Visionaries Speak!

Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation.
Steve Jobs

Friday, January 21, 2011

Apple for Jobs! Jobs for Apple!

When it’s a portable music player, it’s an ipod. When it’s a smart phone, it’s mostly an iphone. When it’s a tablet, there’s no doubt, it’s an ipad. Worldwide, Apple has 95% of the market for tablets, over 25% for the portable music player & around 17% for the smartphones. Considering the iphone’s ios is not an open source platform & with a stint of just over 4 years in the industry, the number has many people jaw dropping. Apple’s iphone still continues to dominate the US market with over 28%, ahead of Android (25%) & BB RIM (26%). Apple’s ipod has almost 72% of the US portable music player market, while its ipad has over 97%.

The numbers clearly give a picture of the brand’s acceptance by the consumer & their love for the brand. It justifies apple being the most valuable technology company in the world surpassing Microsoft. And the same numbers have brought me to this question today, what makes apple so successful in the market?

“When you intend to win a consumer, you got to win both sides of the consumer’s mind”. The left & the right. While the left side of the mind assesses the features vs. value for money vs. competition, the right side tries to connect to the brand, tries to see if it defines his/her attitude, and tries to see if it makes a statement for him/her. A feat mastered by the apple. The app store & the designs of apple products are a great example of right side of the mind connecting to the brand. The apps a consumer has on the iphone or the ipad defines who he/she is. It defines his/her attitude. While the technology, the quality, the features, value for money of the apple products definitely has the left side of the mind zero in on the product.

Secondly, what worked best for apple was the ‘first in the category’ strategy. It states, if you got to be successful, you got to be first in the category. Which means you got to create a category. In my perspective the success of apple has been mostly because of its app store. An idea that apple was first to come up with. An idea that has every company hatch on to. An idea that has every company making app centric products. Apple currently has over 2 lakh applications on its app store. And it's about to hit 10 billion downloads.

Thirdly, and most importantly it’s this man, the face of apple; Mr. Jobs. A name synonymous to innovation. His never-say-die attitude, his eccentricity, his wittiness, his passion for technology has him drive a company which has touched a million hearts. The buzz this man creates each time he goes public is a subject of study in itself. Recently, when Steve Jobs wrote an email to his associates about him taking leave from apple for a tentative period sighting health reasons, the apple share market took a beating in the entire world. Its shares went south by 6-7% immediately. A clear indication of the stakes this man has in the success of his company. Apple’s success has a lot to do with this man & his PR skills.

Well Mr. Jobs, you sowed the seeds few years back (Started Apple), you have nurtured it all these years (Driven Apple), and now it’s reaped (Most valuable tech company). It’s time you eat it. Because we believe, an apple a day, keeps a doctor away. Get well soon!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Differentiating the cow from the herd of cattle!

When you welcome the festive season in India, you are bound to welcome a couple of other more strings attached to it. The gifts, the freebies, the discounts. Be it the automobile brands, the apparel brands, the technology driven brands or even the FMCG brands, everyone has something more to offer to its consumers. Said so, this definitely calls for a place for brands to advertise their offers and make it visible to their consumers. Newspapers are one such medium of reaching out to the consumers and having a presence felt in the market. But with minimum time that each consumer devotes to reading newspapers these days, how does a brand make sure that the consumer catches up on their advertisement? With nearly 40+ brands advertising every single day on the newspaper, how does one make sure ‘their cow is differentiated from the herd of cattle’?

Volkswagen (VW) answers this question. VW is one such brand that has explored the creative ways of breaking the clutter in the newspaper medium. It has had people blog, tweet, and talk, simply put; go gaga over its newspaper advertisements since its inception in the Indian market last November.

It all started with the ‘Roadblock’. A strategy used by the VW brand for its foray into the Indian market. On Nov 11th last year, VW took the lime light by running as many as 20+ advertisements each on all the big national newspaper dailies, thus blocking other competitive brands from advertising on that day. Every sheet that the reader turned over had an advertisement of the VW brand, ensuring even a minute spent on the newspaper would have the reader catch a glimpse of the brand. In a nation, where there was low brand awareness about the VW brand & with an umpteen number of automobile brands already having made a mark in India, the strategy easily proved to be a winner in announcing a new brand had arrived in India. A strategy that had the automobile fanatic market to take register of the brand & sign up for test drives. “Only a blind eye could miss it!”

A quarter later, they had another campaign on the newspapers which launched the hatch back Polo onto the roads of the Indian market. This time they had the shape of the Polo cut on all the sheets of the newspaper from the first sheet to the last sheet. The last sheet had the line, ‘‘we’ve put a lot into it. You'll get even more out of it'’. A brilliant execution of driving the inquisitiveness & curiosity of the reader to find out the final message of the brand communication. “Even a blind eye couldn’t miss it!”

The 21st of Sep 2010 was an unusual day for the newspaper readers. For decades, a medium of communication which was considered to be visual turned audio for a day. ‘A talking Newspaper’, as the media termed it. An audio piece attached to the last page of the newspaper had the brand communication of the newly launched Vento when the reader opened the newspaper. While some termed it as a dangerous campaign, for many it brought cheers. It had them flipping the newspaper up & down to listen to it over and over again. It had them sharing the audios on the internet. It had people set it as their status message on fb. It had people blog & tweet. An idea which created buzz around everyone. “It was not meant to be missed!”

Thanks to the creative agencies, DDB Mudra & Mediacom to have explored the creative ways of connecting to the consumers in more than one creative way. A hefty brand communication idea worth every penny for the VW brand. These have ensured the brand get maximum visibility in the market & more so create an opportunity for people to market the brand ‘word- of – mouth’; the biggest marketing medium of communication.

The idea of coming up with this as my write up came from the nearly 50 pages of advertisements running in on the newspapers today. Not a brand has intended on catching people’s attention. At least not mine. Just a herd of cattle!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The extra mile!

‘When you intend to create top brands, you have got to let your customers experience it and eventually live it’. A marketing lesson being implemented by many brands in today’s world. With umpteen numbers of brands in the same category, the brands are facing hard core competition to reach out to the customers. But the competition seemed to have brought out the best in each brand. Gone are the days where the marketing team used only TV, radio, and hoarding as their modes of communication to the target audience. There’s something extra that each brand is doing. I term it ‘The extra mile’. While TV, radio, internet & other conventional mediums of brand communication keeps the brand visible in the market, the extra mile one takes in their brand communication is what lets the customer experience their brand & live their brand.

Well, Manchester United Football Club is one of the brands which seemed to have taken that extra mile in the form of Manchester United Restaurant & Bar. A concept that has received great appreciation from its customers of late. A concept that has led to proliferation of resto bars all over Asia. While the resto bar gives its huge fan following a place to watch the match with hundreds of MUFC fans, the corollary is, it’s creating a place for the fans to experience the feeling of being a part of the MUFC. Eventually living it!

A Singapore based company has been awarded the official rights by MUFC to own, operate & franchise the MU Resto Bar in Asia Pacific region. It is spread across China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the huge proliferating fan base for football in India has had the MU Resto Bar foray into the Indian geography. I happened to visit the MU Resto Bar in Bangalore the last weekend and came back with memories I would love to keep experiencing.

If you happen to pass on the Koramangala forum road & spot this huge, well light MU Resto Bar in red & intend to walk in for a drink, be assured you will be kept waiting by the lady receptionist saying, ‘ 1 hour waiting sir’, her voice hardly heard, because of her charm you are lost in. It all starts with an advance booking request to find you a seat to watch the match. The ambience is a treat in itself. The dug out like seating outside the Resto bar will indulge you in reminisce; the one of your stars sitting. As you enter the MU Resto bar, an impulsive action that of foot tapping will follow to the beats coming from the DJ console. Although the DJ takes one corner of the place, his music takes center stage with each number rising your energy levels. The bar tender’s skills is a definite eye candy to watch. The rare photo collection of your stars will have you clicking pictures with the stars in all angles. As you manage to find a seat for yourself in the 200 seater place, you are more often seen getting up and cheering your team. You are sure to be smitten by the beautiful ladies coming in late in the night. You can’t restrain from getting a glimpse of their beauty even in the dim lights and your girl friend sitting next to you. You might even spot some movie stars coming in to have a drink.

All said, the place really brings out the passion, the cheers, and the love. It brings out the relationship the fans have with the MUFC, the expectations they have with their stars. It brings out the birth of a new game in a nation where cricket is a religion. A job well done by the MUFC brand managers to have thought of this concept. Have truly lived up to the ‘When you intend to create top brands, you have got to let your customers experience it and eventually live it’. An extra mile well thought of! An extra mile well executed!

An experience of a person who has never followed football or been interested in football. The place has had me love the ‘beautiful game’. Looking forward for my next visit this Sunday evening. Looking forward for the big Manchester United match.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Cadbury Story. Shubh kaam karne se pehle, kuch meetha ho jaye!

Shubh kaam karne se pehle, kuch meetha ho jaye hai. The message that Cadbury has brought out in its latest campaign. The idea; to capture the emotions of the Indian audience who are known to have a high emotional quotient. Indian audience’s appeal to an idea which brings out the emotional side of them to act, is overwhelming to the advertisers & marketers. It’s called the ‘Heart over Mind’ concept. Nail the heart & if you have got them to have some goose flesh up their sleeves, consider yourself to have done a good job. A strategy widely followed by our bollywood directors. Keep your mind aside and walk in to a theater, 3 hours later you would still say, ‘What an amazing movie. I just loved it’. But this is what works for the director. And more so for the advertisers & marketers. I see this entire idea in one more way. May be not a realistic one, but surely a simple way of bringing across the importance of reaching the hearts of people. A man’s heart is closer to his wallet than his head.

Cadbury has been an unanimous winner in this category for over a decade now. Starting from their; ‘Dancing girl in the cricket field’ to ‘Iss diwali aap kise kush karna chahteh hai?’ and their recent ‘Shubh kaam karne se pehle, kuch meetha ho jaye, they have won the hearts of millions. The ‘Dancing girl in the cricket field’ brought out the moment of joy, the moment of pride, the moment of love, the moment of togetherness and the moment of sharing that with the thousands of people in the stadium. The ad has had people wait patiently for the soaps to break, so that they would catch a glimpse of the ‘Dancing girl’. It saw the beginning of a brand whose intension was to create a rapport with the people than really trying to push for the product in the advertisement.

Positioning of the brand ‘Cadbury’ definitely deserves an admiration. ‘Want to make someone happy? Gift a Cadbury. The best gift for any occasion’. To interpret that they choose the occasions close to people’s heart; Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, New Year. Most of their earlier campaigns have aimed at driving this perspective & a perspective that young Indian has accepted. It brought out the bonding of a brother with his sister over Raksha Bandhan, a bunch of sober neighbors coming together for diwali, a boss wishing his assistant a happy new year. All with just one ‘Cadbury Celebrations’. The age of gifting sweets (the one that you bought from your nearest sweet store or even your elaborate haldirams) for a festival is slowly starting to change. The young India has started to believe gifting a Cadbury to their friends, family, relatives is more appropriate.

But something that I am going head over heels currently is with their latest campaign, ‘Shubh kaam karne se pehle, kuch meetha ho jaye. The ads of ’The boy starting a relationship with a girl in the bus stop’ & ‘The parents wishing their daughter good luck with a Cadbury for a new beginning in her life while she tries to elope from her house’ has brought in a new dimension to the Cadbury story. It has brought people to have a ‘Cadbury’ before starting anything good. More so with me. My first write up on my blog happens to be the Cadbury story.

While I signed in to start a new blog, I wondered what my first write-up would be. At the same time, I just happened to catch the words in my background, ‘Shubh kaam karne sai pehle, kuch meetha ho jaye’. The next minute, I had a Cadbury melting in my mouth while my fingers started keying in the Cadbury story. Well, it’s my first Cadbury in a long time. It’s my first blog too. I hope I have made a sweet beginning. I would be blogging about brands, advertisements, marketing campaigns, technology, sports, business leaders, celebrities & others in the coming days. I hope you find my blog interesting!