Big Brands – Bigger Purpose


 

Commitment to quality and values

The above statement isn’t a mere vision statement that companies put on their walls but a mark of authority that is etched into brands like Tata and Aditya Birla Group and forms the core of each of their endeavors. Both these groups have been a beacon of trust for years and have set standards for everyone else to follow. They are the fulcrum and the inspiration on which New India has been built. Today we’re going to take a look at one dimension of the brands to try and decode why they are what they are.

Like all other practices, Tata Group’s communication also puts ‘people’ at the heart of it. Long time back when Tata came out with the corporate campaign for Tata Steel, it connected with people on a socially relevant basis without taking away the relevance of its brand. Tata Chemicals’ ‘Desh Ka Namak’ campaign for Tata Salt was based on bringing back values like honesty that have been long forgotten in our country. Over the last two decades, Tata Salt has lived up to its claim of being ‘Desh Ka Namak whether its change in behavior or business numbers’. According to Nielsen Retail Audit, March 2011, each month more than 50,000 metric tonnes of Tata Salt is sold through over 12 lakh retail outlets reaching 50 million households across the country.

Perhaps one of the most defining campaigns of the last decade was Tata Tea’s- Jaago Re. Jaago Re was a cause based initiative taken by Tata Tea in 2008 with other NGOs and non-profit organizations to create awareness on certain issues plaguing the country around elections. The aim was to awaken the nation to the fact that they tend to hold the government accountable to various mishaps and encouraged them to participate in the functioning of the country’s politics by voting. The campaign received numerous accolades and was an extremely successful campaign.  Taking the good work of Tata Tea forward, Tata Capital positioned itself on the platform of ‘Doing Right’ and putting people above oneself. The brand and its communication propagated the virtue of selflessness- projecting right values, putting people first and preaching what is right. Coming to jewelry, the recent Tanishq campaign from Tata celebrates the second marriage of a woman which has always been frowned upon by our society. It is a brave and progressive attempt by Tata which has always been the agent of change in this country and showing the way to others.

Tata’s commitment to the nation and the society for all these years without losing focus of its business has led to it being one of the most responsible, credible and transparent brands in the world. This is a message to other businesses and brands who are not consumer facing to take a leaf out of Tata’s book and make a social connect along with the business connect. There’s something in the DNA of Tata to build brands which have social commitment and respect for the same values. Apart from this, championing acts like Tata Nano to empower the middle class is really magnanimous and commendable.

Another brand which has set an example for others to follow is the Aditya Birla Group. Whether it’s their corporate campaign which in spite of its larger than life feel, yet retains a strong connect with the masses or its Birla Sun Life Yuvraj Singh campaign which aimed to inspire mass India with the personal triumphs, trials and tribulations of Yuvraj, who like a Phoenix, never accepts defeat. The biggest triumph for the group came in the form of Idea Cellular. Idea has always come up with campaigns which have been for a greater cause.

In 2007, the brand came up with a campaign ‘What an Idea Sirjee’ taking up the caste issue plaguing the society. This series included campaigns like ‘Use Mobile, Save Paper’, ‘Walk When You Talk’, ‘Education for All’, ‘Democracy’ et al. Idea took up several causes plaguing the society and provided brilliant solutions to it without the brand losing relevance.

The world is changing very fast. And in this changing world unfortunately, values are taking a backseat. Fortunately, for us there are brands like Tata and Aditya Birla Group which stand tall and firm like a lighthouse showing us light amidst a sea of doubts while guiding us towards the right port.

 

-Published in Business Standard  09th of december 2013

 

 

So what if we can not beat them in football?


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2013 is a very special year for Cannes lions as the festival completes sixty amazing years of celebrating creativity, India joined the party late but nonetheless quickly made an impact with Fevicol in late 90’s thanks to Piyush and his talented brother, Fevicol went on to become an icon for Indian creativity till Times of India and Agnello Dias took to the center stage. TOI and Agnello became synonymous with India creativity after winning a Grand Prix for Lead India same year Leo Burnett joined party with an incredible print campaign for Luxor with a record six lions including two golds. No one had ever expected India to out do that performance. With 2009 success Paddy emerged as a new star and soon teaming up with his onetime partner Agnello to launch TapRoot India.

TapRoot started playing a key role in taking Indian creativity forward, they not only had tremendous commercial success but have also been the torch bearers of Indian creativity, to draw a parallel one wondered what would happen if Piyush and his generation creatives were to retire? Well like in India cricket found the answers in Virat, Rohit, Shikhar, Raina and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. So who is in Indian Advertising after Piyush, Balki and Prasoon? My answer would be Agnello, Paddy, Kennu, Rajiv, Nitesh and Arun Iyer these boys have taken India forward while Paddy lead TapRoot charge of 6 lions Kennu/ Rajiv lead Ogilvy’s with a record 10 lions.

The fabulous India show at the sixtieth Cannes special raked in 32 lions and come close to beating Brazil in print. I am sure the generation next will take India to the top summit soon as young Brazilians creative leaders did after Marcello Serpa.

Why should we emulate Japan and not Brazil?


 

In 50’s & 60’s Indian advertising blindly carried forward or mimicked the British, 70’s saw the influence of the American advertising fueled by FMCG’s and 80’s witnessed self-discovery of Indianess with television opening new doors. And Indian creatives were also exposed to the world and somehow “Thai” advertising influenced many of us as it reflected our realities with heavy dose of emotion combined with insightful “Pandeyji” type humor. 90’s exposed us to the cutting edge competitiveness of “Awards” our English-speaking writers and art directors influenced by Neil French started to produce minimalistic crafty ads. The new millennium made us watch Brazil take the center stage with Marcello Serpa as their leader.

Brazil became a role model for Indian advertising creatives, Brazilian ads were packed with high voltage of entertainment and cleverness with impeccable craftsmanship. Brazilian creatives became superstars by winning loads of awards and admiration, and Indians wanting to emulate the formulae started to create pro-active one-off ads and in the bargain lost the originality of what we are as a race and what are were fast becoming.

If one were to introspect we as people are far more closer to Japanese than carefree Brazilians, we lack Japanese discipline agreed but we both have two things in common “Humanity and technology” a leg in the past and the other in the future. Infosys, TCS, Wipro and the inspired San Jose migrated geeks opened ambition and possibilities in the small town Indian MCA’s minds. Who were responsible for some of the most tech supported innovations around the world by writing and breaking codes. Sadly these geeks operating from the poverty stricken backyard garages of Vijayawada and Mysore, were not even recognized by our very own tech savvy digital wiz kids. Now imagine these code writers collaborating with creative minds like Agnello and Rajiv Rao to create life-changing ideas for eradication of illiteracy or infanticide.

Japanese creatives show us the way with Grand Prix winning “Yubari” case or this year’s Honda Motors Internavi “connecting lifelines”case. Honda’s reflex action within 20 hours of last year’s earthquake and tsunami rocking Japan put the country back on road to recovery by providing road information collected real-time via Intranavi navigational systems installed in the vehicles. They actually used the data on Google maps and visualized usable roads to public via Internet and Google maps. This is an excellent case of “Humanity and technology” coming together to solve a problem.

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This is what the future India can do with creativity and technology, to my mind it’s the technology powered with creativity has the power to change our country’s contradicting and contrasting problems. Now its in our hands where we want to aim our dum-dum bullet.

Did I say bullet train?