Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ideas that went viral and how!

Viral marketing, viral advertising or more pertinently the surprise of a 'million hits on facebook/youtube' basically refers to a creative output that spreads like wild fire and reaches millions of us in a very short period of time.

A creative output that encourages a certain set of the society having high social networking potential to share it.

A creative output that convinces the other certain set of the society having the curiosity to view or experience it.

With Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, viral marketing has become more pronounced in our day to day lives. Recently we saw the Flash Mob video at the CST Railway station, Mumbai. Please click here to experience the video if you haven't already. It has clocked 1,745,676 views as I write this blog.

Then we have seen Sonu Nigam taking advantage of the viral "Why This Kolaveri Di" to promote his son with a very methodically edited video of his son singing Kolaveri Di. The original video has clocked 21,839,944 views, not considering the other youtube edits of the same video. Even the Sonu Nigam engineered video has garnered 2,877,936 views.

A few generations back, viral ideas travelled through word of mouth, then I remember them travelling through MMSes, now they travel by the WORD OF MOUSE !

Speaking of word of mouth, the best example of an idea going viral, outside of the virtual world, is of course 'Harry Potter'. This series of books written by Ms. J. K. Rowling has been translated into 65 languages and has sold more than 325 million copies in more than 200 territories around the world. The Harry Potter films produced by Warner Bros. Pictures have grossed $3.5 billion worldwide at the box office.

MMSes as a medium for spreading virals also attained huge eyeballs and gossip. Stories of two bollywood movies - DevD and LSD were based on the phenomena.

Do you remember the Ashmit Patel - Ria Sen MMS clip? It has again re-surfaced on youtube and is gaining popularity. You guys have to hunt for the link yourself on this. You can click here to hear an interesting news on it though... Hai Rabba, Ashmit! kuch to sharam karo..!

MMS virals were more of pornographic content, probably because MMS travelled from peer to peer and the mobile device is extremely personal. It was like how many men read a classic novel before going to bed alone!

Whatever said and done, pornography has limited scope in the society. MMS was soon bowled over by the social networking websites. Today is the generation of Youtube and FaceBook. And here comes the word of Mouse!
Some of the interesting epidemic that the mouse had spread:
  1. Charlie bit my finger - again ! (395,738,061 views)
  2. David After Dentist (103,648,602 views)
  3. Talented Fat kid Dancing to Dhinka Chika (1,541,922 views)
  4. A blog that has received over 2700 comments and over 1 million page-views - An open letter to a Delhi boy written by an amateur cum 'celebrity-now' blogger Shahana Nair Joshi
Going by these phenomena, it is obvious that the dream of every brand manager is to have at least one viral campaign in their careers. The biggest question still remains, how to create a viral campaign?

There are quite a few brand campaigns that have gone viral on youtube. Click on this line to sample a few.

The new Nokia Lumia - The Amazing Everyday video is going viral as we speak. It has clocked over a million page views already. 1,034,928 views to be precise. It has surpassed Samsung's "The Next Big Thing" Galaxy S II Commercial. Going by this, can I pressume that Microsoft has finally arrived into the mobile OS market? Perhaps, yes. Perhaps, no.

There is also hope for the old popular commercials to go viral today. If the brand has the ethos intact, why not re-popularise the old commercials.. The 1984 Apple Macintosh commercial is a case in point. It has received many millions of views. One of the many youtube uploads of the video has garnered 8,797,112 page views.

This world of viral marketing is the new challenge for every creative mind in the advertising and marketing industry. There are no easy answers or theory, just like there is no theory behind why Lady Gaga has the maximum number of followers on Twitter, followed by Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian (can you believe this?) and Britney Spears.... I cant name the line-up. It is gross. But it is a fact. Is beauty really skin-deep?

Honestly, designing a viral campaign would mean the final stamp on knowing not only consumer behaviour well, but also a generation to its bone marrow.

Till the time I can't create, Let me just spread.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Indigo Airlines - Intelligent Branding

Just boarded my flight back to Mumbai after a wonderful evening at MICA, Ahmedabad. In my mind, I am thanking the MICA team for booking the tickets with Indigo Airlines.

Indigo never fails to surprise me with their brilliance. The crew, the hostesses, their marketing ideas, the in-flight announcements, their time adherence, their customer service... the list is endless. They know their business well.

No surprises that they are the most profitable airlines in a time when kingfisher has become pawnfisher with no money to pay for fuel.

So how Indigo pleased me this time...
  1. Quite obviously, the hostesses were looking better than ever. They were wearing a hat that we normally see on international flights. And very pleasantly, they had the same stylish haircuts!  
  2. Most interestingly, they were wearing a cute badge on their left sleeves saying 'I am going international'. What a great communication idea to talk to existing customers! It could have said 'We are going international'. Most marketeers would have written it that way. But there is a reason why Indigo is also the best employer in the transportation industry. The 'I' factor will make every hostess will feel proud of the message and own the message which will positively affect their service standards.
  3. Have you ever seen Sandwiches photographed like this? A top cross-section view. The in-flight 
      Inflight Magazine of Indigo
    mag is top class and no-nonsense. 1 page each for veg and non-veg food, two pages for snacks, two pages for munchies, one page for juices/drinks, two pages for full page ads clubbed together, 4/5 pages on Indigo merchandise, and 3 pages about Indigo. Interestingly they talk about various awards inside a simple trophy mnemonic in the merchandise pages in an unobtrusive way.
  4. I was delighted to hear 'please do not forget to save your work that you might have done on your laptop before switching it off'. How do they arrive at such great ideas when every other airlines are simply being so usual and normal? 
Thank you Indigo for a great flight. We have just landed in Mumbai. I will surely show my gratitude by traveling with Indigo every time.

All the best.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

To be in the advertising business...

It was 2004 when I had decided to leave the advertising industry with a strange depressing feeling in the gut. It was yesterday that I was thinking about that day while I chanced upon this blog on Campaign India by Babita Baruah.

It was aptly titled "Where have all the Young Men (and Women) Gone?" It was a summary of the current perceptions doing the rounds on the account management role and of the fact that the young minds are looking elsewhere for jobs.

If we decide to take the summary seriously, then we have to try to understand the causes that have led to this situation. We have to quickly put some structural changes in place so that the industry again starts attracting Account Management talent.

Are we clear about the role of Account Management? Are the young minds clear of the expectations from the the role of Account Management Executive? Is there a need to change the role itself or just changing the perceptions surrounding it, is sufficient?

I consider it a big tragedy that the other more popular name given to an Account Management executive is 'Client Servicing Executive'. Who would know it better than the advertising industry that perception is the name of the game. But we decided to not care. We decided to be myopic.... I remember fighting with my seniors to not have 'Executive - Client Servicing' on my Visiting Card. It was such a non-issue for them.

In Advertising Industry parlance, an 'Account' means a client and hence 'Account Management' simply means managing the advertising budget of the client in the most effective and accountable way. Sounds logical and simple, but do we practice that?

A full-service agency was a farce in my times. Every department actually worked in a Silo. Worst is that we had a department-wise client servicing (CS) person for the same client. One CS for mainline creative, one CS for media planning and buying, one CS for PR, one CS for outdoors, one CS for online media... In such a structure, it is impossible for one executive or one account management team to have knowledge about all communications/advertising solutions available for the client to spend his budget. So, how would a single Account Management team be responsible for adding value to the client's business profitability, to manage the advertising budget of the client? The reality hence was obvious. Client Servicing executives became glorified peons for the clients managing day to day deadlines and other operations.

There was a time when I thought 'Was I the only one who knew 'mainline creative work, studio/production work, TAM/INTAM, media planning, online media, PR, Outdoors...?' If not all, an account management guy should understand the nitty-gritties of media planning and mainline creative work. However the strategy was planned otherwise. The big 'stupid' bosses decided to split media and creative as two different business units. It reduced agency remuneration from 15% to 5% and even lesser. And it made account management function irrelevant.

Apart from money, we work for a sense of fulfillment, respect and appreciation. Lets club these needs into one word - Recognition. To get recognition, we need to add tangible economic value to business. How can an account management executive add economic value to the client's business in a compelling way, which would deserve a respectable remuneration/return from the client? A copy writer writes creative copy. An Art Director makes the layout with brand colours. What does an Account Management Executive do? 

Simple. An account management executive designs and executes 'Communication Strategies'. A marketing team expects a strategy covering TV/Print media, Outdoor, Online/New Media, PR and Below the line activities. It is not necessary that an account management executive needs to be an expert in every media, however he needs to be a generalist. He needs to be a business analyst from the communications point of view.

Once the clients see such value, the revenue model can be worked out. If McKinseys of the world can demand crazy loads of money, so can full service advertising agencies.

With the revenue model of the advertising industry becoming lucrative, the industry would be able to attract talents from IIMs and other top end institutes. 

Then there will again come a time when the ad execs will smoke a cigar...