The problem arises when digital immigrants run campaigns aimed towards digital natives or digital descendants: Sanjay Behl

Sanjay Behl, CEO, Raymond on the challenges faced by brand managers trying to communicate with the new set of consumers today, and the challenges thrown by campaigns of corporate brands vs house of brands

e4m by Collin Furtado
Updated: Feb 23, 2015 8:03 AM
The problem arises when digital immigrants run campaigns aimed towards digital natives or digital descendants: Sanjay Behl

At Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2015, Sanjay Behl, CEO, Raymond spoke on the topic of Advertising of Corporate Brands in which he shared through his experience of working with large brands such as Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Nokia, Reliance and recently with Raymond. The second point he added that had shaped his thoughts about the topic was the world we are living in from what it was probably 10 years ago.

The first thing he went on to explain during his session was that there are two kinds of consumer businesses. He first highlighted the difference between Branded House (Apple, Philips, Samsung, etc.) and House of Brands (HUL, P&G, etc). “The first one is what I call the branded house. The challenge or opportunity of doing anything of corporate branding is extremely different from a branded house as compared to a house of brands. Because in the case of the branded house a corporate brand name is same as a product brand name,” he explained. He said it was relatively an easier decision in a branded house to come up with marketing idea than compared with house of brands.

He further explained, “More often than not in the case of a branded house the core positioning of the corporate campaign would come from a product attribute. Like in case of Samsung where it talks about its design innovation, now whether it is a Samsung Galaxy Note or laptop or whether you are buying a TV set it is all under the sun. So the products do get benefitted from the core product attribute and hence it is a little more maneuverability for product brand managers to support what is called a corporate brand campaign.”

While this was so for branded house it was certainly a different scenario in the case of ‘House of Brands’ where there were several brands under the main company with separate identities. “But when it comes to the house of brands that is where the challenge starts getting really tougher. I am not saying that branded house from a house of brands is easier, but it is relatively tougher in house of brands,” he said. He gave the example of companies such as HUL, Procter & Gamble (P&G), etc. where the product brand name is different from the company’s brand name. He gave the example of Tide a brand under P&G where a brand manager of Tide may be rightfully asking how is Tide benefitting if P&G is advertising with it unless it has some sort of linkage. He further explained that there needs to be linkage in terms of all the brands being at the same level or category in unifying them under the main company when advertising. For instance it would be tough to advertise a brand like Tata Salt and Jaguar which come from the same company Tata and advertise them together in a corporate brand advertisement campaign. Hence he said the dilemma is much stronger for any brand or marketing person to create a corporate advertisement.

He said that it is not about FMCG brands but is about household brands and that is where the issue lies. On one side there is the argument that if the corporate brand advertises then all of the brands under it benefit in terms of its equity. He said that the share of corporate advertising is less than 10% worldwide and less than 2% in India. The reason for this he said is that they are not able to justify the existence of a corporate brand campaign to support all the products which are sitting under any organization. The corporate brand campaign also comes at the cost of cutting spends on individual brand campaigns and the question arises of what is the incremental value the corporate brand advertisement is giving to individual product brand.

The other challenge he highlighted about corporate advertising is stringent guidelines which will come for every brand that needs to be advertised individually. “The way the product has to be shown, the way the tagline has to come, these are real executional or operational challenges outside the rooms where we have such intense discussions which the brand manager has to resolve,” he said. Giving an instance of the challenges he said if the brand manager wanted to put the USP of the product at the end where it is most likely to be seen, the corporate team might come in and say that the corporate tagline needs to be in the end and the USP of the product can be placed somewhere else. “It always seems that they work in different forces. Why? Because it takes sizable budgets. Do consumers connect with Lux as a soap or HUL as company? That is the question or dilemma that the brand marketing fraternity lives with,” he said. 

He however said that though there are challenges there are corporate brands that are creating campaigns which integrate well with the product brands under them. He gave the example of the ‘Proud Mom’ campaign that P&G had launched a while back which integrated all the brand products under it.        

Finally, he spoke about the three worlds that coexist today for a brand manager or marketer i.e. the digital immigrants (pre-1993 born), digital natives (1993 – 2003) and digital descendants (post 2003).  “The first one which are pre-1993 born and are most of the marketers or brand managers and have actually have migrated to this (modern technology). Born post 1993 are the digital natives. Their processing power and influences are very different. The third is digital descendants have been brought up in the world of digital itself and introduced from start to audio visual elements. The way the process and the way they evaluate things is very different than the other two,” he said. The problem he said lies in digital immigrants trying to run a marketing plan for many brands that are targeted towards digital native or digital descendant audience. To better explain the differences in how these three generations think he gave an example about his two children one which belonged to the age of digital natives and one which belonged to the digital descendants. He said, “We as digital immigrants are trying to manage the communication for natives and descendants. We (digital immigrants) can never imagine the way they process information. That is why we think why does the effectiveness of marketing spends keep coming down? It wasn’t the same 10 years back. But the consuming class is changing right now.” He further said there is a need for brand managers and marketers to infuse this thinking into their communication as they are talking to a different consumer today.    

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