'People consume brands not products'Prahlad Kakar

Prahlad Kakar shares his views on advertising.
People consume brands not products: Prahlad Kakar

Over the years the tools of communication has evolved drastically. How do you think advertising has evolved with them?

Unfortunately, advertising has not evolved because content has not improved. Do bear in mind, advertising is all about story telling. You have to tell the story about the brands not about the products. Take the example of ‘Promise’ toothpaste launched by Balsara Hygiene Products.  Promise was the first toothpaste to claim clove oil in its brand, and they become unique selling proposition at that time. Although, all toothpastes have some proportion of clove oil in it but because ‘Promise’ was the first brand to claim it; hence, it worked for them. 

The value is in the brand not in the formulation. Therefore, all the advertising and marketing has to be brand oriented. Build stories and give human characteristics to it.

To prove my point I will share with you a survey that we did years back.  In this survey we had served people two - three samples of soft drink without telling them the brand. And, asked people to recognize their favorite brand by its taste, none of them was able to spot correct. Hence, people consume brands not products.

According to you which is the most powerful  medium of advertising  these days  in terms of  generating better recall value of  brand?

People tend to remember more that they read rather than watch. What you read you retain for long and what you watch get washed away in few minutes.  The printed value would always be supreme because it has better recall value. Print has the highest credibility as compared to other mediums.

Although, TV is much faster than the print, but TVCs only work for bigger companies like Hindustan Unilever as they have the capacity to constantly hammer the consumers mind with their brand. It is not at all a feasible option for small and medium sized brands as they don’t have money to repeat advertisements as bigger companies do.

Do you think event and festival based short term advertising effect the brand’s performance?  For an example, many brands tried to cash in on FIFA, how it was useful to them?

Yes off course! Such advertising creates certain level of brand loyalty. Though, everybody has some pet brand, and when they see their brand promoting the event it connects with them instantly.  For example, internationally, football is a rage and when consumers see it becoming viral here after Cricket they accepted it and responded more positively.

There are many international brands here which are not quite aggressive in promotional activities, still have managed to perform decent. What is your view on these brands’ strategy?

It is all about word of mouth promotion. People get influenced with foreign brands rather easily. These brands have managed to condition the consumers’ mind quite well.  Indian media talks about these brands a lot. Take the example of Starbucks, Indian media is following the brand since last decade on  its possible entry. And, finally when they are here, everybody knows about them already.

There are many home grown brands in this category that are performing much better than these foreign brands.  May be they have managed to do good business so far, but how they would be performing in future we need to wait and watch.

Do you think Indian ad world is affected with foreign advertising, as there are many campaigns which have acquired from foreign campaigns?

Keep in mind, you just cannot take foreign advertising and dump it here. Brands which understood it have performed quite well.  For example, Pepsi learned it quite early and they Indianised their campaign since the beginning, and coined advertorial phrases accordingly, like ‘Dil mange more’ (Indian version of ask for more), ‘yahi hai right choice baby’, etc.

So far which is your favorite ad campaign and why?

My favorite is old Pepsi campaign, ‘Nothing official about it’. There was a time when Pepsi did not have money like Coke. And, that Coke had won the official bid to sponsor Cricket world Cup(in 1996), and had became the official drink of the country. 

And, we thought if there is official drink, then there has to be unofficial as well, and coined advertisement  phrase’ Nothing Official About it’  and it wiped out Coke completely. This campaign was well examined throughout the world about how we turn defeat into victory.  It was the case history that went out to world. 

Prahlad Kakkar