Have Space? Will Advertise.

Is advertising becoming too omnipresent for comfort?

Imagine you are watching a Hindi daily soap on TV. Then unfolds a scene where a character looks visibly lost and disturbed. Her sister-in-law enters the room and concerned about her she asks, ‘Bhabhi sab kuch theek hai na?’ The disturbed lady explains ‘Unka birthday nazdeek aa raha hai aur samajh nahi aa raha kya doon.’ Our solution-oriented and smart sister-in-law suggests her to gift the latest laptop model by a famous brand to her husband; and she goes on to explain its features. The disturbed lady now looks delighted as her problem is solved while the producers of the show have earned a handsome amount by adding that subplot to the episode. On the other hand, the brand has managed to convince its audience about their amazing features in a way that every woman watching that episode has already thanked their favorite bahu for sharing her pearls of wisdom.

This, of course, is not new to us. Although, we never realized exactly how and when advertising crossed the boundary between a dedicated commercial break slot and a prime slot. Over the last few years, it has slowly woven its web across important spaces in our lives. We are driving leisurely and an RJ casually mentions a brand. An influential celebrity randomly tweets how much he likes a certain drink. A blogger enlightens us that she uses only a specific phone camera for her posts. Even Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram have opened their doors to paid ads. If you think you will skip ads during a movie interval by stepping out to get popcorn, then these brands have ensured that you notice them while watching the movie. And who can forget the ‘Fevicol Se’ song?

This kind of presence surely helps a brand in carefully filtering and targeting its prospective users. The communication is more direct and intimate without sounding artificial. Which is why brands are now trying to explore more channels and ways to reaching out. If planned properly, these in-your-face approaches work effectively and improve the brand recall .

On the contrary, there is also a risk of getting ignored as people get immune to something that exists so freely. These promotions might lose their charm unless new media and innovations are introduced to the mix. With brands getting closer and closer to its audience, it won’t be surprising if soon personal spaces will be up for paid advertising. It seems advertisers are no more hidden persuaders. Rather they are turning into unapologetic intruders. What do you think – where is it going?

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The Cornerstones Of Performance Marketing

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In an ever-evolving market, consumers are becoming increasingly aware. Marketing strategies can be cost-intensive with no guaranteed returns. In such scenarios, performance-based marketing offers a sense of security to consumers. Performance marketing refers to online marketing programs in which results are driven by pre-meditated actions. It is carried out with the objective of fulfilling specific goals. Generally, the payment for campaigns are only made upon the achievement of certain targets; such as sales, leads or clicks.

How is performance marketing different from the rest?
Performance marketing has seamlessly overturned convention by allowing investments to follow results. It is the surest metric for a cause and effect relationship between the ad and the consumer. It facilitates campaign optimization based on near-real time performance. Only successful executions and transactions are grounds for fulfilling determined investments. It is an ideal technique for smaller business and for those looking to avoid high marketing costs. However, that being said, it envelops a wide bracket of payment scales. Campaigns are designed in a manner that both retailers and affiliates benefit from it. The return on investment (ROI) is easy to measure and can be tracked conveniently through various tools.

Which consumer segment does it cater to?
Largely online in character, performance marketing is ideal for those who want to run their campaigns over the internet. Companies can range from small scale e-commerce websites, retailers, dealers, to corporates dealing with FMCGs, and everything between. It is especially essential when a consumer wishes to focus on inspiring action over creating awareness. The measurability of advertisements aids this even further. Along with offering a unique proposition to both the parties involved, performance marketing boosts the development and use of mobile applications, content marketing, social media marketing and niche marketing. There are various types of performance marketing which can be easily tailored to meet the requirements of the consumers. Cost per Thousand (CPM), Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Sale (CPS) and Cost per Acquisition (CPA) are some examples of the same.

How should the campaigns be designed?
Filled with creativity and inadvertent fun, performance marketing campaigns are led by defined marketing goals. The campaign is the sole driver for result and success of both, the advertiser and the consumer. Innovative and unique, it has to be highly engaging and set apart from the rest. However, the campaign needs to align to the goals perfectly. Progressively, each action step within the campaign must contribute to the fulfilment of targets. It also needs to set tone for future campaigns and credibility, and by extension, for the overall business. Social media outreach and website traffic are the most convenient ways in which the success of the campaign can be monitored.

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Gabbar Singh v/s Gabbar Gaitonde

Do product placements in movies tend to overpower the narration?
Product placement in movies is a trend that seems to be on the rise. A heady combination of big studios, big productions, big bucks and big marketers. With production budgets going through the roof for many big budget movies, producers are not averse to tying up with brands and fitting (often force-fitting) them in the visual story. Sometimes multiple brands are seen featured in a movie. While film producers manage to add a substantial amount to their kitty through product placements, marketers get to increase brand awareness and recall through a captive audience. It’s a win-win situation for both.

While product placement as an advertising tool has become more organised over the last decade or so, it’s not an entirely new concept. As early as 1967, Sharmila Tagore was shown sipping Coke in the movie ‘An Evening in Paris’ struggling to give the logo some screen space. In 1973, Enfield Motors launched Rajdoot motorcycle in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Bobby’ with Rishi Kapoor romancing his way to glory on it.

There’re numerous examples of movie product placements in recent times. Some blend in subtly and naturally into the story while many stick out like clotted paint on a canvas.

Here are a few instances atrocious product placements that come to mind. In the Subhash Ghai movie ‘Taal’, there was an entire 10-second song sequence around a Coke bottle with Akshaye Khanna looking at the bottle lovingly before offering it to Ash. Hrithik Roshan guzzling down nothing but Bournvita in ‘Koi Mil Gaya’. ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ seemed like a 3-hour ad showreel for Mountain Dew and Land Rover Discovery 4. More recently, the movie ‘Shamitabh’ was a veritable babel of many brands. If we dig deeper there won’t be dearth of more such examples.

The question is, do rampant product placements in a movie become intrusive and distracting? Do they disturb and dilute the characters and narration? For die-hard movie lovers, most probably they do. Imagine, just for a moment, if iconic ‘Sholay’ was filled with product placements. Hard to imagine? Let’s do it anyway. An imaginary product placement exercise that will make Salim-Javed and Ramesh Sippy cringe.

  • Take the famous intro scene of Gabbar Singh. Close-up of his boots pacing around on the rocky floor. Let’s zoom in a little. A little more. Did you notice Gabbar is wearing ‘Gaitonde’ boots? Now, who would you come out of the theatre in your mind? Gabbar Singh? Gabbar Gaitonde? Or Gabbar Gaitonde Singh?
  • Let Veeru’s denim jacket be ‘Killer’
  • The motorcycle with sidecar that immortalised Jai-Veeru’s dosti. Zoom in and dwell on the ‘Enfield’ logo. Zoom in further on the freewheeling logo on the tyre. Oh, it’s ‘MRF Nylogrip’.
  • A drunk Veeru threatening to commit sooocide on top of the water tank. Is that an ‘Old Monk’ bottle in his hand? Great. Think some more. Voila, the water tank can have big a ‘Kent’ water purifier logo painted on it. We bet you missed the subtle message – Always mix your ‘Old Monk’ with nothing but ‘Kent’ purified water. Hic! Hic!
  • Remember the popular dialogue from the movie that a shit scared Kalia sputters out? Is it “Sardar, main aapka namak khaya hoon!” Wrong. It is “Sardar, main aapka ‘TATA’ namak khaya hoon!”
  • Or for that matter, to the teasing question of Gabbar “Yeh Ramgarh wale aapne betiyon ko kaunsi chakki ki atta khilate hai?”, a confident Basanti could answer, “Sirf Aashirvaad!” See, a little tweaking in the script can work great for brands sometimes.
  • Coming back to Gabbar. Why can’t he chew branded khaini? ‘Raja’ khaini, for instance.
  • A widowed forlorn Radha (Jaya Bacchan) lighting up the lamps as dusk sets in. A mesmerised Jai watching her. This quaintly romantic moment is just right to zoom in on the big ‘Homelite’ matchbox in Radha’s hand.

Truly cringe-worthy.

Good or bad, product placement as an advertising tool is here to stay. But as long as it’s done subtly, doesn’t become an irritant and overpower the narration – it should be fine. But the way things stand today, going forward what the extent of product placement invasion would be, only the future can tell. Until then, why don’t you think of some more path-breaking product placement ideas in ‘Sholay’? Just for fun.

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Top 7 influencer marketing trends for 2018

Influencer marketing has grown from being a recurring trend to being a complete strategy in itself. An offshoot of social media marketing, a successful influencer marketing campaign harnesses the popularity of a social media influencer. It promotes a product or a service, while building brand awareness and creating a sense of community. These campaigns are placed where the target audience is most active and there is ease of access. They are characterized by a wide scope of customization and high engagement, while being cost effective at the same time. Owing to this, the field has progressively bourgeoned.

The trajectory of influencer marketing is going to be no different in 2018. In fact, it is expected to grow even more, with marketers and brands seeking comfort from its reliability. Moving forward, the following trends are likely to exhibit themselves.

Generating quality video content
In a fast-paced world, videos are the surest way to garner a user’s attention. However, this holds true only if the video has great content. Tapping into the art of story-telling, a strong narrative is key to an impressionable video. Collaborate with influencers in order to create videos which have consistent visual identity and meet high quality standards. The same can be integrated with e-commerce, wherever applicable.

Choosing the right influencer
Be picky when it comes to selecting an influencer. They should have ties to or expertise in the relevant business domain. They should be open to co-creation and bring their own creativity to the table. A strong personal brand makes for an added plus!

Building a relationship and avoiding one-offs
An influencer’s one-time involvement with a brand is useful in garnering visibility. However, it doesn’t ensure a lasting engagement with either the audience or the brand. Developing a relationship with them ensures that they become something akin to ambassadors for a brand. This enhances reliability for consumers, along with making the brand identifiable by association.

Diversifying the influencer base
Seeking out both macro and micro influencers diversifies audience base. Micro-influencers are like specialists in their domain, with a niche yet specific following. Macro-influencers, on the contrary, hold considerable influence and have a wide follower segment. This can target both relevance as well as greater visibility.

Making it more than just a PR strategy
The purpose of influencer marketing is fast evolving itself. It is no longer a strategy for product promotion. In 2018, the focus has to shift to integrating it with marketing activities. Influencer marketing should be able to drive ROI and boost sales. The format should no longer be like that of an ad, with the risk of being run-of-the-mill sponsored content. It should have premium content at its core.

Allocating a greater budget
Higher budget allocation to influencer marketing will elevate the cost of service. This, in turn, will result in quality output generation and value addition. Brands will also be able to invest more in maintaining relationships with influencers.

Defining and tracking KPIs
Influencer marketing has come a long way from being utilized solely for promotional reasons. While the non-monetary value still exists, influencers are also crucial for profit-generation. In order to ensure ROI, outline lucid key performance indicators (KPIs) for campaigns. This is a crucial tracking mechanism for the effectiveness of these campaigns. KPIs also act as tools for reviewing and re-structuring the same.

Influencer marketing is well beyond views on Facebook and likes on Instagram. It is a way to get closer to consumers, receive real-time feedback and viable ideas for product improvements. Owing to the above trends, 2018 will be the year of organic growth within the domain.

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Real entrepreneurship in India: Truly Inspirational


Some 4 months back a graphic designer from my team resigned to become an Uber driver (and owner). News was that he was getting into ‘travel’ business, but soon it was known that he had quit to become an Uber cab driver. It surely left me intrigued.

Earlier this week, he came to office to take his team members and friends out for a dinner treat! And that’s when he popped into my cabin for a brief chat with me. What he shared with me, filled me with marvel and sheer delight. And I felt, this is one of the most admirable case of real entrepreneurship.

Let me first share his background: He is 44 years old, married and has a 14 year old child. (I don’t wish to reveal his name since i am not sure if he’d like me to do that!) His work while he was at Eggfirst was that of a graphic designer. And he was extremely meticulous and sincere at his work.

Now, here’s what he did: He planned to become an Uber driver. He spent almost 6 months of his time studying the project and also working part time on weekends to get a real feel. Then he took the plunge: He bought a new car using his savings of Rs. 1.5 Lakh and a bank loan. Now about four months into his new business, he is already making more than 2 times the monies that he was making earlier! Yes, he is working two times harder too but he’s now achieving his dreams. And things are only looking better going forward. He is planning to buy one more vehicle after a few months but expressed the concern of the shortfall of drivers. Note that he wasn’t concerned about getting access to funds or other elements but shortage of appropriate talent! His family has been extremely supportive and has been extremely pleased with what he was able to achieve.

Now, here’s why I admire him:

  1. Not only did he invest a significant part of his savings to start this business but also took a serious loan. Appropriate financial risk taking, I would say.
  2. He decided to become a driver despite what people would ’think’ of him. (In India, being a driver for some inexplicable reasons is considered ‘below’ being a white-collared employee). He took that leap of what people would think of him and did what was best for him and his family.
  3. He doesn’t mind working for long hours, putting in what it takes. He starts early, works late nights, works over some weekends too but makes time available for his family.
  4. He shared passionately about putting his child in Vedic mathematics tuition and another one for his class X.
  5. He’s also working on reducing his weight because in his own words ‘his tummy needs to be away from the steering wheel for convenient driving’. Isn’t he driving quite an all-encompassing change in his life. All of this is directed towards a singular objective: to make this initiative a success.
  6. Last but not the least, he gave me his card and asked me to book his cab whenever I may have a requirement for a cab. Now, that’s reaching out as and when I need may it. I am ready to wager a bet that in years to come he will reach places (!) that many just keep dreaming about.

True entrepreneurship, isn’t it?

Not only this person, but there have been others I have come across who have achieved levels of success that many others with resources don’t.

About 10 years ago, a young boy working as office boy (junior office staff) in Eggfirst had expressed his desire to learn website designing and HTML coding. In his spare time and extra hours, he learnt that with a small help from others in our team. Today he is a fine coder with a great career and travels international.

And many more such heartwarming life stories. Of successful entrepreneurs.

With this spirit that some people embody, success and joy is just a small step away. That step is the starting point that it takes.

My very best wishes to all such entrepreneurs and driven individuals.

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