Coalition marketing

Updated on: Apr 17, 2014


ct18_android kitkat.JPG

ct18_android kitkat.JPG



ct18_Titan Zoop_Iron Man 3 collection (2) - Copy.jpg

ct18_Titan Zoop_Iron Man 3 collection (2) - Copy.jpg

It’s the bane of politics. But in marketing there are no coalition compulsions, only opportunities

Madhukar Kamath, Managing Director and CEO, DDB Mudra Group, calls it the largest ever marketing blitz India has seen. Last month, his agency kick-started a campaign that will spend more than ₹100 crore over a year, for the country’s largest retail chain, Big Bazaar. Over a period of 52 weeks, Big Bazaar will unveil a new ad every Monday (similar to global home décor giant Ikea’s ‘365 ads for 365 days’ campaign). These ads, which promote a specific product category every week, are targeted at “making India beautiful”, as the new campaign by Big Bazaar is positioned.

Room for partners The story of brand coalition is woven into the campaign details. In two of the five categories shown to the media, brands that don’t belong to the retailer are embedded prominently in the Big Bazaar commercials. For example, an ad promoting chocolates as a category for one week shows a child sharing Ferrero Rocher with his friends, while the ad promoting induction stoves has Prestige prominently featured. Nothing wrong with having supplier brands in a retailer’s advertising commercial, except that there is a strong revenue opportunity here — both for Big Bazaar and the participating brands.

Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group, which owns the Big Bazaar chain, says that the co-operative marketing exercise is an idea through which Future Bazaar’s partners will share a percentage of the advertising cost. “We will hopefully take the path of Intel where computer manufacturing partners fund a significant percentage of Intel’s advertising costs,” he says. And what is in it for the brand partners? Footfalls in the retailer’s outlets will increase by 20 per cent and business is expected to grow by 30-35 per cent, says Biyani.

Of course, Future Group is not the only company that believes in the power of co-operative marketing, or coalition marketing as we call it, to blend in with India’s politically charged atmosphere. As Biyani himself points out, Intel is among brands with a global track record of having successfully forged marketing partnerships with hundreds of computer manufacturers. In fact, Intel was so successful with its own branding that mainstream computer brands carried its ‘Intel Inside’ logo in their advertising, as consumers started feeling that non-Intel processors would make lesser mortals of their computers. Then there is the most cited example in recent times — the tie-up between Google’s Android platform and Nestle’s chocolate brand Kit Kat.

A bite of Kit Kat-Android Last year, Google and Nestle pulled off a coup of sorts when Google decided to brand its mobile operating system as Android KitKat, after Nestle’s popular wafer chocolate bar. Prior to that Google used names of sweet treats, such as Jellybean, Cupcake and Ice Cream Sandwich, for the various versions of its Android operating system.

Nestle executives say Google approached Nestle with the co-branding offer; it had to be implemented across 150 countries at the same time. The co-branding immediately became a talking point across social networks. Nestle executives said then that the tie-up with Google was in line with the company’s aim to leverage digital technology and online content so that it could get closer to customers — and thus understand their preferences and cater to them. JWT London revamped Kit Kat’s website, calling KitKat 4.4 the most advanced chocolatey product yet, the campaign uniting smartphones and chocolates to celebrate co-branding.

To mark the release of Android KitKat, over 50 million specially branded KitKat bars in the shape of the Android robot were launched in 19 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Dubai, Russia, the US and the UK.

In India, Nestle ran a contest, giving consumers who bought the limited edition Kit Kat pack a chance to win the Google Nexus 7 devices. Marketing experts have hailed it as one of the most clutter-breaking ideas, implemented efficiently and quickly — an example of seamless execution across both online and offline channels. On the flip side, the disadvantage of such partnerships is a possible scenario where the operating system develops glitches or the confectionery brand faces trouble with quality. In the era of the social network, negative sentiment could rub off on both the brands equally.

Titan’s Ducati ride There are those who believe that co-branding moves beyond the regular brand promotional aspects. “Partnership branding not only becomes a good marketing exercise but also helps the companies stretch their boundaries with regard to technology and design,” says Rajan Amba, Marketing and Product Head, India and International Markets, Titan Company. Remember Titan’s partnership with Ducati, the Italian motorcycle brand? Titan launched a limited collection of 3,000 watches, each priced at ₹25,000. The USP of the watch? A combination of technology, design and superior materials, much like Ducati bikes. “It boosted our morale as a company that we could make something like that,” says Amba.

A platter of green tea Apart from Titan, other Tata group companies also have tested out partnership branding – for instance, Indian Hotels and Tata Global Beverages. A chef from Vivanta by Taj created a full course menu using Tetley’s green teas — including coconut soup, root vegetable stew, smoked chicken wings, green tea cookies and aromatic green tea cold drinks. Vikram Grover, VP & Head, Marketing, India & South Asia, Tata Global Beverages, said in a media statement, “This thoroughly supports our attempt to bring out Tetley’s versatility by inventing green tea recipes which are beyond belief. There is no excuse when you have health and taste together.”

Following the success with Tetley, Tata Tea Chakra Gold has rolled out a similar exercise in association with The Gateway Hotel, Visakhapatnam. Tea recipes from Chakra Gold featured at an event included Tea Rasgulla, Tea Waffles, Tea Mayonnaise Sandwich and more. The event was followed by a tea-tasting session conducted by Paul Sandys, Director of Blending and Commercial Support at Tata Global Beverages. Besides Bangalore and Visakhapatnam, the brands will take their association to other cities, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi.

Taking Oreo places Another brand that has constantly explored tie-ups is confectionery major Cadbury.

Anuradha Aggarwal, Category Director, Biscuits, Cadbury India, says, “Oreo has global partnerships with food companies such as McDonald’s and Unilever which we have extended to India as well. In India, we have partnered with ‘quick service restaurants’ such as McDonald’s, Café Coffee Day and Kwality Walls Swirls to bring the Oreo experience to more consumers and strengthen its brand recall.” These associations give the company an opportunity to delight consumers as the product is available through different formats. “Consumers love it when they see their favourite food brands coming together. These associations have also activated newer means and occasions to drive consumption for Oreo,” says Aggarwal.

While brand partnerships may look like one never-ending honeymoon, there are the rough patches to watch out for. Like coalitions, even these are likely to work when it is a marriage of equals, or when the partners feel their expectations are being met. And what happens when that balance tilts? Look no further than Indian politics.

Published on April 17, 2014

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