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All About Ads: The battle of brands at Durga Puja

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On this episode of All About Ads, a special report on Durga Puja pandals, which are not just a congregation of devotees but also battle of brands, big and small, to grab eyeballs. We look at Starbuck's entry in India with its very first outlet in Mumbai. Also on the show, a walk down the memory lane with ad film maker, Kailash Surendranath, the director behind Nirma, Liril, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara among many others.

Here is the full transcript of the show. See the video here.

The triumph of good over evil, that’s what Durga Puja is all about. But at this community puja in New Delhi, it’s also a battle of brands. Welcome to All About Ads on NDTV Profit. Not only are there financial institutions and banks, there are also developers, footwear, telecom, Dish TV, soap and even deodorant brands. This evening, this place is going to be buzzing and there will be lots to eat and drink including tea and lots and lots of coffee. And while we are on the subject of coffee, U.S. chain Starbucks has opened its very first outlet in Mumbai. Priyanka Satam has this report.

 

STARBUCKS’ FORAY INTO INDIA

 

Priyanka Satam: After months of speculation, the much awaited coffee destination Starbucks is now in India; People are already lining up to get in. For most of us who’ve been abroad, they’re a familiar brand. But for the rest, it’s novel. A must try once, to see what the hype is all about.

Customer 1: It’s the hype that brought me here. It is all over the news, first Starbucks opening in India.

Customer 2: I’m just waiting for the caffeine, the original coffee experience here.

Customer 3: Good service, good food, good coffee. Well, it’s Starbucks. It doesn’t need hype. It’s got its hype. It’s just its name. It’s Starbucks.

Priyanka Satam: This colossus flagship Mumbai store, housed in the historic Elphinstone Building, can seat 120 people and is decorated with Indian motifs by local artists with hand-carved wooden screens, vintage trunks and leather-bound books. For a brand that boasts of similar outlets and branding across the world, this is indeed a big step. And there’s more. Starbucks is offering Indianized food too, offering diverse snacks that include tandoori paneer rolls, chatpatta paratha wraps, murg tikka Panini etc., with their world-famous brews. This will also be the very first time Starbucks has sourced and will be serving locally-grown coffee.

Howard Schultz (Chairman, President & CEO, Starbucks Coffee Co.): What’s really unique is that it’s the first time in our history that we’re sourcing and roasting coffee locally in the market that we’re opening up a store in. And that also, I think, will play very nicely in demonstrating our respect for the local market and the local customer. Overtime, there is a bigger opportunity to bring that coffee to the rest of the world and really build a brand for the coffee coming from India.

Priyanka Satam: A 50:50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages, Tata Starbucks Ltd plans to open up to 50 stores by the end of 2012.

Ratan Tata (Chairman, Tata Group): I think, Howard Schultz shares many of the same values that we consider important apart for the business issue; in human chemistry and in giving to the customer, there is a richness in this partnership, which you don’t often see. So I'm feeling very proud of being a part of this and very proud to be a partner of Starbucks.

Howard Schultz: Tata’s help will be able to get us access to great real estate; their understanding of the local consumer, especially when it comes to food; the infrastructure issues. We have a competitive advantage, not the least of which is the reputation of the Starbucks brand. Everything we do will come up to the quality of the cup and our people’s ability to exceed the expectations of our customers.

Priyanka Satam: However, despite it being the world’s leading coffee chain, the Seattle-based coffee giant isn’t going to have it easy in India as it faces stiff competition from local favorites Cafe Coffee Day, which was setup in 1996. CCD today has 1390 stores in India, while other international coffee chains like Barista Lavazza have over 180 stores with revenue of $469 million. Meanwhile U.K.’s largest coffee chain Costa Coffee has over 100 outlets across the country with the revenue of $12 million. The U.S. coffee giant Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has 21 outlets across India. Riding high on its big brand recall and aided by multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and enough free press, will Starbucks be able to replicate its unprecedented success in China and change the landscape of this tea-obsessed nation?

 

BRAND WARS AT DURGA PUJA

 

Shruti Verma Singh: It’s Durga Puja and we are at a community puja, which is also a battle of brands. There are brands from diverse categories including auto companies. We are here to speak to the organizer of this particular community puja.

Sandeep, thank you very much for joining us on All About Ads. What are the revenues that we’re talking about?

Sandeep Datta Gupta (Organizer, Co-Operative Ground Durga Puja Samiti): We are talking about revenues up to about Rs 30 lakhs and we have leading brands. You have Idea, ITC, Dish TV; you name it and they are there.

Shruti Verma Singh: Okay. What do you think these brands achieve by their presence in a community puja like this?

Sandeep Datta Gupta: They get a huge amount of publicity unparalleled even in any other media I think. Probably only TV would be able to surpass the kind of visual attraction that these ads have. Also, it’s a very good cost-effective means of advertising.

Shruti Verma Singh: Now Rs 70,000 for putting up a stall here is quite a steal considering the footfalls, right?

Sandeep Datta Gupta: Yeah, exactly.

Shruti Verma Singh: What do you think brands achieve? Sales are one thing, leads is one thing, but what are the intangibles that one can think of?

Sandeep Datta Gupta: Intangible factor could be the registration amongst masses about their brands, because all kinds of people come here, all stratas (sic) are targeted. It is not focused targeting. You have a huge span of people that you target. And, you never know, a person, who probably can’t afford a car today, would probably remember the brand and tomorrow when he’s able to afford one, he’ll recall. So it has got a lot of intangibles involved in.

Shruti Verma Singh: All right. Do you think it’s been the same situation this year as compared to last year? Do you think things are slower?

Sandeep Datta Gupta: You see, there has been generally a decline in revenues coming in from advertisement. But, we have not had a problem. In fact, we have improved this year.

Shruti Verma Singh: Well, thank you very much for joining us on All About Ads.

 

WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH KAILASH SURENDRANATH

 

Shruti Verma Singh: Ad filmmaker Kailash Surendranath has directed over 3500 ad films in the past 35 years that he’s been in the business, which includes the ever popular film for Lyril.

Kailash Surendranath (Veteran Ad Film Maker): My dad was in movies and he had a little production company. He had been an actor for a long time and eventually decided to have a production company, because his acting career was tapering out. Working with him, I took over the reins at a very early age, because I was very interested in cinema and films. My most enjoyable work has been those early Lyril films, which I did because they were always an adventure. We used to go down to Kodaikanal with three cameras, one for special effects, one for slow motion, one regular camera. We used to trek down a mountain and into a valley, into a waterfall, because those days, it was not considered feasible to make a set of a waterfall. It was ice-cold weather.

There were a few path-breaking things in that; the very fact that there was a girl in a bikini in a waterfall for a soap. Any soap ad before that was typical; it had male appreciation; the freshness; the bathing scene up to the shoulders with the lather; they were the typical stuff.

Now, when we put a girl in a bikini, that itself is breakthrough. But more than that, technologically, there were certain tricks we used in the editing like flash frames, subliminal framing, and a lot of in-camera effects, which were actually quite shocking to the audience those days on a large screen. That today, of course, has gone much, much, much further. But things have changed a lot. I think the starting point today is a good concept. If you don’t have that, if you don’t have the idea in the film, then advertising is just part of the scenery. We decided to do the first batch of Vimal films, which we did for Mudra. We decided to do it all across Rajasthan with the top models of those days.

Some of the more enjoyable work of the 80s, the trilogy that we did for national integration, these films are done for the government with the briefing of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He asked us to do something which will make young Indians proud to be Indians. Perhaps he felt at that point that the feeling was lacking; it was just out of emergency.

The sheer emotional patriotic response was incredible.

There was so much improvisation. What we were doing those days was arriving on a location with a person like say P.T. Usha. She said come to Chennai because I’m practicing there. So, we had to shoot in Chennai. We had just a day. We went to IIT. I had seen IIT before. It was beautiful. Suddenly I noticed there’re so many deer over there. I made a plan with the crew. I said stay far away from the deer, let them be. Light up a torch over here and let her just run and we’d probably get only one take because the deer are not going to be back after she runs through them. And that’s exactly what happened. We were shooting only in 35 mm. We were post-producing on film. And there was no such thing as digital, anything you wanted in sound. There was hardly any synthesized music. Anything you wanted in sound had to be live music.

Even for commercials, we used to record with 50, you know, 20 musicians. In post-production, there was very little you could do, because there was no perfection in cinema effects in India at least at that point. It was just being perfected in the West. So we had to, you know, design everything to work in camera.

But when you saw your work, it was magnificent, because when you saw your rushes, when you saw the work in cinema, it was a nice large screen and, you know, you saw everything beautifully.

You have to be completely abreast with technology. You have to be up-to-date with what’s happening. You have to be able to achieve anything, which has been achieved anywhere in the world and know how it was done.

 

INTERNATIONAL AD NEWS

 

After insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong was indeed guilty of doping, not only has he been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles but banned from the sport. What’s more--not only have brands like Nike dropped him as an endorser, several brands like Rabobank have terminated their association with the sport itself. What this really means is that pro-cycling events like the Tour de France will find it difficult to get corporate sponsors for the next few years.

Pro cycling sponsorships are estimated to be between $300 to 400 million a year. Dutch bank Rabobank, that is reported to have spent nearly $20 million every year sponsoring the sport, is stopping its sponsorship of professional men’s and women’s teams after 17 years.

Last week, Nike fired Armstrong as brand ambassador. He had been associated with them since 1996. Armstrong stands to lose an estimated $15-20 million a year in endorsement earnings and speaking fees. But the total damage maybe over $150 million in lost future earnings, according to experts. Armstrong, of course, maintains his innocence.

 

(This episode of All About Ads aired on October 24, 2012)

Story first published on: November 01, 2012 15:44 (IST)

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