Monday, February 13, 2012

Invasion of brand aliens

The invasion of brand aliens

Brands have always introduced to us animated characters that we never imagined before. These animated characters are supposed to hook up on our minds and facilitate recall. But sometimes things go overboard.
Anyways, but that’s how brands behave sometimes.
Brands that have successfully leveraged the animated characters are Vodafone, Mortein, recently Kitkat with birds and squirrels, Mentos, Android Apps and the list goes on.
Recently I came across very unique characters for a toothpaste brand. At first glance, I felt that I have seen them somewhere. Accurately speaking, the characters I am talking about are of Domex. The toilet civilians that share the space with us, living in colonies their aim is to control our lives and health in a negative way.
Jaggu Jaundice and his friends and soldiers are always attempting to command a position in their battle with the housewife. We have seen Jaggu and his friends do many antics to scare the s#$@ out of us but recently I was surprised to see that they could even travel. Or if I may say, they are really travel freaks and you could even expect them in your towel, slippers and god knows where all. They are actually expanding their territory and only time will tell where all they can travel to.
Something which shocked me further was to find out that a toothpaste brand from the same company uses the same characters to show how effectively it works in cleaning the teeth and maintain better oral hygiene. If you watch closely, towards the end of the ad, which has the superstar/ baadshaah of Bollywood educating his son on the good things about the toothpaste, it shows some aliens (germs) who resemble the toilet civilians.
Were these animated alien characters used in the toothpaste ad due to lack of imagination or since they were idle and doing nothing, so better put them to some other work.
Hope someone is not getting inspired parallel for a business proposition and gearing up to start recruitment services of such aliens, Jaggu’s family and friends.
The day could not be far, when Jaggu is seen in box office hits, through brand placement in films. Or its creator is given the critics award for best horror performance.


The Race for Multipliers

The race for Multipliers
Suddenly there is competition in the air. You will ask, where is it not? True. But this time the competition I am talking about is in the air waves – television frequency.
In the past two weeks I have seen commercials of brands that are betting their efficacy and delivery on the multipliers. Suddenly brands seem to have realized that it more effective to have multipliers in their brand advertisements.
What are multipliers? When a consumer brand says that it is more effective and delivers better results because it is “X” times more than normal or average, that is what I call multiplier brand communications. The best part is that I have discovered this phenomena across consumer product categories. What is the reason behind using multipliers? Is it really effective? Do shoppers/consumers even consider such parameters when making the buying decision? Is 5X or 3X the new brand mantra?
I still have not figured out, but have some bells ringing to corroborate my pov.
I will go a little back in time. The days when acronyms used to be the strategy for most products and brands communication.  The more undecipherable the term, the more impactful it seemed to be.
Mortein’s MMR technology is the first that hits my brain. What made someone think that MMR technology on the front of pack of Mortein coils would persuade the housewife to buy? Was it used with the intent to promote Mortein as a qualified repellent or use MMR as a bait to catch fish? When a mosquito bites, it bites and it hurts. Who cares what is the Mosquito Mortality Rate?
Similarly ZPTO technology in shampoo’s and other similar acronyms were being thrown left right and centre to the shoppers for beautiful hair. Water purifiers had RO Technology the way cars had MPFI. Nothing was new in it, just that the mass was averse to such acronyms, and then one day marketers realized that if there is nothing new to say, lets confuse and leave at that. Those who will be interested will anyways find out. Phew!!
After many many years, suddenly the same era seems to have come back, just that it is now playing with numbers. Maybe because everywhere we are talking about numbers and money, honey. Inflation, bankruptcy, downgrade, sensex, crisis, taxes, evasion, swiss accounts etc or maybe we don’t need to be literate enough to read up to 5. The marketers as a result never go beyond 5 for their multipliers. Assuming that anybody no matter what the educational background, would know how to read 1,2,3,4,5.
From toilet cleaners to hair oils, hand wash to fabric wash, cereals to beverage, batteries to paints, medicines to deo sprays, water purifiers to ceiling fans; they all seem to be influenced by the multiplier and are leaving nothing behind. Except that the consumer is left behind wondering how to measure the multiplier and against what.
Is this any trend? Is this communication tragedy or shorthand of communication? When there is nothing else to differentiate, use the number game, something we all are scared to face in real life. What rank did you get in school, what is your railway ticket waiting list number, what is your height, how old are you? Many consider Maths as a subject of the genius, while others ignore Maths to remain genius. Such could be the plight of housewives or shoppers when they come across such multipliers. It is better to ignore it than to get into the equation. If they say so, it must be so? Is they say 5X, it must be at least 3X. Thik hi hoga!!
But why all of a sudden almost every brand is looking for multipliers as a brand qualifier.
What is the psychological inference of such influences on Indian minds?
Bollywood or any Hollywood movie is best judged by the number of stars it carries after Friday release. Some people decide on the basis of stars given by critics/ reviewers, if they will want to watch the movie or not. Some decide on the basis of the crowd outside the theatre, where the reality is.
Insurance products in India are sold on the basis of numbers. It starts from the age, a number, which will decide how much can you be insured for. The insured amount is a multiplier of the premium. Basically, only the agent will know the maths behind the chart and tables that will have your age shown declining with increments in premium amount.        
In India, banks are one of the most advertised products along with food and personal care. Every day you will notice that some financial body has decreased or increased CRR/LRR/MRR and so many other types of RR’s. What a Tizzy man!!
Doctors in India are considered as one of the most learned species. The way they write, their handwriting, is only emblematic of how learned and wise they are. Have this tab OD, BD or TD for a specific time or a life time, as you may survive.
Telecom is not any more hush hush. Both inside and outside, it is the talk. What they keep yelling and shouting, talk talk as you much. From 2G to 3G, broadband + to +++, from per minute to per second; the fight for that perfect number will always remain.
Indian house runs on maids and not salary anymore. The only profession/occupation which has even the mightiest of the mightiest, physically or financially, bend down on the knees in front of them. Every task is associated with a currency number. The more times the visit, an exponential number you will have to shell out.
My formula though is simple. If anyone gets into a multiplier, use the same quotient to erase it from the memory.
A quote I would love to share with my friends – It is so simple to be happy, but so difficult to be simple.
So, be SIMPLE!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why bring in the New Year at Midnight when it is so cold?

Rings any bell? Do you remember what you were doing when the arms of clock were on top of each other? Hope you were not being carried in others arms because you could not hold your ground, forget the glass. Never mind, it’s not about how much you were high above the ground but about whether you lost sight of the ground reality.
Even our country got freedom at midnight 65 years ago. How is achieving freedom at midnight different from New Year’s arrival? May be I will have the answers at the end of this New Year. So much to see and so much to go through, yet. I have not kept the title because I don’t know how to read a calendar. Please!!
At midnight when everyone was partying hard or harder than any other night because it was being done to replace the calendar the next morning, I was trying to grab, in whatever senses I was awake, the world around me. People were partying terribly, I don’t know why. Some were drinking more than their bottles could hold, some were eating what their bowels had never imagined consuming, some were dancing as if they had decided to buy new pair of shoes the next day, some were driving faster than what their peddle was designed for, some were singing as if it was the last day to apply for Sa re gama pa and some were laughing out so loud as if they had paid all the premiums of their health insurance.
I was partying hard too with my family and friends and gobbling a full course buffet after midnight.
I was wondering why people had paid so much to welcome just another date in the calendar, another year subtracted from their life. I know what you must be thinking, he is so cheap. I am from the same creed so please don’t despise. One elderly person’s wise advice I do remember though. He said, “If you spend more than you have on the New Year night you will never run out of money in the coming year”. He also said once, “At the stroke of midnight, if you solve a maths problem from the most difficult chapter, you will never do wrong with calculation of money”. I wonder which New Year was that, but do repent not doing it then. Such was a New Year once upon in time. But last year, no matter where the food inflation was headed, it knew where to end up, ultimately.
While everybody was wishing and greeting each other on the New Year ’s Eve, those who had come as guests for the party by paying a handsome amount of money, there were a whole lot of species who were making sure that the former were enjoying to the hilt and not forgetting to help them accomplish their superficial love and compassion. Was it a New Year only for those who paid to party? Nobody seemed to bother to wish the people who were trying to ensure happiness was unrestricted and flowed like bottles of IMFL (that was unlimited). What kind of people are we? If we feel that New Year is for the rich and famous, those who can pay to party, that too at the beginning of a New Year, what are we going to do in the whole of the year. What are we starting with and why are we starting it at all? I pity those who feel that wishes are not meant to be spent like the money they spent the whole year in random things that don’t even have any remembrance. IMFL can flow unlimited because you pay for it to access but to share love and compassion it needs to be registered without a white badge and black bow on white shirt.  
This story is not purposed to carry a social message nor is it about philanthropy. It is about what we did at the moment which was supposed to change the tracks of our life. What we were supposed to do in the shadow of dark overlooking the glitterati of fire power? While our heads were held high, spinning like a charkha, weaving the threads of an impossible future, somewhere down below, our heart was floating like ice on cold drinks. Why are we so cold?