• Turning brand negatives to positives

    When your target market holds a negative association with your brand, you can do two things. One of them is that you can try and improve the perception of the brand on that aspect. This is the approach that most marketers take. However, this is not easy by any means and takes time to accomplish as in this case, you are trying to reverse the belief of the customer. On the other hand, you can try and turn that negative into a positive while not trying to change that perception at all.

    An example of a brand which managed to do exactly this is Listerine. Listerine always had a terrible taste and people used to find it horrible to rinse their mouth for 30 seconds with the product. To counter this, Listerine took up the positioning of an ‘antiseptic mouthwash’ with an image of a product that fully cleanses your mouth, and doesn’t just work like mint to cover bad breath. It created the consumer perception that the product had a horrible taste because it was better at cleaning the mouth (something similar to a medicine).

    Let’s also look at Las Vegas as an example. A city that is associated with so many negatives but one thing seems to cover up all of them in our minds – What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! The way this line of thought came about was that Vegas, after failing to establish itself as a family destination, accepted its image and came up with the “What happens here, stays here” campaign in 2003. The city has been hot on the list of tourists ever since. Another example is that of Volvo with its campaign of “Volvo: Boxy but good” which tried to counter the unfashionable look of the Volvo.

    This approach does come along with its fair share of risks. Once you accept a brand negative, you are taking a stance which is very hard to reverse. Also, there is a chance that competitors might try to exploit this admission of a negative attribute. However, since people already associate that negative with your brand, it is much more believable from the consumer’s point of view when you associate a positive with this negative.

    So when is it that you can try and turn a brand negative into a positive? Firstly, the negative that you are accepting should be an acceptable one and not a ‘deal-breaker’. You can’t be a telecom service provider and accept bad network connectivity as a brand negative and build on it. Also, it goes without saying that it is better if the positive is strongly linked with (or is a consequence of) the negative it counters.

    This approach has been relatively under-utilized by marketers. I personally can’t recall any such examples from the Indian scenario. Can you? And can you think of cases where this approach could be well utilized? Or better yet… can you come up with the positioning for any brand that counters its negative image? And are there any other things that marketers should keep in mind while going for such an approach? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this post and points that we may have missed out… ‘Cause we are relatively inexperienced marketers -> hence eager to listen and learn! 🙂

  • Advergaming

    With TV’s, radio, print and all the mediums along the beaten path becoming more cluttered, getting the attention of the consumer is becoming increasingly difficult for marketers. That has propelled them to explore new modes of advertising, such as advergaming.

    Simply put, an advergame is a free electronic game to promote a product or a brand. It allows a user to play any game, with the brand being advertised as an intrinsic part of the game. Advergaming can be called a ‘Pull’ medium, where consumers choose to learn about and connect with a brand by playing a game.

    Axe has entered this field in a big way. They recently launched ‘Axe Instinct’, in association with Zapak Digital Entertainment. The game promises to let the users ‘play’ and ‘meet’ a virtual girl of their choice, which goes to reinforce the promise of the parent brand, Axe. The welcome message, given by some of the fantasy women in the virtual space, who could be named Natalie, Kelly, Tanya, Linda or Simran, could be something as tempting as ‘Ask for it and I’ll serve it hot’.

    Coke has already had quite a bit of experience in this field. They launched a game on the site of their product, Coke Zero. The game, called Rooftop Racer Game, requires the user to race through a track with competitors while keeping the bottle of Coke Zero on the roof of the car from spilling. Other games used by them include Coca Cola Speed Jamming and Coke Super Footer.

    There are many advantages to using advergaming over the traditional methods. For one thing, advergaming ensures that you have the consumer’s undivided attention, unlike television or radio, where a consumer is much more likely to change the channel. Moreover, whereas in a television or radio ad you have only a precious thirty seconds to convince the consumer that your product is the one for him, there is ample time in an advergame, where a game will typically involve a consumer for four to five minutes. This lends itself to a very high brand recall, particularly when compared to something like television.

    Advergames are also much more cost-effective compared to other mediums, says Alok Kejriwal, CEO of Contests2win. Contests2win is one of the leading companies in this field. Started in 1998, this company as created over 350 solutions for clients as illustrious as L’Oreal, Samsung, Coke, New Zealand Tourism and HBO.

    On a parting note, even television and Bollywood are no strangers to this new genre, with promotional games based on Fast and Furious, Rakhi Ka Swayamvar, Aaa Dehke Zara and ‘Pati Patni aur Who’ already doing the rounds. It looks like advergaming is here to stay.