Hostile reception!

A fortune 500 company… one of the biggest banks in the world… customer base of more than a million, worldwide. You expect such a bank to be welcoming, friendly and pleasant, don’t you? But is it so in reality?

Recently, I was on a personal visit to the Mumbai (India) branch of the Bank (described above). Right at the entrance, I saw a bottle of a hand sanitizer with a message that read, “Clean your hands with this hand sanitizer before entering our premises.” My first reaction was, “That’s insulting!!” Are they telling me that my hands are dirty and would contaminate their premises? This ain’t a hospital, is it? I understand the concern for employees. I understand the need for a ‘clean’ environment. But what’s with the arrogance? The intention may be fair, but the way it was communicated was distasteful and quite insensitive. How about being a little friendly and warm while communicating. Something as simple as, “It’s your bank. Let’s keep it germ free.”

Being direct is one thing; being outright offensive is another. Never undermine the importance of communication. No matter how big a company you are.

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You are being watched

“Shoplifters beware! The store is under electronic surveillance!” or “You are being watched all the time while you’re in this store.” The age old posters always make me feel uncomfortable (even though I have no intentions of mugging). It is kind of offending too. But to be fair to the companies, it becomes difficult to balance the subtleness as well as the effectiveness when putting such a message across. But ‘Croma’, an electronic retail shop in India, has done it in a warm, friendly manner.

I recently visited Croma to buy an electrical appliance. In there, I was pleasantly surprised to read a poster that said, “Keep smiling, you’re on camera!” It immediately brought a smile on my face. The warmness with which they conveyed a blunt message is really commendable. I started pondering and recalled their brand slogan, which says, “We don’t sell. We help you buy.” Their slogan reflects how they put customer service before everything else. And the message, “Keep smiling, you’re on camera!” is so perfectly in line with their brand slogan! Three cheers for Croma.

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Vote 4 me

It’s pre-election time. A candidate is addressing a crowd of about 10,000. “Please give me your precious vote. I promise to bring electricity to every household, water 24/7 and education for every child…” While the typical speech is going on, you have some people in the crowd catching some quick sleep, while some are discussing the latest movie and so on. The point is that it’s really difficult to address each voter individually. However, recently a political party in India tried a different tactic.

The mobile phone has become a household item in India. Even in the remotest rural parts. A particular political party decided to capitalize on the popularity of the mobile phone and launched a mass SMS campaign. Voters would receive SMSes, with the candidate’s name flashing on their mobile phones, urging people to vote for him. It immediately caught people’s fancy and made them feel important. Political leaders here share the same celebrity status like some of the Hollywood stars do in the West. Imagine receiving an SMS from Jennifer Aniston! Won’t you feel like a celebrity yourself? Political leaders banked on this sentiment.

The SMS campaign did leave an impact and the experts say it did help the candidates to garner votes. This is the power of communication!

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Has Ronald McDonald got a job-switch?

When hop scotching through a busy market area, I noticed a colorful character standing across the street, right in front of a McDonald’s joint. It was surrounded by a mob of kids (in India, McDonald’s is positioned as a joint for family, especially kids). As I crossed the street to get a better picture of what was happening, I realized that it was some guy dressed up as Ronald McDonald. Or was it?!

Well, it certainly was Ronald McDonald, but he wasn’t promoting McDonald’s. A hotel had employed a chap and had him dressed up as Ronald McDonald to promote their kid New Year’s Eve party. And the little kids were sure flocking to ‘Ronald McDonald’! With the least amount of resources, they effectively promoted their event, capitalizing on some McDonald’s popularity! Guerilla marketing at its best! Well, almost.

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Winsurance!

This is surely a winner! India’s leading insurance service provider, LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) has come up with a striking outdoor marketing campaign that communicates the message simply yet effectively, using the local trains of Mumbai as their medium.

The local trains of Mumbai are known for the huge amount of crowds they commute everyday. No less than a million people use the local trains daily; way beyond the capacity of the trains. As a result, you have people hanging by the doors precariously. The numbers of casualties reported every year by the railway authorities is unmentionable!

LIC saw an opportunity and seized it. Their logo consists of two hands (forming a ‘hand cup’) protecting a flame. Now, what LIC did was placed each ‘hand’ (the logo element) on either side of the doors of the local trains. So when someone sees it, it looks like the two hands of LIC are protecting the people hanging from the doors. Isn’t that what insurance is all about? The message conveyed. Bravo, LIC!

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