Years ago, I was attending a business conference at a resort type place few miles off Mumbai. While our meeting was in a usual conference room and in a typical business setting, there was another business meeting going on albeit in an offbeat mood. I could see quite a few signs of “Ideas Mela” in and around the swimming pool. Could also see quite a few seemingly “creative” types floating in water on “Ideas Mela” branded floats. On further enquiry, I was told that “Ideas Mela” was an Annual ritual held by a renowned ad agency with their team where they try to unwind and come up with some big ideas for their clients !!!
I’m not sure if the team of ‘Hindustan Unilever’ and their campaign agency ‘Ogilvy Action’ had an “Ideas Mela” to come up with that brilliant idea to promote ‘Lifebuoy’ during ‘Kumbh Mela’ a relegious congregation which happens once in 3 years in different locations in different scales. This campaign which has now got into the coveted list of media innovations in India has ‘Incredible India’ written or stamped all over it. The brand team has reportedly teamed up with over 100 hotels and dhabas in and around the ‘Kumbh’ site to serve ‘rotis’ that are stamped with “Lifebuoy se haath dhoye kya?” (Have you washed your hand with Lifebuoy?). Given the fact that ‘roti’ is the staple diet with the North Indians, serving the same hot with a reminder message is expected to reach more than 3 million visitors. And the massive PR follow up coverage on the unique and interesting campaign that followed is expected to reach few more millions all over the country. Using the ‘roti’ as the medium for communicating the importance of ‘hand washing’ particularly in a mass congregation of the ‘Kumbh’ type is certainly a master stroke and a brilliant media innovation. Roti oops topi off to the creative team !!!
Similarly I was personally experienced to another interesting media innovation on a Sunday morning last year (2012). As I picked up the Sunday Times of India and began to read, a strong aroma of coffee emanated and tempted me to get back to my old coffee days. It’s been a while since I switched loyalties from Coffee to Tea. As I kept wondering where the strong aroma was coming from, I saw the ad in the 1st page for (again) Hindustan Unilever’s flagship coffee product – ‘Bru Gold’. The Sunday TOI edition of that day in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore broke the smell sense barrier and came with a strong coffee flavour to lure consumers to the coffee brand. Aroma of actual coffee, ad for the same, newspaper, Sunday,.. all add to the weekend morning mood. I think it was an excellent idea to use a media innovatively. I realized that HUL had missed out ‘Chennai’ a city of coffee connoisseurs for this innovative campaign. Well, can a Bru Gold beat that ubiquitous ‘filter Kaapi’??? In the land of filter Kaapi trying to push any other form of coffee would have petered out I guess.
Recently I was also impressed to see another media innovation to promote the World TV première of the film – on Zee TV on the 29th Dec 2012. Few days before that when I was in the Mumbai Airport, I could see English Vinglish signboards at the check in counters, boarding gates, near the luggage conveyors,.. I thought for a product with a short life, using such media was certainly low cost and at the same time inventive. The director of the movie, Gauri Shinde who signed a whole sale contract for the “Best Debutant Director” trophy in all the film award shows this year stretched the film’s branding further when in the thanks giving speech at ‘Screen Awards’ she thanked ‘Screen Veen’ !!! A bit over board no???
In Mumbai when I go to office, I see sometimes a car ahead of me with a bumper sticker which says:
“Keep Safe Distance – I work with Fevicol”
A smart media innovation not surprising for a brand which boasts of some great creative stuff in the country! This idea has limited scope but certainly tongue in cheek!
There’s another media ingenuity which comes to my mind here. I‘ve seen this (surprisingly) only at the Bengaluru airport. These days as we all know and endure, the security routine at airports is quite elaborate and calls for passengers to follow certain instructions like putting the mobile phones for scanning, removing laptops from the bags,…,.. So there you have, at the security area of the Bengaluru airport few TV screens which show what are the do’s and don’ts for the passengers. And these are in the form of very well made videos with “Zoo Zoo” characters of ‘Vodafone’ fame!!! I don’t recall seeing the Vodafone brand or the logo in the videos. Is it necessary? Vodafone was completing its quota of Corporate Social responsibility I guess. Still no respite from the Tax authorities, though!!!
Another one from Vodafone. Though this will qualify for smart ambush marketing, the ingenious use of a medium brings this part of this post. On the final day of the F1 race in Noida ( Delhi ) last year, it was a “Toll Free Day” at the DND flyway – which many race enthusiasts used to reach the Budh International Circuit. This was thanks to Vodafone which sponsored this. The advertising message was - “Speed up for F1″. The idea resonated well with the event which is all about Speed thrills! That the F1 event had Vodafone’s main competitor “Airtel” as the title sponsor made it a very innovative and cheeky move !!!
These are just few great Ideas which came to my mind as I wrote this post. There could be many more I’m sure. My focus was only on ideas which used media differently and not necessarily on “Creative” ideas or Ideas which were just part of some “Cannespiracy”!!! (Ideas which get used only for reaping award at festivals)
I liked the idea of that “Ideas Mela”. If ‘Kumbh Mela’ can be a congregation of not only bodies but minds and souls as they say, an “Ideas Mela” can be one for great ideas!!! For, today marketing communication or for that matter entire business is all about one “Big Idea”!!!