Part 2

Continuing our series on how brands are bringing out different shades of India, part 2 of the series explores how ads are honing in on the nuanced evolution of India and Indian-ness. Here are a few examples: 

The wedding ad from jewelry brand Tanishq tackles several Indian stereotypes and shows how attitudes and perceptions are changing in the Indian society. It addresses issues like remarriage and single parenthood, which are considered taboo in India. In addition to this, it very subtly also addresses the change in the role that women are playing these days – the bride walking herself to the mandap with the head not covered, in a society where the bride is surrounded by girlfriends, sisters and aunts to escort and typically dons a ghoonghat (veil). By showing a dusky bride, it challenges the stereotype that only fair is beautiful.

The Bharat Matrimony ad shows how respecting and supporting your partner is a big contributor to a happy marriage, and how husbands are more accepting of this. The ad shows a husband supporting his wife’s decision to work and giving her the freedom and encouragement to do what pleases her and standing up for his wife’s decision to work despite it displeasing his parents. It indicates the changing dynamics within family, the base institution of a society.

The new Daawat Basmati Rice Pyaar Ki Special Bhashaa (The Special Language of Love) ad talks about the Indian way of expressing love – not through hugs, kisses and I love yous – but through the food we serve and share. While most scenes depicted in the ad show women cooking and serving, towards the end it also shows how men are playing a more active role in the kitchen and the household.

On a lighter note, Hero’s Thoda Aur (A Little More) ad discovers this beautiful nuance in behavior amongst Indians – the very common habit to ask for a little bit extra. Whether its haggling at a kirana store, or asking a vegetable vendor for lemon and chillies for free while buying other vegetables or asking for extra spoonful of toppings when buying ice cream or asking someone to drop them off a little further – these are scenes that happen in everyday lives of Indians, and this new campaign portrays this behavior very well.

 

Brands are embracing the changing Indian-ness, and like never before; connecting their products to new-age attitudes, perceptions and behaviors but with an Indian flair.

Have you noticed any such ads? Please do share with us.

 

• Roshni Jhaveri

March 28, 2014 at 4:14 am 2 comments

Colors of India – Part 1

 

Wishing all our readers a very Happy Holi.

Holi inspired us to think of the different colors of India and how leading brands are interpreting and highlighting them. Brands are depicting evolving India through its different interpretations. While the messaging is different, the underlying theme is highlighting the different aspects that make India India.

Part 1 of this series explores how companies are employing the social change approach for brand building. While it has been a popular brand-building method abroad for over a decade, the trend has only picked up recently in India.

Garnier Men launched a social initiative “PowerLight a Village” in conjunction with Project Chirag. The initiative is aimed at lighting thousands of households across India that are yet to see any electricity through solar power.

 

Similarly, last year it was Stayfree, which addressed several problems faced by women through its Stayfree Women for Change campaign in association with Unicef. It addressed issues like anemia, dropping out of school and lack of general hygiene and health facilities.

Click here and here for more ads from the series.

 

Over the years, Jaago Re by Tata Tea has become a credible platform for catalyzing social change through its social awakening ads. In the first phase of the campaign, efforts were directed to involve the youth in the voting process. In its second phase, it embarked on its anti-corruption drive, beginning with its Aaj se khilana bandh, pilana shuru’ campaign. Its most recent ad is about creating awareness amongst women from the upper strata of society about the power of voting through the Power of 49 campaign.

 

What we love about these ads is the link between the brand name, the benefit it offers and the social initiative it is associated with. Love the ideas and the execution.

 

  • The Escape Velocity Team

 

P.S. Stay tuned next week for part 2 on this series on how brands are bringing out different shades of India.

March 20, 2014 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Mine Healthier Than Yours

 

McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits and Parle Digestive Marie recently came out with ads exposing their competitors and attempting to strongly differentiate themselves amongst the ever-growing list of biscuit options now available to the consumers.

McVitie’s Digestive – What’s inside your biscuit?

McVitie’s Digestive biscuit ad claims that it is the only biscuit in the market that is made up of whole wheat as compared to others that contain refined flour (maida), hence positioning itself as the healthier option even among digestive biscuits which consumers believe are healthier than regular ones. “The commercial elevates the digestive category compared to regular biscuits by honing onto a relevant category truth. The objective is to tell consumers why McVitie’s is better,” said Jayant Kapre, President, United Biscuits.

Parle Digestive – Fat Kum, Fit Zyada


Parle Digestive biscuit ad claims that all other digestive biscuits add a lot of fat to their biscuit to make it taste better, but Parle Digestive has significantly less fat (50%) while still tasting good, making it the healthier option for the consumer.

 

Criticizing and exposing competitor brands seems to be the common route chosen by the brands. Given that the digestive biscuit segment in India is growing fast owing to increased awareness about improved health and wellbeing amongst consumers as well as the simultaneously increasing affordability, it is getting more and more difficult to differentiate oneself in this “better-for-you” foods segment. So while one claims to be refined flour-free and another with 50% less fat, not only are these biscuits positioned on the digestive health platform, but also trying to occupying significant space in the weight management/ weight loss platforms. So while they are trying to differentiate from one another basis the ingredient, the final health benefit(s) they are offering is the same.

So are they really being successful in this ‘mine healthier than yours’ strategy ? I don’t think so. What do you think? Do share your thoughts.

 

  • Roshni Jhaveri

October 22, 2013 at 6:39 am 3 comments

Reactions to Chipotle’s ‘Scarecrow’ ad

The recent ‘scarecrow’ ad by Chipotle Mexican Grill has such a superb music score that anyone who catches even a bit of it notices it and wants more. The entire ad, in fact, stands out as a really well-made short film. It even has – ooops, seems to have – a clear message. But whether that is the right message or the one that the firm wanted to convey is debatable.

[Before I go any further, let me give a bit of background about Chipotle.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. and its subsidiaries (Chipotle) operate restaurants throughout the United States, as well as two restaurants in Toronto, Canada and two in London, England. As of December 2011, Chipotle operated 1,230 restaurants. The Company’s restaurants serve a menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads.

Chipotle encourages sustainable farming methods (turning animals out to pasture) over battery farming.  A major selling point for the fast-food chain has been the fresh and sustainably grown ingredients, including pork and beef, in its burritos and tacos. To an extent, Chipotle’s commercials mirror Chipotle’s own story as they began moving away from using factory farm suppliers 10 or so years ago. Chipotle believed it had the right message already in its emphasis on more natural food; the company had shifted to more naturally grown produce and to beef, pork and chicken produced without antibiotics.  ]

The current commercial takes attempts to take swipes at giant companies that treat food like another product to process and contrasts that with food made in sustainable ways that is fresh and wholesome. However, the ad is a bit confusing, misleading even ; while Chipotle intended to send out the message that they don’t use battery-farmed meat, the ad makes it seem like a vegetarian chain almost.

Also, if you don’t already know what Chipotle is, you’re still left wondering at the end of the ad – it doesn’t even mention the name of the chain prominently in any frame. It can be added to the list of ads that could work for a whole bunch of products – from organics to farming to vegetarianism or to a combination of these ; maybe a good ad for Wholefoods or Trader Joe’s, not for a Mexican chain.

In terms of atmosphere, this ad also had a slightly haunting quality, unlike the earlier ad which was far more cheerful. Makes one slightly uncomfortable, which is probably not the mood you want to be in when you’re trying to decide on a place to eat.

 

To sum up : As a short film – beautiful. As an ad – doesn’t quite cut it.

 

In case you found the post interesting, you can read more about the ads by clicking on the links below :

NYT article about their first ad 

Articles about the recent ‘scarecrow ad’, here, here and here.

  • Escape Velocity team and friends

October 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm 6 comments

Now this is how it’s done !

Daihatsu-is-a-chick-magnet

In March, we’d written about the controversial Ford Figo ads on this blog, a mistimed and insensitive attempt at using humour to increase sales and / or win an award.

Recently came across this Daihatsu ad from a few years ago that conveyed a similar message but in a manner that was actually funny and cute. The ad was quite well-received at the time, am now wondering whether I should add lack of originality to the Forg Figo communication team’s list of sins – were they just imitating the Daihatsu ad and taking its basic premise a bit further ?

In case you have more time, busy reader, you can amuse yourself by taking a look at all the car ads shown in this list of ten best automotive print ads of all time.

Enjoy the holiday, folks.

  • Zenobia Driver

August 29, 2013 at 11:18 am 2 comments

Flipkart’s apparel ads – mixed reactions

We’d commented on the Flipkart ‘No Kidding, No Worries’ series of ads in this post in 2011. To summarise – we unequivocally liked those ads and thought that they used the techniques of kids in adult situations well to make their point with warmth and humour.

However, we have mixed opinions on the next two series of ads.

Some of us felt that the second series of ads – ‘Shopping ka naya address’ (see ads here, here and here) felt a bit dull without the tinge of humour that rounded off the ‘No Kidding’ series so well. However, the third and current series of ads for Flipkart’s apparel range (see the ads here, here and here) seems to have tapped into that vein of humour again, albeit inconsistently. These ads used the juxtaposition of a traditional / formal mode of dressing vs. a modern and funky one rather well, especially in the Carnatic music ad which is the cutest of the lot. That ad definitely breaks through the clutter, it makes you smile and notice that flipkart’s now talking about apparel.

Others among us felt that this this series stretched the technique of using kids too far. The ‘No kidding’ series used kids well to address the trust issue that worried consumers when shopping on the internet and to make the point of ease of shopping; even the first few ads of the ‘shopping ka naya address’ series were more or less addressing the trust issue of e-commerce and the kids bought this out dramatically.

However, the format fell flat the moment they moved from addressing issues and benefits where the use of kids was relevant to making the point to just using the kids as a cute technique.

We haven’t been able to reach a consensus on these ads yet. What’s your opinion, on which side do you weigh in – do drop us a comment and let us know.

  • Escape Velocity Team and Friends

May 27, 2013 at 7:33 am 2 comments

Can we can the crocodile tears and fake caring now ?

More than once, I’ve griped on this blog about a brand purportedly speaking up for women but doing so in such an opportunistic and artificial manner that it put me off.

Well, here’s one that came close to getting it right, though even this one is almost but not quite there : 

One thing that worked for me, they went for a small part of a larger problem, and didn’t try and tackle the whole problem itself. Also, they leavened it with a bit of humour and didn’t end up sounding sentimental, melodramatic, over-sincere etc. As I’d said in this post, a heavy message is better delivered with a light and deft touch.

Though it’s ironic that the vehicle chosen to deliver this message is someone who danced to lyrics as misogynistic as ‘wanna be my chhammak chhallo’, the only reason I’d perhaps pardon that bit of mis-casting and refrain from mocking it is that since he also did the self-mocking parody ‘Dard-e-disco’.

A few quick tips for brands thinking of appropriating causes :

  • You have to sound authentic and empathetic
  • Not just in communication, but this has to show in other aspects of what the firm does too, else it sounds hollow and shallow ; think ‘Body Shop’, for a great example of this
  • The link to the earlier campaigns and to the firm’s image has to be natural and not a force-fit; this is one thing that totally works for the Tata Tea ‘Jaago Re’ campaign and for this ad in particular. Watch earlier ‘Jaago Re’ ads here, here, herehere  and here
  • And if it’s a cause, maybe the message can be one that makes people question status quo, and doesn’t just say things in a melodramatic manner ; even better, one that links to a specific action that furthers the cause ; no, buying the product or service is not the type of action I’m referring to here

Incidentally, while discussing the specific question raised in this ad, ‘why isn’t the woman’s name ever mentioned before the man’s ?’, a friend just mentioned to me that the ancient call was always ‘Jai Siya Ram’, so tradition does not demand that the woman’s name always follow the man’s.

Now that’s a good ad, one that gives rise to an involved discussion !

By,
Zenobia Driver

May 14, 2013 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

Creative Activation

To break through the clutter and to gain a lot more eyeballs, companies are adopting some innovative approaches.

Lifebuoy: Reminder for Hand washing

At the recently concluded Maha Kumbh Mela, Lifebuoy implemented a unique activation to spread the message of hand washing. Over 100 million people reportedly attend the Maha Kumbh Mela and Lifebuoy used this apt opportunity to highlight the importance of hand washing to its attendees. While Lifebuoy created awareness through the usual street hoardings and banners, it also utilized another innovative intervention to remind people to wash their hands before eating.

lifebouy at the maha kumbh melaLifebouy created special heat stamps with the message “Lifebuoy se haath dhoya kya?” (Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?) and put this impression on fresh rotis at 100 dhabas and hotels across the mela. Roti is a staple with every Indian meal and typically eaten by hand. What better place and time to remind people to wash their hands! Their target was to reach over 2.5 million visitors over a month long initiative. What an innovative way to reach a large small town and rural audience, and that too at a fraction of the cost.

 

Chennai City Traffic Police: Drink & Get Driven

An initiative by Zara Tapas Bar and Chennai City Traffic Police brought about a very novel idea to discourage drunken driving. Cause for 70% of accidents in India is attributed to drunken driving. Capitalizing on the god-fearing nature of most Indians, they created a short video featuring guests drinking and having a good time at a bar and when its time to leave, on receiving the car from valet, they are shocked to see Yamaraj (the god of death) himself, sitting in their car. Yamaraj warns them by handing over a “Drink and get Driven” information leaflet about hire-a-driver service. 

Ever so often we see posters or signs about ‘Don’t Drink & Drive’ across streets in our city but we fail to pay heed to it. But this video is sure to make you remember. The video was posted on Feb 15th 2013 and it went viral. It now has over 4.5 lakh views on Youtube and has been the matter of chatter on several social networking sites as well as newspapers and news channels picked up on it within a couple of days of being posted.

 

Have you seen any such innovative campaigns? Do tell us about them, we’d love to hear from you.

  • Roshni Jhaveri

April 10, 2013 at 6:20 am Leave a comment

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