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Advertisers play on sensory innovations

Take the example of Volkswagen

Viveat Susan Pinto  |  Mumbai 

Advertisers are increasingly turning to innovative advertising solutions to stand out in a cluttered environment. Consider, for instance, the case of Volkswagen. Readers of The Times of India, Hindustan Times and The Hindu were in for a surprise on Tuesday: when they opened their newspapers in the morning — the newspapers vibrated.

Advertising agency DDB Mudra conceptualised the Volkswagen ad and executed it in the three publications in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi and Chennai. A light-sensitive chip was placed in a special jacket in these newspapers. The moment a reader opened that particular section of the paper, the vibrator was activated.

There are a few more instances of out-of-the-box ideas by advertisers in the last few months, including biscuit maker Parle Products’ aromatic ads in The Times of India, The Hindu and Deccan Chronicle, and aromatic ads by consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever (HUL) in The Sunday Times in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.

HUL was the first to spark off this trend, launching a variant of its popular Bru coffee earlier this year. “Basically, the newspaper became a medium by which consumers were able to get the aroma of the new product — Bru Gold,” says media veteran and consultant Bharat Kapadia, who conceptualised and executed the ad for HUL. “This was never done before. There was high recall for the ad and the best part was people remembered the fragrance, which was the key objective,” he says.

In June, Kapadia executed something similar for Parle Products as well — for a coffee-flavoured variant of the Hide & Seek brand of biscuits. Shalin Desai, group product manager, Parle Products, says, “The idea was to get consumers to take note of the new product. This was an interesting way of increasing memorability and awareness. People actually walked into nearby stores asking for the product. That was interesting.”

Amid surfeit information, advertising experts say out-of-the-box innovations are a blessing. Last year, Cadbury-Kraft packed copies of the Mid Day tabloid in Mumbai and Delhi in giant wrappers of its flagship chocolate Cadbury Dairy Milk. The tagline on the wrapper read, “Naye Saal Ka....Shubh Aarambh, Cadbury Dairy Milk. Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye” (A new start to the New Year with Cadbury Dairy Milk. Let’s have something sweet).

Company officials say given Cadbury Dairy Milk is positioned as a product for a new and auspicious start, the ‘New Year’ theme was appropriate. The concept of Mid Day in giant wrappers, say company officials, helped the product stand out on the first day of the year. Before that, in 2010, Volkswagen had launched its ‘talking ad’ for the new Vento. In the same year, it had, in another ad, draped The Times of India in silver jackets. Lutz Kothe, head of marketing, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Group Sales, India, says, “Innovation has been the core of our communication. Our endeavour, all along, has been to excite consumers.”

While provoking a reaction is at the heart of disruptive innovations, often, these come at a price. Volkswagen is rumoured to have spent Rs 12 crore for on Tuesday’s vibrator ad. The talking ad two years ago is said to have cost Rs 8-10 crore. While Kothe declines to get into the specifics of the ad deals, Desai of Parle admits no innovation comes cheap. “Yes, it does cost more. But the results are equally dramatic. We will attempt to do more such innovations, depending on the product and what we wish to communicate,” he adds.

First Published: Wed, September 12 2012. 00:45 IST