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Reporter’s Diary: What marketers don’t tell?

05-May-2012
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Reporter’s Diary: What marketers don’t tell?

Everything that a marketer says in a press conference on his product launch can be cut down to 700 words, says a senior journalist from the Press Trust of India, who was in no mood to file stories on product launches.

Explaining his point, he said it is because he has to talk in volumes about the brand and describe the great features of the newly launched product.

“They dare not show the true picture of the company when it is reeling under crisis,” the senior journalist whispers further.

In my seven-month long stint with exchange4media, the most challenging task has been to get marketing heads of brands to talk about challenging times. For instance, telecom service providers had shut all doors of communication when the Supreme Court cracked whip on telecom companies and cancelled 122 licenses; except for Loop Telecom, every operator chose to be quiet to most journalists.

There is a reason beyond brand image that cause marketers to keep mum and i.e. Indian consumers are quick to judge and form negative opinions. Let me illustrate to you this further. In India it is presumed that if a woman is smoking in the third pasta lane of Colaba at midnight, then she must be of low moral values or perhaps, not a virgin. In another instance, Indians were quick to question the character of famous people such as Tiger Woods, Shiney Ahuja, Sunny Leone and ND Tiwari through their sexual conduct instead of their work.

Public opinion matters and therefore, companies such as Cadbury, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola India and ICICI spent disproportionately huge amounts to convince consumers that there was nothing wrong with their products to get the negative public opinion monkey off its back. It therefore, comes as no surprise to me that my recent reports - ‘Crisis Communication’ and ‘How 2G Verdict Ups Ad Spends’ sharply depict how brands are quick to increase their advertising and PR budgets after a near-crisis situation.

I think marketers don’t just strengthen their brands in a competitive market, but also take great efforts consistently to protect its image. They act as guardians of their brands and therefore, it’s difficult to confront them and sniff for a new angle that reflects the true picture of the company.

Even if they are confronted at a product launch, they respond to criticism through praises of its company’s brand. Bored of the rant, some journalists’ during that time chuckle, and ask each other, ‘Do we have lunch after this?’

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