Bajaj, Brand Marketing, Fevicol, ICICI Prudential, IPL Cricket, Marketing Matrics, Marketing ROI, Peopsodent, Vodaphone ZouZou

The Brand is Dead, Long Live The Brand!

It was late on Saturday night and I was in the middle of an intense discussion with my friend, Sujith, who heads Account planning for FCB Ulka, Delhi. Sujith was pessimistic about advertising, “There are not many good people joining advertising these days”, he said. More importantly, taking about campaigns, we could count only handful which could be called “Creative” so to speak (Vodaphone “ZouZous” and Fevicol were the ones that came to my mind).

It was a different situation 10 years back. I was an account executive with Lowe; being in advertising was coveted, fueled by passion. As an AE (in advertising parlance) would look forward to ads by Pepsodent, ICICI Prudential, Hamara Bajaj. Brand Marketing was sure fun then and I believe that it may still be for another 4-5 years. Brand will be soon be dead or at best, a niche, limited to categories which are very sensory oriented, say soaps, shampoos, deodorants etc and time such as IPL.

I have my reasons…

The first glimpse of such transition was during my US trip last year. When I saw ads in TV i was bored to death during the breaks- “Come buy from us because we give you 20% discount. 5% additional if you quote this number”. “Limited period offer log on to the website for more deals”. Promotions & discount ruled the scene, benefit related and very “tactical” contrary to what we see here (Mr. Reeves would have been happy to see this set of communication). Recall my agency days, I would hardly recommend this route to my clients. Promotion was a separate brief. Discount is short term, used to propel the sagging sales; diminishes the “Brand”.

Hmm. i guess those were good days. Mass media also needs to be accountable now, and needs to add to the balance sheet; not just move the consumer confidence index.

As marketing gets more scientific, matrices become more traceable (not just through pre and post researches), we would tend to see more rational coming into marketing. One of the better definitions on marketing that I have come across is “Marketing takes care of all those items which are not present in balance sheet, such as brand, customer creation, demand creation etc.”. I’m sure that this definition will change soon.

  • Social media has potential to measure the response within a quick span of time, influence brand and word of mouth.
  • Search engine marketing and affiliate are being used as viable sales channel. Coupons are being used effectively to sell.
  • Lifetime customer value is becoming increasingly more important.

Marketing is changing at a very fast pace, CMO’s job will be more measurable now. The gap between the gut and rational is increasingly becoming thinner. Brand will now be supported with more rational and measurable thinking and manage the quarter end pressures.

Marketing will no longer be dominated by brand, but by communication. The new marketing landscape will keep innovating with new technology integration, making it more accountable, increase consumer control and thereby increase it’s effectiveness.

Brand will be dead soon, Long Live Marketing ROI!


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health insurance, icicilombard general insurance, life insurance, motor insurance, online insurance,

When will we move over to Online Insurance?

About two years ago, I received a number of job offer requests from “Insurance” sector. I thought is was interesting, as no other category has been able to move online, other than travel. The believers argued that Insurance was in a similar of evolution as travel and the portal will help consumers “compare” travel policies. The idea was to create a direct channel, that will help eliminate high cost of DSA. I guess the idea was ahead of its time in 2007, interesting model nonetheless.

I’m a non-believer and I still don’t know how many people actually compare insurance policies before buying one. Or we buy policies only to invest. Until I saw my colleague demonstrate an example. My colleague wanted to buy a term policy for his home loan and used one of the comparison sites. Only HDFC StandardLife responded to his query and won his business.

Motor insurance, Health, Travel Insurance and Policy repayment are the easy catchment areas for Insurance category and would be the first ones to migrate (I pay my policy dues online and use the website for contact information).

Complex products are difficult for move completely online. Life Insurance, Endowment etc are best left as features on the website to be compared and most likely to generate a contact and should be followed up by sales representative for demonstration and explanation (this should reduce the irritating calls by the contact center executives)

When I run a search on Google, I get a handful of sites. Importantly, most of these sites, that i come across, are for the first time, hence i don’t know how many people will trust this space. ICICILombard is the only know player and has been putting effort in getting people online (heard their jingle on radio today). Even a 2-3% of the overall marketing spends in the right digital initiative should help build this slow preference and will have gains in the long run.

I guess a trust of digital as a viable business model needs to be firmed up for the senior management and case studies that will help more experimentation.

In the meantime we will have to entertain the annoying calls from the executives, sad!