Friday, December 16, 2011


“Why this murderous rage, girl?” has become the rage of the nation. It’s the ultimate song for the youth and almost everybody below 20 has made it their anthem. Come to think of it, the lyrics are ridiculously funny, the tune is very simple and yet this ‘soup song’ (meaning, a heartbreak song) just gets on you. It’s so easy to remember and so hummable that you cant stop singing after hearing it! But most importantly, it’s a song that every music company would want in their kitty today, it’s a viral campaign that every marketer dreams of making, it has such crazy levels of popularity that would be a dream for any celebrity and, it has reached an iconic status that every brand would die for. It is an excellent example of how to establish a name, an idea, in today’s crowded market place, filled with consumers who understand all marketing gimmicks; who hate being marketed to and who are a most aware and a sceptic lot.


Why has ‘Kolaveri’ become so popular? It’s the simplicity of the message and the magic of the internet that have made it so popular. Gone are the days when one had to wait for the mainstream media to pick up your story and make it popular by writing about it in their newspapers and magazines or showing it on TV. Today, thanks to the internet, you can go directly to the consumer and be heard. If your message is interesting, it will spread like, well, a viral ! This is exactly what happened to the ‘Kolaveri’ video when it was posted online a few weeks ago. Shot inside the recording studio, the rough version of the song made it to the internet through the backdoor, making it an instant hit and forcing Sony Music to release the song much earlier than planned. Its foot tapping beats made it irresistible to anyone who heard it, and today, it has got more than 22 million hits on YouTube. In fact, so much is the craze for this song that anything associated with it is becoming a hit too. Sonu Nigam’s son has sung a ‘milk version’ of the soup song and that, too, is set to become a rage on the internet. A good and interesting idea spreads like wildfire. You must know what the audience wants and give it to them, as John St., a Toronto based ad firm did. To market its services, it circulated a viral based on a satirical idea of how ‘catvertising’, that is videos with cats in them, would be the most watched videos on the internet by 2015! Tongue in cheek, the advertising agency explains how it has now opened the world’s first ‘cat video’ division to stay on top of competition, for everyone likes to see videos of cats, and cats are good for business. Considering the fact that everything in the world today is just a ‘mouse-click’ away, the ‘cat videos’ are bound to be a hit. Not surprising, then, that the ‘catvertising’ viral has got more than a million hits already. What is it that makes these videos become such a craze? From the ‘Kolaveri’ viral in India to the ‘catvertising’ one in Canada, what is it that makes them so popular? They have the ability to connect with the viewers instantly. They have a simple message told quickly and in an interesting manner. Most importantly they are fun!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Apple is a unique company for it’s loved by many and envied too by an equal number of people, especially its competitors. First, every mobile phone company tried to copy the iPhone; and now, taking subtle shots at the iPhone is a gimmick being used by all. However, in November 2011, Apple’s most aggressive competitor Samsung went a step further as it blatantly compared its Galaxy S II model with the iPhone. The advertisements poked fun at the iPhone buyers who were shown as people ready to stand in a queue for days to get their hands on the latest iPhone, while a better phone (meaning the Galaxy) was already there with the smarter ones. The ad mocked the iPhone users for buying the iPhone4S when in fact there was no visible difference between iPhone4 and 4S. Moreover it did not have a great battery life and its screen was not as wide as that of the Galaxy. Whether the Galaxy is better than the iPhone is secondary, the debate is, “Is this kind of advertising going to work for Samsung?” It has managed to get everybody’s attention with its provocative ads; but would this help it sustain in the market place?

Talking of ‘provocative’ advertisements Unilever found itself in a tight spot when its internet campaign for Lynx deodorants was banned by Advertising Standards Authority (US) as it was considered degrading to women. To prevent further damage, on November 25, 2011, Unilever immediately posted a “Sorry from Lynx” video on YouTube, which featured the same model (this time, less provocatively dressed) returning all the props she had used in the ad and saying sorry to the viewers. Sometimes brands lose focus and do things, which appear to give quick results but can actually prove fatal for the brand in the long run. It was named one of America’s hottest brands in 2010. After spending close to $23 million in advertising (in 2009) on its ‘Easy- Tone’ shoes, Reebok was hot property as its shoes sold like hot cakes. Approximately 5 million pairs of ‘EasyTones’ were sold in 2010 alone. Every woman wanted these ‘magic’ shoes that could do wonders to her figure without much effort. It seemed too good to be true. Well, it probably was, for in September 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (US) announced that Reebok had deceptively advertised toning shoes and apparel; subsequently, Reebok was asked to withdraw its advertisements and pay $25 million as settlement charges. The marketer, though still standing by its claims, said that it agreed to pay to avoid a protracted legal battle. For a company that spent $23 million in 2009, then another $31 million in 2010 and add to that another $10 million in 2011 in marketing its ‘toning’ products, this was a big blow. It was after all a brand positioning strategy that was created and nurtured for 3 years. Now the company will not be able to use this strategy anymore.

Yes, the market place is tough and times are even tougher nowadays, but this growing competitiveness should not force marketers (and definitely not the big ones) to succumb to pressure and take recourse to unethical means. Poking fun, using sexual innuendos or making promises that are just not true are not things that the consumer of today likes.

The consumer is very finicky and your unethical means may put him off.

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