Maggi Club is Back and With Vengeance

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 07-07-2008

Very few brands in India really take continual customer engagement seriously, Maggi Noodles is one of them. The idea of a club or engaging customer to constant cues by way of a social networking environment is just the right thing in India right now. Read More…

Tedha Hai Aur kaafi bore ad bhi

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 14-06-2008

I noticed a TV ad of a ‘snack’ featuring Juhi Chawla. This fairly long ad ends with the punchline ‘Tedha hai par mera hai’. True, creative ads need not always come from big agencies. or vice versa as in this case. Someone was kind enough to put the ad on YouTube. Yes, deep pocket clients demand,"Give me something out of the world" and advertising agencies oblige. Yes, this ad is quite out-of-the-world as far as I am concerned. Mindblowing (!) too. And quite jarring too.

I am not buying Kurkure anytime, no I would not. And I would even not take an Airtel connection even if they run the Maddy & Vidya Balan ad five hundred times in three hours.

 

The creativity of the ad has been killed by the big media budget. They need to pull out some money from the incessant carpet bombing of this ad to creating meaningful ads- more ads with less number of rotations on the TV screen.

Olympics – Suddenly the uncool word in advertising?

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 22-05-2008

While Beijing Olympics are just round the corner, one does not see much advertising around it even now. In fact I remember seeing Lenovo ads around Olympic torch relay about six months back. Suddenly it faded out and no new advertising is noticeable , on web, TV, outdoor or print. Shall we blame it on IPL or am I expecting the Olympics based advertising too early in India? Or, is it the violent run of the Olympic torch that has made advertisers wary? Just wondering aloud.

As a matter of fact, the list of sponsors for the Olympics is really impressive. The usual big time Olympic sponsors Coke (remember the Atlanta Olympics were dubbed as Coke Olympics ) is there, along with GE, Atos Origin, Kodak , Visa, Samsung and of course, Lenovo. Plus a plethora of Chinese companies as one would expect. Where are the ads and the Olympic themed promos though?

PS: Sara, I am back!

YouTube will Pale against Mobile Phones indeed?

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 09-04-2008

I was reading with great amazement the stats revealed by the MD of Nokia India on India’s mobile revolution. But before I go to the statement, it ought to be noted that the MD of a mobile phone company was speaking at Goafest which is all about advertising, marketing and media planning. Read Saurabh Garg’s or Rajiv Dhingra for more . So what’s the relation between advertising and mobile phones?

The connection is content, as well as new emergent channel of 3G services of mobile, which allow content to be captured and shared with much ease. And when there is content and a channel, advertising cannot be far behind.

Now look at the slightly hyperbolic statement from D Shivakumar, MD of Nokia India.

“If YouTube is big, 3G services here will redefine the space. YouTube will pale into insignificance in the next few years with India user-generated content”

If you wish to point out that YouTube does not enable content creation, only dissemination, your point is taken. He too perhaps means dissemination alone. The beauty is, the same device will be able to do so quiet efficiently, once 3G services are rolled out.

But look at his following predictions. Scary ones!

By 2010, India will have 500 million phones.

Out of 500 million, 60 million would have video capabilities.

10 million would have music capabilities

200 million would have in built radio (Did you say the radio is dead? Think again)

250 million camera phones

250 million would have net connection

And 2010 is just seven quarters from now. And with 3G networks, you would have a capability multiplier added. The diversity of services being sold on the 3G network would be much more. Japan and South Korea are already more than 50% 3G network.

That set me thinking, what would happen few years down, if I send a freshly shot video clip to a friend of mine. Perhaps, a context sensitive ad would play before the real film plays? How would it know the demographics and psychographics of the recipient to serve relevant advertising, when all it knows are two devices?

At one level, it would be such a pain to be seeing the ads on mobile phones, something that has mercifully not invaded our phones yet. Like calling your wife and being forced to listen an ad before she comes on the line. An another level, the best brains are talking and there are megabucks. Looks like mobile excitement is not stopping so soon.

Indian Government Organisations take baby steps to blogging

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 29-03-2008

This morning I noticed Google Reader was recommending a feed of from one of India’s largest telecom service company – BSNL. This company is an example of a corporation being formed out of what was earlier a government department- though its business is to facilitate conversations, it certainly is not one known for having conversations with its own customers – you would know that if you have been a BSNL service subscriber yourself. Needless to say, I quickly added this feed to my list. What attracted me even more was that there were over 70 subscribers already – okay, not very high, but interesting.  I had also noticed the term ‘blog’ on Indian Income Tax Department main website, as well as Police Blogs, and this whole phenomenon of Government Departments and Government Owned Companies moving towards ‘conversation’ appeared attractive enough to check out.

BSNL SIte Feed

Cut to BSNL blog. It is actually a news feed, and not a full fledged blog with its own crisp URL (such as blog.bsnl.in) and does not allow you to talk back. There is nothing personal about the language, nor does the feed come in someone’s name. Pretty much like the company is, in its real life. To compound the situation, only a short feed is allowed, so you see only headlines, you need to click if you want to read a story. In blogosphere, this phenomenon of short feed has given way to full feeds. As one heard so often in the B-School classroom – if you want to get your message across, make it easy for the target to do so.However, a good start, and one hopes things will get better progressively. A tip to the BSNL folks – blogs work well if you make posts around happenings and include some anecdotes, visuals, event details etc. Perhaps getting some teen age interns would bring in the blog thing. You can find the feed on BSNL main website, if you succeed in loading the page.

Income Tax Blog

The Income Tax blog qualifies better. While the main income tax department site is extremely slow to load, the blog page is relatively better. It allows for interaction by comments. While the URL is not easy to remember, the blog allows for tax payers to raise questions on issues of common interest, and every post comes with a credit to an author, exactly as you would expect on a blog. The language of the posts is quite readable, despite taxation being generally considered difficult to understand – Someone is making a real effort here.

There are some Police Forces in India that have taken to blogging to connect with citizens. I mentioned about Barmer Police in an earlier post, and the Police Superintendent of Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka is known to have an active blog too. Meanwhile, if you know about some other government entities blogging , do leave a comment. Let the conversation continue.

So why has Maggi Club has vanished without trace?

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 18-03-2008

Few posts back I promised to talk about conversational brand properties in India and specifically mentioned about Maggi Club, which I had noticed on one of the packs few months back. The idea sounded exciting and for curiosity sake, I even tried to register that time, but I found I need to be in a certain age band to be able to register. However, the link www.maggiclub.com is broken and there is no site hosted at this URL. I have been checking periodically and looks like the Maggi Club site has been pulled off.

To be sure, I verified the domain is still registered in the name of Nestle.

Is this the case of the low net penetration in India making such a property commercially difficult to justify?

Web Enabled Prosumption in Print Media

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 27-02-2008

When Alvin Toffler coined the term Prosumption in 1980, he may perhaps not thought about the various forms this would acquire in a later day. He would certainly not thought at that point that newspapers would use reader generated content to enhance brand engagement and build loyalty.

That is exactly what a Chennai based free-to-distribute Tabloid Ergo is seeking to do. Ergo has gone one step forward in reserving a space every single day for a reader contributed photograph. To be fair, reader contents have adorned the pages of print media for very long, whether it is humour columns such as Life’s like that in the Readers Digest or story writing contests.

Playing on the urge to see our work in print, Ergo invites its readers to email pictures shot by them which may interest other readers. The column has been quite a success, and going by the response seen by me, certainly generated a certain sense of loyalty in the readers. Such is the rush to send photos that many of the contributors including yours truly, are yet to see our photos published(At least, I felt I did send a good photo but that is a separate point).

So here’s an example of a conventional media(print) using an unconventional mechanism ( emailing of digital photos) for generating competitive advantage via prosumption.

Social Networking or the Behaviour Patterns- What attracts the marketers

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 27-02-2008

So, what did Microsoft buy when they paid billions to take 1.6 percent stake in Facebook? The appeal behind the social networking groups site is not just access to a large user base, but access to behaviour, group and individual, which can be used to promote a product, a gift idea, a charity.

Why do the marketers love SNS?

  • Love to know group behaviour and communication patterns.
  • Ability to influence word of mouth recommendations (influencers).
  • SNS’ offer some degree of well identified closed group, unlike web which is open. Think about a community of guitar artists and the guitar manufacturer gets a chance to place an ad in this group.
  • Communities based on interest groups are even more homogenous(marketers love when the crowd is homogenous). A lively photography community is more likely to receive a camera equipment ad especially if there are folks who are talking about it.
  • When people talk, they generate peer pressure.It does not only happen in teens but in all age groups – most of us friends booked our apartments within a space of two years or so, and how proudly we talk about property value appreciation now! Imagine a forum/community/website where people discuss new apartment purchases and some sellers find a way to advertise in the same space. Community members would certainly be more receptive. And yes, we went on a vacation trip to Kerala after hearing about it from so many of my friends(Offline!). And nothing works like peer pressure.(Hey, you haven’t visited Kerala?).It will be so much more helpful if there is an agent advertising vacation packages right there  in a group/community where people are talking about a vacation trip to Kerala.
  • Demographic data and much more: When we provide our age, sex, location, marital status, we are unwittingly drpping some hints of our behaviour pattern to the guys who have merchandise to promote. Marketers love this data. Helps them plan their campaigns.

No wonder that the next frontier of control on the web is being fought around Web 2.0.

The conversation on conversation continues..

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 21-02-2008

Let me state this upfront. This series was taken up by me in response to a question from a friend, who is a marketing tiger, but a wet cat, when it comes to anything digital. Now read the last two posts to get a sense of what I am talking about!

Look at this blog from Income Tax Department of India. Yes, government departments too have realized the importance of a conversation(atleast pockets of the government have), which those in India, will agree is a complete change. So, you can register, post a question of common interest, and Income Tax department will address( Yes, sometimes you get to ask them a question and they would answer). I would not say it has really taken off big time, but certainly sounds a very promising idea. Which brings us to the central point of this post – how many of us really know about this particular blog?

‘Discoverability’ of a blog may not be automatic, and certainly require some promotion. Barmer Police Blog is a case in point. It is listed in Narad, which is a Hindi feed aggregator and also has a relatively simple URL which a citizen can remember. You certainly would find it hard to remember the Income Tax Department blog referred earlier in this post. So the next two points of a good conversation platform is their discoverability and simplicity of URL.

And by the way, please do go and see the two blogs we refered here, with all my recommendations, because in both of these, you would see a certain passion of a government servant to connect to the citizenry in a meaningful way.

The conversation evaluation framework..

Filed Under (Digital Marketing) by Rajesh Kumar on 20-02-2008

Last post I mentioned about talking about the brand blogs we see in India in different segments. I started to think what yardstick to use to talk about them, and what to measure. So, first things first.

The most important criteria in defining a brand blog in my view remains the ability to create content by the target segment themselves. This could be by way of full length text articles, reactions, pictures, videos, links or just comments. Some form of prosumption is a must to have to get the conversation going. In my judgment this is what differentiates a community and a conversation from a billboard or a print ad, which you just see, smile or ignore, and walk on. In short, this is which engages and builds the readership ,this is what makes people come back again and again. A glossy looking site, is bound to fail, if the target segment thinks that is an advertising portal. Finito. So make them talk. I looks at glossy ads only when I am getting bored waiting for my medical appointment! And you?!!


About Rajesh Kumar. Rajesh is based in Chennai, where he works for Defiance Technologies in Marketing. The views on this blog are his own. Rajesh Kumar