Uproar and triumph in the world of brands



2021 is the second year of the global pandemic. Many of us have relied on nostalgia for comfort, re-sharing memories of the past on social media. Like us, brands also looked back and the ads evoked the times of yesteryear. For example, Cadbury and Ogilvy stepped out of the park when they brought back an iconic ’90s ad with a gender swap. This time it was women’s cricket, a man in the stands praying for her to get the ball out of the ground, and the nostalgic jingle Kuch Khaas Hai play in the background.

Likewise, Swiggy and Lowe Lintas did parody ads, told in flashback, to launch the food delivery platform’s Instamart. He pulled references from “Wah Taj! From Taj Mahal Tea. advertisement featuring tabla maestro Zakir Hussain and advertisement for Liril soap with a young woman bathing under a waterfall. Even fitness platform Cult.fit released a humorous ad recreating the climax bull run from the movie. Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara for its promotional campaign, “fitness is not an option”. “These advertisements have nothing to do with Covid-19, hygiene, or what is going on around us, it is an escape from nostalgia”, explains Renuka Kamath, professor of marketing, SPJIMR.

Despite the triumph and uproar of some brands during the year, the general feeling of the ad was muted, said Ambi Parameswaran, brand coach / CEO. “The problem is not demand, it is supply, in all industries. All companies have had supply chain issues. In the FMCG sector in particular, middle-income and lower-middle-income consumers fear switching from high-end to budget-friendly products, ”he said.


Whether brands should take a social stance or not has been a big part of the discussion online this year. From Fabindia’s “Jashn-E-Riwaaz” to Tanishq’s “Ekatvam”, to Manyavar’s “Kanyamaan”, to JBL cracker headphones, to Dabur’s performance of a same-sex couple celebrating. Karwa chauth; many brands have been embroiled in unexpected controversies. “At the end of the day, advertising isn’t about making changes, it’s about selling a product,” says Jermina Menon, founder of boutique marketing and strategy consultancy, Knowetic.

If brands had conviction in their message, then even though the social media crusaders were loud, it shouldn’t have shaken the loyalty buyers felt to the brand. “Most of the time, brands find a purpose in defending a social cause. While there is nothing wrong with it, they should be aware of the risks first, otherwise it is a foolish decision. If they took the risk, then backed down because of a controversy, then it’s sad, ”adds Menon.

On the other hand, Vigyan Verma, founder of the brand consultancy firm The Bottom Line, wonders if such ads would be the subject of discussion if the controversy did not exist. “It is important to ask if there is an intrinsic appeal in brands or if it is a controversy? I don’t believe in “some publicity is better than no publicity.” The context of the association is important because it can help with short-term marketing measures, but harm the brand in the long term, ”he says.

But there were brands like Fortune Oil that were put in place but came out unscathed.

When cricketer Sourav Ganguly suffered a heart attack, many dragged Fortune Oil for its heart-healthy brand positioning. But, the company has remained loyal to Ganguly and used the opportunity to educate its audience, which has served the brand better. As Parameswaran puts it, “Fortune Oil took it in its stride and said: If it can happen to Ganguly, it can happen to you, so be careful. A negative reaction to an ad is expected, but brands need to decide whether they want to engage and fight back or remain silent and ignore depending on the issue.

Parameswaran mentions a foreign advertisement from fitness equipment company Peloton, which made a statement by turning negative responses and plummeting stock prices into a positive buzz with a timely humorous advertisement. The company paid the price for an unfortunate product placement in And just like that, the HBO Max sequel series at Sex and the city, where one of the main characters collapses after a Peloton training session. As a quick response, Peloton posted an ad featuring the same actor with a hilarious statement that he is well and truly alive, unlike the fictional character, and ends with actor Ryan Reynolds’ narration of the blessings. of cycling for health, which has gone viral. media sensation.

Competitive advertising

The year started off with a bang with the soap war. Sebamed’s bold ad, which received mixed responses, compared the pH of Lux soap to that of Rin dish soap. While it has garnered attention, Knowetic’s Menon says the best approach to building a brand is to highlight your strengths rather than the competitor’s weaknesses.

“Customers sympathize with your competition for putting them down. I don’t think going after the competition is a good idea too because it’s like telling customers that they made the wrong choice, and customers don’t like being told they’ve gone. deceived, ”she adds.

When it comes to digital, as Adidas admitted in 2019, brands are overinvesting. “A lot of brands are starting to admit they don’t know what their digital budget is getting them into. The return on investment is not clear, ”says Kamath of SPJIMR. With a shorter shelf life for advertisements, the message can get lost, Parameswaran warns. “We did an ad before, and it lasted two years. With TV commercials, the shelf life has gone down to six months, and now it’s down to one or two months with digital and social. Despite the many advertising campaigns going on, if you don’t focus on what your brand stands for, the customer value proposition and how to stay consistent with that, you are going to send confusing messages to the consumer, ”adds he does.

Some brands that got the right message and got rid of the clutter were CRED, The Whole Truth (TWT), and Amazon Prime’s ad for Sherni. CRED’s unconventional storytelling appealed to the irreverent sensibilities and meme-magnet of digital natives, millennials, and Gen Z and TWT’s brand philosophy is even reflected in its ad campaigns.

The brand launched a first round of explanatory ads to dispel myths about food marketing helping consumers live healthier lifestyles. Now, the latest campaign invites honest social media influencers to promote the TWT products they actually use and love, instead of blindly offering products to their consumers without trying them for themselves. Sherni is a prime example of how brands have used consumers’ feelings in innovative ways to market themselves. The title song featured performing women from different fields – from a nurse to a hula hoop performer. The campaign not only struck a chord with viewers, it also entertained them.

“I thought the ad was extremely innovative and of course the feminist in me loved the way women’s empowerment was presented in a very different and strong way, and argued that we are all shernis our way, ”says Menon.



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