Brands constantly strive to challenge leaders and gain noticeability and market share against the well-entrenched competition. This is a universal occurrence across categories. Pepsi by, constantly trying to challenge Coke, has acquired the status of a challenger.
In the early days, Apple used to take digs at IBM, which was a leader, and then continued to make fun of Microsoft with its deficient Windows program that was full of bugs. Advertising has always been a means for brands to get the consumer’s attention and eyeballs. They use radical means to attack their competition , usually a leader.
They often use comparative advertising as a strategy. Here’s an ad that Apple did in its early days, welcoming IBM. People might have been forgiven for thinking that Apple was the bigger brand, welcoming a smaller player! The truth, of course, was different.
Pepsi has always tried to tell its consumers, subtly and not so subtly, that it is the young, hep brand and Coke was the fuddy-duddy one meant for older consumers. Research too has shown that Pepsi is a brand for the young and the young at heart and their advertising, over the years, has carefully perpetuated this image of youthfulness.
Here’s an old ad featuring the famous Hip Hop recording artiste MC Hammer, who suddenly starts singing like Frank Sinatra when his Pepsi is swapped for a Coke.
Playing with emotions
I must be one of the few people who used Savlon in a Dettol-dominated market. Who has not used Dettol for his knee wounds after a game of football or after early morning nicks and cuts?
If my memory serves me right, Savlon, the minor competitor, used to be a brand made and marketed by ICI, a company which no longer exists in India. My dad used to work in ICI and we had an affinity for their products. Imagine my delight when I recently saw an ad for Savlon, a product that I thought no longer existed!
Unlike the Apple and the Pepsi commercials that were in-your-face and cocking a snook at their competition, this ad is a warm, emotive commercial built on the basic emotion of a mother’s love. It features several children who, after falling in a heap after jumping over a relay or falling while doing gymnastics, cry out in pain, always call for their mothers. The commercial talks about how Savlon is like the mother’s love, that you can always trust.
Does advertising work for brands like Savlon
When brands wish to grow, there two big marketing challenges that they must overcome — that of reach and resources.
Fortunately, Savlon is now a part of the ITC stable, a company that is well-served on both these fronts. We all know it is a major force in the FMCG segment, thanks to its enormous distribution and the range of its products.
Savlon, which earlier used to be with Johnson and Johnson, sees a great opportunity in the hand wash market, where it competes with the likes of Dettol and Lifebuoy. Both of them are well-entrenched brands that have a tremendous brand salience and very visible advertising.
But ITC will back Savlon and support it with what it needs.
Consistent advertising is the key
Even as I watched the Savlon ad, it struck me that this was perhaps the first commercial I was seeing of the brand in ages — and therein lies the rub. Advertising cannot be on a stop-start mode if brands are to survive and flourish.
They need to be nurtured through a smart strategy and effective execution, and to get into the monthly shopping list of preoccupied homemakers is not easy. Your brand is not on the top-of-mind for them. It is your job to think, dream and eat your brand. Keep reminding them of your existence with advertising or they will forget you for someone who woos them more!