by Arcopol Chaudhuri
The consumer craze for Tata Nano was built on an interesting publicity platform. After the car was launched, it was advertised with a media mix unheard of in India’s recent media history — zero ads on television, a judicious use of print ads and an active Web interface. In the run up to its launch, Nano got the media attention equivalent to perhaps the largest paid advertiser in the country.
Copywriters would have salivated at the thought of making TVCs for the vehicle. Did Nano need a big-bang advertising blitzkrieg? Should advertising have begun earlier? What is the ideal media plan for Nano? DNA asked media experts.
A plan focusing on customer satisfaction initiatives
Here’s a brand that presumably has more than the required “pull” factor versus the regular “push” factor that brands need to create to achieve the “pull.” The media attention and space/time that Nano garnered over the last few months would perhaps be much more than the largest paid advertiser in the country for the corresponding period. The initial demand here would certainly be more than the supply.
If we were the media agency for Nano, our recommendation would have been to clearly divide the communication plan into 3 or 4 phases — all phases underpinned on the need to focus on various customer satisfaction initiatives. The company should focus on delivering a top-class product so that the consumer doesn’t end up spending a large sum on maintaining the vehicle. The first set of owners can either kill or make the brand. Considering the hiccups the project has gone through, it is a crucial period and a scenario that has both its positives and negatives as this lot will not be a substantial number.
The advertising in phase I — a 6 month window — should have news value since media is sure to follow the brand success. We would have used every possible consumer touch point to drive home the happy feel of the first lot of consumers, including the national news television discussion forums with owners, Web chat, interactive newspaper columns, interactive SMS communication and radio call-in programmes et al. We would then have ensured brand experience/touch and feel of the brand in specific cities. The last stage of the first phase, leading into Phase II, would be the announcement of a Nano owners’ club — subscription through paid memberships.
The club members would enjoy various perks/facilities so as to enable them to feel privileged. There should be consistent focus to ensure the members receive a pleasant surprise every 3 months. If handled well, this has the potential to partly fund the subsequent phases of Nano advertising, which should evolve based on the results of phase one.
–S Yesudas, CEO, R K SWAMY Media Group
We pioneered similar strategy for Maruti Swift
There is nothing unusual about the Nano media strategy. When a launch is preceded by several months of media publicity, which continues after the product is actually rolled out, there is no sense in spending too much on paid advertising. In fact, we pioneered this strategy with the India launch of Swift some years ago.
The product had been revealed at all the major international auto expos and it was for the first time that an international launch was taking place simultaneously with the India launch. There was also much PR activity. So we dispensed with the usual TV advertising and instead got 27 channels to create their own teaser-revealers of the car, which was supported by intelligent use of print, online and radio.
We have since used this strategy for all subsequent launches from Maruti. Typically, when there is an expected booking period, TV advertising is slated to break only after a gap of a few months when there are sufficient cars on the road. I am not sure what is the geographic strategy for Nano as an entry level car – the demographic strategy seems fairly clear – but depending on the market selection, a judicious use of various types of out-of-home media must also be on the line.
– Lynn De Souza, chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group
Use newspaper ads to tell people where to book
If you look at the value proposition of the Nano, it’s pegged at its affordability and low price. Finally, we need to realise that it’s all about the business. It would be unwise to burden the already ambitious project with an unreasonable marketing campaign that renders the business of making and selling a Nano unsustainable.
One would rather see how to use and further fuel media curiosity and hype generated by the Nano launch to push all relevant messages to the market. If advertising costs money, that cost would have to be added over a period of time to the Nano price and would need to be paid by the consumer. Fundamentally, I wouldn’t agree with large format, large budget ad campaigns for Nano. If I were the media planner, I would have used newspapers to just give details of where to book.
Nano did no ads and yet the world knew about the launch date! It’s shocking. My driver asked on the launch date if we were going to book! This is what I call a big-impact entry. And if all this was without an ad, maybe it’s just smart marketing. At the heart of it, advertising just serves various messages that we want to communicate to the audience. So far, all the messages have been carried within the hype and the hoopla. That advertising cost conservation is part of the Nano business model.
–Atul Phadnis,CEO, What’s-On-India
Would you advertise a cure for cancer?
Advertising is only needed when the product doesn’t make news itself. Nano was such a ground-breaking product that it needed no advertising. When it was announced, 5 pages in the newspaper were about the Nano – three were editorial pages, which I think everyone read and two pages had ads, which I think almost no one cared for and probably was a complete waste of money.
If I was the media planner on the Nano account, I would only advertise information on ‘Where and how do I book a Nano?’ (Strangely, the Nano ads seemed to downplay this.) And maybe, this information needs to come less from Nano and more from Tata Capital and Carwale. So my media plan for Tata Nano would be — nil on TV, press and outdoors and Rs 10 lakh over two months on the Web (just to steer people to the website and financing information as the site is not well indexed). I would use above-the-line media only later, if there was any competition. But I don’t see competition for a couple of years. Isn’t it obvious?
If I discover a cure for cancer, I won’t spend a dime to advertise it. The world will be at my doorstep to publish news about it. The Nano is in a similar category. If they were so incredibly creative on the product itself — why bother with creative on the advertising? A product’s marketing IQ is inversely proportional to its ad budget. The more differentiated you design a product, the less you need to spend to persuade people to buy it. The dumber your product is, the more you need to spend to market it. All those brands need to advertise on IPL because you wouldn’t think of them otherwise. The Nano doesn’t have that problem.
– Mahesh Murthy, founder, Pinstorm