AdStand: The Newspaper advertising crisis

Can you quickly recall the ads you read in newspapers today morning? Ok can you trace back and recall what you read a week back? Is there a newspaper ad that made you stop at it last week and made you say: this is nice, or this is clever or this is too good?

There is a crisis that newspaper ads are struggling with. The one single reason why brands create advertising is memorability. If the advertising does not create memorability than it is an expensive indulgence that the brand can avoid.


Crisis of memorability

The three of the largest category that uses newspapers extensively are real estate, retail and ecommerce. May be the three categories are responsible for the crisis of memorability that newspaper advertising faces today. Real Estate advertising is transactional, the builders are not looking at long-term traction, they look at quick transaction. This makes the real estate newspaper advertising low on idea and high on details. The belief that prospective buyers are looking for details and the ad needs to say everything that can be said has turned real estate ads into catalogue listings. Ecommerce websites too look at newspaper advertising as catalogues to announce sale, there is rarely an attempt to build an idea in those ads. The entire retail sector has taken newspaper advertising back to the days of origination. In the earliest days newspaper ads were catalogue listing. Today, newspaper ads are back to being catalogue listing. There in lies the biggest crisis newspaper advertising faces today


Crisis of craft

Last week Snapdeal released expensive jackets across the country, announcing the new identity and its new consumer-facing proposition. Unbox Zindagi is an ambitious brand building exercise that the brand undertook. A key element of the campaign is an anthem that tells the story of the brand. Snapdeal turned the song into the body copy for the launch ads in newspaper. The Hindi lyrics if the sing were written in Roman script and became the body copy for the ad. The Roman Script Hindi was used in English newspaper ads that were released across the country, including in areas where Hindi is not the primary language. Brands invest in newspaper advertising to connect with its consumers, to tell the story of brand in the language if consumers. Snapdeal missed an opportunity to really connect and narrate the story of its brand. By being poor in craft the brand did not create the edge it could have by being true to craft. May be memorability of the individual newspaper ad was never considered and it was only used as a tactical weapon to make some noise.

Last week was also an expensive indulgence from Louis Philippe Shirts across the country with a gatefold that opened into a look at how they have changed the shirt forever. The hyperbolic ad was more a self-indulgence from the brand and less of a promise to the consumer. Did the brand need really expensive real estate to tell the consumer that Louis Philippe shirts have changed forever? Incidentally of you do end up visiting the website of the brand, then none of the tonality of the press ad exists on the web. Is the brand then suffering from an identity crisis?
Crisis of context

Like Snapdeal, Uber too launched a new campaign to announce its new consumer promise. Uber is no longer everyone’s private driver, Uber makes you move forward. To launch the new campaign the brand has released large format expensive newspaper ads across the country looking for people who can be Uber drivers. The press campaign supplements the web campaign that is the story of Shankar the driver. The newspaper ad is the story of another driver whose daughter is a chess champions. The campaign works till this extent. Does the campaign though need English newspapers to advertise or should it move to language newspapers? For both: the relevance and reach language newspapers will deliver far better impact. By being in English newspaper has Uber has lost the wider narrative. Language newspapers do deliver better reach and equally good quality of audience to the advertiser. The potential Uber partners are more likely to read the language newspapers than the English ones.

Uber may have missed the context of audiences’ lives completely.


Does newspaper advertising need reinvention?

Newspaper advertising is expensive. Brands invest a large part of their marketing budget in newspapers to build immediacy in brand advertising. Enhanced transaction or greater traffic on site or greater number of calls on the toll free number cannot be the way to measure the impact of newspaper adverts. Memorability has to be the key. Especially now when we are burdened with information overload and have shorter attention span.

I have just picked four random examples from brands that have over invested in newspapers. For brands that are not over invested, memorability becomes even more important. That is the only currency hundreds of brands should live by. It’s time newspaper ads stepped out of the shadow of TV ads.

Original published here:





AdStand: The Campaign that People Own


Olympics at Rio is over, India won two medals, both by women, two athletes finished fourth, one of them is a woman.
The nation erupted in joy w hen an unheralded virtually unknown Gymnast, Dipa Karmakar became the first woman Gymnast ever from India to represent India in the sport and marched into final. She missed Bronze by a whisker and we all know the emotional support the nation gave her
This was topped by Sakshi Malik who won a bronze in Wrestling. PV Sindhu then made it an Olympic to remember by winning Silver in Badminton. Sakshi became the first woman wrestler to win bronze and PV Sindhu became the first Woman Shuttler to win Silver. History was made at Rio. History was made by three women.

The spark of campaign
It is difficult to pinpoint where and when the campaign started. It definitely started on Whatsapp as countless forwards that people get. The ‘forwarding economy’ was at it very quickly and in no time there were forwards about how the unwanted girl child have saved the blushes for the nation.
This quickly became a firestorm across social media with memes, status messages and tweets, all about how it time for India to pay attention to its daughters.
The messages have not stopped even now with more and more people sharing the messages

The first publicly owned campaign of India
The brilliance of this campaign is that it is not even a campaign. No one owns it, no one is creating it, and no one is propagating it. The public outpouring of the sentiment seems to suggest a overwhelming change in the attitude of the country on girl child. The absolute voluntary nature of the campaign seems to be an indicator that there may be small, but there is an aperture of change that exists in the society about the attitude towards the gild child.

No brand could have done this
I haven’t seen a brand capture popular sentiment like this campaign has done. No brand could have delivered this message, not with this compounding power, not with this intensity. This is the power of forwarding economy. People joined hands, found interesting things to share, joined the conversation and sent a message for change.
Is there a chance of change?
If the power of sharing economy is on display with this campaign, so is the weakness. There is a good chance that people actually buy into the cause, but there is a good chance that they move on to a new issue and forget about this issue. This is what happens in true mass participative events.
Yet there is a good chance that this campaign will spark off some change in a few people’s mindset. For a issue that is deeply rooted in our psyche, the desire for change is not externally manifested. It has not been pushed as sermon from the authorities; it has not been pushed as a tearjerker from a socially responsible brand.

In future we will see far more such publicly created and fuelled campaigns. Campaigns that will have far greater power to change the contours if the society.
We as a country have not won many medals at Rio, but the two that we have, can change some deep-rooted societal issues in India.
That is a far bigger victory

Original published here:

AdStand: Communicating the ‘Hawa’

Fans, Coolers and Air Conditioners are three vastly different categories. They target different audiences, different needs and different life stage; yet there is something common to all three categories. Increasingly the appeals across categories have started to overlap, with fans becoming like air conditioners, coolers becoming like air conditioners and air conditioners becoming more like air purifiers.

Fans is a tough category. There is very little rational difference that can be created, and despite sameness the brands have to create a difference. Orient won the game by clever alphabet soup calling it PSPO. They built the appeal so effectively that eventually they mocked people who didn’t know PSPO. The literally blew away the competitors.

Symphony, the original organized sector cooler brand added to the category by claiming to keep India cooler.

Ills of summer, sweat, corners of room that received no draft of air and motors that were all powerful was what built the category.

What is happening today?

“Hawa” became the driver for Havels, its not alone now

Havel’s has to be credited with changing the narrative for Fans. They were the ones who used “Hawa” in the broader societal sense. They were clever to find ills of society, like this latest tackles things like black money . Changing “Hawa” can change the ills of society and the Havels is the fan that changes Hawa is a very tenuous connection, one that Havel’s has made successfully. They have stayed away from complicated product demos, product claims and an over the top voice that sometimes becomes a part of brand narrative. They might have had some con troversy and bad blood with their take on reservations

(Is reservation a social ill?) they have largely been very good at connection a societal issue with fan. Havels as a brand also has been super successful in keeping the context of the advertising very middle class massy India, and that too adds to the overall appeal of advertising.

Standard Fans has gone in similar territory with Alia Bhat, but not as brand that hinges on societal issues, but as someone who changes the domestic look. The ad  featuring Alia Bhat living in an ultra stylish, uber cool pad but a messy pad is surprised to receive a call from her mom that she is coming to see her. Alia bursts into frenzy cleaning the house, brooming and mopping and spilling the water all over the floor. It takes flick of switch and the fan magically makes the water dry up. Does the tale work? By keeping the context set within home of a celebrity and building upmarket cues, it takes a lot away from the brand. Too much of gloss for a fan brand, and making it hook to ‘energy of young India’ may leave people wonder more.

The original tech babble brand has changed

For sometime the original PSPO brand built itself as the smarter fan with MS Dhoni as its brand ambassador. Fans with remote control, colours, power saving became the dominating theme for the brand. It has now moved on to happiness, making fan almost like almighty. The ad is more like a homage to Dhoni then a commercial for Fan. From building the legend of Dhoni to fan being the one that showers happiness when you look up us a rather tenuous connection and a big leap of faith. Next time don’t look up to heavens, just look up to ceiling

Cooler brands and air filtration

Its taken Air Conditioners a lot of time and effort to build air purification as the differentiator. LG built healthy air for long; Samsung even had a Virus Doctor. Its time for AC’s to vacate the perch and hand it over to coolers.

Take a look at Symphony , they have added many layers to the cooler communication by building on the air purification story. There are filters, blockers and solution to outside pollution and irritants that make you go dough cough. For the low-end cooler category, this is a very clever way of building relevance for the brand.

Voltas has combined the ‘Hawa’ with purification to make your home fresh like Hill Station (remember Electrolux AC ad?). Voltas has taken a tongue in cheek narrative of troubles of a young couple urging them to build a love pad with Voltas Cooler and has done it well

Young Couples are in Vogue

If Voltas Cooler was about young couples trying to find a little space of solitude, Crompton is about a young couple setting up a new home. Crompton has done a great job of building the context of young couples setting up homes that reflect their love for each other. We can debate if the husband had to be the workaholic on his computer and wife cleaning up home is a bit stereotypical and what if they had pushed the envelope.

There are overlaps in appeals, fans, coolers, air conditioners are merging into one another. The coming of air purifiers as a category will make the air more muddled.

As the last thing, I would like you to watch this. We are better then Fan, and better than AC. Colloquially Vego is vague. Is this ad in that zone?

Original published here:

Adstand: Some new awards

Abby’s is over, and best of the Indian and South Asian Advertising has been announced. Having won after tough scrutiny, they are the finest the industry has produced. Going with the mood, here are some that AdStand will like to give out.

The first is Laugh out of the Year award. No this is not for that video just released by someone called Tahar Shah, but fro someone even more audacious called MSG. The ad opens on a sort of comical dining rooms setting where one God Man is advising an even more comical looking gent to put ‘Kerosene Oil’ in his expensive car instead of expensive petrol. Surprisingly the man refutes God Man’s sermon and says cant spoil a car by pouring cheap fuel in it. The God Man goes on to tell him to stop eating food with pesticide and eat only MSG Pure Noodles. This, the man with a strange goatee looks whole-heartedly agrees with. You can make your day by laughing along with MSG here ( It is amazing that there are consumers who despite being smart and erudite do listen to the voice of God. Now that the other God Man’s noodles have been alleged to have ash, this one can lay claim to be the most pious of all.

The second award is the Cave Man of the year award, and this goes to Red Chief Shoes. Mr. India meets Chulbul Pandey ( There is nothing in the plot, a man is threatening a woman on knife point, she is wailing like the leading lady from 70’s movies do, suddenly the door is slammed off the hinges and in walks invisible Macho man in Red Chief shoes. The man with knife shivers in his pants drops his knife and scoots. Why is the shoe called “Man among shoes”, why does the ad say “Power of Real Leather” in another frame? Why did Mr. India wake up stuck in a time wrap? I thought the vest and underwear brands had explored every facet of the macho angle, but even they must be lest wondering. Please put your hands together for the cave man of the year award.


The Kidney Beans honest soup of the year award goes to the new 7Up commercial. The commercial starts with mocking beauty pageants and ends up mocking itself.  The women have a chance to win the contest based on final answer ( and she wins by making mince meat of everybody in a pan full of kidney beans. If the green mood lighting on the set is indicative of the brand, then this one is a winner all the way. Incidentally it is worth checking of every potential beauty contest contestant is lining up to try the dish.

The unopportunistic ad of the year award goes to for its “don’t do narebazi, only do smajhdari”. I never knew that Yatra has changed the airline seating system and everyone will get to sit only on Window seat. The ad raises a burning social question: what happens when you discover that there are no window seats left in the flight? You don’t grin and bear it, you revolt with the aid of an app. If all this sounds confusing then do watch the ad ( Is the joke on the brand or the person the brand is mocking? Yatra has gone into the war zone hoping to win the war that Snapdeal lost. Brand trolling the real life events is new.

On the subject of trolls, the troll conversation of the year has to go the founders of two unicorns of India. There is nothing to add to the just two tweets exchanged by Sachin Bansal and Kunal Bahl over Alibaba’s entry into India. After the two tweets, good sense prevailed and hopefully they picked the phone on each other.

The Grand Prix of the season has to go to Urban Ladder. Never ever has any brand ever released an ad as imaginative as this one. Urban Ladder released an ad on LinkedIn ( asking for people who can be mattress tester. It didn’t matter that the ad was released on 1st April, most people realized how easy their job is compared to the one Urban Ladder is offering and how they should trade their comfortable job for this really challenging profile. Urban Ladder. Well done Urban Ladder, really well done.

I am sure there are many more ads out there that deserve awards; we in advertising are very accommodative. Let’s create more categories.






Naresh Gupta

@googlegupta / 9811160480

Sent with Airmail

AdStand: BA, Tinder, Nivea and delightful syrupy Hershey

This week, British Airways has been making the whole world teary eyed. There have been millions of views and BA seems to be riding the wave of goodwill. The soppy tale of granny, her business class travel, and her welcoming home the airhostess is something that is neither a fresh tale nor a fresh execution, but somehow the patriotic feeling that the six-and-a-half-minute commercial evokes is working for the brand. #FuelledByLove, I am sure everyone is running to buy business class tickets to London!

If you have been moved by the real life story, do check out this page.

They are overwhelming favourites of everyone currently. May be I am too hardnosed to have missed the love completely. BA’s claim they have been all about love for India since 1924 is one irony that seems to have escaped everybody.

Staying on the long format ads that are currently in vogue, there is a new one from Tinder that is getting huge traction across the worldwide web. Eat, Pray, Swipe is the new tale told by The Viral Factory. In a country where the matchmaking activity is an exclusive domain of elders, Tinder and its likes are actively challenging the norm. Tinder puts women in charge of the mating game, and this video is a hilarious take on what happens when cool, calm women swipe right or left and the clueless men are struggling to cope with it. If you haven’t, then watch it here.


Ask Me Bazaar, the online portal that sells everything across the board, has just released a new TVC featuring Kangana Ranaut for its grocery business. Ask Me Bazaar has a unique tone of voice; it swings between bizarre to outrageous and is difficult to fathom what the brand wants to achieve. This TVC has Kangna learning and torturing everyone around her with her really outrageous dance performance. Why is the song on a new scale of music or why is the dance on an undefined dance floor is something only Kangana can answer.


The big news in the ad is that while everyone is humouring Kangana, the delivery boy who comes with two branded polythene bags knows what Kangana wants him to do, and does it with élan. There is a nice touch in the ad by having the delivery professional wear ear plugs. If anything, the delivery professional knows how to deal with sticky clients and over the top situations. If you have to watch this ad, watch it for the delivery boy. On another note, why is the delivery in polythene bags?

There is a delightful new TVC from Nivea. Nivea released a long-format #BanBodyOdour branded content featuring Suresh Menon as the fiery news anchor.

The long-format ad is a hilarious take on how news channels create talking heads and debate every mundane thing under the sun. Nivea has now extended the same to a hilarious new TVC. Deodorant as a category is stuck in one groove, and Nivea has successfully created a new narrative. Nivea has a new age take on what happens when men raise their arm and how this has led to creation of new ways of greeting. They have taken it back to origination of mankind.


It’s not that creating emotional tales is a prerogative of India. Hershey’s in the US has released a new ad called “Hello happy, Hello Hershey’s” that is doing extremely well for the brand. The cardboard cutout dad and his clever daughter is an interesting take on what happens in modern busy lives.

Original Published Here:

AdStand: Look Back at 2015, Episode 4

Sujay Ghosh, Sudhir Mishra, Anurag Kashyap and many more of their kind are filmmakers who know how to tell compelling stories on the large screen. They are also consummate storytellers for the small screen. Not for TV, but for a computer screen or a mobile screen. They are now spawning a new category of content. Sujay Ghosh’s ‘Ahilya’ is now topping 5.5 million views and there are short stories across languages getting critical accolade and multiple views.

2015 has been the year when technology became mainstream. Apps were not outliers, they are now mainstream. The second trend of last year was the absolute death of privacy in connected world. And the third was the rise of live entertainment events as a category.

The fourth trend can be called the deluge of ‘Long format content’.

Long format films have been popular this year with many brands experimenting with long formats. Long format is much larger than just what the brands have been experimenting with. There are long format films made by the most prominent filmmakers, they have the cast that has both new comers and established artists. Some long format films have become so popular that people seek them out, download them on their phones and watch them many times. There have been hundreds of mainstream short films that have been made across many languages. This deluge of short films has been turned into long format content by the brands.

Royal Stag was early in this game. They created the platform that showcases the craft of short films. Some of the landmark short films made for this platform include ‘Ahilya’ and Sudhir Mishra’s ‘Khirchiyaan’.  Royal Stag has found a winner., later in 2015, partnered with Talent House to launch India Mobile Film Festival, where aspiring filmmakers were asked to make films using just their mobiles. The response and quality of films were a clear indicator that more brands can use this platform for push messages.

Brands have used long format films in multiple ways. Some brands have left the films to be standalone pieces with just the final branding, and some have used them to tell brand stories in branded manner.

Oyo Rooms lent their name to the Independence Day short film featuring Manoj Bajpayee and Raveena Tandon, garnering 1.6 million views and a very large social conversation. Though bulk of the social conversation was not on their hashtag #Azadi4me, Urban Ladder did the latter with a long format film about parents visiting their son’s family in a large city and feeling out of place. The son and daughter-in-law redo parent’s room using Urban Ladder furniture to make them feel at home. The film garnered close to a million views.

The stand-up comedians entered the fray and created a series of content for brands that were lapped up by consumers. Creepy Qawalli from Truly Madly became a viral hit, even bigger than the boy browsing TVC. The stuff the stand-ups produced for FlipKart too were very well received.

Long fomat ads are a new trend and brands have used them in multiple ways. 2016 will see this trend gain momentum, more so because this allows viewers to see the content across devices.

I am sure 2016 will pose more challenges than we can imagine.

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy New Year.

Original published here:

AdStand: Looking back at 2015, Episode 3

The two dominant trends of 2015 have been mobile, apps data and how they are invading every sphere of our lives. While there are challenges that the new technology makes us face, largely this invasion is good for us, the consumers. The third trend is actually not inspired by technology, and while the trend may have started a year ago, it became a thing to speak about this year.

Trend 3: India now has a new category called Live Entertainment properties.

Chances are some of us now know Rakesh Kumar. I am not sure we know who the India captain was when India won Gold Medal in Asiad Kabaddi, but as the captain of Patna Pirates, he is well known; his videos on YouTube have massive following. India has seen the birth of some new stars, and they come from football, hockey, kabaddi and badminton. The big news is not that other sports are going the IPL way. Nor is the big debate about whether this is good or bad for sport. The big news is that advertising industry now has a completely new category – a category that has no old rules to fall upon, no examples to learn from. There are very few categories that excite a wide swathe of audience, that bring men, women and children on one plank and cheer for themselves with abundance of excitement.

The various leagues have created campaigns that moved the audience. From #baddies or the badminton league to pro tennis league that brought global icons to India, we have never had a time as good as this.

Sports leagues have helped the leagues to become large and become a mass consumption category. But sport is not the only arena where we have seen the emergence of live events as a category. Music is the other.

Sunburn is now well established and it runs many formats across the year. There are new brands that came to the concert this year in a much bigger way. NH7 Weekender and Enchanted Valley Festival are two large properties that became more than mainstream this year. Music as an industry is actually as large as sports and holds as many possibilities. From small, localised properties to many more large formats, the consumers will sing along with them.

The overwhelming response that we have given to live entertainment events is a clear indicator that this was a large gap in the market.

Rakesh Kumar is one of the first new age celeb that this trend has created. Wait for many more to happen that won’t have roots to either cricket or Bollywood.

Original published here

Simple narratives, great impact

The Great Khali powered Ambuja Cement to glory earlier this month; last week it was Shiseido winning the Internet hands down.

Shiseido’s High School Girl? is a delightful film about a good old beauty brand that taps into Japan’s popular culture to create a film that makes the brand super cool. Unlike most beauty brands, it doesn’t drown the viewer in scientific mumbo-jumbo or complicated product demonstrations or even a cleverly written base line. There is a clever little twist in the film, which if you have seen you will get it, so I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t watched it. In the beauty category, the twist is neither new nor surprising. What works is the way the twist has been woven into the narrative. Much like the earlier Great Khali TVC, the final brand baseline is simple: “Anyone Can Be Cute”.

The brand is not telling the tales of transgender or cross dressing, it’s a simple demonstration of what ‘transformation’ is all about and how gender fluidity is becoming a part of pop culture. At almost 6 million views in less than a week, Shiseido has been winning the world over.

I want to contrast the Shiseido effort with two TVCs that were all over my timeline this week – one brand new TVC from Tanishq and other, a year-old TVC from Dabur Honey.

Tanishq’s new Diwali TVC featuring Deepika and Prakash Padukone is for a range called Divyam. Divyam by Tanishq is about a good start to the New Year, as the brand promise suggests. The narrative is all about how the family is going about celebrating Diwali like it goes about every year. Like every year, they clean, cook, wish and gift new things to each other and to loved ones. It builds a routine till the daughter talks about the gift she gets. It is then that the narrative changes, it is not mundane, it is happy and melodramatic. Was Deepika surprised about the gift or was she expecting the gift to be Tanishq all the time? Does the father-daughter bond go up many notches because of an expensive gift? Tanishq has done much better than this. Somehow the twist in the ad is more mundane then the entire sequence the TVC builds up to.

Dabur Honey’s TVC is a year old by its date of upload on YouTube, but the review of the ad is fairly recent. Either way, the TVC is stuck in the 70s in its narrative. It’s a good thing to position honey as beauty food, not many food brands have been able to do that, but to build the brand in such a stereotypical way is completely out of sync with today’s times. Even advertising which is not the most progressive when it comes to gender portrayal has done much better than this. What if it had kept the narrative simple? What if the effect of attractive wife was the husband trying to get fitter and leave being glued to his laptop or whatever he was trying to come to grips with on his desk?

Brands win when they keep the narratives simple. Brands win when the narrative doesn’t dumb down the audience. That’s why more power to Ambuja and Shiseido.

Original published here


Shocking, Bizarre or Strategically Sound?

Can any brand ever imagine that a billboard done by it four years back and displayed in one city would be remembered? The almost impossible was achieved by C Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons, a jeweller from Bengaluru. For those who may not remember, the billboard screamed, “Let the world see your family jewels”. Serious, no jokes. They put this in the main city square, big and bold. Internet hasn’t stopped laughing ever since.

Grabbing attention to become memorable is the reason brands advertise. Attention is a rare commodity, it is not easy to find. Memorability is even rarer. In the cacophony of brand messages, status updates, newsbreaks, cricket scores, football goals, news of bans, WhatsApp jokes, et al, how much can one remember?

Today, more so, brands have it tougher grabbing attention. With the rise of social media, consumers have more things to do and watching and commenting on ads is just one more activity. Is creating bizarre ads with over the top appeal the best way to gain attention? Does it always work for the brand?

Scotch Brite had a hilariously comical conversation between a woman and God and how God blessed the Scotch Brite instead of her as God was distracted. The TVC is designed to be comical and make the viewer laugh. Dish cleaning is not the most involved category; making the consumer excited about the category is not easy. If anything, the brand garnered attention and conversation.

Does this work in categories, which are not low involvement?

AskMeBazaar has a strange take on online shopping. With Farhan Akhtar as brand ambassador, the brand has a
more comical take on shopping, services and other stuff that the brand does. Instead of what could have been a very engaging take from the brand on shifting habits from offline to online, what we get is a bizarre caricature of the brand.

GreenPly has had a melody chocolate moment (Melody itni Chocolaty kaise hai) with its series on Ask Greenply, the
context setting has no connection with the question being raised or the connection with the category. Many years ago Asian Paints had an almost similar take on home painting services: that take was brilliant.

These are just a few examples of ads from categories that are high involvement, where the task of generating interest is tough and where the image of the brand matters in making the choice.

Today, with millions of messages consumed across the day, being able to make an impression has become difficult.
Perhaps that is the reason brands are getting funnier.

Bizarre, funny or not, I think there are some things that brands do need to keep in mind to get attention. These are classical, old world rules that still work in today’s day and age.

One: Brands solve a problem; the reason they exist is because they have a unique solution to every day’s boring, mundane issues. They have to be meaningful in the way they approach the issue at hand and have an outlook that makes the brand stand out. Brands are not always about being faster, taller, grander, sometimes the brands are about doing one thing, but doing that one thing in a manner that others don’t do.

Two: The brand has to have a wider perspective, has to have a purpose to exist. The brand’s purpose has to be more than the sum of features that it has, has to be more than the what, where and how issues that brands often communicate. Purpose is a wider belief that works for consumers in the ever-changing world. Purpose gives the brand a charter to live by, a sense of manifesto that they can adhere to, a belief system that makes the brand long lasting. Consumer attention is scarce and miniscule; a sharply defined purpose will always get her attention.

Over-the-top cheesy brand appeals are created to grab attention. There is nothing wrong with doing so till the time the brand stays true to its purpose. When the brand loses focus and cracks jokes for the sake of cracking jokes, it becomes difficult for the brand to stand out.

Three: No brand can survive without the context. The context has to be real, relevant and something that makes consumers look at the brand. Often in being comical or strange or bizarre, brands lose their sense of context and then stand out like a sore thumb. When brands get the context correct, the creative metaphor becomes an easy vehicle to deliver the message.

Over-the-top cheesy brand appeals are created to grab attention. There is nothing wrong with doing so till the time the brand stays true to its purpose. When the brand loses focus and cracks jokes for the sake of cracking jokes, it becomes difficult for the brand to stand out.Even over the top appeals need an underpinning of smart strategy. Or else as the brand that promised something about family jewels, the world laughs and moves on.

Original published here

Gandhi jayanti posts

Brands were on an overdrive this Gandhi Jayanti. Social media was buzzing with brands paying homage to the Father of the Nation. 2015 marks the 100th year since Gandhi returned from South Africa to India. This is a fairly significant milestone in the history of our nation. Most brands created usual Gandhi tribute using three of his most famous quotes. Here are the top posts from a variety of brands that caught my eye.


It’s Gandhi Jayanti, and he helped formed a political party in India. Indian National Congress’ post on Gandhiji was a usual one about how he became the Mahatma. At 17,000 likes, the post had a significant traction. However, it were the comments that took away from the posts completely; the entire feed was about hate and vitriol that the netizens had heaped on Gandhiji. There was no attempt to monitor, debate or delete the comments from the party.


BJP, too, had a post on Gandhiji, which was also a usual quote from him that got 8,000 likes. Even here the comments section was pure acid, cutting through any level of sensitivity. Here, too, the moderator made no attempt to debate or moderate the conversation. For the man who practiced restrain and preached shaking the world gently, the two political party feeds were anything but gentle. May be the parties should do something about civility in the cyber world.


The post that possibly had the greatest traction was from Idea Mobile at phenomenal 87,000 likes. The comments section of the post was anything but a tribute to the Mahatma, it was full of complaints and the brand’s revert on the complaints. Some moderation here, too, may have gone a long way in ensuring that the brand stays true to the message of peace.

It was AIB that had a post on Gandhiji that cleverly used four emojees and the message was subtle and clear. The comments feed and the Twitter feed were relatively clean from the fans and followers.


Some brands tried to connect the brand with the philosophy of the man, and did it well. Sennheiser had a post on making music and not war. FitBit, the fitness tracker brand, paid tribute to the man with a message on walking, nicely done by a brand that is all about being fit and active. Telenor paid tribute to the man by dipping into his ability to inspire and lead.


Liverpool FC club had a simple post on the man, which was a nice gesture from a British brand.


The two strange posts came from MI, the mobile phone brand, and Junglee Rummy. MI launched a Mahatma theme for its mobile phone users. They did turn Gandhiji into a pure commercial icon. Stranger still was online gambling site Jungle Rummy paying tribute to Gandhiji. Will the man have been amused by an online gambling site invoking his name?


The 100 years of homecoming was not a theme for any of the post on social media. Initiatives like Make in India could have turned this into a significant event.

We at Bang in the Middle had our humble post on the man. From our perspective at the agency, we had the best tribute to the man.


Original published here: