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Thrills, spills & opportunities

V Sridhar 

Two theatres of high-voltage drama that currently grip the nation are politics and cricket. And both make strong cases on how opportunity lies waiting for marketers to explore.

Take the second season of IPL, for example. The format has given the game a fresh lease of life. With Australian domination broken and with a mixed bag of talent and unpredictability, IPL is truly the Superbowl for cricketing nations. For brands, it translates into a sharp month-long window to dominate consumer mind space. A few brands capitalised on this opportunity in ways smarter than others.

Vodafone did away with the conventional approach of repeating the same commercial to the point of consumer fatigue. Instead, it created Zoozoos, special characters that convey Vodafone’s value-added services in a series of 25 commercials, one realised per day of the IPL. The campaign speaks of sure-fire success in sustaining and constantly refreshing the brand throughout the tournament.

A diagonally opposed strategy that met with equal success is Bajaj Auto’s DTSi commercial. What took over a year to produce and a renowned international talent, Tarsem Singh, to direct, plays just over a minute every match and yet has generated a huge buzz. Finally, Godrej, which has grappled with imbibing a technology-friendly exterior in the past, managed to change the tide with the aerospace lab teaser. The flawless design execution helps build credibility for Godrej’s new age capabilities. Clearly, the canvas of IPL has given brands scope to explore greater ambitions and have them realised in the span of a month.

While the Indian advertising industry went places, and new benchmarks for political campaigns were set by Obama in the US, our netas failed to capitalise with effective communication campaigns. BJP’s single-minded focus of projecting Advani as the ideal Prime Ministerial candidate for a decisive government is the right strategy. But it failed to establish a connect with the masses.

Advani went online to appeal to a younger demographic. But a simple test on his Youtube shows that the 3,000 hits on his video lags behind the golden number of 300,000 any viral should hit within 48 hours to be a success. The Congress’ platform, (Congress ke saath aam aadmi ke badhte kadam, Har kadam par Bharat buland) lacked sharp strategic definition and was indulgent and nostalgic of the glory days of the past successful campaigns. With 40 per cent first-time voters and a growing base of young leaders, the Congress needed to recognise the impact of youth, urban and rural, on democracy.

Where political parties and netas missed an opportunity, brands were able to establish a strong connect. Tata Tea’s Jaago Re campaign was a committed effort to discouraging voter indifference . The campaign got around 600,000 voters to register through its popular website. This, combined with Idea Cellular’s campaign that demonstrates power of collective decision making, contributed more to the democratic fervour than most political campaigns.

IPL and the run-up to Elections 09 clearly prove that there isn’t a dearth of opportunity, but the approach to capitalising on them makes all the difference.

(The author is National Creative Director, Leo Burnett)

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First Published: Mon, May 04 2009. 00:48 IST