On the occasion of Valentine’s Day, we saw a large number of brands launching different kinds of marketing activities. From established brands like Amazon India, Mondelez India, Ferro Rocher and new-age ones like Oyo Rooms, Truly Madly, there was a considerable surge in marketing activities around Valentine’s Day. Some of the popular strategies that the brands put in place included: launching of romantic short films/ads on TV, using digital to engage with audiences, innovative packaging and interesting activations.
In the last few years, event-led marketing has gained a lot of popularity with Indian brands. Whether it is for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or any other special day, brands are always on the lookout for events which will allow them to connect with their consumers instantly.The objective of these communications is primarily to be on top of every consumer’s mind. In an attempt to reach there, many brands get it right, while others end up missing the bus.
We spoke to brand experts, advertising and marketing heads to understand the importance and relevance of event led marketing.
Event-led marketing works, but it has to have a context:
Karthi Marshan, Senior EVP & Head - Group Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank, said, “If the brand has a role in the event context then it makes a great fit. For example, a brand like Archies in the context of Valentine’s Day or Zomato, because the brand is about dining and the context is about taking your date or your spouse out, so it totally suits the objective. When there is a fit, brands will tend to benefit from it. But if there is no relevance and they are simply trying to piggy back on it, it can be misattributed as well. I think it is very important for brands to make their choice and only participate if the context is relevant to them. Next thing to ensure is what the brand is doing is unique and special for them to stand out.”
Sanjay Tripathy, Senior EVP, Head Marketing, Products, Digital & E-commerce, HDFC Life says, “The old way of brand building will never go away, so it is what we call as ‘event-led marketing’. The aim of the brands is usually to do something around the events, so that people will remember it. Communication needs to be such that it connects the brand and the customers instantly. So it is not about doing activity, just for the sake of doing something. Those brands which are forcing themselves in doing activities are the ones which are not putting any thought behind it. One really needs to understand that as a brand what are you providing your customer at the end of the day. We have few activities planned for Valentine’s Day, but it will be linked under our brand philosophy ‘Sar Uthake Jiyo’ campaign. Whatever we do, we always link it to the core philosophy of the brand; it helps the audience to connect instantly.”
According to Arijit Ray, co-founder & Managing Partner, Paper Boat, “A lot of brands realise the opportunity of events and they want to encash on a relevant and topical issue, but it is all about finding the right context. Brands that don’t find the context end up diluting the brand value. It is all about how brands find the right context and leverage it. There is a lot of message fragmentation happening at the moment which is not helping brands. A perfect example of a brand doing event-led marketing is Oreo, look at the way they connect the brand with context, whether it is for events abroad or local nuances. The whole rationale is always carefully orchestrated and thought through.”
How relevant is it for brands?
Saurabh Uboweja, Founder, CEO & Chief Brand Strategist at Brands of Desire says, “India offers more reasons to celebrate anything than any other country in the world, except USA. Added to this ever growing ubiquitous list are wedding seasons, Diwali, Christmas & New Year, Halloweens, Mother’s and Father’s Days and now it’s Valentine’s week, no longer a day. Did I forget the End of Season Sales? The catch being, that most of the reasons to celebrate are ‘economics driven’ for merchants and ‘emotions driven’ for their consumers, leading me to a rather risqué statement that “emotions are profitable” and “Indians like Americans are fallible”. As long as it helps their economies grow and make people happy, it works.
He further adds, “Days like the Valentine’s are relevant for brands because they are able to stand out and make an impact in an increasingly cluttered environment of messages and products. The Amazon campaign is an example of doing that successfully. I think brands will have to choose their days to spend on, with plenty of options around. It’s not practical for any brand, however large, to stand out ahead always. For a brand, getting the timing and focus right, while further establishing their positioning and equity should be the primary objective of any celebratory campaign rather than a me-too proposition.”
Echoing similar views, Sanjay Mehta, co-CEO of Miriam elaborates, “These events are like an excuse to be in front of the consumers today. If there are no events, then the brand has to create stories of their own, which is difficult because the story which might look interesting to the brand may not be relevant to the consumers. Today shopping is no longer a twice-a-year event; there are numerous occasions and deals to entice customers to shop frequently. If the consumer is in the shopping mood, then it is relevant for brands to ride on it as well, but they shouldn’t over-kill it.”