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Why good advertising works

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Sun, Nov 04, 2012 20:02 hrs

Akshaya Tritiya of 2010 brought a challenge for Future Group’s Big Bazaar. Unlike the last few years when the retail chain was inducing purchase among its consumers in the south zone during the festival, now was the time to turn its eyes to other neglected zones like north and east. Interestingly, this mammoth task was to be accomplished without squandering money and resources on promotions or getting into the tricky job of placing the right assortment after studying consumer preference in each zone. The key to success was a simple TV commercial ideated by DDB Mudra, which said how Akshaya Tritiya is the time to shop for everybody. As it turned out, this three-day pan India campaign (supported by print) resulted in a spike of 25 per cent in the sales of gold jewellery. The average spike in the sales of gold jewellery during festivals then was not more than 5 per cent. During the same week, the next best performing category was electronics. The client praised what the agency achieved with a modest budget of Rs 3 crore.

This is just a small example of how a market leader fulfilled sales targets on the back of a simple ad campaign. While many self-conscious marketers may not like the idea of letting their partners (read ad agencies) walk away with the credit, a few are thankful for the much-needed creative shot in the sales of the brands they manage. If that’s half the job done, some brands have found a permanent place in the psyche of the Indian consumers with iconic campaigns that resulted in sales growth for a few months to years in some cases. The examples we will share are of brands that were known to the consumers vaguely but became top of mind and leaders in their categories after tasting unprecedented success with an ad film.

Mind you, brand loyalty hardly ever changes, and it’s not something that responds to advertising. So, experts advise brands should focus on increasing market penetration—the ad campaign is likely to be three times as effective as trying to increase loyalty.

Execution can be a clincher
In September last year, online retailer Flipkart’s adult-like kids became the talking point from Day 1 of the ‘No kidding. No worries’ campaign going on air. Prior to this, the company had done a TVC, but that one went unnoticed. “The impact of the campaign lasted close to eight months as overall clicks on the website went up five times between September 2011 and April 2012. “When the campaign reached its peak in February this year, our business had grown ten times,” says Ravi Vora, senior vice-president, marketing, Flipkart.com.

The idea was not that great, after all. The ad films spoke of advantages of shopping online like cash on delivery, 30-day replacement warranty etc. What was interesting was the execution — in fact, the ad took up the main concerns of online shoppers head on and tried to allay fears without beating around the bush.

Yes, sometimes execution can really take a simple idea and give it a life beyond its average sale-by date. In 2006, Perfetti Van Melle’s Happydent White had accomplished unprecedented sales numbers along with global recognition by taking the tried and tested insight of sparkling-like-diamonds teeth many notches up with the Palace commercial.

The effect of the communication was such that it forced Perfetti to double the production capacity of the base product and also launch sub-brands and flavours under the Happydent umbrella. As shown by the Brand Track gathered by market research company TNS, brand awareness scores went through the roof — the total brand awareness scores of Happydent reached 90 per cent as compared to the 50 per cent that the brand stood at in 2005. The spontaneous recall of the brand Happydent had more than doubled to 16 per cent, from the previous 8 per cent in 2005. “Both Flipkart and Happydent are examples of flawless execution, not great ideas,” says Anil Bhardwaj, founder of creative hot shop Basecamp India. In both the cases mentioned above, the campaigns were not supported by any major changes in pricing or distribution, but they managed to change the fortunes of the respective brands forever.

The improving familiarity and acceptance of Happydent was reflected in its sales, which grew more than 55 per cent between 2006 and 2008, making it the fastest growing brand in Perfetti’s portfolio. The industry growth rate for chewing gums stood at just 18 per cent during this period.

Mind you, the whole execution bit can backfire if you don’t have a strong idea in the first place. Take the 2003 ad for M-Seal. In association with its creative agency Ogilvy & Mather, Pidilite, the makers of epoxy compound M-Seal launched a campaign with the tag line ‘...sirf ek tapakti bund aapki kismat badal sakti hai...’

It opened with an old man on his deathbed with relatives standing around in silence. His lawyer passes his will around and the relatives gently accept the dying man’s bequeathal.

But his unhappy son begs daddy to add a zero at the end of the Rs 1,000 he has inherited. Then he asks for more zeros. Having had his way, he dumps the hapless father and takes off purportedly to gloat over his newfound wealth. At the doorway, a drop of water from a leak overhead falls on the will, smudging the figure ‘1’ at the beginning of the stated sum on the document. Serves him right, one is tempted to say — six zeroes stare at him as his father passes away.

At first sight, you may say the ad was making light of something very serious — the whole idea of death and inheritance. But, if you looked carefully, while the central character dies at the end, the joke was not on the dying man; it was on his scheming son. It made an instant connection with the audience. At the time of the launch of the ad film, M-Seal was trying to make the transition from being an industrial product to a leading consumer brand for repairing domestic water leakage. The ad fast tracked the process and to this day the ad remains the best in its category. The eight-week long TV campaign not only managed to induce trials but upped the sales of M-Seal by 12 per cent in the same year. Says Nilesh Mazumdar, president, sales and marketing (maintenance products), Pidilite Industries, “When you are a market leader, expanding the category is the only way forward. Our next target is to make the brand available at kirana stores and if advertising can help us achieve this, why not?”

Timing is crucial too
If execution did the trick for Happydent and Flipkart, timing was the clincher for Naukri.com. Remember the job portal’s Hari Sadu ad that was launched way back in 2006? In his new book Darwin Brands, Anand Halve, director, chlorophyll brand and communications consultancy, says, “One has to remember that campaigns don’t work in a vacuum. Sometimes, they consciously leverage a changing consumer habit or ride an emerging trend.” This is what Naukri achieved by portraying an employees’ angst in its ad. At that time the job market was warming to the rise of online job portals like Monster, Jobsahead and Naukri, while print was beginning to cede its stranglehold on the recruitment ad budgets of Indian corporations.

The underlying humour of the Naukri TV commercial clicked with job seekers and employers equally. A controversy sparked on the use of name ‘Hari Sadu’ as it hurt the sentiments of Hindus. This was followed by a man filing a complaint against the company with the Advertising Standards Council of India on how his son Hari had become the butt of jokes in school because of the ad. Fortunately, the number of people who seemed to like the ad outnumbered those who were against it.

Sumeet Singh, senior vice-president, marketing, strategic alliances and corporate communication at Info Edge India, which owns and runs Naukri.com, says it is impossible to measure the impact of such a powerful idea by limiting it to a time frame. However, to give a sense of the success of the ad, the traffic share on Naukri went up 15-20 per cent in the first month of the TVC going on air. The whole category was growing at that time but one can gauge the power of the campaign by the simple fact that Naukri hasn’t phased it out completely and brings it back on air on and off.

Jitender Dabas, executive vice-president and head of planning, McCann Erickson, the ad agency that conceptualised the ad, notes how the impact of iconic campaigns on sale of products vary in different categories. If an online retailer is able to get the shopper to his website, his job is done as there is a high probability of a purchase. On the other hand, a consumer durables manufacturer can only bring a consumer to the showroom with the help of a great ad. “You go to an e-commerce site with the intention of buying. In that sense, online shopping is about immediate purchase. Buying a TV or a washing machine offline will be a considered purchase. Returns tend to look higher in the case of underpenetrated categories like job portals or e-tailing,” he says.

The curse of follow-through
While in most of the cases, the spike in sales as a result of a great TVC last for a few months, marketers and their agencies are under constant pressure to come up with an equally powerful follow-up campaign. Some, like Flipkart, choose to stick to the same approach (featuring adult-like kids) to cash in on the hard-earned likeability. Says Flipkart’s Vora, “It is easy to do follow-up ad films when the reviews of your last piece of work are neutral. However, it’s a big challenge to hit on another disruptive idea after you have tasted success with one iconic ad.” Adds Singh of Info Edge, “Advertising is noticed only when there is a need for it. If you bask in the glory of one iconic campaign just because it delivered numbers, you have missed the point.” 

COMMERCIAL IMPACT
How some ads create that long-lasting magic
BRAND: BIG BAZAAR

The ad: To induce purchase by consumers in the north and east zones on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya.

Year of creation: 2010

Effect: The three-day pan India campaign (supported by print) resulted in a spike of 25 per cent in the sales of gold jewellery. The average spike in the sales of gold jewellery during festivals then was not more than 5 per cent. During the same week, the next best performing category was electronics.

How long it sustained: Though just a three-day campaign, the effect, in terms of sales, lasted out for close to a week.
BRAND: FLIPKART

The ad: ‘No kidding. No worries’ campaign speaking about advantages of shopping online.

Year of creation: 2011

Effect: The impact of the campaign lasted close to eight months as overall clicks on the website went up five times between September 2011 and April 2012. When the campaign reached its peak in February this year, business had grown 10 times.

How long it sustained: The campaign continues its mark even today given that it took up the main concerns of online shoppers head on and tried to allay fears without beating around the bush.
BRAND: HAPPYDENT WHITE

The ad: To continue accomplishing sales numbers of the brand along with global recognition.

Year of creation: 2006

Effect: The effect of the communication was such that it forced Perfetti to double the production capacity of the base product and also launch sub-brands and flavours under the Happydent umbrella.

How long it sustained: According to Brand Track, brand awareness scores of Happydent reached 90 per cent (in 2005, it was 50 per cent). The spontaneous recall of the brand Happydent had more than doubled to 16 per cent (8 per cent in 2005). Sales grew more than 55 per cent between 2006-08, making it the fastest growing brand in the portfolio.
BRAND: M-SEAL

The ad: The commercial tried to help the brand make the transition from being an industrial product to a leading consumer brand for repairing domestic water leakage.

Year of creation: 2003

Effect: The eight week-long TV campaign not only managed to induce trials but upped the sales of M-Seal by 12 per cent in the same year.

How long it sustained: The ad story of an old man dying even as his scheming son wants him to sign away a cheque (the numerical ‘1’ gets washed away thanks to water leakage) continues to be the best in the category. The brand, which will soon be available at kirana stores, is taking the advertising route once again to get noticed.
BRAND: NAUKRI

The ad: Effective portrayal of an employee’s angst in a job even as he looks at a better job opportunity through an online job portal.

Year of creation: 2006

Effect: This was when the job market was warming to online job portals like Monster, Jobsahead and Naukri. The underlying humour of the commercial clicked with job seekers and employers equally. There was a controversy, too, when some sections of people objected to the name ‘Hari Sadu’ in the ad.

How long it sustained: The traffic share on Naukri went up 15-20 per cent in the first month of the TVC going on air. Even today, Naukri hasn’t phased it out completely and brings it back on air on and off.



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