The city’s biggest festival was recently concluded and it was full of crowds and colours and food and fun! But the other stand out feature of Durga Pujo, other than the pandals and the idols of course, is the sheer amount of marketing, advertising and publicity involved. And we aren’t just talking about the publicity that the various pandals do of their Pujos but of the brands and sponsors lining up every street, every open space and every fencing across the city.
One will witness everything from banners, hoardings, drop downs, pillars, framed banners and gates! All covered in advertising material. Recent trends have ensured that even the inside of the pandals and sometimes the idols itself are covered in or decorated with sponsored materials. Sometimes the ornaments worn by the idols are sponsored as well as part of extremely innovative marketing! So many adverts, and such creativity all around.
Arguably the most viral advert/publicity this year was the stunning kilometre long ‘alpona’ on Lake Road, by the Samaj Sebi pandal. The artwork was created by hundreds of art students with the support of a corporate house and the splendid creation added to the visual extravaganza.
There were some other brilliant adverts, Tanishq and Century Ply ads come to mind. Century Ply made a touching advert about the clay artisans, the unsung heroes of the festival. Check out their advert here.
Durga Pujo is many things to many people but to marketers, it is also an amazing advertisement opportunity, where the entire city is part of the tableaux!
Do you know what’s common between them? Actresses all? Well, not all of them are. Oh, we get it! They are all members of either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha or have been at some point. Yes, that’s true. But there’s something else as well. Not got it yet? Think again!
Here, we will give you a clue. Sing along, why don’t you? Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma… Got it right? Of course you did. Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma, sabki pasand Nirma! One of the most famous jingles and advertisements in Indian television. Did Nirma actually give ‘doodh si safedi’? It doesn’t matter, does it; because even decades down the line, people remember the jingle and the advert. That is the kind of recall value most marketeers hope for, this once in a lifetime kind of phenomenon.
The company was started by Karsanbhai Patel in 1969 out of a small room and within decades it was one of the most successful brands in its industry. The product itself, pricing and distribution was responsible for its success as much as its marketing was. Such simple, direct lines and a memorable jingle.
What made Nirma go national was its earthy TV ads. A lively montage of young men and women singing and dancing, cutting across regions, cultures and income groups was so very relatable to audiences. The three oft cited reasons for the success of the brand’s imagery were the catchy jingle, the characters of Hema, Rekha, Jaya and Sushma, quintessential housewives, and the mascot of the Nirma Girl.
One of Indian marketing’s success stories; sabki pasand Nirma!
Pidilite is an Indian company, formed in 1959 and is the largest adhesive manufacturer in India. Although it produces other products like art materials, constructional chemicals and industrial chemicals it is most widely known for its Fevicol brand.
Fevicol was also launched in 1959 and was marketed as an easy to use glue and is available in almost 54 countries worldwide. Fevicol, was a revolutionary product and soon became extremely popular; however, Fevico is equally memorable for their amazing advertising.
Their recent foray into innovative advertising found them displaying all you can take free stuff in one of Bombay’s many malls. The activity, named, ‘The Free Store’ had 87 items displayed and anyone was welcome to grab whatever number of them that they pleased, the only catch, was that they were glued tight with Fevicol. What else. At the end, not one item came unglued, and Fevicol proved again that they are India’s top adhesive, but what they also proved was that marketing can be fun, innovative and unforgettable. Fevicol ka advert hain… bhoologe nahin!
Considering how we are a business school and Marketing is such a big part of business, we are starting this new series titled Marketing Misadventures. We would write about real world examples on how companies, more often than not, huge companies with professional marketing teams, messed up in the silliest, most insensitive ways in trying to market their product. We can only hope that our readers appreciate these examples in how not to market a product. Here goes part 1 of the series which we will intermittently write about.
That time when Starbucks thought 9/11 imagery was a good idea…
Starbucks sells coffee and other things people like with their coffee. They also sell other beverages and they need the world to know that, so in the summer of 2002, which acute readers may notice was a few months after the 9/11 disaster, they released this advert.
Now, if one remembers correctly, and it is very likely that Americans (where the disaster happened just a few months ago), would remember, the 9/11 attacks brought down the two World Trade Centre towers when two hijacked planes were crashed into them. It also so happens that the WTC towers stuck out into the New York skyline amongst other (not as tall) but mostly homogeneous skyscrapers.
If you look at the seemingly innocent picture again, in light of all the above information, you would notice two tall twin cups standing out amongst square blocks of grasses (since when are blades of grasses square blocks?) and a dragonfly aiming straight for them. All of these could have still been ignored but then comes the kicker – the tagline – Collapse into cool!
Inadvertent or not, that was too close to home, especially so soon after one of the worst attacks on American soil in their history. Protests followed, there was immediate and immense negative publicity and Starbucks aborted the release of new posters while taking down the already displayed ones. They learnt a valuable lesson that day – to stay away from horrible reminders when trying to sell coffee; until September 11, 2011 that is. They branded the ten year anniversary of the attacks as ‘free coffee day’ and handed out free beverages in more than one location. At least this time the campaign met with mostly positive response although there were some criticisms about opportunism and tackiness.