Thursday, December 16, 2010


Yes, it’s too time consuming to wait to be let in. If you want to create an impact, you have to be quick. You have to be aggressive. You don’t knock. You just walk on in! In marketing too, a lot of brands have done it by catching our attention and our imaginations and walking right into our lives.

In fact, when you do so, it doesn’t matter whether you are big or small, old or new. What matters is how aggressive you are. If you put your energies in the right direction, even the mighty will crumble in front of you.


The person topping the list of “Dares” seems to be Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who is spilling the beans on the Pentagon, the Government, and even on corporations. He has shown what “being bold” can do. A single man who has dared to take on the Goliaths, much like some brands, the Davids, who took on themighty Goliaths and defeated them.
A new player in the telecommunications sector, this brand has shaken the old players. Its advertising campaign said it all. “Do the new and the world will follow, like other mobile networks did, or at least tried to. 1 paisa per second. Across India. Any network. No special packs. For life. Do the new.” Tata Docomo changed the rules of the game with its innovative pricing strategy. Another new entrant created waves in the Indian markets. Yes, it’s always been bold, been different and even irreverent, and that’s what makes consumers love it so much. Virgin entered the Indian shores with its Virgin mobile with STD rates @ 20 paise/min, and started the “Indian Panga League”. A series of telephonic conversations between fans of IPL teams. Eight passionate IPL fans from eight different states fighting all day long over STD calls. The tongue-in-cheek humour was a first of its kind to be seen on Indian shores. It was daring, delighted the fans and even dared to challenge the biggies in the business. Much like its founder Richard Branson who has always challenged the norms and the big players and managed to snatch his piece of the market share pie from them.

A clear favourite of the customers and with a market share of around 80%, Hero Honda stands way ahead of its competitors. Yet, this small player used a creative strategy to challenge the Goliath. Bajaj knew the best way was to target ‘mileage’, something that Indians value the most. Hero Honda had become famous because of its “Fill it. Shut it. Forget it.” campaign, which showed consumers how fuel efficient its bikes were. Bajaj did the same. Its “Discover India with the power of 1 litre” campaign highlighted the Discover bike’s super mileage power in an extremely interesting manner. The travellers on a Bajaj bike discovered amazing places like Mattur, near Manglore, where people still speak Sanskrit, places like the Magnetic Hill near Ladhak, which has magnetic properties strong enough to pull bikes uphill. The ads truly helped us discover India and helped the company discover new markets. The challenger ads helped Discover surpass its monthly target of 30,000 bikes, as sales touched 75,000! It sure made a big dent in the leader’s market share.

Just a good product will not solve your problems. You need to aggressively market it and many times you need to take on competitors headlong, challenge them and shake them up, so that the consumers notice you.


It’s not easy to reach the No.1 spot; you need to fight hard, and sometimes even snatch that spot, like Rin did. It came out with advertisements which clearly mentioned it was superior. The ads stated, “Tide se kahin behatar safedi de Rin”. Of course, Tide filed a case and Rin got into a controversy; but it helped generate a buzz – which is most important. Audi joined the top league when it came out with the advertisement which mentioned, “Audi is growing faster than BMW, Lexus & Mercedes.” Now, whether it was actually growing faster or not, did not bother the consumer much. However, it changed people’s perceptions about the car. Now, they clubbed it along with BMW and Mercedes. Audi jumped the rungs and established itself as the premium brand. Yes, sales increased too.

Sometimes, the fight for the top spot is taken public, consumers love it, and it never fails to grab eyeballs. Coke and Pepsi have been doing it for years. Apple and its humorous takes on Microsoft defined its brand personality and brand image as uber cool in comparison to the fuddy duddy one that competitor Microsoft had.


With the marketplace getting so cluttered for the No.2 was neglected. Of course, not always. Some very intelligent marketers knew that when there is no space at the top, it pays to be clearly labelled as No.2, for that makes people notice you. Avis did that years ago. Hertz was the leader and had the maximum awareness when it came to car rentals. So, Avis brought out its iconic ad, “We are number 2, that’s why we try harder.” Everyone knew who was No.1, but now for the first time a new slot was defined. So, if for some reason, a consumer could not get Hertz, he knew whom to call next. Avis carved a niche for itself, and did brisk business for now the consumer knew, maybe not No.1, but Avis was as good, and definitely better than hoards of others.

Hindustan Times (HT) seems to be doing the same in Mumbai. Its ads claim that “Hindustan Times beats DNA to become No.2 in Mumbai.” The beginning of this month saw HT advertising how it was now very close to the market leader, The Times of India, with a readership of 5.92 lakhs, a lead of 17,000 over DNA.

Sometimes, it pays to play the second fiddle. Miller High Life has always positioned itself as the “good” beer, providing “good” value for money. Miller Coors is America’s second largest company and it decided to take the second position seriously. In 2009, when the market leaders were paying $3 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl, Miller said it was No.2 and did not believe in spending so much and thought a “one-second ad” during the Super Bowl Sunday was enough to make its point. So, days before the Super Bowl, it started its 30 second teasers, promoting its 1-second-ad that it would air on Super Bowl Sunday, for its commonsense philosophy could be conveyed in just one second. The No.2, with a tiny ad budget drew more attention than the big spenders.


If you are sure about your product and your philosophy, you can tackle not one, not two, but many competitors at one go – much like our Bollywood heroes who cansingle-handedly fight all the bad guys and emerge victorious. That’s exactly what Brita water filter system did. It came out with ads which claimed that tap water in developed countries was excellent and there was no need to spend money on bottled water and increase pollution, for 16 million gallons of oil were consumed to make plastic water bottles – which could be totally avoided by using the reusable Brita water filter bottles. It asked you to drink responsibly and avoid buying bottled water in plastic bottles. Tap water was as good after all!

It takes vision and guts to speak out against the leader. But if you have a better product, it’s best to just bulldoze your way into the minds of the consumer with an aggressive marketing campaign. It works! Don’t knock ! Just barge in!


  1. Julian Assange! I tried to act like that many times in organizaion, but I got killed everytime like many wishle blower got killed. Do you wanna kill us?
    did you tried to act like that yourself anytime?

  2. Autoplay video on top is irritating. It get started when page refresh even after submitting comment.

  3. Very Interesting Ma'am,

    Then how to reach the top.
    The point is to start somewhere, maybe even small like Infosys started with a few hundred dollars
    Have a lot of vision and work with courage , conviction and intelligent risk taking.
    Having faith in self and do things differently.

    Most of the big companies are clunky yet in top 500 fortune list. Think , they would be on moon if they were nimble innovative and real daring. Dynamic organisations make it to the top. Flabby remain niche.

    Right or Wrong ma'am.

    Wish U and UR family humble greetings on This NEW YEAR 2011.

    Rajeev Vashisht.

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