Making a presentation on 'Branding and Public Service Communication' at Brandwidth 2005 was Pranesh Misra, President and COO, Lowe India, who started off by explaining the similiarities between public service communication and brand communication.
"The objectives are pretty similar – broadly, they would be changing behaviour and attitudes. In the long term, one aims for social good, and the other for brand asset creation. Perhaps learnings from either can benefit the other," he remarked.
He cited two examples of public service propositions communicated using brand building principles – the 'Balbir Pasha Ko AIDS Hoga Kya' campaign on AIDS and the 'Haath milayein kusht mitayein' work on leprosy awareness. In the second half of his presentation, he explained how brands could move up in stature using the public service approach with the example of 'Little Gandhi' for Lifebuoy and the 'Save two buckets of water' approach for Surf Excel.
"In the '80s, getting the product differentiation across was critical. As consumers moved on and as TV became a major factor, they got bored of seeing the same commercial based on a functional difference several times a day. The consumer had moved on and we were at a phase guilty of not recognising that consumers were not interested anymore. Once we and our clients realised this, things have gotten better and a new breed of advertising with emotional connect has evolved," explained Misra.
Stating that the Lifebuoy commercial had been a huge success in India and had been moved to other countries in Asia as well, he added that with increased competition and blurring differentiation between products, there was a need to go further and 'explore deeper realms'. "But not all brands have the stature to take the social route to communications," he cautioned.
The subsequent speaker was S Sivakumar, CEO, Agri-Business, ITC, who shared his thoughts on 'Co-creating brands together with customers'. He travelled the dimension of co-creation in the creation of e-choupals in his presentation.
"Co-creation as a concept is only three to four years old, and is largely used in co-creating products at this point in time. A good example would be the iPod. It's quite possible that it can be done in a number of industries – for example, co-creation of tourism packages along with customers," he said.
In the context of the e-choupals, Sivakumar explained that there were several challenges involved, including giving up control and dealing with it, and orchestrating the collective power that would be created. He also underlined the importance of 'lead consumers' in the co-creation process.
"The lead consumers need to be chosen and inducted with a lot of care. They are critical to the system and they will be able to sell the concept better than anyone else. He is first a consumer himself and then helps the ecosystem in evolving. He is your extended organisation in the ecosystem and will help in continuous 're-contextualisation'," Sivakumar added.
The next speaker, G Ramprasad, President, TI Cycles, addressed the challenges in 'Delivering Brand Experience'. "Now there is a greater realisation that the creation of a brand goes beyond advertising. Brandwidth is ever increasing in its speed," were his opening remarks.
He stated that in delivering a total brand experience, one needed to focus on the product, with continuous operational and process improvements. Explaining the challenge before TI Cycles, he explained that while the cycle was becoming redundant in India, it was being viewed very differently abroad. But in India, there was a category looking for fun, and TI is working on this category with cycling picnics, adventure cycling, moonlight cycling and the like. The response, he shared, had been encouraging.
He substantiated with the example of movie halls, which were being written off at one point but were now coming back strongly delivering a new brand experience. "The ability to get business is limited only by our imagination," he concluded.