Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Horlicks VS Complan-the comparison war !!...part 3

Continued from part 2....>>>>>>

Spontaneous trait transference as we saw it may or may not happen when brand A compares itself with Brand B but one thing that can for sure happen among the masses that see the ad is the phenomenon that ad researchers have termed as sponsor misidentification. This is the customer/viewer confusion as to who is actually sponsoring the ad is many a times a main by product of such comparative advertising.....

When the viewer belongs to the so called SEC A (the upper strata) may be the story becomes different and the job may be done…I mean the ad may be effective in the sense brand recall may happen but assuming that recall and attention is equal to ad effectiveness would be as stupid as assuming that since people have a smile when they see you they simply love you…But in any case direct comparative ads are far better and decent than the indirect comparative ones( remember the Pepsi vs Thumbs up humbug some time back)

Marketing is war and the war strategies are used without mercy here as well.. Defense and offense.. no matter what ..the end result is what matters… finding weakness in the leaders key strength is the main and most usable offensive principle in the marketing warfare.. as Pepsi would vouch and its war with Coca cola over the last so many years bears testimony. Coke had to claim that they are “The real thing” in face of such offense which later was abandoned for the lesser impressive and unexciting “Coke is it” and the rest is history .Coke is what? Or what is it? you may never get and answer….The blind tests that Pepsi did and since it was a bit sweeter than coke (9% to be precise) the tests favoured Pepsi and in the worst of marketing blunders coke changed its formula and bottle.. Now the Real thing had gone and Coke jumped into the new and improved bandwagon when its users wanted and loved and bought it for the OLD taste/sweet/formula/communication/brand whatever it stood for. The real thing that coke was had made the difference and it was lost in one stroke… this is what too much of comparison can do to anyone… even the giants….

It can some times be really dirty and cruel jokes.. Hyundai dealers in north were discredited to have come up with ads ridiculing their competitors who sold the Daewoo cars with tag lines “Car at your homes, company on the roads” when Daewoo ran into rough weather financially and went bankrupt. For Daewoo who introduced the concept of comparative advertising in India ( decent and side by side or A-B comparison) this below the belt attack came as a rude shock and for the people who saw it, it was free knowledge that even car majors can go bankrupt… if it is Daewoo today it can be Hyundai tomorrow….

To sum up let us derive some rules for those who are hell bend on comparing and get compared….

1 Comparative advertising should not be misleading and should not make improper use of the reputation and name of the competitor .

2 Comparative advertising should only compare things that can be compared.

'apples and oranges' are two different things…

3 Comparative advertising should objectively compare demonstrable results.

The comparison must impartially compare relevant, verifiable and representative characteristics of the goods and services, such as price, reliability, quantity and safety.

4 Comparative advertising should not confuse the consumer.

The consumer must not be made to think that the comparative advertising originates with the competitor (hope Horlicks and Complan is listening..)

5 Comparative advertising should not negatively reflect on the competitor.

The comparative advertising must not harm the competitor's good name or be disparaging with regard to his brands, activities or products( ahem!!!)

The consumer is a smart ass.. or that is what he believes at least. The last tirade and the war of statistics/ facts/figures and fiction between the two malt majors- Horlicks and Complan reminds me of the proverbial crabs… no one will allow another one to climb up…

And that is to say the least…. !!!

Tail piece:-

How do you compare American, British and Canadian English?

Americans: Spell words differently, but still call it "English".
Brits: Pronounce their words differently, but still call it "English".
Canadians: Spell like the Brits, pronounce like Americans.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A recession letter !!!


Recession regards!!!

I am sitting at my office where till a week back we had about 21 guys with lots of fun and frolic but as of today, this Saturday (yeah we have started working on Saturdays as well) we are just 15. I know you are bad in numbers so I will make it easy for you… 21-15=6…..the rest of 6 has gone… not in search of greener pastures but for want of a choice. You know the agency world….. Its fun… may be we have had so much and too much of fun that even God’s would have felt jealous. The sword of recession has fallen on us so sharp… every day when some one from the top calls some one to his/her cabin the heart beats go up… pink is not only a color denoting gays ..Not any longer… when the creative guys who sit opposite to me were asked to leave last week, they didn’t cry but didn’t laugh either…... they were still and didn’t talk anything… for all the beautiful verbal skills that they had and displayed in umpteen ads, that day no words in their literature could convey what their eyes did… fear… now which is reflected in mine as well … the media manager who took me in here is asked to go in what came as the ultimate recession shock for me…

Now it’s only a matter of time when I too will have to go or else some miracle should happen… The airline client that I am working on as a client service executive should up with his ad budget or at least go back to his volume of advertising before this Bloody f&^%$ng recession… or else as Chithu ( India ka FM yaar) promises things should go back to normal very soon… hey Chithu is the home minister now na… anyways… that doesn’t make any difference to the real situation here… in my agency the only creative work that is happening is to indulge in a guessing game as to who next and which client next will call up and say what… every time the phone rings we all shudder…and since I am the only guy in account management I at times feel relaxed but at times feel odd and insecure…

I love this place dear, this industry… and hence cannot really believe that when hard times come; it’s the ad money that gets cut first… what is the reason…? When you are in a plane and flying high and when there is a crisis that is developed, which fool will switch off the engine…?

Is it not the same??

Or am I in the wrong line..? if everything is coming on my way I guess I am in a wrong lane…

Will it remain the same for ever…….this beloved industry?


What is in a name yaar??? 27-Dec-08

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Fun Gun!!!

Q: What's the speed limit of sex?
A: Sixty-eight -- at 69, you have to turn around.

How I hope all questions that clients ask in Advertising could be answered with such ease and fun....

Week end wishes people... !!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Times Of India- riding the Mumbai wave

Advertising has this unique power of swaying the reader if said the things which needs to be said in a proper fashion. The power of well written body copies is something which now by and large has become a thing of the past.... the assumptions being that the TG( reader/viewer) do not have the time to sit and read all the long verbosity, pictures speak better and more effective than words and that the age of the printed word is gone..... Times of India seems to be walking against this wave of belief when these ads appeared to praise the hero's of India' latest terror attack.. the emotional Indian and the same emotions may make us sit and read the whole of the ad which we may not do had it been a product or service ad.... the emotional speeh akin to Marc Anthony makes people ponder and that is what ads are supposed to do ..primarily...!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Fun Gun !!!

Working at a theater box-office ticket window poses many challenges in dealing with people........

When a disgruntled customer at a window exclaimed, "No Tickets?" What do you mean NO TICKETS?"

The women waiting on him smiled sweeting. "I'm terribly sorry, sir,"

She replied. "Which word didn't you understand?"

Now that happens quite often when ad guys communicate as well ..right? within ad agencies, and with their clients is it not quite often,,,,,....?

Now that it is a week end, its fun time folks... Enjoy !!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Horlicks or Complan-the comparison war !!...part 2

Continued from part I....

To recap from part one where I left you with…

1. Comparative advertising is a form of advertising in which two or more named or recognizable brands of the same product class are compared and the comparison is made in terms of one or more product attributes. That is definition but the clause of the SAME PRODUCT CLASS MAY CHANGE AND STILL IT COULD BE CALLED COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING)

2. The comparisons can be:-
a. implicit (brands implied but not named), or explicit (brands named);
b. the comparisons can be vocal or visual;
c. and the claims can be of complete advantage, of supremacy on some attributes but not on others, or of parity;
d. And the advertised brand can have a market share smaller than, roughly equal to, or greater than the comparison brand. (Even the leader can compare but why the hell?)

3. Regulations and norms about comparative advertising differ around the world, (some have no rules while others have tough ones.. some are liberal like the US ( see the Pepsi joy of life ad and you will know how liberal is liberal..) While in some like India it takes time to interpret as is the case in the Horlicks vs Complan court battle now.

Now getting on….I have answered a couple of phone calls and many mails and scraps on this topic particularly from friends who haven’t gone and lived abroad. Now that gives me enough reason to conclude that this is a cultural shock and may be to an extend when it happens more , when more brands compare and get compared the average viewer in India will get accustomed to the fact that the compared and the comparing are all the same, like the political parties.

Interestingly, all academic research that I was browsing through seems to support the logic that a direct comparative ad from a market follower is least likely to lead to higher awareness for the compared-to market leader (because the market leader is already well known), whereas a market-leading brand has the most to lose from a direct comparative ad (by creating "free" awareness for the compared-to smaller brand). This leads to the conclusion that while low-share brands ought to use direct comparative ads; market leaders perhaps ought to use non comparative or indirectly comparative ads (those that don't name competitors). … Hmmm…. that made me ponder and yawn… the academic researchers have missed it somewhere or the Horlicks guys haven’t heard of this logic… whatever is the case this new one in Indian advertising is amusing and if it goes on you will get to see everyone jumping into the fray and agencies encouraged to wash more dirty linen and open all cupboards and skeletons falling down…

Followers may (!) gain more from direct comparative ads in another way which the leader if he initiates the comparison war will find it later a curse of his own creation. The comparison ads may make the buyer put both the brands in the same "consideration set," by increasing the degree to which they are perceived as similar to each other. Comparative advertising in that case becomes more and much more effective than the regular ones where one just extol ones own virtues .The supposed distance between the leader and the follower which when is higher ,the leader stands to gain and when the distance lessens the advantage is lost and the follower stands closer to the leader.. Is Horlicks listening?

Studies, studies and more studies and yet the market remains as elusive as it was even before all these studies…The more the closer it becomes to the leader, naturally the higher should be the sales of the compared you thought? Not always .....says another study (!!)…. who is compared and with who is compared is another issue…? who attacks and who counter attacks is also important Forget all the studies ..one cannot seriously think that this war will cut deep into Horlicks share and leave Complan smiling…It would be, to put it simply, foolish to assume that comparative ads sway attitudes and preferences because, while people may indeed notice them more, they nonetheless may consider such ads as disgusting, less believable and less informative (especially if they happen to like the brand being shown in a negative light.)

Worse they may even attach with the accuser, all those worse things that one accuses of the other …when Horlicks says Complan is bad the consumer may think.. why is Horlicks saying this? Aren’t they equally bad as well?

Psychologists call it as Spontaneous Trait Transference …. But who cares ?

The war is on….

To Be Continued……>>>>>>>>>>

Top 4 letter words in Advertising!!!

The suspense is over and the winners have all gone to the nearest bars and beer parlours... the loosers will need to think and do some study than using four letter words sitting in the same bars and alchohol joints...Mean while the reckoner team has come up with the fourth ad in the series and here it is... the fun world of advertising is summarised in this compilation....

Advertising rocks !!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top IN things in Advertising- the agency reckoner part 3

Just one day to go for the great announcement as to who and what is going to top the charts as far as Indian advertising is concerned. Whether the clients are having sleepless nights as the agencies are, is another question but this is for sure an awaited event. The creatives behind the series of ads ( the third one posted here) deserves appreciation in any case for being so very factual and true of the advertising world today.. Adformula wishes in advance, the participants of this great race, an exiting finish and hence more business and more importantly wonderful advertising in the next year.

visit also the reckoner blog ....
Bingo !!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advertising FOX PAS es... oops...

Click on the pic to get a better view if you have not done it already... Seeing this fox pass.. oops faux pas I miss the ad world... the heat and dust of it... the blood and din... the smiles and stares, the ego's... the whims ,fancies....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Fun Gun!!!

Husband and wife decide to make a password for sex, they decide on 'washing machine'. Later in bed that night husband says, "Washing machine."

Wife replies, "Not tonight darling I have a sore head."

Half an hour passes and she feels guilty so she says, "Washing machine."

Husband replies, "Too late it was only a small load so I decided to do it by hand."

Is it not again the case with ad agencies and their clients that by the time the realisation dawns, the load would be done...???

Enjoy the week end people... and come back fresh on Monday....

Friday, December 12, 2008

What do clients say in Advertising?

The Brand Equity Ad agency Reckoner is a much awaited issue every year to know who tops whom and who snatches what from whom....Packed with power lists, rankings and analysis, the Agency Reckoner is a concise guide to India’s most admired creative and media agencies and the 6 th edition is to roll out next week setting the rumour mills on, fulltime. Ogilvy will retain the top slot or not in the creative side...or will a new dark horse emerge? and who among Mindshare, Madison and Starcom will head the media agency scene,,,, these are questions that the Indian ad world is waiting to get answers for.. but as of now this ad, created by rediffussion tells it all....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Horlicks or Complan? the comparison war!!!

"Beauty is a relation, and the apprehension of it a comparison".....
------ Gerard Manley Hopkins

The recent Horlicks – Complan spate has triggered a new row hitherto unseen and unheard in Indian advertising……. Blatant Comparative Advertising.

Comparative advertising, as the name suggests, is advertising where a party (the advertiser) advertises his goods or services by comparing them with the goods or services of another party. Such other party is obviously his competitor and is often the market leader in the business (Horlicks with about 60% and Complan with about 15 %). The comparison is often a desperate attempt to eat into the share of the compared and is characteristically done by either signifying that the advertiser's brand is of the same or a greater quality to that of the compared or by denigrating the quality of the compared product (in the Horlicks vs Complan case both has happened and frankly I am quite confused as to who is saying what and should I stop buying both and go back to age old practices like banana powder and raggi malt).

Now that this ad has evoked the topic, I plan to bring out my gyan on the subject and hammer who ever is bothered to read it. Comparative advertising can be as blatant as the ones that we see now in the Horlicks-Complan who is better and why? war of visuals and words or can even be subdued and suggestive as in case of a Baleno comparing it with the "luxury German cars" on the market. If you rewind a bi,t Captain Cook when it launched had an ad that made a not- so- overt- but -not -so -covert reference to Tata Salt by showing a package that looked exactly like it. As such advertising does not contain any trademarks it is not relevant to the law of trademarks (it may, however, constitute a breach of the code of ethics of the watch dog ASCI who watches and barks but seldom bites).

Comparative advertising as a practice does not have to be limited to the use of the identical trademark, as creative advertisers will often do play of words. It was often used to suggest the brand leader ship that you compare your brand with a brand leader or often an icon but in some other unrelated category. For instance when one writes a copy which says Lotus bawa the BMW in shoes, it is just to show its brand position and not to derive from the brand equity of BMW and for sure not to ridicule or demean it. When Whisper was launched ,again, it was and had to be compared with Carefree listing out the features that the new brand had and the old one didn’t (alas!) but without taking the name of the compared. this left the old one bleeding and the new one absorbing it fully..( the pun is intended)....This again is better off and more acceptable to the compared even though he will grumble but can do nothing more.

If the points in comparison is testable and as long as it is provable it seems the courts have no issues here, and I am told that the Mumbai high court didn’t upheld Complan’s case when Horlicks started the tirade digging at the 23 vital nutrients and all the grow faster claims and bingo they are also here with all the dirty linen on the streets, washed and washed."Dogs have not the power of comparing.A dog will take a small piece of meat as readily as a large, when both are before him” said some one and how true right?? Isnt it a pity that a brand as great as Horlicks has to resort to this scale of gimmickery to sell itself? That but is a different case which we will disscuss in the next episode.

One question I have often heard being asked ( last one week I have heard this many times in the class room)is whether it is "legal" to be doing this…? If it means and generally it means that if you would be in danger of a lawsuit if you ran a comparative ad without asking permission of the other brand….. the attacker can be taken to a court of law if your ad is disparaging, that is if you claim anything about the competitors product (i.e. that your product is cheaper, faster, etc.) and it can not be substantiated in a court of law. One thumb rule is that usually such ads should be done by a reputable agency that uses statistically sound research techniques to make claims (blind taste tests, independent laboratory, etc.) so that the claimant later does not look like a fool falling flat on their face. In extreme cases it can benefit the compared too. Remember a case when Burger king ran ads about how its french fries beat McDonalds in taste tests and the result-...McDonalds actually saw a spike in french fry sales while the king did not….

Now that was interesting eh??

To be continued….>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Fun Gun!!!

A tourist from Albegestan goes on his first overseas trip.Upon arriving, he is visibly puzzled filling his visa application. The border official looks over his shoulder,and sees the tourist trying to write 'Twice a week' into the small space labeled 'SEX'.

The official explains: "No, no, no. That is not what we mean by this question. We are asking 'Male' or 'Female'."

"Doesn't matter," the tourist answers......

Now that sounds like some client for whom IT DOESNT matter who is their agency.... anyone chalega.... Fun has come guys... njoy ur week end....

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The best of Adformula...My Ass is Bigger than his...

As originally published on 22/11/05....

Let us call him Anand. He was in love,and the girls father wanted to meet the guy to decide on his qualification to marry the girl. So here comes Anand to his would be F-I-L's house , a big , sprawling mansion which blew him off.. He was a poor guy( and had the mandatory inferiority complex), and fell in love with this rich girl Arathi( that is the way it should be.. have u not seen bollywood masalas?)

U'r a handsome guy... so charming.. flattered Arathi's father-- now let us talk over dinner..
Anand was full blushing as he walked to the dining table

Dinner started. Everyone was seated..

Our hero found himself in a very tight situation.. why?.. he wanted to FART.. but how? will it not be shameful if he does that..? he thought and thought but his bowel pressure wouldnt listen . it came out with a funny sound.. He looked embarassed ,and started sinking, cursing his bad stars. But then the F-I-L had that presence of mind...

Tiger--- he shouted at the dog , lying near to Anand under the dining table.---- go out.....

Anand was happy.. he simply loved the guy.. his would be F-I-L , who saved his face ..Relieved he decided to let him loose once again and farted ,this time with added volume.

Tiger--- again shouted the old man...

Anand was gleeful... the dog is gettting the blame.. so I can be relaxed and can be farting more..

So did he.. this time the volume was more...

The old man stood up and shouted at the dog...

Tiger.. get the hell out from under that table before this bastard shits all over u....


The ad creatives are great guys( no pun intented).. who convert a brief ,often vague and unclear (many clients dont know what they want to communicate.. let us discuss it later on), often highly technical and complex to great mind blowing ideas that touches and stays with us for ever...

Can any one forget the Cadbury's girl running into the cricket field? or for that matter the Fevicol series, that won a standing ovation at the Cannes?.. Can any one ignore the Dog and the Boy campaign which made the now famous duo of O&M famous, which solved a complex marketing problem( the target audience liked Hutch network but thought it as having no network) through a simple communication which made Hutch sales go up by 77 %...

So what is the Anand story doing here...Some ad creatives are Anand's.. they like the laurels but blames.. they like to pass it on..they take the bouqets with blush, but the brickbats they simply transfer to colleages and subordinates ..some are bothered about their Abby's and if possible Cannes.. some talk to the competetor.. some talk to the competetor's ad agency creatives(My ass is bigger than his).. some talk to their own ego's.. the result is clear.. ad's which are so churned out doesnt even sell the clients brand, forget Marketing.

Some day the client will call the bluff... the Czar creative will stand exposed like anand...

The guys who suffer from 'My ass is bigger than his' complex should wake up to the reality.. it simply means ' I am a bigger asshole than him'

Am I right?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Apply now.. Durex condom tester ...

Durex in Australia had some time back called for applications for what it claims could be the world's best job - condom tester.According to Durex "any Australian over the age of 18 could apply for one of 200 positions as a condom tester".One thing's for sure - it's a job where employees won't mind taking their work home and burning the midnight oil....
Yesterday was world AIDS day and hope people will get more reasons to wear a condom , if morality is a no issue for them...
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