Hemal Panchamia, Marketing Head, Fastrack talks about the quirky Sorry For What OOH campaign that recently had eyes rolling, the way brands approach youth marketing today, and the how the explosion of e-commerce is affecting brand building.
Where did the insight for Sorry For What campaign emerge from?
We always use outdoor as a medium to showcase our new products. Brief to the agency was we need to come up with another outdoor campaign for showcasing the Q3 collections. On TV we do more thematic stuff but we do more product showcasing.
As a team, we always sit together with our agency and figure out what we want to do across OOH. One of the insights that came about was about the whole aspect of youth being unapologetic about the way they are and what they do. The response has been fantastic and people that we wanted to speak to have loved the campaign and even congratulated us for taking a bold step which as a brand we have always done. We have probably also managed to annoy a lot of people whom we don’t speak to, a lot of older people have told us this is not acceptable. It just reinforces the fact that we are on the right track.
What about the segment within your target audience who may have not related to the campaign?
There are a lot of consumers who end up buying the brand whom we don’t target. Those people whom we don’t necessarily target have a desire for something aspirational. In personality they may not be like the audience that we are speaking to, but in terms of buying the same kind of brand or the same kind of fashion, they try to ape the evolved audience. Just like in college you always have a bunch of kids you look up to and you try and ape what those kids do, even though you may not have the courage to do everything they do.
What role does digital marketing play?
On digital we take it a few notches up because clearly the influencers are out there. We can have conversations there to push the envelope, something which we may not do on other mediums. There is a digital interpretation of Sorry for What campaign on digital where we there are videos showing a girl shaving her head and a guy with dreadlock, they articulated it with greater intensity and reinforcement. OOH is a static medium with limited interaction, but reinforcing that using conversation and dialogue can only happen on digital.
What works in youth marketing and what doesn’t?
One thing a lot of brands have done while targeting youth is taken stereotypes. The brands themselves are being stereotypical about the youth. That youth stands for fashion, youth stands for partying. Everyone thinks that as an 18-year old teen, what is most important is to dress well, look good and party hard. All the imagery is actually about that. But the youth today have gone way beyond that and today they are not shying away from expressing their displeasure and they are the ones who don’t want to be stereotyped the most. Why should the model be stereotypically pretty or good looking in a certain way? We don’t buy into any of these conventions, that our models have to look a certain way; we just have to find the most relevant things to talk about with the youth.
What is your view on the explosion of e-commerce portals and how is it helping your brand?
E-commerce does help Fastrack because a lot of search is happening on the brand. I don’t know if it’s the right thing for brand building most brands on e-commerce portals are on discount throughout the year. That is not the right thing for any brand whatsoever. We are constantly in dialogue with them and figuring out a way around this. Finally where is the sense of the brand, if you have to constantly give out 40% discount? Then consumers are not going to desire the brand anymore. It is not sustainable from brand-building point of view. At one point of time, you are investing so much in marketing, communication and image building, and on the other hand, you are making sure you products are available at half the price, does not make any sense. Brands will become less aspirational in this way. We are trying to figure out how to control this whole discounting process but currently I don’t have a solution in mind.
What are Fastrack’s global aspirations?
We are present in a couple of countries as a product of the Titan Group. There is no brand building actually happening there. It is currently being exported to other countries and is available there. International foray has technically not happened. Primarily the Indian diaspora in those countries who already know about the brand are buying it. We are not talking to the local people there. We are discussing it but nothing that I can disclose at this point of time.
What differentiates Fastrack from other brands talking to the youth?
We stood our grounds right from the time the brand was launched. Without mincing words, we have said what we believe in. We have spoken about what affects the life of young kids today. We are not trying to please anybody, we are not trying to be sensitive to everyone’s feelings and emotions while we say what we say. It’s not like we are creating a controversy for the sake of it. We strongly believe that if you want to be a sharply focused brand, you have to stay true to your audience. Whether it was ‘coming out of the closet’ film we did last year or ‘Sorry for What’ campaign. Our brand platform is ‘Move On’. Every campaign that we do is an interpretation of that.