New marketing Same aim as old advertising

Written by Geeta Rao | Updated: Oct 7 2004, 05:30am hrs
The au cour-ant word in marketing and advertising circles is New Marketing. It has been bless-ed, though not, I think, fathered by Philip Kotler himself.

New marketing gets its nomenclature largely from the proliferation of new media, which has created new communication spaces and, therefore, new spaces to experiment with brand communication. The internet was the big thing in the 90s. The mobile telephone is the new big thing, whichever way it evolves. It has created an entire range of communication possibilities, from news updates to product launches to soap operas.

Wedging in a brand story into any of these spaces will require new creativity, I am told. But semantics and buzzwords usually sound good in power point presentations. Ground realities may prove to be different. A bit like the time wines from Australia and Chile were designated New World wines by Europe, while the countries in question went on to make a fine shiraz and a superlative merlot without worrying too much about which world they belonged to.

The reality is, if you are in marketing or advertising, the two being joined at the hip, you have to find creative ways of reaching the consumer. That is actually the old dharma of marketing. Yes, advertising will have to expand its reach beyond traditional media, like television alone. More important, a mindset change is required, so that the first solution from your advertising agency is not necessarily the 30-second commercial. It could well be a live event or film branding, SMS messaging or a public relations blitz.

In the really old days of communication, the foolproof way of reaching the consumer is what is now being defined as a live-interactive event. The big Mumbai mills controlled fashion and their live fashion shows were their ad blitz. Radio and sponsored radio programmes, like Bournvita Quiz Contest and Binaca Geet Mala, built brands until a new medium called television took over and created a new space for communication. Liquor companies, for example, have used live events as a powerful way of connecting with consumers. Not because they were early trend spotters. Government embargoes forced them to look for innovative solutions.

In a way, it lends credence to the old saying, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Interactivity, another buzzword of our time, needs to be re-examined. Shiv Kumar, CEO, Theory M, an interactive solutions provider, says: The internet hijacked the term interactivity, but any space that creates interaction with consumers can be defined as an interactive space. His company launched Sony Playstation in India without advertising in mainstream media, just interactive sessions with real consumers, teenagers and pre-teens at planet M and McDonalds.

Perhaps you dont need the one big idea that runs across all media, but a series of small carpet-bombing ideas tailored to each communication space, that add up to one big piece of consumer connectivity
Nandita Gandhi, who runs Akshara, a womens resource centre, narrated a story to me illustrating that as we move into increasingly fragmented markets, the only real communication is one that finds entrepreneurial ways of reaching the end consumer. Yuva, a group working on gender issues decided to co-opt kirtankars in Maharashtra to mobilise support for their campaign on violence against women. The sevaks and sevikas at the grassroots convinced kirtankars, Maharashtras traditional wandering minstrels, to incorporate the social message into the repertoire bhajans and dev geet. Bhajans, artis and kirtans are probably the most attended events in rural Maharashtra, a strategically sound way of reaching women who attend in large numbers and of attaching a higher consciousness to an issue that requires serious dissemination.

BMW launched an ambitious initiative online to tie in both the cars brand values and the key target groups aspirations by launching six short films on their web site directed by cult Hollywood film directors. Each of the films showcased a fabulous case sequence in a BMW and was shot in true blue Hollywood action style. The new media allows for the film to run across spaces wherever someone sees a connection with the consumer. Giant electronic billboards, mobile phones, airport lounges and yes, television if required.

Convergence, a buzzword in the technology solutions space, has its counterpart in the advertising world in integration, the buzzword of the 90s. Integration gave way to 360-degree communication, which tried to close all gaps in communication by examining different disciplines public affairs, event management, direct marketing and so on. 360 degree, in practice, ended up in creating agency silos.

An agency I worked with set up different units that could work together to offer a 360 degree approach to brand building. But because profit and loss was tied to each ones individual discipline, the heads of each discipline were too busy fighting over billings and a division of the spoils, rather than finding the right communication solution for the consumer. 360 degree only works when every individual thinks it is for the best comunication solution.

Which is why the old definitions must give way to communication and interactive solutions, rather than advertising or media solutions alone. A convergence of thinking, rather than a convergence of technology or a convergence of silos alone, more creative ways of connecting with consumers. Perhaps you dont need the one big idea that runs across all media, but a series of small carpet-bombing ideas tailored to each communication space, that add up to one big piece of consumer connectivity.

On Womens Day some years before, Hindustan Lever chose not to use mainline television, but instead hired a Mumbai local train for the day. Every woman who entered the local was given roses on a train that looked like it was a suhaag raat special. Anyone who has traveled on a Mumbai local at peak hours will appreciate the thrill of walking into a train that was fragrant and flower-bedecked and only for women. Ponds hostesses chatted with consumers and gave out free samples and roses. The positive response to the innovative thinking got television coverage, press write-ups and overwhelmingly positive feedback. The number of women on the train crossed over three lakh. The buzz those women generated must have reached at least 30 lakh women across the country. The cost was a quarter of what it would have cost on television production alone. The goodwill generated was immeasurable.

Would this be new marketing or experiential marketing or interactive marketing, or is this a case of spot CRM Whichever way you look at it, the result was a happy consumer. And happy consumers lead to happy brands.

The writer is Mumbai-based advertising professional