ADVERTISING IS DEAD

Thursday, June 5, 2008

With clutter on the rise and agency commissions on a regular decline, integrated 3600 marketing communications is the way forward as a more holistic solution


“Every movie looks good in a trailer – Seedhi Baat, No Bakwas, Clear Hai?!” That’s a hoarding you might come across in front of movie theatres. Or at a bus shelter, you might be greeted with a hoarding, which you couldn’t help but agree to... “Just when the conversation gets interesting, her bus arrives – Seedhi Baat, No Bakwas, Clear Hai?!” You might have guessed the brand in question by now. Yes… Sprite. Which, over the years has become synonymous with the old adage, “Honesty is the best policy.” The brand is using a host of mediums to reach out with its message of no-nonsense attitude to the youth. To break through the clutter of message, it’s going to customise its message according to the locations. Not just outdoor hoarding, the brand would be using the digital platforms too. It would create a “Sprite-itude” zone, an interactive online site, where apart from a host of fun activities, users could even judge their “Sprite-itude”, i.e. they could find out by filling a questionnaire whether they were individuals who set their own rules or found it easier to follow others. All this and much more is being done to supplement the advertising campaign and the new TV commercials conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather.

What Sprite is doing this year, Coca-Cola, its parent brand, did last year, It used its superhit punch-line “Sabka Thanda Ek” from its commercial, starring Aamir Khan, and built a one-stop interactive online destination www.myenjoyzone.com.

When the business paper Business Standard wanted to promote its Hindi edition earlier this year, not only did it use print and TV campaigns, but a whole lot of on-ground events and various “below-the-line” activities to communicate its message “Behtar business woh jo aapki bhaasha mein ho!” Today, the way to build brands is changing… and very fast.

You can reach anybody...that’s the easy part

Till a few years ago, marketers worked hard to find ways to make their message reach target consumers. Today, the game has changed. According to Wenda Millar, former Chief Sales Officer of Yahoo! Inc., “You can reach anybody today. The challenge is to be able to ‘connect’ with the consumers.” As a result, marketers today cannot depend on just one form of communication – be it TV, print, outdoors, or digital. They need to think 3600. According to a recent report published by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), developing integrated marketing communications is the number one concern for senior marketing executives. It started as a media planning tool, but today it has taken a whole new dimension. Thinking 3600 is a way of not just reaching, but surrounding your target audience and convincing them through innovative ways to buy your product or service. It is a way of understanding every form of media (new and old), its strengths and weaknesses and using it to leverage the maximum benefits for your brand. Today, it is the way to build brands.

If you could name the models of the sport car that Saif drives in the movie Ta Ra Rum Pum, you could win yourself a Chevrolet Aveo! This was a part of 3600 marketing initiative of Goodyear to promote its tubeless tyres. It also set up ‘Goodyear Corners’, which were actually shops-in-shops, where their representatives gave potential consumers information about the product and helped them purchase it too. Basically, they wanted to remove the perception of tyre stores being “dirty places” to visit. A “women on wheels” event was conducted on International Women’s Day, an online club called ‘Goodyear my turf’, a toll-free number helping you use the service ‘Goodyear Wheel Assist’, were some of the other initiatives. Ofcourse, it advertised too, borrowing visuals from Ta Ra Rum Pum, in addition to a radio contest. A total 3600 effort!

UTV launched its Hindi general entertainment channel with a fundoo initiative called “Bingo Bindaas Go to Space Contest!” You had to watch Bindaas every evening at 8:00 p.m. and answer the questions flashed on the television screen. If you got lucky, you could go to space! The campaign got them more viewership than an isolated TV campaign could ever have.

Mahindra & Mahindra used a total 360 degree marketing communications plan for promoting its second hand car outlet named ‘FirstChoice’. They integrated TV commercials with SMS to help create a buzz. You could SMS any purchase or service-related query. They expected 1200 to 1500 SMSes a day. In fact, the company received as many as 15,000 SMSs a day. Integration is always more effective.

The new-agency business

Agencies need to reinvent themselves. They have to learn to think beyond the 30-second spots (TV commercials). According to BBC World Ad Avoidance Study, an average TV viewer sees 438 ads a week. Hence, just advertising, however good, isn’t sufficient to build a brand. According to Tateo Mataki, Dentsu Chairman & CEO, “The business model in which the agency’s sole function is to create advertising and buy media is no longer viable.” According to him, the agency and the client need to share risks & rewards equally, which is exactly what Dentsu did with the brand Cup Noodles. They decided to promote the Cup with anime (animated) advertising. They then created comic books, and even episodes, which were sold on DVDs, which soon became best sellers and helped earn additional revenue for Dentsu & the client.

Plain advertising or vanilla PR ain’t working any more. Think about it, some 40% of O&M’s Rs.1,000 crores billing comes from the non-ad business. Lintas set up IMAG (Integrated Marketing Action Group) to provide clients with a single window to integrate all marketing efforts. When ICICI wanted to promote its children’s growth bond, it decided to go in for a direct mailer. A 1% response would be considered a success. Its agency contract however decided to organise a drawing competition on “What is your dream career” for children. The parents of the children, a few days after the competition received a letter which read like this: “Did you know that Aditya wants to be a pilot!” and then explained them how ICICI could help their child achieve his dreams. 20% parents responded; ICICI spent Rs.6 lakhs but generated Rs.2.8 crores.

A great creative guy is not enough today. Clients need a person who understands their brand and has a full grasp over all the media options available and is capable of designing a plan which best fits them. They no more want just an ad, or an event or a DM or PR. They tell the agency to do whatever it takes to make their brand grow.

The changing consumer

In 2005, when customer Jeff Jarvis wrote about his problems with Dell in his blog, little did he know that he was changing the way people would decide how to buy. Thousands joined him in his blog and made Michael Dell realise that customer service was a problem and resulted in the launch of Direct2Dell. With blogs, social networking sites et al gaining prominence, people are making more informed decisions. To influence the consumer today, you need to communicate to him from various different touch points. Even before watching a movie people check out reviews, blogs, and websites.

Conventional advertising is out. BMW created films of its cars’ stunning driving experience with the help of a series of directors; and then it put these films on its website. The young internet-cum-blackberry addicts lapped it up & loved the idea. It created a buzz no advertising could have created. Apple created a buzz and built awareness around its iPods with minimal mass media advertising. You need to work on total branding solutions to stay in business. Clutter is increasing, commissions are decreasing, you need to rethink your strategies... for plain advertising is dead.