2009 Elections, Digital Strategy, India Elections, lkadvani.in, Social media

BJP’s Cyber Strategy- An Audacity of Hope?

With election just round the corner, there is hardly any buzz in media. There seems to be no “India Shining” or a “High-decibel-clash-between-national-party” media campaigns.

However such is not the case on internet. One of the most prominent faces that you might see on these days on net is that of Mr. LK Advani. In addition to his ubiquitous banner advertising across different websites and search campaign, he is promoting his personal website lkadvani.in. A few words on this website- it is neat and progressive in its vision. The welcome note- “Welcome to my website…” is engaging. Currently, the website has two language option (Hindi and English) and also promotes the other BJP websites- Mr.Narendra Modi, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan. The home page is updated and follows Advaniji’s latest happening (he met the family of 7 that attempted collective suicide). The website also has other 2.0 features; it lets you subscribe Advaniji’s latest blogpost (through rss feed & email), has a number of discussion forums, and enables you to leave comments (You can read my comments on his blog here…). Completing the chain is the presence on Youtube, Orkut and Facebook.

Pretty much everything what a digital medium has to offer (well they missed out twitter!). The strategy seems robust considering what this project is set out to do- engage with 100 Mln new voter, who are primarily young and embrace digital media. BJP is following the footprints of US election, and aims to get more number of new generation folks (the so called IT generation) involved with the elections.

If so, this election might be hailed as the first “Digital Election”. Blogger, Gaurav Mishra has created the first comprehensive coverage of this action in his blog and wiki site (hats off!). He writes…

Shaken by the 11/26 Mumbai terrorist attack, and inspired by Barack Obama’s success in the US elections, the young urban Indian is likely to step out to vote for the first time in India’s recent electoral history. As a result, both BJP and Congress are targeting young, urban voters like never before. BJP and Congress, however, have adopted different tactic to appeal to this audience. While Congress is banking on the youthful appeal of Rahul Gandhi, the 39 year of scion of the Gandhi family, BJP has embarked on an aggressive 360 degree campaign, inspired by the Obama campaign (Chicago Tribune/ AFP/ Indian Express/ TOI/ Reuters). “ Read full article here

Gaurav Mishra’s wiki site, which also has insightful articles by other bloggers of repute (If social media interests you, you will find Sampad Swains article stimulating…). The 2009 elections is also exciting for us digital marketing folks, because it may deliver another success, thus enhancing the credentials of digital media coming as mainstream marketing. Mr.President Barack Obama showed the way in Nov 2008, a strategy that brought out possibly the maximum voters in US history, 67%, most of them young (some interesting statistics on Sampad Swain’s blog.

The question is whether a similar campaign will bring out the 100 Mln new Indian Voters and give BJP the first mover advantage in this space? Will this campaign encourage new voters to come out and vote? My guess is that it won’t.

My hunch lies the unique things about us, Indians. We don’t express ourselves, come forward and contribute and that our opinions count. We leave this job it to a few folks, whom we deem corrupt, self centered, and pro-minority politicians. In India, Facebook and Orkut would still be popular, because we are very social by nature and love to interact, discussion and debate (as infamous “Argumentative Indian”). We also may express our negative experiences in mouthshut.com or indiamike.com, but going out of home and voting is a different story. Can internet influence us to change?

Why I think that digital media will stand short of influencing, is also due to our media usage. Our media consumption for opinion depends largely on press and sensation Hindi news TV news coverage. The TV coverage is similar to a Bollywood action movie and entertainment is too much big an influence in shaping up our views. Digital media is different. We depend on reader, and point of view. Given a total of 45 Mln internet users, this seems small compared to over electoral base. Even in this small segment, a large majority would love to read blogs, but won’t even leave the comment behind. We are not conditioned to take that extra step. And this is why I think, digital medium used in this election will be short of pushing people that extra mile. However, will be a great marketing case study, academically. Influencing people to take decisive action is a difficult thing.

But there is silver lining. Efforts are being consistently on getting the urban middle realise the importance of their participation- Tata Tea’s “Jaagore.com“, is a great thought provoking commercial, which based on a great insight on our lazy educated urban middle class. Other campaign, such as Times of India’s “Lead India”, is also a stimulating step in a positive direction. If fortune favors the brave, we might see emergence of a new media during this election.

My intention in no way is to undermine the efforts behind the project. Hindi website, which connects to larger section of population, is a great step. This might be the precursor to language content inflexion point, which we have been waiting for a longtime and will catalyse the internet adoption on the country. This also might help to take social media off internet into more realistic ground level activity (efforts such as friends of BJP and its local chapters, which help activate the issues). The success of this campaign will also mean an large behavior change in our outlook as Indians. A great news for marketers, who are interested in new opinion forming vehicles. In fact, the more party follow this suit, the better it is for the media, which will help internet connect to deeper into tier2 towns. But alas, only if our other politicians had a vision for new India!

With my Voter-id card done, I’m ready to cast my mandate in this election and pray that new India also has the audacity to contribute to this “change” and “hope”.


Budgeting, Google, innovation, kaizen, Marketing innovation, Milward Brown, Product development, Worlds best brands

The Rule of 70-20-10

According to Milward Brown, the ranking of Most Valuable Brand in 2008 is as under.

1. Google…. 86,057 Mln$
2. GE (General Electric)… 71,379 Mln$
3. Microsoft… 70,887 Mln$
4. Coca Cola… 58,208 Mln$
5. China Mobile… 57,225 MLn$
6. IBM… 55,335 Mln$
7. Apple… 55,206 Mln$
8. McDonalds… 49,499 Mln$
9. Nokia… 43,975 Mln$
10. Marlboro… 37,324 Mln$

(Courtesy Milward Brown Optimor Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Brands Ranking 2008)

It is indeed surprising to find Google at the top, a brand with almost 0$ advertising. One other striking things about the world’s most valuable brand is that very few of them are FMCGs, which dominate the traditional mass media and advertising, known as the most potent way to create brands. The inclusions in this list are Coca Cola, McDs & Marlboro. Differences aside, Google is still on top, with a growth of 30% over last year.

Google’s promise to adhere to the promise of “providing world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” is uncompromising. Google’s growth was led by word of mouth and recommendation. In a research, 44 percent of internet users bonded with Google and 73% agreed that it returned the most relevant information. In comparison to Yahoo, which was recommended by 21% , Google was recommended by 43% to others. What is again more interesting is that the growth was contributed by almost 0$ advertising. Google’s young, innovative and playful image is it’s most cutting edge advantage over competition. So, you might be thinking that this is another article on Google story and accolades and blah blah.

Well, that was not the idea of this article, but to introduce the concept of Kaizen, the Japanese word which connotes continuous improvement in work place. In the fast paced world of bottomlines and quarter ends, such concepts are hard to find. However, Google incidentally has been always been able to push the limits by continuous and consistently improved products and innovative new products. In addition to providing relevant and more accurate search results, Google has introduced e-mail, Piccasa (Photo-sharing application), online documents and other tools. Google in incidentally world’s no.4 in the list of best places to work.

It comes to the point again that the company culture is the first step to create a long term brand equity and word of mouth.

So, you might say sounds interesting and is a technology or a R&D concept. And there is also the fear that only one in 10 new products are a success. It has always been a great challenge for Marketers, where should one focus their energies.

In addition to the customary answer, “It depends…” there is a science to go about it, which I first came across in the book- What Sticks by Briggs and Stuart, and is called 70-20-10 solution. In his talk to MSN, Eric Schmidt shared the classic Silicon valley mix 70-20-10 and therefore its implication for marketers…

70% of budget/resources should go into marketing strategy that are proven to work and you know will work, supporting existing the product/line of business

20% of their time in extending their existing product for “sustaining” innovation. That is, figure out whether there are opportunities to better the ROIs.

10% on “wild skunk-work” ideas for new products or disruptive innovation.

Well, it is this 20+10 percent that will give an edge with the competition. Doesn’t require huge energies, but consistent effort and persistent vision. Some said- Common sense is not that common. In our effort to streamline bottomline and target pressure, we tend to forget the obvious.

Business battle is not fought in the design labs but the market place and consumer’s mind. Those marketers who are able to learn and innovate, learn faster and deploy the intelligence more effectively have more chances to win. Devote, say one week in a month for disruptive innovation, to get under the skin of the consumer. Cajole him/her, tickle them; drive engagement. Or the other choice is to cross your finger and wait for the miracle to happen.

I think, the former is a better bet.