Advertisers have understood that for their brand to resonate and stay in the consumer’s mind, they need to give the consumer an experience. The nature and definition of ‘experience’ has been varying in the brand builder’s books for years now. Of course, the final experience with the product is taken for granted in these conversations, as that is something obviously present and can be stated, at best, towards the end of the presentation.
The focus has to be the experience created in the communication exercise.
It is this experience, we speak of right now. So, as I was saying, the definition of experience for the brand builder is something that has been evolving. Once upon a time it was considered genius to be able to take your brand on-ground and let your consumer experience it firsthand – mostly seen by FMCGs. Then, that became slightly boring and the big thing moved to creating a surround experience for the brand. The Dove hoarding that takes you to the website and somewhere there were hair washing counters installed in malls to “feel the difference”.
Then, the on-ground was important, the surround was important, but the deciding factor of success was scale and the word of mouth with it, case in point - Gillette.
In all of these conversations, the brand has been engaging the consumer. That has been the mantra, the differentiator. But as we move along, brands’ experiments continue and one notices interesting new takes on taking a communication forward with a consumer.
Meet your star – cinema and sports – has been an age-old offer from brands. The irrational endorsement monies for some actors and sports stars have been discussed time and again, and true that when the brand has paid the money, why not make the most of it. So, comes the bright idea of write this and that, text this and that, or do this and that, and one or two lucky winners get a dinner date or a handshake (depending on the size of the star, and the money paid) with the hero of your dreams.
This lovely offer is still seen by leading brands and I am guessing the reason for that is because it still works.
And then comes, level next.
More recently and more significantly, it has been seen with cricket. Who said, flying the consumer to a match or just a handshake was enough. Even if it is enough, there are those who will do anything to break the mould. Pepsi first brought about the ‘Toss ka Boss’. Simple idea, winner accompanies Captain for the toss - a true manifestation of 15 minutes of fame.
In 2009, Pepsi initiated the ‘First Ball ka Captain’. Once a consumer/ cricket fan saw that was possible, by doing pretty much the same thing she/ he did to have won a ticket, is only the ticket good enough? The ‘Toss ka Boss’, by the way, is still good enough.
Castrol this year, evoked a whole new level of emotions in cricket fans when the TVC showed Sachin Tendulkar not completing a run or not even accepting the Man of the Match award until the ‘World Cup ka Hero’ is there. The promotion was about watching the match from a “vantage point” and making the winner feel like a real hero according to Castrol. But irrespective of that, for the cricket fan, the stakes of the contest is suddenly higher. Will Castrol truly give a “lifetime experience that money can’t buy?” We will know soon enough, but the idea is already sold.
PepsiCo’s brand Lay’s just launched the ‘Lay’s Kaun Jeetega World Cup’ and the contest winners once again benefit in a similar participating nature at the World Cup.
Just engaging the consumer is no longer enough. Making him participate, now that is the game changer. Some brands do it through co-creation – allow the consumers to be a part of the product itself and while I am not a PepsiCo fan as such, the example to my mind again is of Lay’s ‘Give us your Dillicous Flavour’ activity of 2009. Internationally of course, we have seen shoe brands Reebok and adidas encourage the consumer to design their own shoes, but that is more of customisation and less of co-creation.
The new age consumer gratification comes through when you make him participate – engagement is for people with money and tested ideas.