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Eight lessons marketing professionals can learn from Kolaveri

The digital world has so disrupted the business models of newspapers, radio, television, music and even Hollywood that the yin and yang of mass media and mass marketing are flying apart. We are in the midst of total collapse of the media infrastructure we have taken for granted for 400 years.

– Bob Garfield Advertising Age Columnist in The Chaos Scenario, 13 April 2005

Aye, have you heard this weird song. Kolaveri, Kolaveri? Is got close to a million views on YouTube. Is it Malu or what? What does Kolaveri mean?

– Digital Dude Aged 24, 17 November 2011

Screen grab from Youtube

Six years after Bob Garfield provoked the marketing and advertising industry with his seminal piece in Advertising Age, Digital Dude (quoted above) discovers that Kolaveri Di has gone viral on YouTube. Dude does not know Bob Garfield nor has he read The Chaos Scenario. But he is among the millions who have given Kolaveri another view, helping to further shoot the video on to the centre stage of India’s pop culture and unwittingly endorsing the premise of Bob’s book.
Now clients want agencies to do a Kolaveri like video for their brands. Yes we got two briefs in the last two days and are struggling to explain why we cannot do a Kolaveri. What we do have are some lessons from the said video and similar memes.

Lesson 1. You don’t make a Kolaveri. It happens. Amen. Here are, one, two stories from the guys at Jack in the Box, the digital agency behind the viral on how it happened.

Lesson 2. You can’t separate marketing and PR from the agency anymore. Being a movie based video Kolaveri has an advantage over traditional marketing content. Yet reading the agency’s POV on this, PR was strategically used to give the video the traction.  Starting now we need to create all kinds of synergies to get people’s attention. Marketing, PR, HR, sales, service working together, in tandem…

Lesson 3.  Speed is the new element in a marketing person’s arsenal. To read Dhanush’s interview post the success of the song and to believe that the song was written in some 6 minutes. Well that’s as much time it takes to find an empty conference room these days. Speed was on display when W+K decided to bring on the OldSpice Man on to Twitter and YouTube. 180+ videos created in two days. Wow!

Lesson 4. YouTube is the TV channel for urban Indian youth. Mahesh Murthy (look up his 20 new rules of marketing here) and Reem Syed are some of the prominent voices in India who believe how lopsided marketing budgets are with respect to digital media. The impact of Kolaveri Di should put an end to that discussion. In fact this Google Trends comparison between two recent hits, Airtel’s Har Friend Zaroori Hota Hai and Kolaveri shows you that without a dime spent on TV, Kolaveri has blown past an ad that was heavily promoted on all channels, online included. Even in places like Ludhiana and Chandigarh,  Kolaveri beat out the Airtel ad.

Lesson 5. In a low friction world,  we learnt a great idea will have imitators like in the case of Cadbury’s s Gorilla. In India we have struggled to get people to create interesting content that feeds off a rage. Kolaveri is showing us that good ideas will be copied and remixed in real time. What are we agencies and marketers doing to create memes that can be remixed?

Lesson 6. Hum-ability counts, not meaning. Cartoonist Hugh McLeod had something fundamental to say  in this cartoon. Most marketing messages are so overloaded that they lose any humanity whatsoever. The lyrics in Kolaveri are so nonlinear that they start a conversation and further its spread.  RIP Link Test?

Lesson 7. Ideas like these can spawn real time marketing opportunities. Pepsico’s Digital Marketing Head talks about how the best marketing in the future will need to grab real time opportunities that could come by. A viral the scale of Kolaveri could have spawned many opportunities. A line of Kolaveri Di Tshirts. A promo around the song. A smart entrepreneur could have started a Kolaveri Di FAQs page and made some money from placing Ads on the page. Missed opportunities.

Lesson 8. The long tail brings interesting content back into circulation. This one has nothing to do with Kolaveri. But another video that’s been doing the rounds recently, the  flash mob in Mumbai Central has been doing the rounds. The Youtube video has already notched up an impressive 200,000+ views in two days. On the back of this, an older, forgotten one from May this year is getting a second life, for free. The Internet never forgets, but no ad that’s shown on TV can ever have a second coming without the advertiser wanting to rerun it.

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Digital Guy Reviews Traditional TV.

I wrote this for the dead tree version of Campaign India.

This is a disaster. Seriously is.
It’s been a while since I watched TV. My DTH bill, I just discovered, has been in the negative for months. Also, I am a digital guy. Adept at talking about the nuances of Ajax and PHP rather than the skills needed to tell brand stories in 30 seconds.
So to have the privilege of doing Private View in this fortnight’s issue of Campaign. They didn’t mail the wrong guy, I called to check.
But hey! Wait a minute!
Aren’t I the average consumer? One that spends a disproportionate amount of his disposable income buying “advertised” stuff?
Hello Tubelight!
The guys at Campaign Magazine, smart I must admit, got it way earlier than I did.
Brace yourselves creative directors, copy writers, art directors, film makers and marketing people. The consumer is speaking. Er writing really, in this case. I THE CONSUMER speaking from the heart.

Speaking of the heart, here’s the first. A pensive looking Shahrukh Khan for Linc Pens, a commercial that was designed to tug at my heartstrings. Blimey did nothing, the turd. 50 seconds of slo-mo poetry. Was it supposed to get me a lump in the throat? Raise a hair to two on my neck? Nothing!. Maybe I am dead or something. A purveyor of pens trying analog stuff on a digital guy. Not their fault I guess. Broken! For me.

Then came the midgets, or perhaps Gulliver in a Coffee Shop. What can I say? A poor bloke being accosted by a family of dwarfs for State Bank of India Mobile Banking. Maybe you deserve it man. You maybe paying the bills but you forgot to feed them vitamins.

You know something. After seeing the KFC Kafeccino ad, even I’ve started to fantasize about losing my cold coffee virginity. Exploding biscuits, little nibbles of chocolate, three voyeuristic friends egging me on and a cute sales girl asking “first time”? Orgasmic it will be as the ad promised.

This one foxed me. TVS Sport featuring Virat Kholi. Virat, ask any consumer, and they will say is a smart bloke. But I don’t get the same vibe about the guys who made this one. Get on the bike and run Virat.

Idea’s 3G Population Control. This one should have connected with the geek in me. The service, not so much the ad. But the ad did for some reason. It’s corniness, innuendo and all. That tongue in cheek repartee in the end from Abhishek. Imagine an ad for 3G mobile service actually making me want to restore my cable connection to watch more of this. What an etc, you know.

To the final one.
I can see some social service messages are being spread using humour, like this one from Amaron Batteries.
Sing along with me…
Dear Malu country cousins.
Don’t piss standing under coconut trees.
Don’t ride bicycles on weak bridges.
Don’t do a Jesus on crocodile infested lakes.
THE CONSUMER really needs to call the cable guy. Silver ting and silver tong.

The Genius of Amazon.com

I have been watching the travails of a mum trying to buy her son a Beyblade stadium on her Facebook Page. After perhaps visiting at every possible brick & mortar store in town, she descended on eBay and triumphantly declared that she had found the item. Not too soon though. A few weeks later another post informed us that eBay had returned her money because they ran out of stock. Aggarhh!

Having a young son myself, I have been making discrete enquiries of the said item. I browsed through eBay, found the stuff and left it for another day. Yesterday, after eBay returned the money, I searched the web and found some stocks available on Amazon.

Once again, I did not buy the item. Browsed around and left. I have done this tonnes of times on many online sites including Amazon. But yesterday was different. A few hours later, there was this email in my inbox from Amazon. With a full listing of all the available Beyblades and accessories. With a pointer to more.

Now we are all aware of search marketing and contextual advertising. I think this is the next level. Dynamic content delivered discretely into inboxes the moment a marketer discovers that someone is looking. Once again this is not new. There are enough services that track clicks and nurture leads. Just that I had never received such an accurate and timely eMail from anyone like this. And I have been logged into Amazon like forever.

It somehow felt new. A lot more intuitive and personal. Perhaps a lot of us have experienced it better. Yesterday I did.

And I may just buy the Beyblade stadium my son’s been dreaming about.

Advertising. Not Like the Music Industry.

There have been many stories in the media in the last few weeks about the decay of advertising. There was this long one about The Future of Advertising in Fast Company. BusinessWeek countered it with this one on how Big Dumb Agencies may not be going away anywhere soon. The most provocative one, however was by Adaptive Path’s Peter Merholz. It was a brutal piece, one that tore apart our business as one with a “poisonous core”. While there has been a lot of debate and discussion around the post – in fact Peter has posted a rejoinder explaining various points on his original one, I thought the last item on his first rant to be a bit off key.  Advertising Agencies are the New Music Industry, he wrote.

I am not sure if the music industry analogy is the right one for the advertising business. While just like the music business, traditional advertising is being run over by the arrival of the Internet and other digital mediums, unlike the music industry, which went down primarily because of the growth of file sharing, I think advertising will evolve thanks to a combination of many smaller changes.

Search Marketing. While Google and others in the search marketing business are seeing exceptional growth, search marketing alone will not end advertising as we know it.

Social Media. Yes it is hot at the moment and will be extremely important in the years to come. Social media engagement will be one of the many things that marketers will need to help manage a brand.

PR. For years PR was a discipline that marketing had little influence over. Bougsky’s allegedly famous quote “…write me the press release” aptly describes how PR has become an important mover of marketing messages. Recently Pepsi’s Shiv Singh tweeted about wanting a partner who was a combination of a digital agency, a traditional agency and a PR company.

Video. BMW films showed us what can be done when branded messages are played out in digital media. There have been many experiments that have followed. The age of video, though, is just beginning to play out.

Mobile. Mobile devices will have as much or more impact on the marketing business as computers, TV and radio have had in the past. Always connected, always on phones are a tsunami that will change traditional messaging, but will need to do more to completely annihilate brand messages.

Location Based Services. These new and emerging concepts will add another dimension to real-time marketing. There are some simple and straight forward “Minority Report” kind of possibilities that location based messaging can do. These concepts will evolve and amaze us in the years to come.

Reality Enhanced. Ideas like augmented reality are just being experimented with at the moment. There will be more we will do by overlaying smart digital ideas over real things in the future.

Gaming. In an attention starved world, inventive new branded or brand embedded  games will give marketers access into the minds of people.

Crowdsourcing. Not so much a concept as much as an approach to producing ideas. Crowdsourcing will chip away advertising agency strongholds and change advertising in many ways.

Amazement. For decades, advertising had this knack of creating jaw-dropping moments. Not anymore. Anyone with a digital camera can now. Ads now have to fight even harder to be seen and talked about.

Marketers, marketing messages and the ones who create them, advertising agencies, will have to change to stay in touch with people who have lot more to do. The reason for this change will be many. All of them equally relevant.

Helping Teens Online

As with any good thing, the negatives turn up sooner or later. This campaign proves that the connected world is not all good news. Lawmakers are struggling to find ways to fight the menace of digital violence. The digital violence can include sending nonstop text messages or posting cruel comments on a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s Facebook or MySpace page. The behaviors can be a warning sign that a teenager may become a perpetrator or a victim of domestic violence, according to the group. “This is another generation of domestic violence,” said Peggy Conlon, the chief executive of the Ad Council, which worked with the Family Violence Prevention Fund on the campaign. Thatsnotcool, the campaign that’s digitally intensive was conceived by RG/A. Watch videos here. Read a story in NY times.

Life Without TV. Will Radical CMOs Reshape Marketing?

As the upfronts loom many big brands – like General Motors and Citibank – are slashing their spends on television advertising out of necessity. But another factor to consider is the maverick CMO who is willing to spend a lot less on TV advertising or cut it out entirely. Partially, it’s a response to market conditions, but some marketers say the economy is prompting them to take a chance on new forms of marketing. Susan Lintonsmith, CMO for Red Robin, said the economy is definitely one impetus for going without TV. “It’s a little of everything,” she said. At Best Buy, CMO Barry Judge has another view: TV advertising is important, but can be undermined by a bad consumer experience, so he cut his TV spends by 40 percent and opted to spend it on increasing staff in the company’s stores and on improving the company’s Web site. Other marketers are moving away from TV because they feel that there are other needs their communication budgets need to fulfill. Like in the case of Century 21st, where the CMO felt that the brand had 98% awareness, and that their customers were looking for information in other areas. Research has shown them that most potential home buyers or sellers—about 87 percent—go online before making a purchase. So they took money out of TV and are reallocating it to online—namely paid search, display ads and social media. Read the full story in BrandWeek.

Bank Of Twitter

Bank of America becomes yet another bank to embrace Twitter with a customer service stream. Manned by customer relations specialist David Knapp, customers can tweet him if they have problems with their accounts or general questions. Wachovia, which in August started an account to seek out and serve customers on this micro blogging platform, now has over a thousand followers. While some banks have active twitter accounts, there are others who have created accounts and not followed up on it. Read more in Finextra.

Online. Clicks May Not Be The Only Way.

Focusing only on clickthrough rates in your online media plan? Maybe you want to look at the possibilities of display ads. ComScore recently released an interesting White Paper titled How Online Advertising Works: Whither The Click. By examining 139 online display ad campaigns conducted across a variety of industries, including Retail & Apparel, Travel, CPG & Restaurant, Finance, Automotive, Consumer Electronics & Software and Media & Entertainment, ComScore has confirmed substantial effects. It’s clear that display advertising, despite a lack of clicks, can have a significant positive impact on: Visitation to the advertiser’s Web site (lift of at least 46% over a four week period). The likelihood of consumers conducting a search query using the advertiser’s branded terms (a lift of at least 38% over a four week period). Consumers’ likelihood of buying the advertised brand online (an average 27% lift in online sales). Consumers’ likelihood of buying at the advertiser’s retail store (an average lift of 17%). Andrew Frank, Gartner analyst, who does a review of the ComScore paper here asks agencies and marketers to move beyond the click fixation.

Shopportunity

Katie Newlin helps consumers understand how the biggest retailers in the world use information about people who shop in their stores to sell them more.

Better Customer Service, Better Loyalty, Better Profits

According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, U.S. companies lose half of their customers every five years, with two-thirds of them claiming that customer care was their reason for leaving. Pleasing people, on the other hand, really pays off: Studies show that improving customer loyalty by 5% can increase profits by a whopping 25%. More in the Motley Fool.

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