Friday, November 28, 2008

Sub: It's our time to respond

"Dear all,

I've been a citizen of Mumbai by birth and I've grown to learn that this city has always been the vibrant, 'on-the-go' ones.. a city that never sleeps. But sadly with passing times, all we've been subjected to is terrorism which has killed and tortured one and all.

Every morning when I read the newspaper all I read is about deaths across our country, killings in the name of religion, caste, sex, creed.. Politicians talking about 'Hindu Terrorism' and 'Islamic Terrorism'.. and then building the issue up in a storm, which more often than not ends up in nothing but political agenda for the next elections.

I want to know for how long will this continue? Does it matter what religion the killer belonged to? For how long will my parents spend tense days, wondering if their daughters will reach home safely back home? Why do we let politicians escape the wrath and play the blame-game every time, even as the good and sincere police, army and navy officials fight to save our lives?

Why did the GM of Taj have to lose his wife and three children just to save his guests? Couldn't he have been selfish and run away to save his family first?

Why is all we are doing is sitting at home and setting 'Gtalk Status messages' that show our anger but more so throw light on our helplessness?

Can't we do anything? will we always sit in our cozy homes and wonder when things will change? I'm sorry to say but I have done so myself for all these years. But I've watched this entire episode sitting up all night yesterday and seen how all politicians have done is added their agenda to the entire episode the next morning rather than calling for measures to ensure this wont happen again.

Why don't we have even one politician who can stand up and say that its not time for any elections but for us to cure our country of this situation once and for all?

I want to live free, I want to do my bit.

I'm going to walk silently, from our college to wherever I can till my voice is heard.

I request all of you, who believe that we've had enough to join me. Lets get all colleges around our area and mumbai and all b-schools to stage this walk-out together, open to anyone to join, any common man, who feels he needs a change.. and NOW..


This is an email that a friend of mine sent to our class Yahoo! group.

Lemme tell you a little about myself - I hail from the east of the country and live ( or exist - my choice of word depends on my frame of mind at the time) in the financial capital of India - Mumbai. I have seen and learnt quite a lot from my time here... from the violence against non-Maharashtrians to indifferent "mind-your-own-business-apun-ka-dhanda-ka-time-don't-waste" philosophy, it seems quite overwhelming to the uninitiated... one can point out a million things that is wrong about this mega city but there is one thing that's right about this place that wipes out all of these - it's got it heart in the right place.

Today my home bleeds - bullet ridden and media "weary" (or is that wary?)... a few hundred people have died in these henious attacks while politicians keep fumbling for answers. Devvya's mail filled me with feelings that ranged from anger, anguish and angst. I haven't stepped out my flat for 2 days gripped with unease and the fear of the unknown. With Led Zep, Rastaman Marley, Floyd and Cobain's Nirvana for company, I stare into the grey skies with a prayer on my lips for those whose lives have been turned upside down with this tragedy. I am cynical enough to believe that terror will strike again... my question remains - do we now need "A Wednesday" to cure the mailaise?

Would like to sign-off with Bob Marley's words that have kept me going:

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!

Preacherman, dont tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you dont know
What life is really worth.
Its not all that glitters is gold;
alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. come on!

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. jah!

Get up, stand up! (jah, jah!)
Stand up for your rights! (oh-hoo!)
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up!)
Dont give up the fight! (life is your right!)
Get up, stand up! (so we cant give up the fight!)
Stand up for your rights! (lord, lord!)
Get up, stand up! (keep on struggling on!)
Dont give up the fight! (yeah!)

We sick an tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin n goin to heaven in-a jesus name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you cant fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do? ),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

So you better:
Get up, stand up! (in the morning! git it up!)
Stand up for your rights! (stand up for our rights!)
Get up, stand up!
Dont give up the fight! (dont give it up, dont give it up!)
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up!)
Stand up for your rights! (get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( ... )
Dont give up the fight! (get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( ... )
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!

IMC Journal | Part 6

My final entry of the IMC journal… feels good to type this out.  This has been quite an experience to say the least.

The final part of any IMC deals with arguably the most incriminating evidence about the campaign success or failure… yes it’s time for Measurement. The class started off by discussing the United Airlines case wherein the message delivered by the airline was not appreciated by the TG because of the poor service thus creating a brand paradox / disconnect.
This case threw up an interesting point – “having a brand does not necessarily mean being branded” – for instance, airlines are brands but offer largely generic, not differentiated services and customers choose one from the other based on cheapest fare and best suited timings. On the other hand, luxury good like a good cologne are products which are truly branded as one is distinct from another. But even USPs of a brand comes with a sell-by date. For instance, when Air Deccan was launched, it was different from the rest of the airlines operating by virtue of its offering as a low cost airline and thus was branded. Its USP at the time was reflected in its pioneering campaign theme at the time – “now everyone can fly” which appealed to its erstwhile TG. As the low cost carrier market in India became cluttered, Deccan changed its campaign to “Simplifly” which bombed on account of its poor service and its reputation took a severe beating as the TG could not identify simplicity with Deccan – flying on Deccan was far from a simple experience. This forced Deccan to hide behind the Kingfisher brand when it eventually got taken over by the UB group.

Measurement of a campaign therefore essentially tries to evaluate the degree of effectiveness of the customer message through the campaign based on the customer experience the brand has. There must be a connect between customer experience and customer message – this is the reason why a brand like LIC can’t use youthful themes in their promotion.
Measurement Techinques:

1. Generic:
2. Measuring B2C Campaigns:
3. Measuring B2B Campaigns: This can done using ROI unlike in the case of B2C campaigns since the promotion/campaign cost has a direct correlation to sales in a B2B environment. For instance B2B campaign is built on telemarketing, sales calls, employing extra salesmen etc. from which the Communication to lead ration and subsequently Lead to conversion ratio can be calculated. Also since cost of the campaign and the revenue is know, ROI is a good indicator of campaign effectiveness. In case of B2C ROI cannot be used to measure campaign effectiveness as in a B2C environment, repeat purchases, snowball effect of referrals and average order size pre and post campaign is nearly impossible to track.

4. Online Measurement: In this case the medium itself is the measurement. The net is perfect for measuring the click through rates of advertisements, number of repeat visitors, number of registrations/subscriptions and number of forwards (referrals). Also the internet can be used for emailer campaigns and the ROI of such a campaign can be effectively used for measuring its success. Also the internet can be used to measure the effectiveness of various contests and coupon based promotion schemes as a part of the Integrated Marketing Campaign.

IMC Journal | Part 5.2

Jeff Bezos says that “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Thus to protecting and building reputation is critical for a company’s brand equity and this is the very reason why PR or Public Relations has become an integral part of any Integrated Marketing Communication. The formal definition of PR: “ Public Relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.” [Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6e.]

Wiki adds that ”PR gains an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. Because public relations places exposure in credible third-party outlets, it offers a third-party legitimacy that advertising does not have. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.”

This is very much in line with the class discussion of PR where we discussed the two roles of PR:
1. Crisis Manager
2. Reputation Custodian
In its the first role as a Crisis Manager, as the oft-quoted J&J Tyrannol case, PR helps to protect brand equity. This type of PR is used to diffuse WMD aka WOM Crisis Elevation (as Ramanujam Sridhar writes in his book “One Land One Million Minds” – a great read with fantastic examples in the Indian context). In India in fact PR is still used primarily if a company has a problem as seen from the case of Cadbury with their worm in chocolate problem or the Cola Twin – Coke & Pepsi – with their pesti-cola problem. Interesting, sometimes brands create controversies to remain relevant – Indian micro-celebs seem to engage in such activities the most – ala Rakhi Sawant.

PR extensively uses the leverages the power of the press and thus is extensively used during M&As - by both the aquirer and aquiree to up their brand worth - as can be seen during the Tata-Jaguar+Land Rover case. In fact, the Tata Corporate Brand is almost entirely built on PR.
In its other role as a reputation custodian, it is most often used by…
• Hotels. Politicians, Celebrities ,etc. to guard against loss of face / reputation
• Industry bodies such as FICCI and CII to leverage their sectors
• Companies to build their CSR brand (Ms. Meena Galliara would balk at this)
• Companies building up for IPOS
Also, Celebrity endorsement is also often done through PR (as per contractual terms) in a public forum – Oprah Winfrey advocating the benefits of a slimming pill is an instance of such PR.

IMC Journal | Part 5.1

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sometimes even a moment can make a difference, so it’s no surprise that the world (have I told you about the frog-in-well existence of MBAs?) has changed, quite dramatically, since my last blog entry.

Since then the IMC presentation is done and dusted… ImagiNation didn’t quite fly high, if marks are the metric – but then the problem with numbers/statistics, in the words of the much maligned blabbermouth Sidhu, is that “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital!” – so even though the other team was ‘Infite’ly ahead this time, I’m proud to have put up a good show… also when the project came up and the 30-person-a-team bombshell hit us, I had a smirk on my face that said “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” – at the end of the project all I have is a wry smile as the joke’s on the few of the 30 who put in their all.

Also got back the ‘not-so-sinister’ mid-term paper that I had talked about… the questions were good, my performance to put it in a word - abysmal … hey bhagwan – izzat rakhna final exam mein … kripa karna prabhu! Like the Cycle aggarbatti advertisement goes, ‘everyone has a reason to pray’ and entire NM is praying for some relief with exams starting this Monday and classes and the zillionth (mindless?) presentations ending today evening – talk about management! Anyway time to get started with the real journal entry – time is the essence here... and we’re knockin’ on heaven’s doors!
The fifth lecture was the class where we analysed two cases – the Guinness Brand Marketing case and the P&G case interesting titled “Don’t shout, Listen”. This day was also the day that Fahrenheit 2008 was on in full force and Team ImagiNation’s campaign culminated in the event we held in the evening during Mad Ads.

Aah Guinness! Lovely black stout Irish brew. Had no idea that it was 2 ½ CENTURIES old brand though I am in love with the rich creamy smooth concoction. Another matter that I can’t afford it at 400 bucks a glass at the ITC last time I checked. But the taste from my last UK vacation lingers on… (digressing again – but the Indian copy Haywards Black is garbage) and thus was really happy to have analysed a case that actually I could connect with.
According to the case, Guinness is an old, established, global brand that had a loyal mature user group. The problem was that the identity of the brand had become its constraint i.e. the brand DNA had become its restricting factor and led to its undoing in new markets. The demographic in Ireland was changing and the youth preferred light beer to the stout Guinness. Clearly its old positioning wasn’t clicking with the new customers and the company’s revival strategy revolved around creating new experiences by creating fresh customer touchpoints.

This concept was talked about in the book “The Experience Economy” written in 1999 by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. The book says that “Businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, they argue, and that memory itself becomes the product - the "experience". More advanced experience businesses can begin charging for the value of the "transformation" that an experience offers, e.g. as education offerings might do if they were able to participate in the value that is created by the educated individual. This, they argue, is a natural progression in the value added by the business over and above its inputs.” Wikipedia  (yes the gyaan is not original) adds that: “Although the concept of the experience economy was born in the business field, it has crossed its frontiers to urban planners, tourism, architecture and other fields.”

Thus ‘experience economy’ is also considered as main underpinning for customer experience management wherein “all businesses are theatres and the customer is the product”. Guinness treaded a similar path when they created the awesome Guiness Storehouse (Note to myself: put it in on my 100 places to visit before I die!). With this Guinness went on to create an experience for the customer that it hoped would create a memory and hence the customer would become a “product” of their experience.

“Guinness as a brand is all about community. It’s all about bringing people together and sharing stories,” according to Ralph Ardill, Director of marketing of Imagination Ltd. (rings a bell? ) who designed the place. This was an attempt to build on the core DNA of the brand.
The Storehouse, which was designed to be futuristic from inside and traditional outside (aimed at both the existing as well as the new customers), was created with the intention of developing a cult culture where likeminded individuals could hang out together and share experiences. Also, Guinness concentrated on consumption of the brew rather than production (not how Guinness was brewed) even though the Storehouse looked like a traditional brewery from outside.

The company also created symbolism through the pebble – this is a good example of atypical branding. The pebble was a conversation piece and helped the company build mindshare as it forced the customer to think – to be curious – and to leave with a souvenir – creating an aura around the brand. Thus Guinness had successfully created a destination brand with a memorabilia. Similar example of a destination brand can be found all over the British isles – for instance the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford – the home of the best football team in the world: Manchester United (Glory glory Man Utd.) and the Wimbledon Museum – the Mecca of tennis. Hard Rock CafĂ© and Planted Hollywood are a couple of more instances of destination brands.
An interesting thing common to all destination brands is that all of these “Torment the Customer” i.e. they are all aspirational brands. By way of its location, the Storehouse too is only accessible to those who visit Dublin making the faithful perceive that it is their ‘personal, exclusive’ experience and thus it adds aura to the brand. (There was actually a HBR paper titled “Torment your customer, they’ll love it” – well the iPhone did it very recently and they were quite successful and Microsoft has been doing it with their planned obsolescence strategy. Harry Potter did it in the UK to small kids when the pre-release hype about shortage made young kids wait in a queue all night long to grab a copy… talk about Business Ethics!)

The core learnings from the case are:
1. Resurrecting a brand with a new segment of customers – within repositioning adopting a dual strategy to cater to the existing as well as the new customers using a common medium (the Storehouse).
2. It was a matter of survival due to brand decline.
3. Declince of PLC necessitated keeping existing customers and also attempting to develop new customers.
4. Consumption experience created a destination brand.
5. Took elements from the original identity and filtered it into creating a “legacy” with some “change” – namely destination brand creation, the conversation piece: the pebble and an aspirational experience.
At this point, I disappeared to participate in the Gas-o-meter event and enjoyed doing what many say I do well… gave gas! Alas Ajay A. & Co. beat us to the title – we were blown away by their gas!

The other case was also interesting, and what P&G did as per this case was that it turned the internet into a device for listening to customers and for experimenting with brands. Thus the site helped P & G to enlist and empower the customer and eventually enslave him. It created 3 websites with 3 different intentions:
1. was a case of thematic branding that made the customers bond with the product – it was more of an enlisting strategy than an empowering strategy.
2. was about mass customization and was purely an empowering strategy – unlike in the case of, P&G disassociated itself and its logos from the sire as the site offered user driven experience over which the company had no control – a wrong (unqualified) customer choice could go on to tarnish the company’s brand equity. So there was a risk avoided of the P&G brand being compromised and hence the disassociation of branding. (A similar brand disassociation strategy is followed by the Taj Hotels Group in India where the Taj Hotel being a 5 star is disassociated from their economy hotel cousin brand, the Ginger Hotel). Also the customized product offering allowed P&G to charge a premium and it had free customer generated R&D and product design to boot!
3. was again an empowering strategy that helped P&G gain customer insight through the website which acted a “quasi focus group”. This helped the company pickup specific messages and words and help the company in developing a focused targeting strategy.
Therefore by creating these websites P&G had a free internet based laboratory for future product development as well a medium for personal customer communication that allowed customers to use the site as an evaluation tool giving the company invaluable firsthand consumer feedback.