Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner & Chief Strategy Officer, Bang in the Middle, writes about how some brands highlight a cosmetic product innovation or resort to meaningless advertising that makes little sense in the overall scheme of things
Delhi | September 29, 2015
Luke Sullivan, in his book âHey Whippleâ, speaks of the lengths brands go to differentiate themselves. The book narrates the story of the category called Breakfast Cereals. Brand one is the leader in breakfast cereals, to differentiate itself, brand two adds a bit of sugar and calls it frosted. Brand three goes a little further and makes it extra sugary, this ends when finally a brand just has only sugar and no cereal, we call it sugar bomb. Cereal to sugar bomb is one continuum that rules the world of brands in many ways. Look around, there are many sugar bombs that can be seen. One kind of sugar bomb is the innovation that a brand communicates, purely cosmetic and heightened by the clever advertising; the other, delivered through a meaningless advertising device that makes little sense in the overall scheme of things.
The product innovation kind comes from the Panasonic Eluga TVC.Â Panasonic claims to have redefined the entire usage experience of the cellphone. Now you donât have to look for the âcorrectâ side, the phone works with any side as the display adapts to the side you pick it up from. Now, I never knew that figuring the right side of the call was such a big issue. Will this lead to people leaving the choices they had and rush to buy Panasonic? Would be fun to watch.
The second kind of sugar bomb comes from creative devices that ads use to make a point, which to start with may not be such a major point. Take Tata Teaâs latest commercial, which builds on small and big leaf mixture for that perfect cup of tea. The ad actually has a fairly progressive theme. Two daughters in the family, the elder one has come home, the younger one lives at home, itâs time for the father to enjoy the company of both his daughters and sink in the good taste of tea, till the mother pipes up and pours cold water over all the festivities. To the amazement of the father, she says that the taste of tea has nothing to do with both daughters at home, but to do it with the mixture of tea leaves, it even has a product window to show this. From being an absolute joy, the ad sinks to morass from where it is difficult to dig it out. Pure sugar bomb moment because the brand had to make big story about some curl and cut of tea.
Take Faasos, for example, itâs a new concept, itâs a food delivery app, may be at the back of it itâs a restaurant that makes tasty food. It answers one question â #aajkhanemainkyahai (whatâs for food today). What could have been an engaging conversation turns into a contrived setup because the brand had to bring in the âfâ word for Faasos. Pure sugar bomb moment.
Coverfox, an online aggregator of insurance packages, has a delightful radio commercial about stray dogs chasing cars and causing accidents and how one should be prepared for any eventuality. Now, this engaging conversation takes a bizarre turn for its latest TV campaign. The whole setup is contrived, the need for insurance at that moment is forced, the product demo is force fitted. Coverfox has to convince us to buy the insurance and has to do a demo of the app, the context made to work around the need for demo. Wish they had stuck to the dog and car story, it is so much more meaningful.
If you missed the new Sintex tank commercial, you must catch it. This is the one where the family lives with a plumber because ordinary tanks always need fixing. Sometimes the brand strategy needs fixing to avoid getting into sugar bomb moments.
These are a few that I have noticed, I am sure you would have noticed more of your own, possibly this is what makes the profession of creating brand messages boring and mundane.