Friday, January 30, 2009

Dealing Mrs Doubtful - Marketing that did'nt...PART II

How important is Mrs.doubtful?

The answer is a cliché- “it depends”.....

Dr Joseph Duran called it as the ‘vital few and the trivial many’, based on his studies on the Pareto’s principle (the 80:20 rule for beginners)
Sophistication in accounting methods now makes it possible to look at the cost benefits of various marketing actions. Professors Cooper and Kaplan at the Harvard Business School has shown that in a large number of companies, 20 per cent of customers account for 225 per cent of profits. This clearly shows that the remaining 80 per cent `screws up’ 125 per cent of profits. They called it as the 20-225 rule. These spoilsports are JAY’s who are deliberate troublemakers, but can include Mrs.Doubtfuls too. Such doubtfuls, if falls in the top 20 per cent of Cooper and Kaplan analysis, clearly the customer is (always) right and require specific steps to address her doubts. If she falls in the remaining 80 percent, assess whether she is a “convertible”, ”belligerent” or a “time pass” and act accordingly.

Most of the doubtfuls, regardless of whether they are in the good 20 or the bad 80, are meek and hence don’t ask or complain. This segment is dangerous if not handled head on and if no efforts are taken to find out what exactly are they doubtful about. Some doubtfuls, for example may be high roller customers who don’t mind spending like hell provided they get the best out of such spends( Greed u may call it, so be it). Just see the fact that the way Indian consumer spends money has dramatically changed over the past few years. The share being spent on the basics (food, beverages and so on) has fallen from 54.07%in 1992-93 to 44.8%in 2002-03, but for the same period for healthcare it has risen from 3.5% to 8.6% and for communication it has grown at 13.2%. Now it becomes the responsibility of the marketer to realize this change and manage the doubtfuls.

Even if a doubtful belongs to the bad 80, should she be thrown out like one would do with a “thief, rule breaker, family feuder, vandal, or a dead beat”? Unlike JAY’s, doubtfuls (except the belligerent and time pass) can be cultivated and converted and once convinced will even be a good spokesperson. This is the angle, which marketers with futuristic thinking will have to look upon.

The lesson for marketers

Marketers and marketing communicators(the good old ag adencies as they want to be called these days) do the mistake of communicating what they do not have and not communicating what they actually have.. this is more often true than a matter of fiction and this is one of the main reasons for doubtful's to remain so.... it is better that the marketers shelve the idea that there is a huge homogeneous market out there, which would behave the same... all of them in a same fashion and with same passion..... Classes and sub classes do exist, and Mrs. doubtfuls do exist too, and it is the marketer’s job to understand her predicaments. She is not a JAY who disturbs business wantonly but a would be future asset. Even those doubtfuls who are belligerent or timepass and seemingly not convertible could be your publicity if treated properly. Marketers should evolve mechanism to cultivate them. After all customers are like kids, they are messy, sometimes violent, sometimes unruly, many times dirty, and gives you sleepless nights, but aren’t they lovely? Aren’t they simply the reason for our existence?
Tail piece: Man: "I know how to please a woman."
Woman: "Then please leave me alone."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

God !!!..was she faking????

Republished under the best of adformula series...

oh ! what an entangled web we weave ,when we first learn to deceive...

Last night I got a call from an agency friend of mine...(I have non agency friends too) who wasnt able to attend my repeated calls during the week and was full of apologies for not able to do so..

The time was about 11.30, I was about to sleep after a hard days slogging."Tired of pitching preparations yaar".. she lamented..."and our hits are far less than the misses". We last week went to pitch for the new car account , you know the small car guy who announced a change from their current agency owing to non compatibility issues".

I got curious... having left the world of advertising when it started getting internationally and intentionally murky, such field reports keep me in touch with the industry.

"We shed all the intellectual laziness you know"- she chuckled- "for a long period and got our act together,, we pursued the account as hunters would pursue animals"..

I chuckled too, for a moment, visualising the familiar lazy gooses of agencies whiling time in the name of creativity and research......An account review by some client is a time generally when, agencies wake up from slumber, some even from their death beds and get into action. It is a mix of comedy, politics, apathy, latenights, peeping Johnies, blame games, expectations, courage, creative oupour and a lot of celebrated humbug.Agency heads directly take charge, if the client is big,(now a days even for the smallest corporates) - lavishing his divine charm and diplomatic aristocrazy-- people are given special charges.. even expertise from outside is hired if needed so(if the agency have not experienced/worked for similiar accounts)..individuals are identified for specific tasks..research guys spring in action,questionnares and key boards,assuming, tabulating concluding what the consumers need , want , guys burn their midnight and early morn oil to find some media where the new ads(assuming that the account is won) could be placed..Vox pops.. field interviews..focus interviews... dealer opinion records ..brainstorming, ...creative blockbusting...Dictums like....“You can’t have an ego in this business, but be aware that everybody has lots of them"...7 day weeks.. Friends meaning four letter words.....positioning statements............creative teams and briefs-who "will weave from its plain threads the rich tapestry of flackery that envelops a big idea" and then with all the hype and hoopla ,baggage and politics- proceed to the clients side for what the industry calls as 'pitching'..

"We got the big idea.. we cracked an amazing one" -she continued

"hhmmmm"... I listened with patience."How big is your family? that is the which the small family in the small car is shot in different locales and shown.. to demonstate how the car becomes an essential part of the family"

"Not bad"- I commended.

"Exactly'...she said .."and that is what they also said"...

"Then"...I threatened her stony silence..

" Then what .. liars.. scoundrels..that was a know they didnt drop their agency,they stole all the ideas that we dumbos, gave them in the pitch"....she wailed..." and now my guys tell me that the 'How big is your family ' idea will soon appear on screen and in print with their tag"..

"Amen" ..I managed to say as I gasped for breath.

" We are blacklisting them"..she muttered.."never again, we will try or work for such bad clients"

"Thats good"- I said even as I laughed over the BLACKLISTING thing,,,- "may be now you can start a new agency with tired old people and try again"


If you try and dont succeed ,cheat.. repeat until caught..then lie..

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Fun Gun!!!


A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the pants.

Don't be irreplaceable, if you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get.

You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.

Eat one live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

Never ask two questions in a business letter. The reply will discuss the one you are least interested in, and say nothing about the other.

When the bosses talk about improving productivity, they are never talking about themselves.

If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.

Happy week end guys....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dealing Mrs Doubtful - Marketing that did'nt...PART 1

A woman walks into a convenience store. She walks straight to the manager and asks, "Do you have any small note-books?"
says the manager. "We're all out."
The woman shrugs, and asks, "Well, do you have any mechanical pencils?"
"Nope, don't have that either," says the manager.
The woman feels her stomach rumbling and asks, "Do you have Geometry boxes?"
The manager shrugs, "Sorry."
"Hmmph. How about colouring books?" says the woman.
"Nope. Don't have that."
"Wow!" the woman shouts, "If you don't have anything, you should close the stupid store!"
The manager shrugs, "Don't have the key."

Let us call her Mrs. Doubtful. She wanders around the apparels shop or a white goods show room with mind full of doubt and suspicion and no one to attend to her. She symbolizes a large group of customers everywhere, in every business premise, wanting to decide and buy but unable to.

Marketing research has always tried to dissect and analyze various types of customers, and have come up with dictums like "the customer is always right” and “every customer is equal”. The same group who professes ‘value creation and delivery for customers’ classified them as platinum, gold, silver, copper, sand and even muck (let God forgive this modern day apartheid). Apparently the focus is on value to the seller (Marketer) and not the idiot who is the buyer….

Some have classified customers based on their response patterns- like Meek, Aggressive, High roller, Rip off and chronic complainer. Christopher Lovelock coined the term JAY customers to refer to dysfunctional customers who deliberately or unintentionally disrupt service in a manner that negatively affects the organization or other customers. So the rules are changing. Kings and queens, at least them who are not worth their cost of maintenance have been dethroned. Here let me introduce to you a new set or customers- Mrs. Doubtful.

Mrs. doubtful – who is responsible?

Some businesses are of high contact types, where the interaction with the customer is high and the contact points and occasions that the customer has to meet the with the organization is high. A savings bank account can be taken as an example. Here the chances of trouble between the two are more and the service provider, in many cases, takes Mrs. doubtful for a ride mercilessly. You and me have experienced that and have felt releived and good to do the ATM and NET banking types.. atleast we can avoid the barking from the other side of the counter....

Medium contact type businesses like an insurance service or post purchase stages of having bought a hi-fi music system has less calamity in terms of Mrs. doubtful getting an unfair treatment. That is except when the system refuses to sing and the seller showing a cold attitude to her calls. Her consideration set is long and vivid, and these days’ even durables look like FMCG’s with the brand influx and hence decision is long pending and she remains doubtful until the purchase.( even after that but it is a different case altogether)

Almost zero contact types like for instance a shampoo brand or a fairness soap (even failing to deliver those glorified promises) will result in almost no commotion at all.There is a better shampoo with a better promise and there is a better fairness soap with a better hope on sale and Mrs Doubtful simply have no doubts on them, she just walks in....

So the lack of differentiation and the resulting identity crisis that many brands across product categories suffer from is the main contributor for the existence of Mrs. Doubtful. The levels of doubts becomes deep and hard as the product category becomes complex, moving from habitual and variety seeking (Ref: Henry assael’s model in Philip Kotler), but the doubt exists, nevertheless.

Technology in many cases adds to the doubts. CRM methods- of course the modern IT enabled ones-in many cases leaves existing customers unhappy, who spreads their dissatisfaction among others, including Mrs.doubtful, causing more doubts in her types....

Companies in their quest for expanding their customer base often forget existing customers and run behind new ones, leaving them unhappy and causing more and more doubtfuls. Remember the old saying- an unhappy customer is your worst publicity. Old sayings are better left in the past... at least that is what our Marketing guys seem to be doing....


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stop Smoking !!!

How better can it get? I mean the communication that this ad is making with a bang... old one yes, done by FCB in Paris and a Winner at the Cannes, this made heads turn, people thought before they took another puff....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

A physician, an engineer, and an attorney were discussing who among them belonged to the oldest of the three professions represented.

The physician said, "Remember, on the sixth day God took a rib from Adam and fashioned Eve, making him the first surgeon. Therefore, medicine is the oldest profession."

The engineer replied, "But, before that, God created the heavens and earth from chaos and confusion, and thus he was the first engineer. Therefore, engineering is an older profession than medicine."

Then, the lawyer spoke up. "Yes," he said, "But who do you think created all of the chaos and confusion?"

Some clients are like Lawyers... aint they? just confusion and chaos....

Happy week end folks...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aegon Religare- Present-ing the Future...

A couple had been married for 50 years. They were sitting at the breakfast table one morning when the old gentleman said to his wife, "Just think, honey, we've been married for 50 years."

"Yeah," she replied, "Just think, fifty years ago we were sitting here at this breakfast table together."

"Yep," the old man said, "We were probably sitting here naked as jaybirds fifty years ago."

"Well," Granny snickered, "What do you say... should we get naked?"

Sure enough, the two stripped down to the buff and sat down at the table.

"You know, honey," the little old lady replied breathlessly, "My nipples are as hot for you today as they were fifty years ago."

"I wouldn't be surprised," replied Gramps. "One's in your coffee and the other's in your oatmeal!"

Currently, only 13 per cent of India’s workforce is covered by some kind of retirement or pension plan…. And the retired oldies are all not happy sitting together around a breakfast table re-living the past with or without clothes….. and to put it simply, it is a vast unexplored (?)… I will say less explored market as far as products and services aimed at this market is concerned.

Some time back a teaser campaign ran across Indian media in a brave and bold new attempt to put an end to this marketing myopia of sorts… they called it KILB… or Kum Insurance Lene ki Bimari. …..The teaser campaign KILB later unveiled the identity of its brand: AEGON Religare Life Insurance. The campaign where Irfan Khan, portraying a doctor who, in various moments such as in the train or in a lift, asked people around him how much they are insured for. The answer was a low figure… DISMAL !!!!.

He then lamented that” people will buy small things such as groceries for daily use according to their need, but when it comes to buying insurance for their future needs, it is always ignored”. The whole KILB campaign was designed by Contract Advertising, produced by Apocalypso Filmsworks and directed by Pradeep Sarkar…..

The team has struck again with this ad which is making waves in Indian air space now. This time the objective of the campaign is to make consumers realise that saving systematically for retirement is as important as earning for today and provide them with definitive solutions.. this is important in the Indian scenario where people generally invest for today; therefore, life insurance is easier to sell. In the case of pensions, people have to do it for themselves and they would need it after some 20-25 years so they don't pay much attention…. Here goes the ad….

The Idea is striking and the execution is innovative as the protagonist / advisor who sets up the problem and then reveals the solution switch between the present and the future with ease and with enough drama and suspense maintained to the core.

Inflation( ever growing), increased life expectancy and increasing privatisation ( no Govt pensions here after) etc have boosted the requirement for individual pension plans but people are hesitant, and those who are not simply do not know where to start… this dilemma was well addressed and it seems this ad has done to cater to both this issues… to be run over 6 weeks and with a budget of approximately Rs 10 crore and with the wonderful creatives from Contract that is taken into the TG with good media planning and buying by their AOR, Mediacom (I saw in various channels, saw a different and good form in the newpaper this morning, saw it my mail again in a different execution, saw it as a pop up... same idea but not repetitive in execution) ,they are as of now in face to face combat with equal spenders like SBI Life Insurance, Aviva Life Insurance and Max New York Life.

Huge spenders like ICICI Prudential, HDFC Standard Life and Reliance Life Insurance will have to now wake up and notice this small fry who looks different for sure and talk different as well. Needless to a clutter of verbose monotony when some one talks different, attractive, simple and sensible it will make a difference

To Inform and Impress..... if that was the objective of this campaign,I guess they have done it….The communication at least is getting the consumers to call up the given numbers to figure out their pension amounts…

The proof?

I did it just this morning…I, who never ever thought of pension and retirement plans before.... Now I realise that one day even I have to retire and sit at the breakfast table…

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jimbo bumbo ..Jargons in Advertising... part I

For those ad guys who happen the attend the typical client meetings and then their own meeting with the genius’s of the account and brand planning division these are the terms that comes out with every foul breath….

Synergy (O yeah!!) 1+1=5 ….
Proactive, not Reactive (that is when we can do it before target date)
Win-Win Situation (Compromise!)
Think Outside the Box (but where is the box?)
Take That Offline (SHOUT!)
Client-Focused (his ego is bigger than ours)
Strategic Fit (Jargons can confuse)
Gap Analysis (whose gap with whom?)
Best Practice ( as compared to?)
The Bottom Line (is most of the time the top line as well)
Core Business ( of most clients is to make money)
Lessons Learned ( the hard way most of the time.. the main client has just walked out..)
Revisit ( the plans and strategies often after the client kicks hard in the ass)
Game Plan ( often with open goal posts and googlies)
In the Loop ( just keep in touch)
Out of the Loop ( I hate him to talk to him)
Go the Extra Mile (often after a lots of 4 letter words)
Benchmark ( often the bench is to hide under)

To be continued >>>>>>>>>>>>>.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

A man is lying in bed in the hospital with an oxygen mask over his mouth. A young nurse appears to sponge his hands and feet.

"Nurse," he mumbles from behind the mask, "Are my testicles black?"

Embarrassed, the young nurse replies, "I don't know, I'm only here to wash your hands and feet".
He struggles again to ask, "Nurse, are my testicles black?"

Finally, she pulls back the covers, raises his gown, holds his penis in one hand and his testicles in her other hand and takes a close look, and says "There is nothing wrong with them!"

Finally, the man pulls off his oxygen mask and replies, "That was very nice but, are... my... test... results... back?

Now doesnt that happen in advertising as well?
DO the clients in advertising understand what their ad agencies say with or without masks...?
Have a Happy week end dear ones....!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The animal circus !!! (part I)

Advertising is like a hard pill; many people dislike it and yet have to have it when required, for want of an option. What is the most misused term in advertising? Came a question during one of my lectures ... and I didn’t think twice to yell ...Strategy.....Why so? Having worked inside agencies for seven long years, having seen humbug being sold to clients with jargons and mystification mixed in the right proportion strategy is the most misused term in advertising for sure. Even other wise if all this claims of strategy were true what are all the dogs and kids doing in advertising?... on an after thought let me also add hens... a large numbers you have just seen....

It is not that animals are bad, spokes creatures and spoke skids are as important as spokesmen and women if used in the right way and if used with basic astuteness.... but the sad fact as seen in the above ad, which is just a sample, is that the common sense is just not that common. Most of them...a vast majority of them just plummet and ooze in multihued out of the idiot box, the music up and up, the sun shine and the plastic smiles just for ever. From every angle, at every film speed, in backlight, sidelight, stark light, animals....happy, hopeful, adoring, loving and loyal rules....Stereotyping is not a new accusation and the ad guys live up, and constantly strive hard to live up to the accusation with all the HARD WORK that they are seemingly putting. Animals and their use, over use, misuse and abuse is but the worse of all the stereotypes and clichés that seems to rule advertising- rule with an axe that is...

See this ad.. it is unimaginable that a great brand like GE will resort to such a kid play but it has...

Just like many others it has done a kid play and that is a syndrome which agencies suffer from and get away without harm and often even with accolades from the clients and even from the public... it would have been acceptable, all the claims of strategy and its implementation if the ad looked like the one below... Bridgestone and its use of animals...great in its execution, amazing in fun and the to the last shot suspense -three basic elements that make an ad interesting.

It is true that advertisements depict life and draw from it to make the right connect with consumers. Many a times, there are situations and emotions that are best conveyed in a particular way…. It may be animals that the right way is …( the Raymond’s ad with so many dogs..) So animals, or for that matter, anybody who is a part of peoples' day-to-day lives can appear in ads. But too much of anything is bad and in any case the agencies are not paid just for executing wishy-washy work ….

To be continued….

Monday, January 05, 2009

Pardon me Rooserda...

Originally published on 1 Jan 06 and republished on the "Best of Adformula series"...

A woman came home just in time to find her husband in bed with another woman.With superhuman strength borne of fury, she dragged her husband down the stairs to the garage ,tied him to a pillar and put his manhood in a loop and tied it in to the wall .Next she picked up a hacksaw.
The husband terrified, screamed, "Stop! Stop! You're not going to cut it off... are you?"

The wife, with a gleam of revenge in her eye, said, "No. You are. I'm going to lock the garage from outside and set on fire."


Not every ad guru accepts the theory of Unique Selling Proposition (USP) which Rooser reeves of Bates made decades ago.... Many disagree with the idea that ads should have a single and strong idea to sell successfully..But none disagree that ads should have strong ideas to be able to sell , whatever you name it and too many ideas will bomb on the face for sure.. Remember vicco turmeric..?USP's can be inherent in the product- can be made along with the product and then communicated through good advertisements, or can be simply 'discovered' after the product is made and before communicationis thrown on to the air.

Contrary to popular perceptions the second route isnt that bad.. saw the latest G4H ad's ? ,which are making Kaliappa Chettiar laugh like never before..( Mr. Chettiar owns Sri kaleeshwari mills which is the proud owner of Goldwinner, the cooking oil brand)..but USP' which the ad agency discovers for and on behalf of the client ,many times do back fire.. synclova 5's made it then but today people are less idiotic.

Listen to this...Samm Sinclair Baker in his classic 'The Permissible Lie ' told us this story..

In a typical meeting, a client told his agency men... "our canned item is slipping in sales.We need some new exitement in the advertising. we are going to redesign the label to give it a NEW look. so come up with a New improved campaign with lots of big - big promises.. move fast"..

Some one asked- " any thing new or improved inside the can?"

The client glared."what the hell kind of a question is that? I would have said so if we did that..only the looks will be NEW..Whose side are you on anyhow?

The questioner wasn't on any side very long.He was fired from the agency.

Now hear this...

"You saw this"- yelled the creative guy- " fair and whatever has come up with fairness granules... what a they are gonna make more airhostessess... God we are gonna sink"...

"And see this"- cried another guy- "fair fever guy has come up with" fairness enzymes" ...

"Goodness gracious.. what are we going to do? Our farfairest will definitely want to retaliate"..

"Let us discover a USP for him.. ummmmm" .. said the strategy guy.....what about fairness microbes?"

"Yuck"-said one guy- "it gives me creepy feeling.. a negative image"..

"Is it? then how about' fairobes' ? "

"Wow.... wonderful"-said many

"but what is fairobes?-asked one

"who knows and who cares"?... that will be farfairest' s USP here after..

"forgive us Rooserda"- quipped the Bengali account planner.

"And we will use it until they start sensing reality, then change it .. public memory is short."-said the branch head.

"Now shall we call the client?"


Advertising has really changed our thinking. This morning my wife put on eye shadow, eyeliner and eyelashes. I said, "What are you doing to your eyes?" She said, "I'm making them look natural."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

Dont be too greedy ad guys... the clients may do the same...

Happy New Year !!!

Let life be ass good as this depiction... sorry as good I mean ....happy 2009
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