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MTV Brand Equity Youth Marketing Forum unravels Cult Brands

09-May-2002
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MTV Brand Equity Youth Marketing Forum unravels Cult Brands

Amit Agnihotri

A brand has an identity and lends it to the consumer. But a ‘Cult’ brand takes it much forward. It stands for a religion of-sorts and converts the consumer into a devotee. And this it achieves by being conspicuously distinctive – both the product and communication. Trust, the Youth Marketing Forum, organized by MTV last night in Mumbai, to dwell on such cutting edge issues as creating a Cult brand and bring a truly international perspective with an ensemble of speakers that included Baz Luhrmann, Director of cult film Moulin Rouge and Lee Lynch, CEO of Carmichael Lynch, the agency behind Harley Davidson communication for decades. And their advices came thick and fast.

Lynch, in a powerful presentation, took the audience through the Harley Communication outlining the careful treatment and strong rationale behind each communication piece. He bared the core Harley Communication strategy – “We speak to the Harley Owners only, in their language, and let everybody else listen in. We call it camp-fire strategy where the core audience is in a small close circle and many more listening around them. But we always speak to the core,” said Lynch. This communication, along with a strong individualistic product, kept the brand owners as cult and made Harley a cult brand. Making another point about Harley’s communication strategy, he pointed that almost never have they used any model riding the bike because the cult members have no one clear identity of a Harley rider and they would rather fantasize themselves riding!

Buz Luhrmann, the much acclaimed director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet, presented his thoughts in queer fashion. He almost impromptu started rolling the camera with Piyush Pandey as the producers and timekeeper and over 350 audiences as ‘extras’! Buz went on to explain the difference between a cult film and the others. He said that cult films are the once that can play in any era and the audience ‘participates’ in the movie as it rolls. And he opined that all cult movies are based on one of the many ‘universal story shape’ but has a language that connects with the times and the audiences. He explained the universal story idea as ‘good wins over bad’ or ‘love beats hate.’ Very bollywoodish indeed! In fact Buz also acknowledged that the inspiration of Moulin Rouge came to him when he saw a bollywood movie in Rajasthan some years back!

James Best, Chief Strategic Officer of DDB Needham, the Volkswagen Beetle case. Highlighting the point of distinctive communication, he exclaimed that the agency while creating the communication for Beetles, set out to actually break all the 13 rules of advertising that David Ogilvy had propounded! In an earlier presentation titled ‘Understanding the Teen Mind’, Michael Woods, VP of Teenage Research Unlimited said the cult brands are successful when they create personal identity for the user, inspire fanaticism and interestingly ‘operate under the main stream radar.’

Earlier the Forum opened in style with a desi Moulin Rouge act performed on stage. Alex Kuruvilla of MTV and Arun Arora of Times Group presented their perspective on the Forum and cult brands. Sporting Piyush Pandey was the moderator for the evening though he chuckled that he has done nothing in moderation in his life! Running in its 5th year, MTV Brand Equity Youth Marketing Forum yet again succeeded in getting international perspective on cutting edge issues for the benefit of marketers and advertising community. All in Ishtyle!

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