Thursday, November 26, 2009

POLO - What is your HOLE story?

How important is a hole?

I know it is a question with a hell lot of meaning and ramification...... so lemme narrow down the scope of that horrifying question to the domain of Marketing…. HOW important is a hole in Marketing?

The answer would be a stare for those who do not know the Indian market scene and the 1000 odd crore mint category … the Mint with the HOLE lead the market for years with its HOLE positioning… millions of Indians were enamored by the HOLE POSITIONING that no one ever noticed that a w(HOLE) generation is getting into the mint habit and buying a mint because it had a HOLE… OOPS… would we have bought anything for the absence of it.. ? say a burger because it had a hole..? or say a bottle of juice because it was only half full,,? Polo did that and that was /is smart marketing.. the mint that sold for the absence of IT in it and keeping a hole in its place… Marketing world should at this juncture remember Freddy Birdy and Mudra (the first agency of POLO) for the genuis with which the simple HOLE was made into a working proposition !

ITC and Perfetti jumped into the plat form with all vigor and that is history now… category seriously. ITC's – Mint O with its positioning “all mint no HOLE” was a direct attack on the HOLE that polo sold till that date… not that polo lost its market sudden after but it soon made people think.. why the hell should I BUY a HOLE? Then came the Chlormint’s and the others who made it all fussy… Polo but could and would have remained the first in the customers mind – first in the ladder that the human mind is- provided they had kept their HOLE intact… the agency that made the wHOLE business of HOLE possible was chucked out to be replaced by LOWE who as every new agency will do mercilessly killed the HOLE in a flip of an eyelash …

Nestle is a huge marketer and they would know the tricks of the trade. When they and their then agency (LOWE that is) decided to fill the HOLE they would have had huge designs of other SHAPES in their minds but the ads which showed the virtues of whistling while eating Polo with the baseline "Polo ghao seethi bajao" did fail to reach the TG , the ones who loved the HOLE, the ones who thought that a HOLE is a HOLE is a HOLE….the new slogan and the new positioning did what all the ALL MINT NO HOLE’s couldn’t do to Polo… a lot of damage…How one at that point hoped that Nestle insisted on the basics being retained inspite of the agency change.(I am reminded of the VISA story when in the fag end of 2008, BBDO was dumped and TBWA was taken in as part of global realignment and consolidation and still the client told the new agency to retain and continue with its existing creative platform)

Then the HOLE came back (as did the MALE in Pulsar and the DEVIL in Onida ) the same game… the agency out and the old position in… the new ads again had the protagonists “searching for the hole”…and finally they got it… they could have searched at the agency that dumped the HOLE… they would have got a lots of them- HOLES … now anyways and in any case it seems the return of the HOLE was inevitable.. it has come back and back with a bang… the new "WHAT is your HOLE story? " ads if is any indication, it is going to rock…the premise is simple, extendable and hence has the chance of less wearout and more longevity !
( I am still to get the TVC and will upload it as and when I get it)

The category is so very uncomplex and even habitual and hence fun, larger than life and exaggeration works in abundance… brands can sway but around one strong pole , if they do not want to be caught unawares…. Examples galore but marketing is not hard science and no rules apply for everyone, everywhere… So let them make mistakes and learn from them to make more of mistakes.. and in the mean while let us have some mint, with the HOLE of course… !

Tail piece:- " A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape."

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