Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DIGITALisation of brands ... the starting point...

It is a tale of social media make over..Six years ago when I left advertising and joined teaching, the world was new to this millennium. The Y2K bomb had burst and the world was quite more a safe place. Industry was booming, liberalization was quite happening, the giant Alcatel’s were slowly being replaced by sleek Nokia’s, more people traveled by air and discussions of more private airlines were on air..More people spend more on more and more unwanted products and more people looked slim, handsome and sexy.. more houses came up, more flats looked spruced up, new and more cars on the roads that made our cities look like live hell here on earth, more gadgets- wired and wireless-appeared, more communication happened and more faster it happened.

I but was more amused with the advent of new media spaces than when I was in full stream advertising. As a management teacher who taught the new gen the nuances of modern day marketing and advertising, I got into the net working sites like twitter, orkut and linked-in, little knowing that they are going to be the new media sites for advertising as well. The end of advertising as we know it said, Zergio Zyman and I bet it is happening. The agencies of the past I mean the ones who live in the past, the ones where the kind of places like I have worked, the ones who thought and still think that they know and hence they define Advertising, resist any such idea of the age old realm of Advertising moving from TV and the print to the new age stuff like DTH and OOH and worse to the twitters and facebooks which are more about tête-à-tête with the TG than about one sided announcements that Ad’s as we knew them used to be.

Today, Brands who thought old, (even the oldest ones) seem to be rethinking. Coke for instance is trying to balance its late acceptance of their awakening to the digital truth by being fair more aggressive in its digital presence. Coke now will think beyond giving away Coca cola T shits and will get digital in constant dialogue with the young through programmes like My Coke Rewards in the US and Coke Zone in the UK…

This is in continuation to the Sounds of Coca-Cola programme where people where asked to submit videos in which they replicate the noises they associate with opening, pouring and drinking Coke. To enter, but, participants need to visit Facebook, the social network, to find out the details, and then use an "app" to upload their entry, with the best efforts possibly going on to feature in an ad campaign. So you have to be the facebook type already or better become one to be of the coke type.. the message is simple… This all is happening in spite of their respective agency(ies) criticism of any thing which is new and digital…

India too isn’t left behind,,, given the oft quoted age group that is making India look younger than much before(54 per cent of the population is below the age of 25 and 72 per cent is below the age of 35)….the scene is fast changing here as well.. how else other wise can one explain the phenomenon where companies like Hindustan Unilever(remember the Lipton Stay Sharp online jigsaw challenge), Procter & Gamble, Cadbury’s and Tata Tea( jago re was a hit) have increased their digital ad budgets for individual brands.

India’s consumption driving group of youth are increasingly spending more time online and they are now no longer limited to the metros or the happening places as we called them.. Smaller towns and cities also have gone up in terms of spends… Well…. did I say PHENOMENON there? HUL, P&G, Cadburys.. etc spending more money on digital is phenomenon in itself because they are FMCG players basically and hence require more ad spend and more customer interaction points as compared to others because it’s the customer familiarity that drives their sales…The web is an equal if not a better tool (as compared to the main stream media) for awareness, persuasion and reminding – the basic functions of advertising as we knew it… (Being first in their ladder of thoughts)…Yeah! The reach and the coverage is an issue still in India given the socio economic facts but that doesn’t seem to be deterring our main stream brands in seriously going digital ….

The whole game is not new ..the world has seen success stories like Sunsilk's sunsilkgangofgirls.com or Mattel's barbie.com but the main stream mass advertisers have been shying away in spite of what digital marketing experts and consultants seems to be vouching for … between the war of choices one thing is but certain – the internet and digital space may not replace the mainstream media at least in a larger part of our landscape but can go hand in hand … the news is that it has begun !!!!

This is the concept of Sapir-Worf hypothesis that sociologists talk about when they suggest that 'the language that one speaks reflects the looking glass through which the person comprehends the world and act in it' is a quite important analogy for the Marketing discipline( the Advertising or Marketing Communications community in particular) to understand. The cart off is that ideas, concepts, and images in the wisdom of advertising (as we know it) shape and delimit the domain of Marketing communications as a practice……

Social networks and digital space.... Even if you're not ready for a presence there, go there; find your customers and observe them. Listen to what they're saying.... it is the starting point....

Is it not time that the sleeping ones too wake up?

NB:- even as I was typing out this article, my Google reader tells me this peice of news... Brands such as Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Gap have all developed iPhone "apps" in an effort to connect with consumers, and are enjoying a variety of benefits as a result, particularly when these tools have featured in ad campaigns run by Apple itself.

Now I guess my point is made .........

1 comment:

Priyank said...

Agree... it is a good medium with its own advantages.
Acccording to me, organizations have to put more interactive applications, otherwise one may visit your space but will not come back.

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