With the government imposing a ban on direct, indirect and surrogate advertising of tobacco and alcohol products in India, such brands have found innovative ways to build visibility. The latest being Pernod Ricard’s blended whisky brand Seagram’s Imperial Blue which has launched a 90-minute film named after the brand’s tagline ‘Men Will Be Men’. Marketing experts say this is a logical extension for Imperial Blue which has earlier used music CDs as a way to promote the brand. In the past, alcohol brands have also used product extensions like events, water, soda, fruit juice, apparels and even airlines to increase recall.
The film is a slice of life story about four “young adult males” who are the target audience for the brand. The film made in a week will feature popular television actors like Rajesh Kumar, Gaurav Chopra, Rohit Khurana, Rahil Tandon and Zeenal Kamdar. The movie, released nationally, will play across 33 PVR theatres across India. In towns where PVR doesn’t have a presence, it will play in smaller theatres.
Leo Burnett executive creative director Sainath Saraban, says using the brand’s tagline to make a movie is a clever idea. Unlike television advertising, there is no restriction of showing alcohol ads in cinema. However, he cautions that if the movie doesn’t score with consumers it may have a negative impact on the brand. Saraban draws a parallel between Men Will Be Men and HUL’s efforts some years back in the tea category with its ‘three roses’ brand. That movie turned out to be a dud and did nothing to improve the image of the brand.
Bates 141 Regional Planning Director Dheeraj Sinha says in a category where there is so much restriction, brands have to constantly look at newer ways to reach out to consumers and the movie will only help in building more engaging content around the brand. Yet, Deepak Roy, executive vice-chairman & CEO, Allied Blenders & Distillers, which competes with Seagram, says the initiative will click depending on how tactfully the Imperial Blue brand is integrated into the movie.
By some estimates, the Seagram brand with its portfolio of whisky and white spirits is the number two brand in India with total sales of 20 million cases, the leader being United Spirits which sells a total 110 million units. According to Roy of Allied Blenders & Distillers, “Almost 62 per cent of India’s liquor sales of 250 million units is constituted by whisky. Brandy and rum follow suit with 15 per cent market share each while vodka and gin share the balance.”
One of the fastest-growing brands in the deluxe whisky segment, Seagram’s Imperial Blue, a blend of Indian grain spirits and imported scotch malts, has created a dedicated fan following for itself right from launch. The packaging of the brand redefined packaging in the regular segment (up to Rs 300 a bottle). Roy adds innovative communication has also helped it gain share from competitors like United Spirits Bagpiper, one of the oldest in the category.