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Fine-tuning of ad campaigns

20-May-2004
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Fine-tuning of ad campaigns

Financial companies and their advertising agencies are realising the need to fine tune ad campaigns and conform to market sentiments, especially in event of political uncertainties and vulnerable popular sensitivities.

For instance, the TIGER fund campaign from DSP Merrill Lynch that splashed this week across the media insisted `India is roaring' even as the market lost over Rs 1-lakh crore.

This campaign was aired largely across news and business channels in the backdrop of the historic plunge in the stock markets. Investors and market participants who were losing money were upset to see the misplaced optimism in the campaign.

"The market movement over Friday and Monday were extremely exaggerated and we were confident that the fundamentals of the economy would remain unchanged. This is why we continued to run the campaign," said Mr Alok Vajpeyi, President, DSP Merrill Lynch Mutual Fund.

However, media experts believe that it would have been prudent for the company to pull off the ads for the duration of the crash, as it suggested insensitivity towards consumer sentiments.

Agencies suggest that an honest confession of the fund details and its returns' prospects would have been better received than the `India Roaring' rhetoric.

"This opportunistic and me-too strategy to India Shining campaign was not attractive and is unlikely to work. Had the theme of communication been changed to highlight the fact that overreaction in market has actually made the valuation of the product even more attractive, the campaign would have been successful," said Mr V.M. Wabgoankar, Director - Business and Brand Strategy, Leo Burnett India.

Companies not being responsive to viewer sentiments could be counter productive. Flexibility in managing the campaign and quick reflexes to changes in environment are crucial, say agency honchos. "The apathy of the advertisement would reflect as the unresponsive nature of the advertiser," said Mr Vabgaonkar.

In fact, the company has been forced to extend the IPO of the TIGER fund to May 25 from the earlier schedule of May 20. "We wanted to give time for the markets to come back up, so that investors would not be doubtful about parking their money in the fund," said Mr Vajpeyi.

Company officials insist that spots could not be pulled off air without a 2-3 days' lead-time. Media plans are usually more flexible and accommodate quick changes, agencies countered.

Whether viewers have already registered a wrong message can only be validated when the IPO of the fund closes and final corpus figures are published.

However, analysts point out that the fact that the company was forced to extend the offer proves the ineffectiveness of the campaign.

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