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What is common between the Superbowl and Doritos Chips?

What is common between the ICC Cricket World Cup and Pepsi?

Both answers are the same : Nothing.

On the contrary, eating Doritos and drinking Cola paints a picture more of an unhealthy eater than a lean sportsperson. So why is it that the consumer is bombarded with such irrelevant commercials during such events. Its is because these companies want to capture your balls. Eyeballs to be precise.

With such a large eyeball population available, marketers try to twist and turn their messaging to suit the event and what it stands for. They want you to eat and drink unhealthy while you watch physically fit athletes battle it out. This is feeding on the weakness of the consumer to give into their cravings.

On the other hand, there are events where the sponsors are inline with the core messaging of the event. Oktoberfest is a good example where you would have sponsors which add to the Bavarian experience by providing complementing products like beer to celebrate the worlds largest beer festival.

Another example is NASCAR, where Gatorade is among the few sponsors who have got their alignment right. After all that sweaty racing where temperature hit the roof inside the car, a refreshing Gatorade is exactly what the driver needs and so does the consumer.

The right product placement brings in a certain credibility to the brand and builds a strong relationship between the fan and the brand. It is important to understand that today the consumer has the power to turn off his brain whenever he sees irrelevant branding messages. It is recommended that marketers try capturing their fans hearts rather than their eyeballs.


March 1, 2011 at 12:00 am 2 comments


As I watch the entire Tahrir square celebrate the end of the Mubharak regime, I wonder how difficult it must have been to get all these people out in the streets fighting for the same cause. In the past, during the Indian freedom movement, messages would be sent months in advance via messengers who would travel to various parts of the country and try to garner support.

Unfortunately the Indian freedom fighters did not have YouTube, Facebook or Twitter to help them fight their oppressive rulers. In Egypt, the spark that set the nation on fire seems to have come from a YouTube video by a girl called Asma Mahfouz whose 5 minute video helped set into motion a revolution that led to Egypt’s freedom from three decades of Mubharak’s oppressive rule. This video was in support of the We Are All Khaled Saeed group on Facebook which was formed by a Googler who wanted to bring to light the murder of an Egyptian youth Khaled Saeed at the hands of the Egyptian police. In a matter of days, tens of thousands of like minded protestors filled the central square to voice their discontent against a corrupt and oppressive government while the rest of the world followed each moment of this revolution through real-time updates on Twitter. Maybe, this social media campaign was not as significant as the cause itself, however I am sure that given the cause, this may be the most powerful tool to mobilize supporters.

With the rising popularity of the social media platform and its availability on various internet enabled devices, growing and mobilizing your tribe is so much easier. All you need is a cause worth tweeting for !!

February 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment


The major difference between a manager and a leader is that managers have reportees while leaders have followers. In the arena of marketing, these leaders can create a tribe which not only evangelizes the brand but also advocates it.

Gone are the days when the only contact you had with a brand was the salesperson who would sell you the merchandise. In the new age, the biggest salesperson is the man or woman sitting at the top of the organization. Today, CEO’s receive the same if not more, media coverage than models or celebrities. The CEO’s are no longer confined to the boardroom chalking out strategy but are selling their brand and building their tribes.

Lets take an example of Apple, Steve Jobs has been the leader of the i-Generation (any one with iPod, iPhone, iPad or anything ‘i’). He has been instrumental in the launch of each and every revolutionary product from Apple. His turtle neck and jeans along with his coolness while demonstrating any of his product has been accepted by consumers as a genuine demonstration of technology evangelism. Imagine having a movie star telling you about the iPhone versus Steve Jobs keynotes.

Another great example would be from Microsoft, where Bill Gates recently had a video created for his (supposedly) last day at work at Microsoft. The video went viral and so did the message that even the GEEK GOD could be cool or at least try to be. Virgin’s Richard Branson is a great example of a leader who has activated his tribe through his daredevil stunts and exuberance.

Like the two sides to the coin, every positive has a negative and leaders may attract a lot of negative publicity as well. For example, the exit of former HP CEO Mark Hurd didn’t go well with investors or consumers. Facebook’s Mark Zukerberg is the best example of a leader who has seen both sides of the coin, with his contradicting appearances on the television serial The Simpsons and the movie The Social Network.

Lets look at some CEO’s and what quality they personify

Steve Jobs – Innovation
Bill Gates – Charity
Richard Branson – Daredevilry
Ratan Tata – Integrity

Finally, faceless companies have a face that the consumer can identify and relate to. These tribes are what most businesses need, and who better to lead this tribe than the man or woman at the top of the organization.

October 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm 1 comment


Lets start this blog with a small quiz

Q. What is the major difference between an iPod and a normal mp3 player ?
A. Design

Q. What is the major difference between a Toyota and a Ford ?
A. Quality

Q. What is the major difference between a Rolex and a Titan watch ?
A. Brand (and the status it symbolizes)

Q. What is the major difference between vegetables you buy at two different supermarkets ?
A. Price (assuming same levels of cleanliness and accessibility)

As products mature in the product lifecycle, commoditization creeps in. All brands look the same and offer no more value than the other. Let us take an example here, the Indian airline industry has two major competitors at the top of the pyramid; Jet Airways and Kingfisher. Lets look at the above attributes and how these two airlines fare at them.

Quality : Same (with respect to product related attributes)
Brand : Same
Price : Same

There are many more attributes on which I can safely consider both airlines on par. However, I prefer Kingfisher airlines only because of their services. They have bell boys at the airports helping families, elders and children with their baggage. The staff is warm and pleasant to deal with.  They have created a great ambiance at every point that they interact with customers. This is a great example of service space being used to make that small difference that matters to customers like me. Other than that, the staff refer to customers as “Guest”.

As a service marketing major, I notice this in day to day interactions I have as a customer with various establishments. Recently, I was swayed to buy a washing machine and refrigerator only because of the ‘S’ factor. It also happens when I decide to eat out, service comes in a close second to taste.

As new age marketers, I suggest we look at services as a strong competitive strategy versus the traditional price/innovation strategies.

May 28, 2010 at 9:24 am Leave a comment


I have been reading Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational for sometime now and recommend you read the same. So, in true Ariely fashion, lets start with an experiment. Fill up the blanks below

1. Tom and _______

2. Salt and ________

3. Fish and ________

I expect you had no issues answering the above (Just in case you did, answers are jerry, pepper and chips). Have you ever wondered why do things work well when clubbed together. This is because you, the customers can see the bigger picture. A mannequin displays the best combo of shirts and pants so that you can see the entire look. Now, let me take you to a typical food supermarket. You will have an entire lane of chips, a separate lane for cola and a separate one for sauces and dips.

The problem here is you are showing the customer separate pictures, how would it be if I could have a lane with racks with the top row filled with chips, the middle one filled with dips and the bottom one filled with Cola. Doesn’t this give you an entire picture of an evening in front of the television eating junk food to your hearts desire. Not a very healthy picture but nevertheless a complete one.

This kind of relative bundling will help with incremental sales of food articles which complement each other. All I need is some supermarket to show interest in this idea, so that I can do an Ariely experiment on this predictable customer irrationality.

April 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment


The last two decades have seen a quantum leap in the advancement of technology and its application in our lives. Most technologies took birth in the armed forces and after declassification were passed down to corporates and then to the common man. For example, the radio and the television started from the armed forces and are now a common place in every household.

The computer and the internet started in the same fashion. But, then comes along an outlier which took birth in the consumer market and now corporates are looking at harnessing its power. I am talking about social networking and web 2.0 technologies that are now making their presence felt in the corporate world.

Social networking overtook email as the most widely used online application and this is just the start of things to come. Most brands today have a twitter account which they use for PR. Facebook is used to build brand loyalty through fan pages and LinkedIn is used to find employees and showcase your talent pool.

One of my good friends has started his company platform46 in Australia and I think his idea is brilliant. In short, platform 46 has brought together micro blogging and micro reporting to the corporate world. The market segment for such products is untapped and I think his company is a step in the right direction.

This is a great upcoming trend which will see more and more technologies moving from the consumer market to the corporate world.

March 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment


The Indian Premier League (Indian cricket league on the lines of the NBA) will enter its third season this year. Over the last two seasons it has been very successful. Let us look at the marketing 5P’s and how the IPL has used them.

Product: The 20 over format of the game has brought to the viewers a tolerable duration over the previous 50 over format. Also the IPL has allowed viewers to enjoy the twist and turns brought about by tactical decisions taken by captains in a smaller time frame. The mix of Indian and foreign players has also raised the level at which cricket is played whether in the area of batting, bowling or fielding.

Price: From a home viewers perspective, price was never an issue. However from the team ownership viewpoint, the auctioning of players and teams brought more glamor to the game at a price. Ticket prices are nominal keeping the target customer segment in mind.

Promotion: The IPL has been promoted using every kind of media available. The latest media to be explored is the streaming of the matches on YouTube. Other than the online media, the IPL will be shown on multiple channels in multiple languages across the globe.

Place: The matches are played across the country with home and away matches. All the major metro’s (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkatta, Bangalore and Chennai) are well represented with other smaller cities (Jaipur, Punjab and Hyderabad) bringing the added spice to the tournament.

People: The best players in the world will grace the pitch for the IPL with newer players added every year. Movie stars have brought in the glamor factor by owning teams while the corporate world has brought in professionalism in the running of these teams.

And beyond these 5P’s, I feel there is a sixth P which rounds up why is the IPL such a grand success – Passion. The IPL is a huge success not because of the 5P’s but because of the passion for cricket and movies among the billion plus people from the sub-continent. Its this passion that brings people into the stadiums and the only reason why sponsors have flocked to support this event.

Carving a business model around the passion of the target segment is exactly what is needed to run a successful and growing business. So cheers to the IPL and may the best team win.

March 12, 2010 at 6:46 pm Leave a comment

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