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Guest Column: Hypocrisy prevails over brand briefs: Mandeep Malhotra

22-April-2014
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Guest Column: Hypocrisy prevails over brand briefs: Mandeep Malhotra

Over the years of experience, I have realised the hypocrisy that prevails over brand briefs. Especially in the space I am being swayed in.

The clarity comes when the pilot takes off from a busy airport. Suddenly, when you are airborne and on auto pilot mode on the plane, you are able to see a clear picture of what brand managers want from these briefs…trust me there isn’t too much of clarity on ground.

The intent should be either to get into the heart or the wallet. Mediocre brand managers think they can do both. They for sure are not aligned to their brand fans. Physical interactions leave a larger mark on hearts and minds than one-way communications. What’s happening in media mindscape is that the pie is being cut to small slices. With the size reducing, the slices are getting finer and finer. These slices will be called passion-based communities. General media won’t have space in the future. Fans will learn and know what they want, very evidently, being visible now with the plethora of choices that we have.

I would urge all brand managers to stop talking to general audiences. Slice your fans into passions/ briefs/ geographies and make fans. For example, Rovio (Angry Birds) – they told lovely unbelievable fairy tales on ground activations. The characters were the story tellers. Don’t attempt to get into minds. Today, the brand wants to challenge veteran brands in that category. Make fans as they supersede minds and logic. Fans buy brands without logic, and out of passion and belongingness. They don’t buy you as a commodity; we sell ourselves as a commodity. Remember, no customer wakes up thinking about your brand, but a fan sleeps thinking about his brand.

You can’t decide on the likes and dislikes of your consumers sitting in a boardroom, getting your data agency to tell you what time your fan wakes up and his daily schedule. You need to live the journey of your fan. We believe a lot in spending 72 hours as a step to understand enough of him. Let’s not fool around and come up with an excuse like “Not enough sample size”. Trust me, attempt this with five people and you will have 15 anecdotes; if you are a dreamer, you will write 25 stories, and if you are in marketing, you can make 35 presentations. It’s a good start.

Making fans is an art. You can only make fans if you don’t force yourself into anyone’s mind. Get into their hearts. Stop plastering your logo on everything possible on an opportunity to engage with consumers. Heart defies logic, argues with the mind and convinces the wallet.

The problem is that we don’t dream enough. If you don’t dream yourself, you will end up realising someone else’s dreams.

The author is President, DDB MudraMax - OOH, Retail & Experiential.

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