December 19, 2007

The Perfect Christmas Gift !!

If you have come here in search of the top 10 gifts for your girlfriend this Christmas, then I should redirect you here . Alternately, if you want to get dumped this Christmas, then here is a list of worst ever gifts.

If none of the above is applicable, then let me tell you about this fabulous British Hotel Chain called Travel Lodge (No, I have never stayed with them). The opinion is born out of an absolutely fantastic promotion that the hotel has launched this Christmas.

Travel Lodge is offering free accommodation across its 322 UK hotels, as a gift to all married couples called Joseph & Mary. This is valid from Christmas eve till the 5th of
Jan 2008. Their reasons for this consumer offer is stated below.

The 'gift' of free night's stay is to make up for the hotel industry not having any rooms left on Christmas Eve over 2000 years ago when the original 'Mary and Joseph' had to settle for the night in a stable
They even offer a free parking space for a donkey - great reason to get yourself one :))

I don't recall high decibel PR as a result of consumer promotions run by any brand, but this chain has achieved just that (A simple google search will establish this). Being innovative and driving a connection with the consumer, sure has its benefits. Want to try it sometime?

Source - IBN Live


December 15, 2007

Ski Resort resorts to some innovative advertising

I apologize for being a little slow with updates on this blog. I hope to do better in future. In fact, starting right now, I have a nice ad that I happened to see here .

The innovative advertising below has been used by a ski resort. Using just blue paper (blue in the front and white behind) and a sticker, they created the illusion of a ski resort on paper. Superb!!

It is not perfect – I would have liked it if the resort name were more visible, and if we didn’t have to strain to see the skier’s image. Nonetheless you have to give it to them for a fantastic idea.


December 05, 2007

Is there hope for the imperfect domain name

Continuing from this post, The web visitor is undergoing change in the way (s)he visits and revisits websites. The consumers on the web have taken to the various forms of bookmarking, rss feeds etc in such a huge way that the trend suggests that the domain name is being typed less often than before, and moving forward could reduce even more.

Take Netvibes for example, it adds to the options by allowing you to personalize the web. It is about having the web where you want it, the way you want it. It lets individuals assemble all in one place their favorite websites, blogs, email accounts, social networks, search engines, instant messengers, photos, videos, podcasts, widgets, and everything else you enjoy on the Web.

Whats more, they allow you to rename feeds, which means you might just end up naming a blog/website in a manner that the creator did not intend.

So websites are being customized, does this mean that domain names will be customized?

Let me draw a parallel with telephone numbers. There was a time when landline numbers had to be written in a diary or etched in memory. There were no fancy mobile phones with unlimited storage memory.

You had to remember the phone number of a person if you had to chat with him/her. The phone number was the only way you could be reached. If you had an easy number, people could remember it and hence reach you when they needed you. Hence everyone wanted a number which went 12345678.

The website is similar to the telephone number. Most of the type in traffic needs to remember the portal name in its actual form, if they want to visit a website. The domain name is similar to the erstwhile telephone number. If you don't know it, you won't be able to reach the portal (the portal is similar to the person).

Now I store the number of people I would like to stay in touch with, in a format and name I choose. His phone number could be complicated but it does not affect me. I have names of companies stored in a way I can understand and access easily. The names are typically related to a benefit I associate with them. So I need a bill register for my startup cafe, I call the person "Bill register Andy" - His company is called Total Retail Solutions but I couldn't care less.

Websites are increasingly being stored in a customized manner using one of the many forms already described above. Going forward, is there a possibility that the importance of a domain name will be reduced to inducing the first few visits. Once the visitor is convinced of the websites utility, he might just choose to save it with a name he is comfortable with.

To give you an example, I visit
a page with a long and convoluted name (many /'s and .net attached to it) everyday at work to get past Websense, and I don't think it would have made a huge difference to my visiting pattern if it were called

The site is just too useful, and I will visit it irrespective of what its called. All I do is type the first 2 letters and this is one of the first few sites suggested by my browser navigation bar. I have also saved it as a bookmark on my browser and on delicious as, yup you guessed right "Circumventor".

Now I am sure it would make life easier if its domain name were easy too, but the lack of it does not affect my visiting pattern as I have already custom saved it.

So How does this affect my site?

Coming back to what you should do to get your website up and running. The fundamental principles of marketing any other product or service are as important for a website. Awareness, Interest, Aiding the decision to try/buy, Product trial and Satisfaction are the mantras of any brand building exercise.

A good domain name will certainly ease traffic building, but with the web visitor becoming increasingly more powerful do not assume that your website will be remembered by the name rather than the benefit associated with your content.

Let ego stand aside for a moment, don't force your visitor to remember your website by its name. Let them customize it. Make it easy for the consumer to revisit your site by giving opportunities to bookmark your site, get RSS feeds and adopt other mechanisms in future which will enable the consumer to custom save and custom view your site.

Can there be more changes expected?

The future for browsers could well be to introduce a feature which allows you to custom save your website in the browser navigation bar. This will allow you to type "Innovative Marketing" and not my actual domain name to get on to my blog.

We might even have an online browser (like virtual desktops are in place), so that you can easily access your frequently used websites, from any location, with a name that you choose to associate with them and a navigation tool bar that allows you to brand the websites and not depend on their domain name.

Hence what your domain name is called can progressively become irrelevant to the all powerful web user. He might just choose to brand you more than you can brand yourself.

I have updated this post, thanks to the feedback that I have received (Thanks to everyone for stopping by). Your thoughts are invited...


November 28, 2007

Social Messages use more than shock value to reach out

Every now and then, you see a social message being communicated by an NGO or by the police about the ill health of smoking, drinking etc. Most of these messages try to deliver a shock value suggesting impending doom as the only outcome of the activity you are undertaking. . Intelligence, wit and subtlety seem to be lost causes in most of these ad situations.

What we have below are two examples of social messages, which are witty, intelligent, relevant and eye catching. Check them out and if you know other good social ads, drop me a link so that the message can get a little more exposure through this blog.

1) A WWF ad below cleverly uses green paper in a tissue dispenser to indicate harm you are doing to the world with every tissue you use. Fantastic would be an understatement !!

2) Crashed witches were up on poles with this message "Don't drink and drive this Halloween". A very innovative outdoor marketing initiative. Wonder what effect it would have generated if it had been timed with the Harry Potter Book/Movie release - hmmm...

* References - Ads of the World & Frederik Samuel


November 20, 2007

Does marketing feed into strategy? Or is it the other way around?

I was on Seth Godin's blog and noticed his post on Thinking about
and just one line in an otherwise perfect, struck a discordant note.

"One last bit of backward thinking: if you're looking to start an online business, consider finding a great domain and build the business around it, not the other way around."

The key thought behind the post was to emphasize the importance of domain names. Though I don't dispute their importance, it is a stretch to suggest that online businesses should revolve around available domain names ie. search for available domain names and then build businesses around them.

How can one decide business strategy on the basis of marketing elements? Conventional theory suggests that Strategy feeds into Marketing and not the other way around. So I might decide to be in the online auction space and decide to call myself ebay, but will I decide to be an online auction just on the availability of a domain name?

Just assuming businesses are a little more complicated than that.

Nonetheless it is acceptable that entrepreneurs who are exploring opportunities at starting up in the online space, book domain names prior to finalizing their plan (or even start working on it). But booking domain names in the absence of a thought seems like shooting in the dark.

A website needs a lot of ingredients to be successful and the domain name is just one of them.

Let me reiterate, I am not undermining the importance of the domain name. It is equivalent to the brand name of a product in the offline space. Unlike brands in the offline space where the "first moment of truth" could be through packaging, ambience or even tasting the product, an online portal depends on its domain name (it has to be typed or clicked before the portal can be experienced in any way).

The question that begs to be answered is a larger one actually and I thank Seth for instigating this thought. According to this report, more than 47 million .com domain names have been booked already. Hence its highly probable that you are unable to find your ideal domain name.

So, Is the absence of a great domain name the end of the road for your business? Or do trends suggest that there is hope still.

Give me some time to research some trends before I answer that one, the last time I tried to answer it with insufficient research, I faced some serious flak from the blogger community. I apologise to every one of them. In my overenthusiastic attempt to try and see if imperfect domain names will work, and initial research suggesting that it was indeed possible, I wrongly concluded that domain names could be becoming irrelevant. I couldn't have been more wrong and I am thankful to everyone who pointed it out. The domain name is one of the many ingredients for success. A good name always aids success.

I have since taken that post off this blog since I don't believe in it anymore. I am hoping that the next few posts will correct some of the wrong.

So please hold on until my next post. I hope to throw larger clarity on this issue.


November 02, 2007 - Why it could kill Gmail (And why it won't)

What is CoolHotmail? is a site where you can get a unique email id which truly reflects your personality. The email ids could be anything ranging from to (Visit the site for a complete list - some of them are pretty good). It is currently launched in India and many ids are very India specific.

On the face of it, this seems like a good strategy against Gmail and Yahoo. Hotmail could have recaptured the lost email space with this piece of innovative marketing. An almost perfect understanding of the concept of "Cool" and yet not at all. Let me elaborate.

Concept of Cool

Lets first understand the concept of cool from the visual below.

In the above graph, the innovators form a niche market. They actively seek new & innovative brands/products and talk/adopt them. This section is considered very cool and also known to be opinion leaders. The early adopters catch on fast enough and also adopt the brand. The cool factor rubs off on them too. If the brand becomes mass and is adopted by the late majority and the laggards, then it is clearly uncool to possess and show off this brand.

When are you cool?

To state it simply, its when you are different. How can you be different is the next logical question. Simple answer again is when you assert your individuality through what you say, what you do or what you have / possess.

Is being different good enough?
You not only have to be different, but also belong to a relatively niche club. "I listen to rock, not boy bands" is the easiest example. An even better example would be a Harley Davidson owner - I bet he feels way cooler than the rest.

Then there are the cool guys who wouldn't touch an ipod with a 3 foot barge pole. The only reason is that the whole world has one, they like the creative mp3 players and would go against the world to defend their purchase (they defend pretty well and they are a lot cooler)

I have to add that there is a thin line between being cool and being "just different". Not everything that is different makes people want to imitate or aspire for. "Cool" is something everyone wants to be.

Fundamental Philosophies for a Cool Brand

  • The brand has to promise something different
  • Has to give scope for people to assert individuality and yet belong
  • Remain exclusive by making the brand inaccessible (like a Harley that is priced so high that by default it is inaccessible)
  • The easiest way to have a cool brand is when the category itself is so well segmented that its exclusive for everyone. Though not a perfect example, lets consider music genres. Since there are a zillion categories, its easy for everyone to be different, belong to a niche club and feel cool at the same time. This can be sustained by periodic new introductions and for a sustained period of time.
The biggest problem is everyone wants to cash in on their "cool" brand and hence make it more mass, which opens the space for a new brand to be niche, exclusive and hence cool.

So you want to Cash in on a cool brand?
  • Be accessible in all forms - available & financially viable.
  • Make it available and yet seem exclusive. Gmail has used this to good advantage by making registration seem exclusive as it is subject to an invite from an existing member. This will delay the shift in perception from cool to uncool (only delay not stop)
  • Crunch speed of adoption from innovators to laggards by enhancing awareness, word of mouth and PR. This makes everyone seem like they are getting onto something new & different. But the difference between innovators and laggards should not more than 6 months. This principle has been used by Apple on their ipod and iphone series very effectively.

Why could CoolHotmail have been the next big thing?

Its got all the ingredients of a cool brand
  • Expresses individuality and yet gives the opportunity to belong to a niche club
  • A number of segments and options for everyone on the same platform to feel they are different, even if they create a mail id at different points in time

  • In a sense its like the music genre example I stated earlier, so many options that everyone gets individuality and belongs all in the same breath

  • Of course its fundamentally different from other offerings in the market

  • Decent viral - Check it out
One addition I would like to see is the freedom to create your own domain name. For operational reasons, they could have one extension like ishwar@innovativemarketing.mi (where .mi is an extension they own). Then any extension is possible (a .com flexibility will be impossible considering the number of registered companies out there)

Why CoolHotmail will fail?

I hate to say it, but the single most important reason is they called it "Cool". Anything which is called cool can never be cool.

  • 5 GB of space seems less when other mail options have unlimited space
  • Lastly the website features are not different and certainly not great. None of the cool gmail features that we are accustomed to. Nothing to write home about.
  • Too many non targeted ads overtly intruding my space

What do you think? Can hotmail regain lost supremacy?

Update to this post!!

Alexa Rank : 1325 ranked site in India. 3 month reach has dropped by 47%. The anonymous comment left on this post doesn't smell of authenticity.


October 24, 2007

How to drive footfalls to a bar / pub / restaurant

So everyone has seen signboards & direction boards for restaurants, shopping centers and cafes? Of course you have, and you probably think that its been so done to death, that nothing can be done differently...

Traditional advertising is trying to break clutter more than ever before. An ad on a new medium is always likely to attract attention for a while, but gradually consumers develop a blind spot on this medium.

The purpose of many marketers and this blog is to break through this blind spot. The means to achieve the end is - either use innovative media, use existing media differently or create clutter breaking ads. The ad below uses the second option and innovates on existing opportunities to reach the consumer.

Source - Ads of the World

This guerrilla marketing was initiated by Soma Coffee House in Canada. The primary objective was to advertise the addition of a wine bar to the coffee house. The secondary objective was to direct people in the vicinity to the venue.

Not only did they advertise the Wine Bar addition using a sign board / direction board, but also coupled it with footsteps which took consumers to the outlet doorstep. The beauty is that the footsteps were little drunken footsteps, in sync with the added wine bar.

I love this, Cheers to Soma (hic!!)


October 23, 2007

Cadbury's fantastic Mobile marketing campaign

I think every marketer has toyed with mobiles and how to use them in Integrated Marketing Communication. Being consistent and complete in this communication medium is a difficult task, so when I came across this mobile marketing initiative by Cadbury India, I just had to give it the finger (Naaah! not that one - the thumbs up).

The interactive campaign for "Pappu Pass Ho Gaya" which means "Pappu* has passed in his exams" bagged a Bronze Lion at the prestigious Cannes Advertising Festival 2006 for 'Best use of internet and new media'. The idea involved a tie-up with Reliance India Mobile service.

It allowed students to check their exam results using this mobile service. If the student passed, he got an sms congratulating him saying "Pappu pass ho gaya" alongwith the exam result and hence encouraged him to celebrate the moment with a Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Creative thought, great execution, innovative use of a marketing medium and fantastic association with a key moment in the consumer’s life. Do you give it the finger too?

* Pappu is a common nickname given to children in India


October 18, 2007

And the mobile phone will be extinct (not kidding)

Here we are, inseparable from our dear little handheld mobiles and yet the takeaway will be "Hmmm... it could get extinct". To understand why, we have to understand or rather define convergence.

Defining Convergence

"Convergence" refers to the blurring of dividing lines among traditionally distinct products and services, technologies, markets, industries, and regulatory structures.

For example, the Playstation2 is not only a games console, but also a CD player, DVD player and Internet connector. Mobile phones are actually the best example, in that they increasingly incorporate digital cameras, mp3 players, camcorders, voice recorders and other devices.

For the consumer it means more features in less space.

So does everyone love carrying their mobile phone?

Whats wrong with the mobile?

As Matt would put it "The pain in the neck of carrying both a PDA and a phone - along with my notebook, wallet, cigarettes, keys, business card case, and other miscellaneous bits and bobs - would inevitably cause me to abandon ship"

His problem was more with the PDA + phone, but I get pretty pissed with the standalone mobile. House keys, car keys, wallet, mobile phone, random sheets of paper, coupons, bills I have to pay and sometimes my ipod go into my pocket. I can kill myself for the thunder thighs effect generated.

So is that reason enough to ditch the mobile?

The Wrist Watch will replace the mobile? No Way...

Not yet - not until the new generation wrist watch kicks in. Wrist watch manufacturers have focussed on fitting in absolutely useless features like an altimeter, a temperature sensor etc.

To really get an idea of the possibilities that a watch can converge into, check this out.

This cool watch doubles up as a USB device to store your music, documents etc and also serves as a plug and play with Windows and MAC operating systems.

So you love the cool videos and the smartphone feature

Its not going to take long to give the watch the core feature of a mobile phone - the ability to "talk" & "sms". Its a watch & time keeping is the core function, so "alarms" & "reminders" are easy too.

What about all the cool videos that you can see on an iphone and what about the smartphone features? It does look like a stretch that the watch will cater to this need as well, so most probably the low end mobile phones will only be under threat. A thought I would like to leave you with - No one thought that the simple phone would become a computer in itself.

So do you think a Rolex or a Tissot could replace the Nokia's and Motorola's of the world?


October 15, 2007

Top 9 Axe Ad campaigns

Following the Axe campaign post a few days back, here is a compilation of my top 10 favorite Axe ads. Unfortunately most of the ads got eliminated for either being way too explicit or for turning women off and I ended up with 9. (A quick check on a lot of Axe ads reveals that women can find them degrading).

#9 - Same old concept - but executed well

#8 - You wonder how its an Axe ad, till you read the tag line

#7 - Its a nice concept and could have been higher in the ranking list, if it had been executed better

#6 - Creative Genius - well executed - Kudos

#5 - Nice - very nice

#4 - Takes you a second to get this - A nuns attempt to resist temptation


#3 - This looks like it was created just for the net, the idea is just too creative to leave it out. If these towels were handed out at a beach, hmmm...

#2 - Its simple, great idea, well executed. I kinda like these toilet door ideas!!

#1 - Awesome idea - It attracts attention, a desire to read on and connect the pieces. Engages the consumer. Had a difficult time trying to find one that beat this

Drop me a link of an interesting Axe ad, if you think it should be on this list...


October 12, 2007

The last quarter of this Football Final was so..... yummmy ???!!!

There are many amongst us who think a newspaper print ad will remain just that - the same old print ad. Its not that we dont see great messages being communicated using this medium, but thats more to do with the creative.

So to bring real innovation in the picture, take a close look at the Vegemite ad.

Images of four quarters of toasted bread were placed at the 4 corners of a sports column. A simple line above the last bread quarter reads "Good to the last Quarter".

Execution was timed to coincide with news on the Grand Final of the Australian Football League. Great way to connect a 'bread brand' with a football final. Its topical, relevant and brilliant !!

Its not the creative thats innovative, its the precise placement on the sports supplement, the timing of the ad, connect with the article, and speed of execution (absolutely required to execute great ideas in cases like this).

Seen more like this? Let me know...


October 05, 2007

Girls get Naughty!! (The ___ Effect)

Pretty young girls mysteriously left their lingerie in Men's restrooms at discotheques in Montvideo. I know your mind is working overtime right now but breathe easy my friends.

Sorry to disappoint you, but the lingerie is a result of printed stickers. Quality of print and the shadow for the lingerie give them a very realistic touch.

This Out Of Home marketing initiative is very impressive. The fit between brand, location, the moment, message and TG is just so perfect. Discotheques + sex + naughty girls and guys who love naughty girls - Just Perfect for Axe!!!

The one below is another kickass idea at a nightclub. Saw this at Ads of the World


October 03, 2007

Dad vs Kid - Wilkinson wins !!

Every married man sees a dramatic shift in affection from his loving wife post child birth.

Wilkinson used this “shift of affection” as the insight and created an awesome viral - Fight for Kisses. Its not easy to create engaging advertising in this category, especially advertising that brings the brand into the consideration set. This great viral is also accompanied with a game download which acts as another viral marketing tool that can be forwarded. I haven't caught the game yet - let me know if you liked it...


September 29, 2007

Woah! Tiny Parachutes in the courtyard... Where are the aliens?

Don't worry, I haven't sighted a UFO yet. Just noticed this interesting direct marketing technique at Adverbox. Samples of coffee arrived at different neighborhoods apparently via parachute. The key communication being that everyone can get great coffee from Hawaii delivered to their homes, in the quantity and frequency they desire.

The direct marketing initiative communicates the USP of Coffees of Hawaii. For those who would have normally questioned how anything from Hawaii could ever get to their doorstep, the parachutes proved that it might be difficult but certainly possible.

The parachutes in fact play the role of attracting attention and interest towards the direct marketing initiative. Contrary to traditional direct marketing initiatives (leaflets, envelopes etc.), which end up in the dustbin with immediate effect, this initiative would guarantee a second look and certainly greater response rates.

Now how many of you would buy from Coffees of Hawaii if you saw the parachute in your courtyard. Let me know


September 11, 2007

Best Direct Marketing Ever!! (60% conversion rate)

Harley Davidson and marketing genius - there seems to be a connect. For the cult brand it is, its not easy to market to the evolved consumer. Every marketing effort has to surpass any previous effort and uphold expectations of the consumer.

Just check out the direct marketing effort below.

A 'Freedom Box' was sent across to potential customers. When the box was opened, a ventilator released fresh air on the consumer's face. "Feel free" were the words mentioned on the box. The effect it generated was that of a ride in the country side with the wind blowing against your face.

Did It Work?

According to this claim, 18 out of 30 consumers reached bought a Harley (To put it in perspective, normally Direct Marketing efforts have a response rate of just about 3-4%). A classic example of how experiential marketing was built into a Direct Marketing effort. This will rate as one of my best Direct Marketing efforts of all time. Any other brand upto the challenge?


August 28, 2007

Hoardings on the Move

This post isn't about anything innovative - its on common sense. Lately I have been catching a number of mobile hoardings and unfortunately never really 'caught' them. Its ultimately difficult to look sideways while driving. Let me explain...

The advertising is only on the 2 side panels. There is no communication on the front and back panels. Aren't we losing out on potential ad viewers by cutting out these 2 angles of viewing (from the front and from behind). Imagine driving a car - Would you really look sideways to understand whats written on a mobile hoarding or would you much rather catch it on the back panel when you are driving behind it?

Ideally, once a medium has been invested in - one should get maximum return from it . There should be significant branding on both the front and back of these mobile hoardings. Its just a question of wanting to use the medium for more effective advertising. I am sure there are other advertisers who have done this and I have just been unlucky to see those who haven't.


Google Monetizes YouTube - Not User Generated Content

Google paid YouTube over a billion dollars and has revealed how it plans on monetizing the site. An Adage article states that instead of running across the site's consumer-generated content, Google's in-video ads will run on 3,000 professional content partners and 70 independent partner channels. Google's new YouTube ad formats will be graphic overlays that cover the bottom 20% of the screen and go away if not clicked after 10 seconds (a method pioneered by Videoegg)

Ads on professional content partners is not a model which monetizes the core concept of User Generated Content. It could well have been achieved without acquiring YouTube in the first place, and by just uploading good professional content (with ads) on YouTube pages. Obviously there are constraints to monetizing YouTube, otherwise Google wouldn't have a chosen such a fundamentally deviant method.

Constraints to Monetizing YouTube

  • User Generated Content is that its difficult to verify all uploaded content and advertisers would hate for ads to appear in "inappropriate" or copyrighted content.
  • What about ads in the same page as the content? We are all familiar with adsense right? Well the problem is that the tags used to define these videos are diverse and is meant to drive traffic towards the video from every possible source. Automatically adsense based on tags and content becomes that much more non targeted.

What should the Monetization Model be for YouTube? (How I wish I were paid for thinking about this stuff)

Well one of the models that can be followed to use UGC to generate money goes like this...

User uploads Video in a specific category with specific keywords/tags => Video hits it big => Reaches a threshold viewership, rating and is shared amongst viewers in a defined period of time => Achieves a threshold rating => Reviewed by the YouTube team for content and keyword authenticity =>

Advertisers bid on keywords/categories and provide ad content to be placed in a format specified by YouTube => Advertisers choose number of videos they would like ad placed on and whether they would like 1 video a day/week etc => They can also define threshold viewership, rating etc => Highest bidders get the best videos to advertise on => Once the number of videos for highest bidder is exhausted, second highest bidder gets ads in the next most popular videos and so on => Ad is auto inserted as graphic overlays that cover bottom 20% of the screen for first 5 seconds and last 5 seconds of the video, followed by a full screen still for 1 second

Since only a limited number of videos will cross threshold viewership - monitoring and reviewing these videos is much simpler and solves some of the constraints we were discussing earlier. What remains a question is how will viewership be affected with ads on erstwhile free content?


August 25, 2007

Make Money on Overnight Deliveries!!

Just checked out this ad by Endless at Steve's blog.

Its not easy to make people migrate from Amazon to a relatively new portal Endless, which is exactly what the ad achieved in Steve's case at least. They could so easily have gone the usual line of we are better / faster / cheaper / simpler etc.

The route they eventually used for the ad was a very genuine need in the online ecommerce space - Overnight Delivery! Not only did they promise overnight delivery, they also paid you for you it! (Now how cool is that!!)

An awesome clutter breaking technique, which provides incremental value where the customer least expects it (someone finally put the concept of customer delight to use), and hence induces trial.

Why its truly awesome is that the same offer could have been on the merchandise saying "$5 off on any merchandise you buy from us" but that would amount to getting a discount. Everyone is used to and bored by these offers. Getting money, rather than dishing it out for a service like Overnight Delivery is an interesting one I must say...


August 21, 2007

Can brands take you for a "Ride"

In India and probably the world over, branding opportunities have been exploited on trains & buses. Opportunities with taxis have been largely sidelined. I am not talking about printing "Wong's Restaurant - Great Chinese Food" on the door, but looking at branding opportunities inside the taxi.

Taxis lend themselves to Point of Sales merchandise, sales material and sales itself. I have been extremely bored (and hungry) on many a journey undertaken. These moments can be used by brands to communicate significantly more than what is possible on a hoarding or other outdoor media. Costs are relatively cheap as your only spend is on brochure material - which will be carried along only by interested consumers. Some fixed fee has to be paid to the taxi operator

Why : People have nothing better to do on journeys apart from read or eat. Its extra income for the taxi and there is no other avenue to get the consumer to read as much about your high involvement/knowledge intensive product. Many consumers will in fact like to catch up on the latest in investment options.

What to sell : Its ideal for sales material on real estate projects, insurance, investment options, New mutual fund launch, IPOs, Magazines etc. The consumer is well defined as a corporate traveler and likely to be on the lookout for such info.

You might just be able to extend it to sales of FMCG products like Chocolates / Gum / Snacks by using the available space on the dashboard near the windshield to stock limited merchandise

Which taxis : Those used by Corporate travelers. Taxi operators who have tie ups with large companies

How many brands : Very limited space implies very few brands can be stocked - so hop on immediately

Operationally : Sell it to the taxi operator who distributes it amongst his taxis. He is also responsible to train drivers on creating awareness amongst Corporate travelers.

Brand PR : Good for the first guys who jump on

Brand Awareness/Knowledge : Builds not just brand awareness, but also brand relevance and preference

Is Sales Significant : Yes, since its high value and low effort. Also all those who read are favorably impacted.

Just make sure the driver does not push for sales, as that would become frustrating. The driver should just inform the consumer of brochures and magazines available. Can the driver slowly be upgraded into a role of a consultant on the various investment options available?


August 17, 2007

Low Cost Airlines can get Cheaper!!

Oh god!! I was planning on publishing this post on this "great idea" that I had - unfortunately I got a proposal this morning about the exact same idea. Well, I still claim that the original idea was uninspired.

Anyway getting on to the idea itself - I always wondered why low cost airlines in India don't leverage branding opportunities available to the max. There is a captive audience sitting in the plane with absolutely nothing to do. Low cost airlines don't even have in flight entertainment to distract their flying guests.

And when you aren't doing anything, you normally don't mind staring at the face of a pretty model right? Or even learning why the Honda City is better than the Toyota Corolla. Low cost Airlines should sell space to advertisers and the really obvious locations are

1) The food trays (when its closed and when its open) - Should be the most expensive place to advertise
2) Luggage compartment branding - Next most expensive
3) Window shutter - 3rd most expensive

Unfortunately not really a low cost option for advertisers - but if used well by low cost airlines, it could result in incremental revenue which could then be used to lower fares even further. There should be more revenue streams for low cost airlines. Let them know about it and we can probably travel around the world for free!!

To read more about this concept and how it has been used on American airlines click here


August 16, 2007

Brand Name Promotion - Cool "Stunts"

Just checked out some cool promotion gimmicks at entrepreneur. "Sign Spinners" as they are called, involve using acrobats and balancing artists to twirl sign boards around their fingers. These stunt men are typically located on high traffic junctions and twirl signboards around their fingers. It is a display of great skill.

Reports have it that it has had some serious car stopping effects, and is bound to generate tremendous buzz value for the first brands to attempt it. Its very low cost and involves getting permissions (from the government - All the best!!) at some key vantage points but no major additional expenses.

Of course the message being communicated should be minimalistic and I see only a brand name communication as possible. It automatically has a great fit with website traffic generation & communication of discount offers. Theme message communication looks difficult. There should be more ways to use this medium - Maybe two spinners, also doing a juggling act...