Monday, April 23, 2007

Trevor ‘Wonder Bra FCUK’ Beattie

The advertising fraternity the world over knows him as a quirky Adman whose controversial campaigns marketed Wonder Bra and French connection UK.

This man had a huge chunk of his audience cheering for him at the Goa Adfest when he declared Scam ads to be ‘cheat ads’, and I was one of them. What made it less controversial in an industry that puts more than half its money in scam work was that he said it with the same nonchalance with which he guzzled his beer. It even got the creative heads applauding.

Everyone loves scam ads because they are always edgy, bordering on the sensational and loaded with oodles of attitude. In short they are plain cheeky, but when it wins an award its depriving a good honest ad that did wonders for a product, an Ad that has paid to be on the papers. Why can’t an Ad be both sales kicking and award winning?

He equated scam Ads to winning Oscars for a film that was never got released or for that matter never got made. He said, “Imagine going up on stage and collecting an award at a music or movie awards function, when it hasn’t even been aired. Scam Ads are just the same, they are created just to be shown at awards, you don’t pay to put these up in the media at all.”

“It is the joy of making a difference, of creating a great Ad, and then winning an award. Wouldn’t you be so proud then, when you see people appreciating your creativity rather than by cheating and winning awards?” he questioned.

Most of the work turned out by the industry is mediocre and we blame the client for it. We couldn’t care because we are of the mindset that the client will just shoot down great ideas. We spend our efforts in scam ads so that it could go out there and bring home the awards. Only if we apply the same amount of passion for our client, go through the trouble to think hard and come up with better ideas, care enough and walk the extra mile will we be able to deliver a true award winner. If all clients were terrible as we claim, then the few genuine pieces of work winning awards would never have existed.

Trevor was of the opinion that we are a bitchy industry and have very little nice things to say about each other. What we really should be doing is appreciating and encouraging great work and propelling the growth of the industry as a whole and not tie our own selfish interests in winning awards to it.

It was so evident at the awards, it was showdown time! No one was even applauding for winners from any other agency but their own। Why is it that all the other work churned out by the rest of the industry is terrible and by some sheer miscalculation they won the grand prix or the gold? Good work gets recognized immaterial of the agency and we ought to be able to realize and appreciate it instead of wasting pointless amount of time being snooty.

Trevor concluded by saying it was time we set benchmarks in the industry and create advertising the ‘Indian way’ instead of simply aping the west. He pointed out several examples like the ‘Happy Dent’ Ad and the ‘Coca Cola Train Burp’ Ad and declared that that was the way to go. Our work should make people from London and America want to come, work and learn advertising in India.

What dampened the whole seminar was his praising Prasoon Joshi till no end. With all due respect to Prasoon (whose creative contributions without a doubt have made the rest of the world take notice of India), I felt it looked slightly contrived and biased it was completely contrary to what he had spoken for most of the session.

I once read "Get noticed" is Trevor’s mantra and he will live upto it by being the first fare-paying space traveler on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Space Tourism Programme in 2008 (he also happens to be in charge of its marketing). I would be surprised if he doesn’t get noticed for accomplishing a stunt like that.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sampling Parlours

How perfect it would be if I was allowed to try on the latest foot cream before purchasing it. Department store make up counters allow you to test beauty care products but not without having the sales girl breathing down your neck with special offers, or scanning you from top to bottom and telling you rather politely ‘Ma’am you can try the same shade for lesser in this brand.’ It absolutely infuriates me when caked up sales girls tell me that. I like to know what the white lily and pink coral do to my hair or how vitamin E enriched lipstick helps my lips. I like to read every fine print before I am thoroughly convinced and one can’t do it without the sales person interrupting you a zillion times in the process.

With new cosmetics flooding the market every day, and with the high price tags they demand, I am always wary about putting my money down. I don’t want to wake up with a face full of zits, or worse, discover I am allergic to a certain cosmetic I bought without trying it. Cosmetic shoppers in Tokyo are in for a special surprise with the launch of sampling salons like Club-C.

Customers at sampling salons are invited to take their time and try as many make-up and skin care products as they like without any pressure to buy. They can test-drive different brands and varieties side by side and make their purchases later at traditional sales counters or over the internet. While some salons employ a staff of knowledgeable consultants, there are no sales people onsite.

This is absolutely a delightful experience for both. On the Marketing front it not only helps understand consumers better, but also gives marketers a wide scope for research and development. While at the consumer end it allows people to leisurely try out products and helps build loyalty for brands.

The concept - a perfect interpretation of ‘Tryvertising’ – experiencing the product before purchase (still pretty unheard of in India). Salons get revenue from manufacturers who pay for their products to be displayed, market research organizations and sometimes from customers themselves, who pay modest membership fees. This concept has caught on quite well in Japan and will soon be mimicked the world over with probably minor variations. This can be extended to other product categories as well.

India is probably not mature enough to accept it but stores like Health and Glow, a hotspot for personal and beauty care products and L’Oreal run parlors could have small sections encouraging such trials (obviously with out nagging sales persons). They could have consultants who are pretty knowledgeable about products instead. Indian marketers should put some dough and thought into this concept because it has a great promise and even greater ROI.

In my opinion this is a brilliant concept, and I wish we could extend it to a whole lot of real life product and service categories – jobs, career, men. Now that’s whimsical fancy