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Marketing is largely advertising or lots more: Experts debate at FMCG Conclave

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Marketing is largely advertising or lots more: Experts debate at FMCG Conclave

With advertising fast coming up as a major marketing avenue and corporates lining up big money towards advertising promotions, there is an obvious doubt whether marketing is all about advertising alone or there’s much more to the entire process. The CII-organised 3rd FMCG Conclave in Mumbai takes a look into the scenario as experts debate out the issue.

The Conclave saw R Balki (National Creative Director, Lowe India) and Arvind Sharma (Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Leo Burnett India) battling for the cause of advertising while Gopal Vittal (Vice President & Head- Personal Wash, HLL), Shripad Nadkarni (Vice President- Marketing, Coca Cola) and Rahul Malhotra (Associate Director- Marketing, P&G) speaking largely in favour of other ingredients of the marketing mix.

Vittal raised his views saying, “There is much more to marketing than a television ad. For instance, Pedigree is a Rs 30-crore brand in the current day, without a scrap of advertising to its name. If 100 units of advertisements are pouring in, you can be sure that consumers have glanced at around 46 of them, and noted carefully only five of them. That’s the kind of television empowerment that we are talking about. Again television penetration in most regions is extremely low, for instance in Bihar the penetration only attributes for 14 per cent. Iconic brands thus cannot be built on a TVC.”

Malhotra in the same vein asserted, “There are various other aspects to building a brand, such as pricing, trials, direct marketing, distribution and investment. Advertising occupies a small part of the proceedings. An ad can get consumers interested, and they will flock to the store but what’s the point of it all, if your distribution is not in place? Another pointer is a brand such as Nirma which has not been built because of iconic advertising, but because it was affordable and its communication highlighted the cost factor.”

Emphasising on the ad factor, Balki argued, “If you are a mass market brand, try addressing the majority of the country without mass media. Why must marketers try all the difficult methods in the book when the answer is simple and straightforward? Direct marketing and the kind cannot be used for a mass brand, its television alone that can help.”

He added, “A bad piece of communication can take a brand back to square one, and they would have to spend years rectifying the harm done. Once you see the power of a bad piece of communication and its ability to destroy, you would appreciate a lot more its ability to create.”

Balki’s point was taken on by Arvind Sharma who stated that in the FMCG category, advertising was all that’s relevant. Everything else was mere distraction.

Shripad Nadkarni brought forward a valid point that if all aspects of brand building were subservient to advertising, then why were most ad agencies branching out into rural marketing, PR, direct marketing and the kind? Which itself proved the point that brand building was not limited to advertising alone.


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