EVER since Lalitaji took centre stage on national television to exhort the unsuspecting Indian housewife to not be taken for a ride through her popular catch-phrase Surf khariddari mein hi samajhdari hai (Buying Surf is the smart thing to do)Indias obsession with offering strong pay-offs in communication began! A nation whose way of thinking and behaving has for long been dictated by the notion of Brahminical restraint, cuddling up close to any value based proposition came quite naturally to us. Whats in it for me is a question that most Indian consumers instinctively asked every Indian marketer. And every Indian marketer worth its salt gladly obliged by inevitably responding in the following mannerI am better or cheaper or faster or softer or lighter or easierdepending on the category and depending on the brand! Proposition or pay-off based advertising has been the name of the game so far in India, as immortalised by Marutis Kitna deti hai (How much mileage does the car give) brand conversation.
But things are changing. Increasing competition leading to more of product/service parity, greater consumer affluence and exposure, a higher propensity to spend, indulge and pleasure upall these factors have combined to give birth to a very different kind of communication construct. The consumer necessarily is not at the heart of it, or at least she is definitely not the starting point in this process. This model of communication does not necessarily ask the consumer what he or she wants, and subsequently does not go on to provide the same to her. Rather it starts from the brand out, and not from the consumer in. This kind of communication is not about the consumer pay-off, but about the brand point of view (PoV) or philosophy. The brand decides what it wants to believe in, it develops a certain world view and espouses a certain PoV. And, if you as a consumer believe in that philosophy or over-arching sentiment, feel free to join the brand-wagon. If not, you are free to gravitate towards its competitor brand or any other brand for that matter! No unnecessary consumer pampering herebut rather creating a higher order belief system where people who believe in what the brand believes in, flock to.
Welcome to the age of point of view marketing. So, go nowhere, do nothing and waste time because you will never be young again! Or at least thats what Helix watches from Timex would like you to believe in. Because the brand itself believes in this contrary-to-popular-notion of Wasting Time. Like it Then go ahead and buy it! Today, the Indian marketing communication world is full of examples of PoV marketing. For example, Sofy sanitary napkins, in one of its communications, espoused the view that Sahanshakti is no shakti (Tolerance is not really a strength), as it showcased a young woman protagonist who boldly said that there is one quality which her grandma had and even her mom, but which she did not haveand that was tolerance of all kinds of abuses and inequities hurled at women by our society. Fastracks very popular Move On, Diesels Be Stupid, Tata Teas Jaago Re are all examples of brands putting out their PoV in the marketplace and hoping consumers like their PoV and gravitate towards themthere is very little, if any at all, of functional product pay-offs in each of these pieces of communication. In fact, globally brands such as Nike strongly believe in having a PoV on any sport in which it operates in and Bill Bowermans memorable quote If you have a body, you are an athleteis probably one of the earliest indicators of this need to have a PoV on your business.
Whats heartening to note is that something which was more prevalent globally has slowly found its way into Indian marketing communication as you see more and more examples of PoV marketing instead of the tried and tested pay-off based communication. This is not to suggest that the latter does not work and has no place in todays marketing milieujust that
the needle is shifting towards an approach that certainly makes for breakthrough communication that is usually richer, more thought provoking and definitely more engaging. And the fact that Lalitajis own brand Surf started this trend in India with its famous Dirt is Good campaign, is an irony that perhaps will not be lost on followers of Indian advertising around the country.
The author is vice president and executive planning director,