A brand-new approach to research

by Reshma Bachwani

Planning and executing research at chlorophyll has never been short of challenging. For starters it has always involved a detour from the usual FMCG research terrain into categories as varied as hearing aids and blood pressure medicines to concept restaurants and an aerotropolis. In categories such as these, the usual brand interrogation approach used in research does not hold water.

Brand strategy research conventionally involves playing projective games with the consumers for two hours and getting them to think of brands as animals, cars and sometimes even film actors. There is no doubt that such sessions throw up interesting and sometimes even amusing analogies. The host of brand attributes one is left with is then plotted onto the usual brand model – prisms, concentric circles or brand keys.

The problem with such an approach is it would work only for brands that have been salient in the consumer’s mind. But what if the brand does not exist yet and needs to be created. Consumers would not have any associations for it and not be able to connect it with anything else in their frame of reference

Also the conventional brand strategy research approaches only tell us the situation as is. It does not answer questions such as – how differentiated the brand is or what consumer need it addresses or whether there is a consistency / conflict in what the brand says (communication) and what the brand does (behavior)?

What makes research at chlorophyll unique is that the starting point is never the consumer, but the brand owner and his / her vision. This gives a robust and yet realistic inside out perspective on what the brand stands for, its strength and what it is capable of delivering.  This perspective is then married to the social (consumer context). A Visual concept called a “Brand world” is created in-house representing these two thoughts, which is then tested amongst consumers during research to get the outside in perspective.

What we arrive at therefore is a customer proposition that is not just robust and realistic in terms of delivery but also one that is relevant for the consumer. Approached this way, many a time what one ends up unearthing is not just a strongly differentiated customer proposition but also sometimes a shift in perspective on the category itself.

For instance, chlorophyll was approached by a thriving online dating site based in the US, to translate the brand for its entry into India. A relevant brand name and some rich consumer insights is what they expected. What we found out in-turn was that online dating as a concept itself is not yet socially acceptable though hugely popular undercover. An ‘activity based social networking site’ was a customer proposition that was not just more acceptable but also unique. The brand name, tag line, website elements were all aligned towards this proposition to make it palatable for the Indian consumer.

Within the context of this broad research framework, chlorophyll has never been shy of adopting new and experimental ways of arriving at consumer insights. In another instance the task at hand was to create a differentiated private label for a retail brand. Apart from the usual consumers interactions, some subconscious research was done with people to explore sensorial and emotional insights around food. The result – rich insights around the customer proposition ‘the lost flavors of childhood’. The result – the client did not just get inputs on a differentiated brand, but also a whole new category – ‘nostalgia foods’ that could be leveraged by the brand in the future.

In this day and age the meaning of the word ‘brand’ is in itself an evolving concept. Brands are dynamic and are being redefined everyday. While earlier it was used only in the context of tangible products and services, today it has acquired new meaning and can refer to anything from a politician to a movie star; from a country to a holiday destination; from a royal estate to a marathon event. Such versatility calls for an approach that is equally versatile and at chlorophyll has we have been fortunate enough to work with this entire spectrum.

 

My favourite alphabet: the lowercase ‘c’

 

On my first day at chlorophyll, over five years ago, I walked in with that typical just-out-of-college urge of wanting to show everyone I knew everything, and basically knowing nothing. Time has flown, the ego has been tamed, the skill has been honed. I’m older and hopefully wiser.

I was told chlorophyll is too good a place to be in for my first-ever job. It is too nice, too happy, too open and too encouraging. I’m happy to say, I’ve been spoilt rotten.

I owe chlorophyll a lot, for many, many reasons. It taught me to respect the English language and every person I work with and for. It exposed me to some of the greatest minds I’ll probably ever come across. It showed me that no punctuation mark is too small. It turned me into a chronic copy-checker, anytime, anywhere. It made me understand that to write well, I must think well.

I have had the ultimate privilege of working with seniors who are more than happy to let the next generation race ahead. Who are here to teach, not rule. chlorophyll is the reason I now have  deluded ideas of what a boss should be, because apparently the outside world is very different.

It is here that I was encouraged to start writing a column on brands, learning to form, and defend opinions.

It is here that I learned to appreciate how much harder it is to write three words, than it is to write three hundred.

It is here that I began frowning at the word ‘catchy’ and taking deep breaths at the word ‘punchline’.

And last, but definitely not the least, it is here that I met my husband.

So, if after all this, chlorophyll isn’t the best place to start off your career, I don’t know what is.

 

Maya.com: Second illusion or second noosphere?

 

Perennial philosophy (a term apparently coined by Leibniz, but propagated by Aldous Huxley through his eponymous book) has over millennia acknowledged that there is only one reality.

Sages and mystics confirmed that ‘you’ the human being are not ‘in here’ inside your head,  experiencing (or suffering due to!) a world ‘out there’…There is no division between you and what you experience. There is no division between you and your neighbour. We are all part of one big ocean. ‘You’ are, the sages said pithily, ‘that’. ‘That’ is beyond the grasp of our thinking and therefore unnameable, but attempts have been made: “Brahman”, “Undifferentiated Aesthetic Continuum”, “Ground of Being”, “Holy Spirit” are a few synonyms.

Physicists have agreed wholeheartedly.

“ A human being is part of a whole…(he) experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness…our task is to free ourselves from this prison”said Einstein, the world’s most recognised symbol of a scientist disinterested in the physical world of mismatched socks, untucked-in shirts and unsuitable haircuts.

What causes this ‘optical delusion’ that Mr Einstein so accurately refers to? Why do we enter this prison willingly?

Thankfully, that is something we ordinary mortals, who claim to be neither Einsteins nor sages, can directly experience in our day to day life.

It’s our habit of mistaking our thoughts and memories for current reality. The first mistake we all make is believe that one bundle of our memories from childhood to whatever ‘hood’ we have today reached (adolescence, middle-age, old age) actually represents a separate ‘person’. We proudly call that bundle ‘I’. In reality, all that separate person is, is a chemical trace in our brains of all that we have experienced. The subsequent thoughts strengthen this belief that this bundle is called ‘me’, who is ‘inside’ the head of this body and who experiences reality out there.

This habit enters our deepest relationships.

For example: Here’s how we might get married. We meet a person of the opposite gender, our hormones and our conditioning of the idea of beauty in a male or a female respond to that person, we store memories of that person as someone whom we liked enough to get into a social contract and we get married. Over the next many years, unfortunately, we tend to meet the memory of our wife or husband, instead of our real wife or husband. Every single day, that husband or wife is changing her or his own view of life, of the environment, and of you, the person observing. We do not take this change into account. We relate only to the old, static, irrelevant memory (obviously because it’s easy!) instead of the ever-new, dynamic, relevant human being.

Thus we create a reality inside our heads that has been reduced by one level. In today’s language, we’ve lost data. In the language of video or audio production, we operate ‘one gen’ down. In the language of philosophy, we live in ‘maya’. In the language of the English, our relationships form a web that is one step removed from reality.

Despite this persistent attempt by us unaware human beings to build separate ‘prisons’, said Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a monk and a thinker, our combined consciousness forms a unified  layer called the noosphere. Like the atmosphere is a layer of air shared by the earth, the noosphere is a skin of consciousness shared by humanity. So even if you believe that you are unconnected, in reality your thought of hatred or compassion or jealousy or joy adds to or subtracts from this huge pool, tilting the balance in favour of negative or positive feelings.

Along comes a network called the Internet. Unlike the real world the Internet is digital, not analogue. Its basis is a binary state of 0 or 1, yes or no, either or. It brooks no fuzziness, no indecision, no “and also”. Like every new medium, the rate of acceptance of the Net has been faster (dramatically faster) than the previous medium: It has taken the Net only 6 years to gain 100 million users compared to the 20 years that TV needed.

Experts believe the virtual world of the Internet will stop growing only when the real world is totally reflected in it. In essence, we will have a vast network, in a few years time, where all human knowledge will exist in a digital form. It will be another world that coexists, that resides as electric memory on chips, as bits and bytes, instead of chemical memory in brain cells.

The Internet will thus become a world that mirrors the first mirror, distancing us poor ‘optically deluded’ human beings further from each others’ current reality.

What is the web of relationships we will have in the future? Today, we meet our friends and our husbands and our wives physically, so there is an aspect of reality we are anchored to. But on the Internet we may relate to the picture of another that is completely disassociated with that person.

In Internet language, I can present an ‘avatar’ of myself that is different from my real identity. Male can become female, old can become young, Californian can become British. This is not a fiction, this is fact. There is enough evidence to suggest that this is already happening.

No, you say, very soon there will be web cameras, that will show the real you. You will be unable to hide your true self. Even so, our selves on the Net will always be one level removed from the image inside our heads.  Does it not point to the fact that we are thus creating another network? A network of relationships between individual fantasies, imaginations, dreams? A network that is twice removed from reality?  Our understanding is that the Net will create “maya.com”, the second level of illusion.

On the other hand, the Internet will also give physical existence to the noosphere. Good thoughts will spread through the connections as fast as bad thoughts, but faster than ever in the history of mankind. Today, we share the agony of a husband dying on the Everest through the Net, the joy of watching a friend’s baby being born, the terror of a nuclear warhead being stolen, almost as soon as it happens.

The Internet will thus become a tangible noosphere, suddenly making mankind aware that every thought, every emotion, every action is being shared with the rest of the planet instantaneously.

So what?

That’s a fundamental question. Just predicting what might happen does not in any way help us human beings understand why the question is relevant in the first place.

The relevant question is, what will maya.com result in? Will it help us human beings discover the fakeness of the ‘prison’  or help us hide us behind one more layer of illusion? Will it hasten the process of humanity coming together or will drive us apart?

There is one simple answer I believe in: we will do what we have been doing for 5000 years of recorded history. Think about it.

 

Premium brands are a myth: part two

by chitresh sinha

So for the few who did read my post yesterday (Yes, you are the privileged audience of one :p) about why I feel “Premium brands are a myth”, here is part two of the post.

For those who didn’t, you can read the post here.

How do you define ‘premium’ as a definitive?

For the longest time, I thought Burberry was the most “premium” perfume out there.

I was proven wrong when my girlfriend (scratch that, ex-girlfriend) suddenly turned into the ‘hardworking employee who has no time for love’ (or later proven, just me) after a bottle of burberry was my “you will start jumping with joy” valentine’s day gift for her.

Other than ‘never buy perfume for a girl’, the lesson is “premium” is a relative term.

Marketing 101 will teach you that you cannot build a brand on something relative or undefined (premium is a relative term).

A brand needs to be build on an undeniable truth. Something concrete. Fungible. Tangible.

 

If you still feel that being being expensive and exclusive is enough to build a brand then the last question that I have for you is:  Is ‘premium’ enough to build preference?

India has become the world’s favorite marketplace with all of the world’s premium brands setting up shop here (Yes, let’s forget the rupee’s affinity for slide games for a minute).

All of them have similar foreign anorexic girls (or guys, you just can’t tell) and similar un-pronounceable names (Stell-Ah Ar-Twahs, Kin-Eh-Res, Give-en-chee, Ho-gar-den)

Today, very few people say that “It’s either XYZ or nothing” when choosing clothes or apparel.

Most people have a brand portfolio of ‘acceptable brands’ for themselves (“Darling, get me anything from Palladium for my birthday and don’t pull your lawyer tricks on me. I am being specific – Palladium not Phoenix mills”).

“Premium” may be an entry point into this portfolio but it is not going to be enough to build preference.

Why should someone pick your ‘premium’ brand store and not the other ‘premium’ brand store right next to yours in the same ‘premium’ shopping complex?

So for the marketing managers reading this post:  if your “let’s launch a new brand” presentation begins with a modern masterpiece of colours, charts and numbers with a microscopic white-space marked as “pricing to launch premium brand” then you know it’s time to click on “create new presentation” :)

Premium brands are a myth!

by chitresh sinha

Part one:

Welcome to the ‘Premium’ world:  premium clothes, premium restaurants, premium ice-creams,premium toilet faucets and premium underwear.

Today if it is not a premium brand then it’s not even worth considering for most consumers.

I have had a dozen meetings which go:

Client: “Boss, we want to launch a premium brand!”

Me: “Congratulations sir, how exactly will this brand command a premium?”

Angry client: “Aree!!! We will price it high na, it is a premium product. Don’t you understand premium? Branding-shanding nahin aata hai?”

Silence.Paan chewing.Silence.

Which leads me to my first question: What exactly is a ‘premium’ brand?

“Apple” I hear? “Calvin Klein”, say you? “Busaba” burps someone.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble but “premium brands” don’t exist.

Yes, that’s right. No, I am not on medication. There are no “premium brands” in this world.

Branding creates a price premium for products and services. A price premium does not create a brand (or sustain it).

We pay a premium for Apple (Groan: not another apple example but bear with me) products because it is a brand build on the foundation of merging innovative functionality with amazing design.

“Su bak bak kareche” is what the Gujju saree merchant must be muttering right now after reading this on his new iPhone 5 . Back to Fruit Ninja for him.

Him and almost every other person in the first class compartment of a mumbai local has the iPhone 5. Is it really because of design blah blah or just because it’s the most expensive phone out there?

An iPhone for some does say “I have arrived” but this is a spillover effect.

It is not what the brand set out to do or the foundation of the brand.

For any brand, there needs to be a set of loyalists who buy into a brand philosophy which is unique.These loyalists are joined by people with diverse reasons but the brand is focussed on these loyalists. If it loses them then the brand is dead.

This is exactly what Apple seems to have lost sight of and why Samsung launched this campaign.

The Next Big Thing

This principle applies to everything from clothes to TV shows.

Yes. TV Shows.

JJ Abrams has built a fortune by focussing on a small set of loyalists and keeping them engaged. Shows like LOST and FRINGE had clues hidden in each episode that loyal fans found and contributed immensely towards the show’‘s popularity.

Fringe hidden message

So is your premium brand really doing anything unique that makes it deserve the ‘premium’ tag (other than the ‘premium advertising’ and ‘premium store decor’ of course)?

If you found this post remotely interesting then you would be interested in reading tomorrow’s post which covers my second question: How do you define ‘premium’ as a definitive?

Stay tuned :)

Branding is serious business

by Gayatri Shrikhande

“In the past, Asia’s emerging multinationals could thrive without strong brands.
In the future, they will need brands just to survive”
– Brand and Deliver, The Economist Intelligence Unit report 2010

A brand is not a logo. It’s not a tagline. It’s not a jingle or a free t-shirt.
In short, it isn’t a marketing tool. A brand is a business tool.

Or at least, it should be.

In Asia, branding is still separate from business. Emerging Asia (excluding Japan and Korea), has a 25% share in world GDP. But only a 6% share in the world’s Top 500 brands.

Iconic Asian brands like Toyota, Honda and Samsung (all featured in the top 25 of Interbrand’s Global Best Brands, 2012 report) have got it right. Why not the rest?

Paul Temporal, a global expert on branding and founder of Temporal Consulting, outlines three reasons we don’t see too many powerful Asian brands.

First, many Asian companies focus on short-term thinking rather than long-term brand building. They are reluctant to spend on intangible items like brands.

Second, they mistake branding for merely advertising and design.

Third, they emphasize rational branding: what a product does rather than how it makes customers feel.

Till the shift is made from investing in business to investing in the brand, Asia will not see the next Coca-Cola. Now is the time to start.

At chlorophyll, we spend a lot of time helping companies build their brands, based on a single, central philosophy. For corporate brands, we align their values and behaviour, ensuring they become employee KRAs and management objectives. For product and service brands, we create unique propositions and align the behaviour of the customer-facing team. In every case, we contribute to creating strong, integrated brands.

Retail trends of 2013

by Vidya Damani

This article featured in the STOrai magazine (Vol. 4; Issue 2. January-February 2013). STOrai is a publication of the Retail Association of India.

I believe trends are for clothes and fashion; sectors and businesses transition or evolve.

As this point would apply to retail as well, let’s look at how this sector is evolving in India today and how it will evolve through 2013.  To understand that, we need to first look at some factors that will influence this sector.

Factor One: the substantial increase in the cost of living. Everyone, regardless of economic strata or geography, is feeling the pinch of rising prices.

Factor Two: the rise in aspirations. Each person is trying to reach the next level of aspiration, move up to the next notch. The propensity to save seems to have taken a back seat to this mindset: “I want to upgrade my lifestyle today”.

Factor Three (certainly the most influential): Changing customer expectations. Today’s customers are more exposed, more ‘traveled’. They have more disposal income, they purchase online, they use social media.  With more than 50% of India’s population below the age of 25, we are not just dealing with Gen Y (18 to 24-year-olds) but also Millennials (12  to 17-year-olds).

What 2013 has ‘in store’ for us:

1) Brand Experience Management will gain momentum

One of the results of inflation is that it makes one’s relationship with money more ‘intimate’.

When incomes do not rise too much and outgoings increase,  money becomes more precious.  At this time, customers demand more value for money.  Which basically means picking up a good product is not enough… they want to be pampered. The simple truth is, they can probably get the same product for a competitive price someplace else (that also includes the online space).

That brings us to the intangible part of a retail format called the experience, which translates into tangible results! A good experience creates positive WOM which serves as the most effective ‘advertising tool’!

No wonder Zingerman’s (the food retailer) claims that more repeat clients are found when the service is good than if the product is high-quality but the service is poor.

I believe every brand has a story to tell: which it does through its experience (this could also be called brand behaviour). This story is based on what the brand stands for.  Let’s  draw an analogy with a person. The way a person dresses, talks, behaves, what he or she believes in, gives us a sense of who the person really is. Similarly the way the brand behaves and communicates to its customers tells us what the brand stands for.

Continuing with the comparison to a human being, the more ‘self-aware’ you are,  the more    successful you will be. Similarly,  the more well-defined the brand is, the higher will be its brand equity.  A well-defined brand will be able to communicate its story consistently through its customer experience. Example: The Apple Store experience.

Even the culture of an organization should reflect the brand story.  In the ‘Manning Modern Retail’ conference, organized by RAI which I attended earlier this year, one of the panel discussions was on ‘Aligning Employee Behaviour with Organizational Values.’ This supports my case in favour of the culture reflecting the Brand Story: because ideally the organizational values are incorporated into it.  An example of this would be Nike; the brand’s website describes its culture as “You will be changed because you will grow. You will grow because you will be challenged. You will be challenged because you will work with the best talent, the best athletes, and the best business partners in the industry.” It also ensures that it recruits people who are passionate about sports and are go-getters.

I hope by now you are convinced that managing the customer experience is going to be even bigger next year.  You might even want to consider looking for an ‘Experience Manager’.

 

2) Brand Experience will be important across channels

Have you bought anything online in the past week? Movie tickets, air tickets? Books? Clothes? Electronics? If the answer is none of these….I visualize a dinosaur reading this article! Even my 65-year-old father is on Facebook and takes pride in buying tickets online.

Online buying is the next big thing….that’s old news! How retailers can prepare themselves for it… that’s work-in-progress. So here are some of my humble pointers from me about online selling.

The experience does count even though it is not a brick and mortar format. The ‘lowest prices wins’ is not always the case. How does the website look? Is it smartphone- compatible? The quality of the product shots, smooth payment experience and on-time delivery matter a great deal.  The way in which all these are designed and executed should reflect the brand story.

Just replicating an offline experience online is probably not a good idea. Use the advantages of the online space: community opinions, price comparisons, games and so on.  Another big thing in the west which will move eastwards is discount coupons or promotional codes.

 

3) This sector will attract better talent

When a sector evolves, the demand for a better quality of workforce is inevitable! The requirement will be at all levels. Especially front-end staff and middle management. Many of the multinationals brands that have come in, like Starbucks, will want English-speaking staff that can relate to a customer.

The point that came up in one of the discussions at the ‘Manning Modern Retail’ conference was the gap in education, exposure and lifestyle between the front-end staff and the customers they need to attend to. However, with increasing demand, companies will think of creative ways to narrow this gap.

In 2004, when I was a department manager at Shoppers Stop (my parents could not     understand why after doing an MBA I was working in a “dukaan”!),  BPOs would lure our staff with a higher pay. However in 2013 to lure Gen Y, we will need to offer not just a higher pay but a better work-life balance (my empathy with all Human Resources managers!).

The good news is retail will attract post graduates from well known B-schools. It’s no longer considered to be like working in a ‘dukaan’.

 

4) More innovative use of technology to enhance Brand Experience.

I recently read about a ‘Pop-up’ store by a chocolate brand called Anthon Berg. A ‘Generous Store’ was created in Denmark.  There were no money exchanges for the purchases; the price was a good deed one had to do. iPad devices were used to ensure that people’s generous promises were posted on the Facebook profiles of both the ‘doer’ and ‘receiver’ of the generous deed. Many people even provided evidence of their good deeds in the form of pictures on Anthon Berg’s Facebook page too.

Another example: Walmart Canada and Mattel have launched a ‘virtual pop-up’ toy store in Toronto (located in the underground walkway) to make it easy and convenient for shoppers to buy gifts during an often rushed holiday season. It features two walls of 3D toy images and QR codes that shoppers can scan with their smartphone to purchase items.

Indian brands too will use technology to create innovative and interactive Brand Experiences.

 

I’m sure there are many more but in my opinion these are the four key areas that retail will see a visible evolution in. So don’t forget to give that intangible part called xexperience, its due attention.

Happy New Year!

References: examples in point 4 are used from PSFK website.

Whats Dopamine got to do with Angry Birds?

by Chitresh Sinha

The Angry Birds and Star Wars universes will collide and it seems to have generated quite a buzz online but what is the real reason behind the success of Angry Birds?

At the functional level, Angry Birds was extremely simple to play yet challenging. It had various free versions and is available across platforms.

Here are three factors that I think sums up the real reasons for the game’s success.

1. Consistency

A brand is an unchanging idea. A brand can extend the product range or enter new categories as long as it does not lose or change the idea that drives the brand.

What can and should change is the presentation of the brand. Franchises like James Bond have been successful at managing both parts of the brand.

That is exactly what Angry Birds also got right.

Angry birds has released over three versions of the original game and each version has about 30-50 levels but the brand experience has been consistent.

The characters remain consistent, the gameplay remains consistent and game outcomes are consistent.

Many complain that the game is too simplistic and lacks originality but Rovio has not changed their approach and has stuck to a consistent experience across launches.

 

2. A strong brand character

The ‘angry bird’ character was developed before the actual game and the game play was molded around it.

Kids or adults do not want to play a character of a stereotypical bird who chirps and flies around. Mothers do not want kids to play games with malevolent characters.

This game bridged that gap by introducing a character that was angry because something of his was taken away but at the same time was not malevolent. A lot of people could relate to this.

Most brands start out by trying to find a market need and then trying to fill it. Most successful brands first clearly define what they stand for and what is unique about them and then find like-minded customers who share the same beliefs.

 

3. Element of surprise

Our brains are more responsive to deviations from our expectations than to events that are as anticipated. Our brain’s reward system releases an above base-line amount of Dopamine, when we receive a reward (e.g. a product, service, experience, etc.) that was significantly better than expected (source: http://www.brandingwithbrains.org)

Rovio capitalized on this phenomenon by introducing bonus levels, by unlocking birds with better and unexpected capabilities. The Star Wars adventure is the perfect example of them enthralling fans with the element of surprise.

Angry Birds Live

Was Angry Birds the only game to get all of this right?

Not at all!

Lego is one of the most successful cult toy products out there. Martin Lindstorm actually attributes his love for branding to Lego!

PacMan and Mario Bros are two other games, which have been around for many years and have also been successful in merchandise.

All of them are successful but Angry Birds has been successful in integrating the online and offline model to build a successful franchise.

Will Angry Birds Star Wars be a success?

Given the nature of the gaming segment, it seemed unlikely that the game would remain as popular as it was if they did not do something dramatically different.

This game might just be the shot that the franchise needed to reboot itself.

What do you think?

The Internetwork killed three. RIP first victim: Positioning

This blog first appeared in Campaign India magazine on August 6, 2012

by Kiran Khalap

Yesterday, someone sent me an interesting statistic: between 2010 and 2012, Asia clocked the fastest growth (an extraordinary 192%) in the usage of the Internet on the mobile.

Come to think of it, this century can now be confirmed as the Internetworked Century.

What do internetworked stakeholders mean to brands and communication?

Mostly, rapid obsolescence and death.

Let’s look at three: the concept of ‘Positioning’, the communication model of AIDA and the reality of product and service brands.

Around since 1972, the first popular book on the subject quoted: “Positioning is not what you do to the product. Positioning is what you do with to the mind of the prospect…not to create something new…but to manipulate what’s already up there in the mind…”

The concept presumes that the brand owner sends out messages that changes what is in the prospect’s mind…and the prospect is unable to talk back or talk to other prospects.

Enter the Internet.

Case One: DOW Chemical

In June 2006, DOW released a 120-second TVC.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2F019A00992EC715

By any standards it was a beautifully crafted TVC, condensing the entire positioning into two letters; a chemical symbol for a new element: Hu.

“Look, we are not a chemical company, we are a human company.”

In December 2006, thetruthaboutdow.org released the same TVC with the same soundtrack but with shockingly disturbing visuals of the Bhopal tragedy. You can see the 2010 updated version here. (Remember, Dow bought Union Carbide — the company which ran the plant — 16 years after the disaster and argues it has no responsibility.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_630591&feature=iv&src_vid=lbpuSPL-FNU&v=PnEssBw6KxI

In 2008, photographer Paul Phare, created his personal response to the campaign urging us on the Internetwork, “ …. Post them on your websites and blogs, email this link to friends, http://dow.radicaldesigns.org/article.php?id=1102

In 2012, the protests continue over DOW sponsorship of the Olympics.

Human company?

Or beleaguered by the Internetwork company?

Case two: TATAs

Trusted since 1868 as the ‘ethical company’ and ‘the company that gives back to society’, a Tata Steel-L&T combine entered into a PPP with the Orissa government for the creation of the port in Dhamra, Orissa.

It’s not clear how detailed the Greenpeace study of the situation was, but YouTube was flooded with their parodies of TATA Tea and TATA Indica TVCs.

There was a detailed response by the CEO (http://www.eco-dhamra.com/environment/pdf/Greenpeace20Reply_July’07.pdf) but I don’t know how many read it.

Trusted, ethical company?

Or not fully?

Case Three: Unilever

The Unilever web site, in its Purpose & Principles section, makes no mention of animal rights.

So, technically speaking, it’s positioning does not involve being nice to animals.

And yet, in the Internetworked world, everything else that contributes to its existence as a responsible corporate citizen got subsumed by the knowledge of its tea being animal tested.

On February 1, 2011, PETA announced that “…Unilever, the company has announced an immediate worldwide end to any non-required tests on animals for tea and tea ingredients – for health claims or any other reason.”

RIP Positioning, RIP ‘manipulation’, welcome naked truth.

We all live in glass houses now.

RIP unidimensional ‘Positioning’, welcome multiple viewpoints.

It’s a multi-logue out there, and the company had better listen more than talk.

RIP Positioning: next month, we’ll discuss the second victim: product and service brands.

 


chlorophyll is hiring!

We are looking for a copywriter with anywhere from zero to 6 years of experience. The job will require ideation, writing, logical thinking and knowing the difference between its and it’s :P

As a brand consultancy, our work will challenge you beyond just mass media. And we promise independence and elaborate lunches!

If this sounds like your kind of place (and if you can’t laugh at yourself, it probably isn’t!), send your CV and/or samples of your work to rajeev@chlorophyll.in