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R Sridhar throws a ‘Googly’ at his book launch

15-June-2009
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R Sridhar throws a ‘Googly’ at his book launch

R Sridhar, CEO and Founder of brand-comm, decided to launch his second book ‘Googly- Branding on Indian Turf’ with a bit of a difference. In keeping with the title of the book, he threw a few googlies at the launch by posing brand related questions to the Chief Guests of the ceremony including Bhaskar Bhat, MD, Titan Industries and Anand Sudarshan, MD and CEO of Manipal Education.

Beginning the session, with the dreaded word ‘recession’, Sridhar asked the panel to view their opinion on the slowdown and its impact on brands. Bhat of Titan industries pointed that during a volatile period, it’s seen that consumers veer towards branded players as they are seen as safe haven. This has been particularly true in the case of Titan in its jewellery segment. He added, “We have been blessed with continual performance and the numbers have been good and growing even in the so called slowdown period.”

In the area of education, Sudarshan pointed out that there has been no impact in the higher education, where demand is much more than supply.

When asked on their experiences with celebrities, Bhat who has seen Titan use various big names including Aamir Khan (for the mother brand Titan), Rani Mukherji (Raga), MS Dhoni (Sonata) and John Abraham (Fastrack) said, “We have been careful in choosing a celebrity whose image fits well with the brand. Also the ambassador is not used merely as a model to endorse, but we have cashed upon their acting abilities which we have explored with Dhoni too. The person has been used to enhance the brand, and not merely as a popular face. In fact, we didn’t continue with John Abraham for long, as we realised that the association was more about the face and less about Fastrack the brand.”

Manipal too has used cricketer Anil Kumble as its brand ambassador. On his experience on using a popular face to endorse education, Sudarshan said, “This concept of using brand ambassador in education is a bit of a googly. We brought him on board as we felt that there was a perfect synergy between his persona that is of an all-rounder, with the brand Manipal that promises an all-round development for its students. But this is a complex engagement, and we believe we need to do better on this front. We need to consciously assess what students are looking for, and then offer that through our communication.”

The panel also discussed the value of ethics in creating a brand, which both agreed was a crucial element in the making of a brand.

Moving on to another topic, when asked on the changes that the panel has seen over the years in Indian consumers, Bhat observed, “When we began, we principally followed the rule of one-size-fits-all, and looked at a single brand, single geography catering the same to rural, urban, youth or women. With globalisation beginning 1991-92, we witnessed India changing, and started seeing segmentation take place. Indian consumers were always brand conscious as they aspired and acquired Rolex, Omegas or even Playboys even in the past. The rule changed with the opening up of economy and the one-size-fits-all didn’t apply anymore. There was a growing aspiration, which was accompanied with growing prosperity. I believe, once aspiration is created, it is difficult to curb it so there will always be demand and takers for such products.”

Talking of the emergence of small town India, Bhat said, “From a marketer’s perspective, there is nothing like small or big anymore. In terms of aspirations and the ability to meet these aspirations both big and small town are at par. In fact, there is a big opportunity in smaller towns, as the running costs are almost one fourth of any big metro. The challenge is to cater to the local needs and not apply the national formula here. Then a good return is assured.”

Sridhar’s book ‘Googly- Branding on India Turf’ is a sequel to his first book, ‘One land, one billion minds’. The book delves into nuances of branding and advertising in India and is replete with examples of Indian brands to explain the subject.

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