Sunday, November 11, 2007

Must read : how solid is your brand?

Came across this article in the BusinessWeek and I thought it was very well written. Do read this article : How Solid Is Your Brand?

And if you like the article read this related one as well : Building a Better Brand.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bad Creative Critics

Came across this one, just after finishing a meeting with the brand manager. Thought all of you will enjoy this one. :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yahoo rewamps its search logic.

Yahoo is trying to catch up with Google on lost ground related to “SEARCH”, and is using innovative methods to re-design its search logic and is calling it the biggest "consumer experience improvement" ever. The new methods will have an impact on SEO to a large extent and SEM to some extent.

Lets see if this works for them and if they are able to recover. Will review & research the impact on a regular basis and update it on this blog.

Watch this report here.

Consumer & the Brand : The break up

I thought this was a classic interpretation of the relationship (or lack of it) between the consumer and the brand. While I think it is entirely applicable to any one sided brand communication, it is also applicable to the patchy and ill-conceived 1-on-1 marketing campaigns.

Interesting that it had to come to us from Microsoft!!

Watch the video here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Here more on the BTL trend.

In a recent meeting in Hong Kong, about 10 days back, my friend and colleague Conrad Chiu, floored me with some of the charts which he shared with us, in his trademark simplistic manner. Conrad has years of experience on the Asian market not only from a BTL prespective, but he runs a hugely successful 360 offering of BatesAsia in Hong Kong. I thought it would a sensible thing to share the information in its original format with all the readers of this blog.

While it reinforced the fact that BTL spends were increasing, the interesting part was to look at the where the growth is coming from. While the source of data here was different (refer to earlier posts), the trend was unmistakable.

While the difference in the rate of growth of ATL vs BTL is a known and understood fact, I think the next two charts which indicate that the ATL growth is way below the average A&P growth rate while BTL growth rates are higher is a new and an interesting finding.

While the trend looks at spends in the US, it highlights the direction in which the marcom managers in Asia will tend to move / or are moving.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007 - a peep into the Digital Wonderland

OK, the site is live now. No more videos to look at, but it's time to explore the wonderland and of course its alter ego, the real land.

The trip, will remind you of the Alice in Wonderland, but thats what we as an agency are doing. We are evolving, discovering, learning and playing in the digital space. is a unique digital adaptation of self discovery and has been inspired by the famous fable Alice in Wonderland. It is a fantasy trail that allows one to wander down the Rabbit Hole, explore the hidden facts and unravel the myths underneath. Treated through animated characters, the portal demonstrates the agency’s strong combination of creative and strategic capabilities and expertise in an unanticipated manner.

The new site, corporate identity and the logo created by in-house power idea creators. The logo is symbolic of the aggregated thoughts that transform to leverage peoples’ passion for great ideas.

While in wonderland, do remember to attend the beer party! Over to the wonderland.

Await your reactions.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Direct (esp. electronic), where is it headed?

We have all watched the changing response rates on emails for a while now, but have we reacted to what we see happening? And are we ready for what is to happen in the future in the short term?

SPAM has done a lot of damage to this reach-out method and is continuing to
take a heavy toll. Very few agencies or marketers have been proactive about permission marketing and are in fact pushing too hard on merely trying to reach out to without understanding the long term damage to the brand caused by way of un-clustered, unsolicited, unimaginative and unintelligent bombardment of mails.

The recent survey findings of eROI, yet again highlight the need of relevance of content and delivery of message as two of the most important factors effecting the edirect trade. While the survey predominantly looks at US, the Asia story is no different.

Relevance of content: The ease and low cost of this reach out technology does not warrant a barrage of email. The age old logic of communicating only when the content is hot holds true now more than ever before. The prospect needs to love what he gets, period. Linked and exclusive knowledge / white papers are a must. Don’t do it for the sake of completing a task on the marcom chart.

Also a number of passive formats could be used like a blog with an RSS or email subscriber feed to ensure people who wish to receive content, do so. You will end up creating a more loyal and interested community.

Everyone on the Db is not interested in everything you want to say. The best of Db cannot yield results if it is not used diligently. Segmentation of your installed databases to depths which might appear silly is the way forward. Segmentation restricted to designations, product purchase information, and geographies is passé. Look at interest areas, responses to previous communications by way of click thru, time spend on the communication etc. to ensure relevant communication in the future.

Need to have a “call to action” in the communication! Measure the ROI. This is not about brand awareness, this is about conversions. Do not send out a communication which does not have a measurable call to action. And do operate with a pre-decided success measurement matrix.

Delivery of content: Focus on this. Your best designed and targeted communication is of no use if it is not designed for delivery. Your email needs to be coded to deliver across various email clients. Spend time to understand and master filters. This is going to get more and more serious an issue with organizations and mail portals increasing the security levels and with sender verification system coming into fray.

To me, delivery is above everything else and will tend to separate the successful agency / marketer from the novice.

And go back in time: Go back to an exposure on printed direct mailers. Suddenly the prospect is taking the printed document very seriously. The communication stays on the table longer and gets passed around much more than the perceived cheap spam email.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What an exciting day !

Two good things have happened to us today.

The first is the much awaited FIPB clearance. The clearance has meant that we can now go ahead and complete the pending issues on the merger of 141 Worldwide and Sercon. The duration of the delay has had its heart burn, but thankfully no missed opportunities. Now with the merger suspense behind us, all of us at the agency can go ahead and concentrate on things which we like to do best – get our brands to win in the market place. Do look out for updates on

The second big development is our readiness to launch 1010, our comprehensive digital initiative. While I will do a detailed post on space we intend to occupy, our point of view, our philosophy and our approach in the next couple of days, I want to invite you for a sneak preview (and don’t tell anyone ) to our beta site.

The link for the beta version of the site is given below for your preview. However, do keep in mind that the polishing for the sheen is still on. We will officially launch 1010 on Tuesday, 4th of Sept.

Do enjoy your time in the wonderland and the real land:

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yes, I am hooked to Stumble!

I don’t seem to get enough of it and am hooked, have been speaking about it at every opportunity I get and to everyone. Do you still spend time searching for good content sites on the web? Have you never used StumbleUpon ? You must. It does not matter whether you are a casual browser, heavy user or a webmaster – there is good reason to move to stumble.

As a user you can modify the “stumbling” by your interest area and you will get highly relevant content that matches your preferences. As a site owner or webmaster, one gets substantial and steady traffic. My blog and sites have seen a steady increase in traffic from StumbleUpon and probably the best and most targeted traffic I have ever seen.

StumbleUpon, is easy to install and trust me, you will be hooked as well.

From a webmaster or site owners’ perspective reasons to take Stumble more seriously include :

New visitors; StumbleUpon traffic means tons of new visitors, visitors that are really interested in your subject / content / topic not just any visitors. Further more the visitors tend to rate your content and get more visitors on your site.

Most pages/visit: This analytics is about the level of interest that the visitors have in your content. Due to the nature of visitors, the interest levels are high and hence the page views as well. Visitors stay longer on your site.

Extremely low bounce rate; The user traffic’s bounce rate (use a tool like the Google Analytics to find out more) is the number of people who land on your page and leave instantly (maybe because they did not really want to come to your page). While this trend is very high from traffic sources like Google & Yahoo, the bounce rates from Stumble are extremely low.

International traffic; You will get subject interested visitors from across the globe. For me it has meant that I have been able to exchange my views visitors from countries in Africa & Latin America besides the normal traffic areas.

Instant traffic; Unlike long wait which you need to put in on engines like Google and Yahoo and the complexities of Page Ranks etc, Stumble gives you instant results.

So go ahead and download the tool bar, and happy stumbling. And while you are at it, give my blog a thumbs-up as well J

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Good tool for search volume data.

I am sure you have always wondered about the size of search volume of your keyword or phase on the various search engines around the world. Understanding this volume could help one in choosing the appropriate phase to ensure your blog or web page is in the reckoning and properly optimized.

There have been a number of tools which help you access these volumes like Overture , however, this tool by WORDFINDER is excellent as it aggregates the results across various search engines.

While it is driven off the Overture keyword suggestion tool, it aggregates monthly regional monthly regional search volumes by market for Google, Yahoo!, MSN and ASK and then links the search volumes to the related global search results.

The tool currently assumes Google having 60.9% of the search traffic where Yahoo! having 22.3%, MSN 10.6% and ASK 4.3% of the entire search volume. Stats are based on a 2006 Hitwise survey.

Depending on your topic and your geographic location the search engines may have vastly different search volumes. The tool can only possibly offer approximations. It is sad that the geographies covered by the tool are limited.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Another viral campaign - with a brand association.

Here’s another example of a interesting viral campaign, Staedtler (the writing instruments maker) wants more and more people to write snail mail letters (or just write – instead of keying it all in), so much so they agreed to send 10,000 physical letters to users who submit their details on the Take Note site. You can even sign up to receive a letter from a stranger. Can’t recall when was the last time I received or send a hand written letter (as would be the case with most other folks) so this should be interesting for most people, especially the younger TG, who have probably never received a hand written letter.

While I really enjoyed the humor in the notes (good copy writers within the agency, I guess), I wonder why not extend the proposition to make this a worldwide property, Staedtler is afterall a worldwide brand. My view is that an international campaign would have increased the viral potential multifold.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Try this & record time you spend on it.

Another sticky place to hang around and spend time on the web is Net Disaster, much on the lines of putting things you always wanted to in the microwave”. However, unlike the fun with microwave, this does not lead on to a specific product line. What is also interesting that it allows one to embed the app on any site and the relevance created by using the textual context of the webpage. No wonder 72 million trials have been generated on this so far.

In order to try and understand, record your own time using this and also the viral which it generates.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

As attendance levels drop, the opportunities don’t need to.

Every B2b brand owner and every agency is worried about the increasingly larger numbers of “dropout” audiences at their business / lead generating events. On the surface the concern seems serious; the brand spends a lot of time (and monies) targeting, reaching out and securing registrations from its potential customers, channel partners and more. It then spends monies in staging an event, where-in, the dreaded attrition sets in.

Agencies and B2b brand owners are now battling a 50-60% attrition at most business cities across Asia and the reasons are multiple ranging from the prospect receiving too many invitations to attend forums (and getting pursued too hard by the agencies), to not enough content in the forum and also to deadlines at work back at the office.

So as the attrition percentage increases, is this the beginning of the end of the business events?

Far from it! But it is the beginning of the need to attract and retain attention. It is not enough to host an event in a fancy hotel with an excellent F&B spread – the serious prospect does not dig it anymore. The ability of these events to generate good ROI is increasingly reducing.

Content is king. It is better to host fewer but more powerful forums. While the logic is simple, very few seem to get it. Delegates complain to having to spend time on a subject which deserves nothing more than a white paper. Brand owner’s need to go easy on blatantly & naked lead generation oriented sales pitches at events.

However, attrition is the part of the game and hence the logical thing to do is to ensure that you have a plan to address the “drop-outs”. The plan has to integral to the overall plan to host the event. The techniques of addressing the drop-outs are plenty but thy need to be an integral part of the campaign.

Some of the more efficient tactics include a CRM program which is designed to address the drop outs, by way of access to whitepapers, presentations, courseware and methods of communicating to presenters like a well moderated discussion forum. Access to a delayed web-cast of the forum is another great way to reach the delegates who are interested, but are unable to attend the physical event. The analytics linked to the web-cast allows an excellent filtering mechanism to zero down on the interested potential customers. Review a good example of a web-cast here.

The law of percentages and a 50% attrition level; ensures that a well crafted and an integrated campaign to address the “drop-outs” will increase the ROI by 100% from its current levels. Don’t fret attrition, learn to ride it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Shatter the classic servicing dilemma.

Over the years and through hundreds of client meetings we have observed the various issues which are of great criticality for the client, and his / her key expectations from the agency and have tried plotting them together to unearth an interesting trend – there are only 3 expectations which a client has from his agency. (esp his marketing services agency)

Of a lot of expectations which a client might discuss (which he believes he has from his agency) when giving a brief, they all boil down to the three most critical once:

1. Need to make the concept / idea “Bigger” and “Better” than what has been done in the past.
2. Need to do the same at “lower” or “effective” costs.
3. Need to have the proposal/ideas/concept/solution at the “earliest”.

Think it thru’ – Is there ever a 4th major issue ?

This is where the dilemma begins; (A state of things in which obstacles present themselves from every side, and is difficult to determine what course to pursue, a vexatious alternative or predicament; a difficult choice or position.)

However, like the corners of a triangle which cannot meet, this dilemma cannot be resolved by regular procedures.

Tell the client he does not have the privilege of 3 options but of 2 - any two, in order for him to resolve the dilemma and for the agency to give him a solution which meets the objectives.

He can choose:

Option 1: Better & Faster but not Cheaper
If the solution has to be great and it needs to be turned around in a short time, it will need a lot of energy and hence it cannot be cheap to provide that service. This solution would be expensive.

Option 2: Better & Cheaper but not Faster
If the clients wants a solution which is great but has major budget problems and also want it to be cheap, then a solution could be presented but the same would take time to conceptualize.

Option 3: Faster & Cheaper but not Better
If the client is in a hurry to implement a solution and wants it cheap then the solution cannot be great.

Use the simple triangle, to help resolve the issue for yourselves, the client and the agency. When you are able to BUST this dilemma and clarify the position to the client you will have the ease of communicating the requirements internally and present to the client the solution which he or she is really looking for.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Keeps the viewer engaged beyond 30 secs, at least.

The Kraft Food Holdings Inc’s online campaign for Easy Mac is interesting, though short of brilliant. The Easy Mac Micro Maniac keeps one engaged & interested for a while. Everybody has had an urge to “microwave” stuff which should not be ideally put in the microwave. The anticipation of results and the expected explosion keep you wanting to try different things. Try putting the eggs in the microwave !!

I believe it could have been more interactive and fun, if the list of what could be “microwaved” was user-defined, and went a little beyond the current list. Other sections are interesting but too “commercial”.

View the site here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

RIP ~ ATL (well almost)

We have been discussing & reading about research which indicates drop in the ATL spends while there is corresponding increase in the BTL (including online) spends by one industry vertical after another. However, the recent research article based on the survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK – the "Marketing Trends Survey," conducted by Ipsos MORI, kind of made me sit up and marvel at the speed at which the change is happening.

As per the survey only 15% of the marketing budget is planned to be invested into adverting, the balance is opportunities in the “btl and digital” domains:
deep dive into the article here:

However, going a little back in time, the trend was eminent (the scale and speed are stunning) and inline with a different research undertaken by IDC in the US years back, which was focused on the major IT industry spenders, which very clearly indicated an intention to drop spends on both org. personnel and the $ spends on ATL (as much as 20%) while moving larger allocations to Direct. This was 3 years back.

Also very clear where the areas of focus for most marketing decision makers / spenders. They were obviously gunning for tools which had worked and showed the higher returns on
marketing dollars as against the traditional media. This was more so in verticals where the marketing spends were predominantly focused on a B2b or B2 “a well defined C” formats. Lead generation and digital were the areas to place bets on! (refer below) In a way what was projected as “possibilities” in 2003 are turning to realities in 2007.

However, I think the trend has never been questioned in the last decade or so (other than by a few die hard ATL fans). It is also very obvious from the investments being made by media holding companies: they are without doubt investing into marketing services and digital. That’s where the growths are.

The fact that BTL (read promo) outweighs ATL, was established in markets like the US as way back as 03. Well documented in the PMA and Promo study. Below is the image from the study presentation which had shaken all of us then, where-in it was 1st established that Promo spends are higher than ATL in the US.

While the facts and figures are beyond doubt, and the trend is moving eastwards, the reasons for the change in scenario is simple – better and defined ROI, period.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why Wfactor works so well.

BUZZ works…period.
The trick is how to create the BUZZ around a product or service.

As an agency we started marketing into social networks some years back and developed a nation-wide network of housewives which give us permission to market/ place/ integrate the brands within their social networking times. The tryvertising leads to amazing results, both from the perspective of creating a buzz to also creating retail footfalls.
While the activation is predominantly focused on brands where-in the decision makers are predominantly women – the categories can be endless, ranging from the obvious once like f & b products, household products, women specific product to newer domains like families health care and insurance. The lady of the house influences buying decisions, esp. if she is passionate about a specific brand.
The format allows long encounters with the brand… as against a 30 sec TV spot. There is reason to try the product and experience it in the right ambience, discuss its qualities and benefits, ensure peer endorsement and approval. The group is also very vocal and is willing to share usage patterns, competition product reviews and your own product reviews (so much for vanilla packaged focused group research )
Product placement at the retail front and a clever use of redemption schemes normally ensure extended retail involvement and off-takes. Strategically brands can ensure “no white areas” in the premium geographies and all this while having an ability/option of staying far away from the expensive mass media techniques.
Due to the intensity of the interaction, the consumer not only becomes a buyer, but becomes a brand ambassador, creating the ripple effect within peer groups.

While on a different format P&G had enlisted 225,000 teenagers to tell their friends about brands like Herbal Essences and Old Spice. Last year, figuring the strategy could be just as effective with adults, P&G signed up 500,000 volunteers, all mothers, for Vocalpoint, a program in which the moms evangelize about pet food, paper towels and hair color. P&G gives the women marketing materials and coupons, but they are free to say whatever they like (or nothing at all) about the products. The so-called agents are provided with information about the clients' products and in return give detailed feedback about the conversations they have. Read more about this at,9171,1609809,00.html

Monday, June 18, 2007

The interactive freedom.

What really makes this site stand out is that it goes way beyond only creating / generating a buzz. The content is interactive in the real sense of the word and will draw visitors, ensure that they try out the product – virtually and then buy. It provides an alternate (and may I say better) shopping experience.

While early adaptors of interactive content, like the Subservient Chicken, generated not only buzz, but a good amount of traffic for Burger King – my believe that a lot of “interactive content” pushed in by various brands and agencies is more to do with “me too” buzz rather than looking at an ROI from a good interactive web presence.

My belief is that success has to be found on combination of buzz (to drive traffic) and utility (to ensure ROI). Only buzz to me sounds very much like the “eyeball” game prior to the dotcom meltdown. The buzz needs to be taken over by usefulness or stickiness of the product and MY VIRTUAL MODEL achieves the same in a simple yet exciting manner. Anyone (some of my pals included) who has used this app (if I can call it that), have taken a few seconds to understand and then have stayed online, trying different brands, styles and colors and all on models which are their clones (well almost) – do you want to guess the average time that an individual can spend on this site?

Now imagine the “the long tail” of product line which can be retailed using this model – it is never going to be possible for a traditional retailer to stock the options.

This is the start of the end of brochure-sites on the web.

Excellent use of outdoor.

Innovative use of the SMS technology embedded with an outdoor campaign. The media seems to come alive and interact. Refreshing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The virtual interface

Get a Voki now!

This is further to my earlier comment on the “interactive freedom”. Here’s is an app which goes a step further. Next step, digitizing the users photograph for a real look. Do visit