Archive for Brand

Jack Daniels: An ode to Indian Alcohol Advertising

Alcohol advertising is banned in India. Well literally!

There is this interesting read on the ‘Tipsy Liquor Policy of India’ I came across a few months ago.

It is funny how the Government of India makes the sale and consumption of alcohol legal in India but makes advertising and promotion illegal. Hypocrisy is it? By the way the sale of liquor to mortals aged less than 25 years is anyways illegal. But a glance into the numerous pubs shows that perhaps that’s the ‘demographics’ that throngs the bar!

Now lemme do some “Freakonomics” here:

The Government makes oodles of money collecting the zillions of bucks as excise, tax, license fees (from bar owners).
The Bar/taverns/restaurants/liquor shops/soda sellers/those recycled plastic throw-able glass sellers/DJs: all make money.
The liquor companies: they perhaps make more money by spending less!
The Advertising agencies: Well, their gravity prevailing profits are leading them to be “not-for-profit organisations’
And like always the ad-execs end up getting less money!

Until, one stray instance, one brand shows us the way while I am driving on my way to a client meet:


There billboard is on the Delhi-Noida-Delhi expressway. This cheeky, ‘complete the picture’ creative leaves one gasping for more. It is the logo, nothing more, and infact it is not even the complete logo.

It is like saying “If you don’t know me, don’t drink me’… And I love it!

It is not the first time this has been done. I clearly remember the Neil French crafted Chivas Regal campaign


I would certainly like to argue that this “Interactive” in nature. Yeah, go on, get that smirk on your face. But the point is that, it certainly make me interact with a darn hoarding.


For me and others who know Jack Daniels: Well, this caught my attention, my pea-sized brain made me consume the information and process it to say ‘wow’ to myself and gain greater conviction, respect, build stronger bonds with ‘Jack Daniels, the brand’.

While others are using surrogates like sodas, music, events, parties, one brand decided to stick it’s neck out.

It didn’t tell you that alcohol is cool, it didn’t tell you that listening to music, partying or ‘anything lifestylish’ but pure unadulterated branding. It is slow, it is drop by drop, much like the Tennessee Whiskey.
Cheers to Jack Daniels. Cheers to the Alcohol Advertising in India.

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Brand Apple: Is love really blind?

I love Apple. I love Steve Jobs. I love their advertising. I love their arrogance. I love their products. Infact the love stretches beyond just products. It extends into inspiration, unconditional love… ummm a religion? Saatchi & Saatchi refers to this phenomenon as Lovemarks.

Strangely, while the above is somehow far more intangible in the buying decision making process, the far more tangible aspects like ‘consumer reviews’ fail to soften the purchase motivations.

Recently, while surfing Apple’s online catalog, I read some fairly negative consumer feedback about the Apple Mighty Mouse.

Suddenly, I took notice, but I didn’t defer my purchase. Primarily because of the following reasons:

  • The fact that Apple had the arrogance, courage, confidence and the transparency to showcase the negative comments worked for me, and somehow fit the current brand image in my mind
  • the Lovemark,
  • And lastly the amazing product that Mighty Mouse is in the first place.

Whats leaves me gasping for answers is whether all the consumer mass that is enamoured by a brand ready to ignore the user feedback and go on to pay a premium for products (read brands)? If it does, then whole a lot of things work – Super Bowl (1984 Think Different Ad) as media (remember, White Colour, Fruit-led brand names, and some great advertising.

Apple Store Reviews by Customers

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Friendly brands on the internet? Here’s how!

Today I noticed this friendly greeting from wordpress as soon as I logged on.

Howdy Mohak

This single word greeting “howdy”, said so much about what wordpress was, what it stood for, and the overall brand personality.

I started to think on how this is relevant. While this is a greeting and that too somewhat basic, the relevance is hightened in the context of errors and server malfunctions!

See, errors on the internet sometimes totally outrage you. Errors could range from a 404-Page not found error to a scripting error.

How about error and other messages to communicate to build a personality, a connect with the audience?

It is really very simple. Multiple web services, new age applications are doing so. The error messages, talkback messages are not only human, they are sometimes kinda cheekish and witty. They go beyond the message and get on with communicating with the user on a one on one basis. Perhaps, part of a larger user-experience strategy.

In the last couple of months I have been noticing some very “friendly error messages”. Messages which could perhaps reduce the outrage (if not bring a smile). Obviously, the leaders and the more lateral of the websites are doing so.

Such little efforts surprise the user and build on a personality almost immediately. Time will tell whether they help to gain brand preference, leadership or competitive advantage.

Some of the best friendly messages I have encountered (not limited to errors) :

  1. Orkut (server unreachable, unable to scrap): “Bad, bad server. No donut for you
    We’re sorry, but the server has acted out in an unexpected way.
    Hopefully it will return to its usual helpful self if you give it another chance.
    We apologize for the inconvenience and our server’s lack of consideration for others.”
  2. WordPress (welcome page on the top bar): “howdy user” (with user being replaced with the logged in user’s name)
  3. WordPress (when a blog is unreachable): Confessions Of A Server
    OH MY! Life is so unfair! What did I do wrong to be born a server in this day and age? I could have been a nice simple bicycle that people happily rode around on all day. But no, I’m stuck inside this metal case serving web pages instead. I never even see the light of day and all I can hear is the rush of the air-conditioning!
    Well, no more! I’m relaxing here with a cup of tea and a biscuit until someone shows me some love and attention.It never takes them long to fix me when I kick up a fuss so check back in a few minutes and I’ll be chugging along merrily again.!Signed,
    The web server
    ( – where even the machines have life!)
  4. Gmail (when you have no spam): “Hooray, no spam here!”
  5. Gmail: Who needs to delete when you have over 2000 MB of storage?!
  6. Marketing profs (when they sent out multiple emails): “Ooops we goofed up”

With people spending so much time on their PCs and on the Internet, it is time we got friendly! Not to mention, the brand personality of the website can appeal in the long run, technology is replicable!

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If advertising moves you, get a Mac!

It is 2:40AM, and I found the new Apple Mac advertising on the technology portal – CNET so engaging that I had to post this…

Apple has done it yet again. From being innovative in its advertising (think different anyone?), now they have exaggerated a product benefit (unknown to many), which by way of the execution seems like a very robust proposition.

To my mind, advertising has to be entertaining; the message has to be on the sly. This works two ways, the message gets across, and ads stop becoming what they are for normal consumers – obtrusive. There is nothing like making an ad that forces lesser mortals like me to wake up, sit up, take notice and post at 2:45AM!

Without further adieu.
My first 5 minute post. Good night.

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Brand Experience in Tele Sales, Customer Care, CRM?

We keep talking about brand experience, brand extensions, brand positionings, brand this, brand that…

But what do we do when everything is going right, well just about perfect, until my phone rings… 

Today I got a call from Hutch (a leading mobile telephony provider in India). Well, I know this is not a huge milestone in my two and a half decades of existence, anyways…

Hutch Brand Personality(sorry aaker/kapferer for the crudely defined personality): Young, innovative, reliable, friendly, PINK, sexier (than the largest mobile service company Airtel), and does some brilliant advertising…

But then I was in for a surprise….

Coming back to me and my phoney friend (the Hutch telesales executive)… Read the full tele-sales-script…. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Total Recall 2006’ by Dell… India Inc listening?

Recently, there was a huge crisis in the Dell Headquarters. Well, a couple of Dell Notebooks saw their batteries blowing up and bursting into flames…

Now while most organisations will try and shove blame on their partners (SONY is the battery manufacturer in this case), Dell took a bold stand and recalled the batteries. They set up in a fortnight and shipped out some batteries within days of the incident.. well reportedly incidents!!

This led me to question whether an Indian manufacturer would ever gather the courage to so… I think Indians keep grappling with the idea of how to shroud the problems and hide them….

A recent example in the Indian context has been Pepsi. The colas (Pepsi and Coke) were grappling with the pesticide controversy nationwide…

Pepsi went on to use PespsiCo India Chief Ravi Bakshi in a tactical filme aimed at reducing the ‘harmful effects of pesticides’ 🙂 Check out the story board:

According to me, if the film would have been less of a productionised effort, it could have worked for me… Currently the labs are sparkling white, the young guy on the bench meeting Rajiv Bakshi is a very forced situation…

On the brighter side, this seems to be a leaps ahead of PR Spokespersonnel from Indian Companies vehemently denying all allegations!

Also, this is seemingly not a fit with ‘Pepsi the Brand’… It is somewhat aggressive (versus Coca Cola), much younger (than Coca Cola) and far more vibrant… This film is submissive, flat (unlike most colas), and defensive…

Will it work? Well, time should be the best pesticide test.

Interestingly, the American Society for Quality has a page on the website that showcases how India doesn’t have a quality regulator.

Do write in if you know of any product recalls in India… Cheers…

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