BLEED BLUE!

Thursday, April 7, 2011
It was an unforgettable moment of pride for all. That night of April 2, 2011 every Indian forgot his caste, creed, worries, tensions, apprehensions and rejoiced with his fellow countrymen as India won the ICC Cricket World Cup. It was a long wait of 28 years and victory never earlier had tasted so sweet. A big achievement for India and most importantly for its most amazing captain M. S. Dhoni. Fearless, confident, cool and unflappable. He drove in unlimited self-confidence into each player, and together the team conquered the world.

The man showed the world he doesn’t play by the rules – and India loved him for that. A captain like Dhoni and a tournament like the World Cup is a combination that doesn’t come too often and it made every marketer sit up and take action. With the whole nation glued to their TV sets, there was nothing more exciting an advertiser could have asked for. Along with the nation, every brand too was eating, sleeping, breathing and singing cricket. Every brand had jumped on to the cricket bandwagon.
With cricket and only cricket on everybody’s mind, most brands changed their advertising strategy to match the mood of the audience. Those who could afford to, roped in the cricketers to endorse their brands, while the numerous others changed their advertising themes, punchlines, promotional offers to match the cricket euphoria. As this was the best way to engage with the audience, Krishidhan, India’s 5th largest seeds company changed its tagline to “Beejon Ka Tendulkar”. DSP BlackRock Mutual Fund asked people to “Prepare your investment kit”. Style Spa introduced its “Hattrick offer”. Dr. Batra’s introduced its “Super Six Offer”. LIC doled out a slew of catchy slogans, each one reflecting the spirit of the game. From “Live life on the front foot” to “Great partnerships are built on trust”, each one showed how life & cricket were not very different from each other. Relating your brand to cricket was the best way to get noticed this time. Those who did have the means – like Revital, Oakley, etc – got a cricketer to endorse their brands. However, for some, in spite of spending so much and changing their advertising themes to cricket, the magic eluded them. Very few could reflect the passion for the game in a way that would get the viewers excited and involved. Research has shown that out of the hundreds who infused “cricket” into their marketing plans, only two brands stood out head over heels above others – Nike and Pepsi.

Much like its “Just do it” slogan, which caught the imagination of youngsters across the world, Nike’s “Bleed Blue” was on the lips of every Indian as he confessed his love for the game. Nike put into words what every Indian felt when its cricket team went to play against the world. Winning the cup and defeating the world made every one weep and bleed for the men in blue.

Pepsi and its campaigns have always been young and appealed to the youth. However, its campaign around the World Cup created by the agency Taproot India, brought a smile to everyone’s lips. Humorous, irreverent, and interesting, the campaign brought out the spirit of the viewers. When it comes to cricket, every Indian thinks he’s the expert and that one could easily teach the cricketers a thing or two to improve their game. For every lost match, we have an explanation & a solution, which, if the team had followed, would have ensured they won the match. The Pepsi ad portrayed this so beautifully with everybody teaching the cricketers how to master unique batting and bowling tricks. It brought a fresh twist to the game and soon the “helicopter shot”, “the doosra”, and the “upar cut” become the new cricket lingo. They were funny and totally different from the cricket rule book. Pepsi did change the game.

NO IDEA – GET AN IDEA!

That’s the problem with most. We have no idea; or rather no new ideas. Be it in life, in schools, in politics, or even marketing, what’s lacking is original thinking. The problem starts at the grassroots. In schools, IQ scores are rising steadily because children are busy learning and increasing their IQ, but they have no time for idea generation. Whereas it’s the CQ – creativity quotient – that matters in life. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs showed that the No.1 leadership trait was “creativity”. There seems to be a creativity crisis everywhere. Creativity is not confined to art; it’s the ability to think beyond the obvious. Creativity could help leaders in solving world problems, from identifying ways to educating masses, providing health care to finding a peaceful solution for Libya, Afghanistan etc. A creative leader can change the world by thinking & doing things differently. Creative marketers can find ways of taking their messages straight to the hearts & minds of the consumers. They can design campaigns that don’t just look creative, but have a creative, powerful & meaningful message too. The sad part is that not many are doing it. Look at the advertisements of cellular service providers. Everybody is saying they are the best and we should switch to their network. Apart from Vodafone’s Zoozoos, not many names shine out distinctly. While every insurance provider was talking emotions, the adorable Bharti AXA Life Insurance ad shone out as the podgy man at the doctor’s clinic refused to accept that he had a critical lung disease – but a kidney failure was fine for his policy covered it! Somebody thought creatively and drove the point home. Tongue-in-cheek, it poked at the other insurance providers without being critical or preachy. While every advertisement of suitings looks the same with a dapper male model and an attractive girl hanging on to his arm, it was Raymond that shone out with its series of “The Complete Man”. Somebody thought there was more to a personality than just good looks; and as expected, the message was loved & remembered and Raymond stood out above the clutter.

When the stakes are so high and the rewards so lucrative, what every marketer should have stressed on was creativity. Right from the dream semi-final between India & Pakistan to the finals, this World Cup provided umpteen opportunities for creative leaders to shine out. With such unheard of advertising rates (Rs.17-18 lakhs for a ten second spot during the Indo-Pak match) it was absolutely essential for all to think different. M. S. Dhoni kept his words, thought differently and planned the match most creatively – which got us the cup finally, but not many advertisers lived up to the promise, save some like Pepsi. In fact, the Pepsi ads have worked so well that when Dhoni hit the last six, even the commentator remarked that “that was the helicopter shot”, a term that till now had never been a part of the cricket vocabulary. That’s creativity. Exotic locations, attractive models, top quality special effects can never make an advertisement successful. It works only when everything comes together with a great idea. So get new ideas.

ANOTHER “BLUE” EVENT!

Events like the World Cup, the Super Bowl, et al, are huge platforms that can provide an instant reach. They are dream events for advertisers. The men in blue always provide a huge opportunity for advertisers, at least in India. However, this month-end, another “blue” event caught the imagination of the world. It’s the Royal Wedding of the blue blooded Prince William with Kate. A wedding like this comes once in a lifetime almost, and according to some economists, it might even save the British economy. It’s expected to generate £620 million just from tourism, add to that the sale of memorabilia and other merchandise.

It’s a big event and marketers are already working overtime! While Walmart is selling tea mugs with the Royals on them, Hyatt Regency has introduced a “William & Kate. The Love Story” package; a brewery is even producing a special “Kiss Me Kate” beer... and the list goes on.

It’s time again to put on our creative hats and make the most of this “blue blooded” event, for the one who thinks differently is the one who will profit the most. And David Cameroon, you can save your economy too! In whatever you do, be creative, be original, and just like our super captain Dhoni, think from your heart and bleed blue with passion.