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Rated: E · Other · How-To/Advice · #1990795
Was published in Indian Management Journal.
Changing Brand Perceptions with Humour

It is believed that Benjamin Franklin wasn't asked to write the Declaration of Independence for fear that he'd slip a joke into it. Contemporary advertising agencies would,however, welcome Fanklin into their fraternity as they have come to believe that a gag or two cannot harm the brand building process.

Music channel MTV's Bakra gag and One Tight Slap gambit comes to mind. Both these programmes broke the rules to get through he clutter and find a place in the consumer's mind and heart.

On July 28,1999,MTV took to the streets of Mumbai with MTV Bakra, a 15 minute hilarious vignette presented by Britannia Snax Cheezlets.With madcap VJ Cyrus 'The Virus' Broacha as therefore, the main protagonist, this candid camera show made 'bakras' out of unsuspecting people, all in good fun. MTV hit the roads and gullies to catch 'bakras with Cyrus paying different roles. The victims were ofourse totally unaware. Each episode ended with the victim smiling sheepishly-He was not going to forget this Bakra encounter of the Masti kind! At the end of it all, the consumer got MTV merchandise, a good laugh, and his five minutes of fame on the screen. A great start towards a genuine relationship with a brand.

On November 22, 2002, MTV launched one tight slap-Kaan Ke Niche Ek Jhapat. An MTV aand Sprit presentation, one tight slap is a series of promo that help you externalise your frustration, anger and irritation. here were serious, socially relevant messages wrapped up in entertainment values. Says Cyrus Oshidar, vice president.MTV India:'Remember all the annoying people that you've met- their irritating babble and their pestering ways? Ever wonndered how you could put a short, sharp end to it? MTV one tight slap is a fantasy of sweet revenge and a happy ending every time.Phataak!'

According to Jagdeep Kapoor, anaging director of Samsika Marketing Consultants, every brand delivers n two levls. First there is value, which is a cobination of price and quality. This is the tangible part. Then there is the inangible, or the value-added part. This is the perception of the brand. Both the tangible andthe intangibl make up the perceived value.

Now, whether a brand is successful or not depends a lot on the conumer's perception of the brand. This may or may not be the same as that of the advertiser. So, the perceived value of the brand can make or break it. Can the advertier do anything about that?

Edward de Bono says that humour is one of the very few ways we have of changing perceptions. In humour we switch,suddenly,from looking at things in one way to looking at them in another. A peron telling a joke leads us along a path and then, suddenly, we see the crazy logic of the joke.Humour tells us that the mind works in patterns but that it is possible to switch patterns.

This is what the Skypak campaign created by Advertising Avenues tried to do several years ago. The backround:When Skypak started business in the early eighties, very few had ever head of courier services. So, despite the presence of names like DHL in informed circles, Skypak chose to take upon itself the responsibility of creating the market. Quite logically, therefore, the task was to create awareness, even at the risk of being generic and ending up helping competition to some extent.The courier business soon saw the growth envisaged and Skypak reached a stage in terms of market share where no more generic advertising was necessary. The focus shifted to a more intangible area, to that of image, and customer satisfaction.

According to Ashok Roy of Avenues, a stage comes in the life of every growing service organization where the points of customer contact tend to blunt a little. this happens with growth, with routine, with the company acquiring the dubious status of a giant, a well-oiled juggernaut that's very efficient, but mechanical. While skypak was getting too used to going any distance to serve a customer need, the tiny distance between the corner of the customer's lips and his ear was also acquiring a lot of importance. So, while it was humanly impossible for any courier to totally eliminate the occasional customer frown, it had to be balanced by that coveted consumer smile. A smile born out of the understanding and appreciation o9f not just human effort, but of human failings as well. the human factor had to be brought upfront.

The classic Skypak campaign was born with a silver spoon in its mouth. Strategy,concept,execution, it had everything going for it, and one knew right then that here was a marathon runner. The concept was Gopi Kukde's, whilst Ashok Roy wrote the copy. the skypak man- who delivered in the oddest of places and circumstances-went on to become a legend. through his antics and escapades, he reached where no courier had gone before-the soft corner of the customer's heart. Humour did it.
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