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The 'Cool Quotient': You either have it or you don’t

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The 'Cool Quotient': You either have it or you don’t

When it comes to youth marketing, brands tend to worry about the ‘cool quotient’. Simply put, if a brand’s image is not cool enough, chances are it can forget attracting the younger target audience.

India has its share of brands that have lived up the cool image and benefitted from it.

For UK-based music producer and media entrepreneur Terry Mardi, Kingfisher was one such brand “thanks to Vijay Mallya’s guts”. Mardi stated, “Cool is about how a brand made someone feel. Think ballsy and gutsy. Take the example of United Colours of Benetton. UCB’s advertising was path-breaking and brilliant. Very few people could see new born babies covered in blood and come up with an idea.” Mardi explained that being cool was in a brand’s hands. Ideally, the customer doesn’t like being lied to, so it is integral to the marketer to be honest about his product.

According to Mardi, we were the way we were by accident and we lived in a world where misfits, fit.

For some brands, ‘cool’ happens by chance. Kotak Mahindra Group is an example. The bank had embarked on a massive campaign to celebrate its 25th anniversary, and while ‘cool’ was not the campaign’s objective, it came as a welcome by-product. Karthi Marshan, Head - Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Group was quick to point out that the 25-year old Kotak was definitely ‘not cool’.

When it came to something like banking, it was not about how to make the communication pleasant but what one could do to make it less unpleasant.

The Kotak 25th anniversary campaign was a ‘coming of age’ story, where the brand was shooting for ‘trust’. But the campaign catapulted Kotak’s cool quotient on Facebook and Twitter. Marshan informed, “People caught on to the ads so much that in some cases it became a part of their tweets and Facebook status messages. Alongside, we also ran contests asking people about what they did at 25. For the winners, we sponsored 25 T-shirts with their ‘cool’ quotes on it, making it personalised.”

Tactics such as these worked in Kotak’s favour. The mantra to be cool, explained Marshan, involved the tough task of authenticity. It had to be about the people. And while it connected with the people, being youthful and relevant was a vital imperative. Karthi admitted, “Cool is a little harder than even Nirvana.”

V Sunil, Executive Creative Director, Weiden+Kennedy, Delhi, on the other hand pointed out that when one was discussing what was ‘cool’ or ‘uncool’, what did not factor in the conversation, was automatically not cool. He advised, “To keep the cool quotient alive, one needs to connect with the audience. The Incredible India campaign, for instance, was something that made India cool in the eyes of the world. It changed people’s mindsets across the world when India was about to fall off the tourist map. All media forms contributed significantly to the success of this campaign.” Longevity of the idea, hence, was important.

For Sunil, the cool quotient was something innate – you either have it or you don’t.

The discussion took place at the exchange4media Youth Marketing Summit on January 28, 2011. It was presented by UTV Bindass and powered by Mudra Concrea, in association with Tuborg.


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