Thursday, June 22, 2006

The AXE way of Engagement

The work done by Mindshare Fulcrum for AXE was short-listed this year at the Emvies under three different categories: the best integrated campaign, best media innovation—digital and best media innovation—never used before media. This article throws up interesting insights on which the campaign was based on - The Axe way of Engagement

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Women's Mindspace - Part 2

The new entrant Marie Claire

After a decade we are seeing the entry of another big international name. Marie Claire is known worldwide as a fashion magazine for the thinking woman. So, besides a lot of elegant fashion and beauty they have strong features content. The outlook group claims they have first-person articles, special investigative reports, relationships, photo stories, and hope to develop a lot of bold and beautiful reports that tell people about India and not the rich urban India. They believe in being real. So they will talk about issues in India as they are. Their fashion content is slick and doable – it doesn't come from a dream factory but it shows women possibilities in fashion. And leaves them with many good ideas.

There is no dearth of choice for the Indian woman. With proliferation of foreign player the advertising pie will get redistributed, as will the readership.

In all this rat race to woo the India woman it makes me wonder - do these magazines actually address what a woman wants or do they tell you what a man wants? ‘How to make a man beg for more’ or ‘How to save your marriage?’ all or most of the contents simply explain how to keep the man/men in your life ecstatic about you even the photographic elements are for the men to ogle at. All women’s magazines satiates the Indian man’s appetite – the get a huge chunk of their readership from men.

So what are the contents of the men’s magazine (Maxim, GQ, Debonair, Man’s world)? -Even more number of preposterously dressed women. Although I must admit women’s magazines are far more subdued as compared to the men’s magazine.

I read Cosmopolitan and I would say it’s a lot of fun but besides good entertainment value does it serve any purpose? It has endless amounts of lifestyle ads, there has also been an increase in the number of white goods that advertise in these magazines. (Thank god for small mercies at least they stopped considering women technologically challenged) One could easily spot ads of pink clamshell phone, pink bikes, pink thongs and pink perfume (Oh pink from Lacoste is amazing). I am waiting for pink washing machines and laptops. All the ads adorn the colour of the season be it pink, black or burgandy.

Has this category evolved? They claim to be celebrating the new era of women, glorifying their achievements but the ads carried in them are for damsels in distress, hence we have pretty pink bikes, furry mobile covers and special SIM cards.

Is this category saturated yet? Is there room for more players? This category has still not seen anything innovative, it is predominantly a me too market, there is always room for innovation.

Is the audience mature enough to be able to accept it? Yes, although a very small section of the actual readership base is truly willing to embrace a change. Then again there is the marketing objective do they want volumes or a small loyal customer base? In a world where even the most niche brands are all out to lure the mass market I don’t think a small section really counts.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Women's Mindspace - Part 1

My bed is littered with Business World, Outlook, the Brand Reporter, Pitch and a 100 other odd magazines, some new some old. I have a pressing deadline, a presentation to make, and I seem to show no inclination to start. I glance at this mess with apathy, through a gap in the pile a brightly coloured paper catches my attention without moving the magazines above I know it is a Cosmopolitan. I push the heap of junk to find a semi nude Mallika Sherawat flashing a rather sultry smile amongst other things. A bold text strategically placed read '69 wild moves to make on your man’. Hmmm… interesting enough for me to flip through the contents of the magazine.

All women’s magazine follow a particular homogeneity brightly coloured, glossy cover, endless make up ads and topped with a lot of steamy content that makes a good read, I love the escapism it offers. The fight for the Indian woman’s mind-space started 10 years back when the women had very limited choice in both the no of magazines and content of the magazine. The English magazine consuming population had Eve’s weekly, Women’s Era, and Femina.

The paper quality was poor, as was the photographic element. The content predominately doled out advice on how to be a blushing bride, how to tackle in-laws, interesting recipes and what not to do to wreck your marriage, Women’s Era is pretty much still the same. Thankfully the other magazines have acknowledged the new age women who are extremely comfortable with their sexuality, confident and in control of their lives.

One could get an occasional copy of magazines like Vogue, Harper Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Marie Claire only if one of your distant cousins were coming down from abroad or you could spot an extremely old edition at the raddiwala.

The quality of women’s magazine saw a change with the entry of foreign magazines like Cosmopolitan and Elle. It shook the local English magazines from slumber and made them rethink their strategy. After a decade, Marie Claire from the Outlook group, yet another foreign player has jumped into the bandwagon to battle it out for the Indian Woman’s mind-space. This warfare would be an interesting one both in terms of content and marketing gimmicks undertaken by each of them. It would also be interesting to observe how the new entrant would fair amongst the already established players’ like Cosmopolitan and Elle who have gone all out to woo the not just the Indian woman but the men as well. (A lot of their readership comes from the men well I don’t think one has to make any Einsteinish guess here).
I have analyzed the contents and marketing strategies of popular Women’s English magazine and here are a few observations I made

Bold, Bright and Big – Three words that describe this magazine the best. Everything in this magazine is larger than life (even the models in the photograph!). ‘Sexy lingerie from Victoria Secrets’ - ‘What to wear in bed with him’ - ’Kamasutra revived’ and the likes are the genre of stories that are predominantly covered by Cosmopolitan. Their primary target audience are SEC A, A1 women in the age group of 23-35. An undisputed leader in the high end market Cosmopolitan prides itself in being the Bible for women today.


It is a suave international fashion magazine that also made its entry into India around the same time as Cosmopolitan. Red carpet dressing, international fashion trends, reviews of a designer’s collection, photo reviews of make up, lingerie, cocktail dresses, shoes and other accessories feature in this magazine. It is truly in every sense a fashion magazine. They also have niche magazines on home décor (Elle Décor) and one for teenage girls (Elle teen). Of late the magazine has diluted its positioning by digressing from its niche market and becoming another mass brand like cosmopolitan. ‘Whats your kink quotient’ – ‘Chocolate in bed’ and many more stories of this genre is gaining importance in their editorial content (someone should tell them Cosmopolitan is already working really hard at it). Cosmopolitan has far more aggressive marketing and distribution system in place. Elle on the other hand should rethink their current below the line strategies and non-media innovations, which is grossly mismatched with their brand image (they sponsor college fests!!! – killing the very concept of niche)


It is the Indian Cosmopolitan – A complete me too. Femina woke up from its hibernation to revamp their content long after Cosmopolitan had entered the Indian market and established itself. They have launched a magazine for adolescent girls called Femina Girl. Over the years Femina has shown a considerable improvement in the quality of its contents, they have tried to imbibe a very foreign feel to their magazine and are a leader in the mid segment. They have been sponsoring the biggest beauty pagent in India - Ms. India since its inception which drives in high visibilty and brings out excellent brand association (Pond's only came in much later and it then became Ponds' Femina Ms. India).

Women’s Era

A magazine even my mum stopped reading long ago. Its contents are what it was a decade ago so less said the better.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Spray Away to AXE Land

Skimpily clad women hurling themselves at a rather DUH! guy well has instilled 1000s more with the shining optimism that maybe you don’t need to be a foot ball star after all. AXE sure has given all goofy men some hope, reassuring them that they can go out in the arena of wolves and score with the best in the league.
Almost all-Indian products have treaded the path to titillation but more often than not it is usually tactless and despicable. Its true that sex sells almost anything from food to incense stick yet being lewd or plain cheap can have negative repercussions on the brand, a mistake committed by all advertisers.

I think AXE has to be credited for keeping their communication fresh with sexual yet youthful effervescence, without however looking risqué.

They first identified the problem- Most young men today find it difficult to approach young women for the fear of being rejected or even worse for the fear of being laughed at. AXE has gone out of its way to help these young men out, their communication totally scrapped the belief that being ‘cool’ is not the be all and end all of dating.

For this AXE set up an online training school to groom these clownish men and they did so by making the dos and don’ts of dating loud and clear. The ad said no matter what you do AXE will make you look cool anyway. Body odor is a total turn off and a complete no no in dating.

The initial phase of their communication showed a man pull off stupid moves (with aplomb) at a club, which became the hottest moves in town, the man soon found women falling all over him. The dance was popularized through their online training school, it was taught at dance schools and published in newspapers and magazines.

In their second phase AXE gave losers a passport to visit AXE land - an island that’s teeming with gorgeous women. This dream island is just a spray away and guarantees to titillate ones senses. What more is, one doesn’t need to know how to strum a guitar or play football!!! And for all the others who can’t make it to AXE land there are loads of goodies to be won.