Friday, September 29, 2006

Moment of Least Resistance

My knees went weak when Dhruv looked deep into my eyes, I had butterflies in my stomach (the kind of feeling you have when your on top of a gaint wheel) it was magical.

And suddenly Dhruv’s mobile buzzes ‘Win a date with sizzling Mallika Sherawat! Only on Airtel …blah blah’ He hastily hits the delete key. He looked at me with a sheepish grin before I could react he plants a quick goodnight peck on my cheek and he was off. I stood there feeling embarrassed. Now, Mallika had a way with men even without really being around.

Advertisers spend millions of rupees every year trying to out shout competition and to get consumers to notice but little do they realize they are either being intrusive or having no effect on them. It is important to catch them at the right time at the right moment –find out when they are most vulnerable to their communication - Identify their Moment of least resistance. Last night was definitely not Dhuv’s moment of least resistance.

The other day I was lying on my bed, it was a lazy afternoon and I was scanning through the newspaper checking out the films running in the city, the radio was playing in the background. I flipped through Bangalore Times, glossing over page 3. Reams of paper plastered with colourful ads I don’t recall a single one. In the background Radio City was ringing with jingles which didn’t interest me too much either. Suddenly my mobile buzzes, I wonder if it could be any of my friends but most of them wouldn’t have recovered from the hangover last night. ‘Take home a Swift ...blah blah’, (Yeah right!) I delete it even before it starts.

I had just tossed a meticulously conceptualized media plan into the bin.

"What about my reach?" Screams the irate client.
"I think we should increase the number of channels to corner her, maybe we could use pizza delivery boys to get her to listen to us she can’t possibly slam the door on their faces", explains the young incorrigible media planner." You see it was not her moment of least resistance maybe….."

Probably the media planner was right, maybe a Pizza delivery boy would have been able to talk to me and maybe it was not my moment of least resistance.

And how does one determine what is their consumers moment of least resistance?

Moment of least resistance would vary with a product or service. If the product was a glucose drink the target audience is the young wife or mother, her moment of least resistance would be when she opens the door to her tired children who’ve dredged back from school or when she watches her weary husband plop on the couch without giving her a second glance! Is there some way to reach her then? Maybe through on-pack messaging or maybe when she is out shopping for her family, subtly reminding her that glucose will help revive the josh in her family.

If it was a job portal maybe radio spots in the morning and evening when most of the working population is traveling to and fro from their offices. They could either be thinking about their work ahead or examining the days work. The radio spots could be supported by a Pub promo. Most people unwind at pubs after work over a mug of beer talking about work or bitching about their bosses or better still looking for a new job!

Women are hard to please and they don’t like changing their personal care products frequently. Consequences of it could be disastrous – no one wants a bad hair day or burst into a sever rash. So a moisturizer brand should promote itself in a salon, a place women frequent to pamper themselves, to feel good and to relax. Go right ahead and spoil her, sponsor her pedicure, lure her into buying your product by giving her a sample pack. And if you can get her beautician to put in a word for your product, you’ve won half the battle because to her, her beautician's opinions are sacrosanct. When you have her begging for more, you know she’s for keeps. What is the point of putting up danglers in retail stores or tent cards in coffee shops!

Vaseline did something similar with the launch of their new product alovera and cucumber moisturizer last summer. A mall promo where women could take a break from shopping and get a pedicure done. Sunsilk watermelon offered free hair wash during the summer, even men where thronging the stall!

It is crucial to identify appropriate touch points, but it is even more important to map moments of least resistance. Every media planner walks a tight rope and often has to choose between maximizing reach and maximizing impact, all in a shoestring budget. In a world where consumers are bombarded with a plethora of media, it is crucial to identify the optimal mix that would help reduce cost and maximize impact.

It is important to recognize when your consumer is most susceptible to the brand communication. Sometimes something gimmicky works, at other times plain cash offs work, but in either case you have to get them to take notice. One just has to know the when and where of advertising to nail their consumer. Some big budget marketers pointlessly spend millions on newspaper or plastering every available billboard in town, maybe something of lesser magnitude will also work. The key is to know when your consumer is most vulnerable to your communication, then engage them, give them some novelty to hold their attention. The last leg is to drive home the message. And that’s what will net that winning goal for your product.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Desi Blondes

Dumb blonde is a stereotype and an unproven theory. Marilyn Manroe and Jean Harlow were the two notable sex icons of the twentieth century America who helped popularize this image. Both frequently portrayed "classic" dumb blondes in their films, yet were known privately as intelligent people. Now blondes are a category in-jokes column, which are widely read and enjoyed.

Bimbos are a similar stereotype, though bimbos can have any hair color. They are interpreted as a backronymn "Body Impressive, Brain Optional".

Paris Hilton is considered a prominent dumb blonde judging on her many escapades that leak into the tabloids and the media.

Well India has its own league of blondes or equivalent bimbettes. Notable amongst them are Aishwarya Rai, Mallika Sherawat and their cronies from bollywood.

Bimbettes love being cute, coy yet incredibly sexy and use all three to their advantage. There is no dearth of men who won't fall for it. Batting eyelids, giggling for almost anything, twirling their hair all works with men and blondes are incredible at it.
I have met a few Desi blondes in my really short career in advertising and events that has spanned over 8 months. These women give a bad name to account management and I for one work in this department and have to live with the stereotype of being another bimbo. It is extremely difficult to break away for it’s a given women in client servicing cant write briefs to save their lives. What more we use fake smile to get our work done. And the irony of it all - it actually works. Some succumb to their charm grudgingly while the majority do so almost readily!

The new reality show on air 'The beauty and the geek' exemplifies the intelligence of blondes. The men may look goofy but they are all smart and intelligent. Probably with a little makeover they would look good as well. However, they seemed to be smitten by dumb blondes who are endowed with ample natural assets and with intelligence that of an ant.
Its really tough to be dumb and for most bimbettes it comes naturally. It sure pays well to be one most men are at your disposal. I have always wondered why men seem to have a fetish for bimbettes. Either they cant see through them or are simply pretending to be oblivious of their lack of intelligence.

The other day a bimbette just batted her eyelids and looked at our creative director and said

'Oh Pranav! do I have to write a brief? I have already told you what has to be done and I have also forwarded the mail from the client to you which pretty much tells you what they want. Can't you do this for me?'

'Relax sweets! I will do this no sweat.'

Ooch! I had just finished typing out my brief after carefully considering all the parameters.
So I walk up to Pranav and ask him
'Do you want me to write a brief or bat my eyelids?'

He burst out laughing (God bless his sense of humor for I could have been flogged by my creative director for my insolence)

'Don’t push your luck Dhivya, batting eyelids and you? Ha! got to be kidding so the only other option for you is to write the brief. I'll will endure your crappy writing.'

'Oh please its way better than batting eyelids or flashing a fake smile.' I reply over my shoulder as I leave.

As long as men find batting eyelids more impressive than intelligence and pout more flattering than a good creative brief we'll continue to churn out mediocre work.
All the other non-bimbettes may have to consider re working their strategy.