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Welingkar's Prerna Nagpal writes for LIVE Magazine


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Welingkar's Prerna V nagpal from PGDM BD (09-11) batch has won the first prize, for the article, "Surrogate Marketing" for the Marketing section of the Magazine "LIVE" of Sailesh J Mehta Institute of Management for the April edition

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Welingkar's Prerna Nagpal writes for LIVE Magazine

  1. 1. Implicit positioning and surrogate advertising"Advertising is a non-moral force, like electricity, which not only illuminates butelectrocutes. It’s worth to civilization depends upon how it is used." J. Walter ThompsonLet’s start with an ad that is etched in our memory and we dance to its tunes:“Dance on the clubboat, a group of party people in the age of 25 -40 years have a glass whichseems like water in it. After that music starts in advertisement “be watcha you wanna be” andyoung people do dance and then the ad closes with Bacardi brand showing bat as their logoand in the end -says cassettes and cd·s available on SONY.”This is surrogate advertising. Surrogate advertising means duplicating brand image of oneproduct extensively, in order to promote, another product.Origin of this trendAdvertising is widely accepted to be the most potent tool in the hand of a marketer.Whether it is to launch a new product, entrench an existing one, educate on the new salientfeatures or create a new market, most consumer products manufacturers orient aconsiderable amount of time, energy and money to reaching out to existing and potentialconsumers though various media. Direct advertising of tobacco/alcohol and other productswas rampant before the enforcement of tobacco control legislation in India. Billboardadvertising of international and domestic brands of cigarettes and chewable forms oftobacco was a common sight. But now all direct advertising of tobacco products in all mediahas been prohibited with the enforcement of National Legislation. Cable Television Network(Regulation) Amendment Bill,2000, which completely prohibits cigarette and alcoholadvertisements, which directly and indirectly promote sale of these products (enacted fromSeptember 8, 2000).The ban has spawned a generation of surrogate marketing initiatives ascorporations leant to sell without communicating to the consumer.
  2. 2. Trends before the enforcementSponsorship of sports events and cultural events by tobacco and alcohol industry. • ‘Wills’ (brand of ITC, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco) used to sponsor Indian cricket team/matches. • Tennis tournaments were sponsored by ‘Gold Flake’ cigarette (brand of Godfrey Phillips India Ltd. -GPI, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris). Boat racing was sponsored by ‘Four Square’ cigarettes (brand of GPI). • Charms’, a cigarette brand sponsored the ‘Spirit of freedom concert’, a musical event. • ‘Manikchand’, manufacturers of gutkha (chewing tobacco), patronized the Filmfare awards ceremony.Trends after the enforcementIn this context, one can imagine the predicament of a producer who is mandated to legallyproduce and stock and then has his hands tied by being denied the right to market theproduce. This is a ditch that many liquor and cigarette companies have found themselves inafter the enforcement. Most of the large players adapted quickly to introducing what aretermed as complimentary products which fell outside the ambit of the Government’sregulation. After the ban imposed on the 12 advertisements identified as surrogates by theGovernment of India, and the show-cause notices issued to Star TV, Zee TV and Aaj Tak in2002 under the provisions of the Cable Tele-vision Regulation Act of 2002, the whirlwind ofsurrogate ads hitting the telly calmed down to a large extent. Advertisers starteddiversifying and shifted their focus to other advertising avenues which often stretched theconcept of brand ex-tension to previously unheard-of levels to perpetuate brand recallamong the target audience.Let me quote some examples. Brand SurrogateSeagrams (Alcohol) Compact discs.Mc Dowells Water and SodaBagpiper Water and Soda, Casseetes and Compact discs.Red and White Bravery AwardsBacardI Cassettes and Compact discsKingfishe Water and Calendar’sFour Square White Water Rafting and GlidingWills lifestyle Apparels, AccessoriesGoa Gutkha, Pan Parag Gutkha Pan MasalaJohny Wlker Soda
  3. 3. 502 Pataka 502 Pataka chaiSmirn off, Aristrocrat Apple JuicesAdvertising Paan masala/mouth fresheners bearing the same brand name as tobaccoproducts is a common practice. Sponsorship of sports and cultural events is widely beingundertaken by alcohol companies in India. “Royal stag” sponsors Indian cricket matches.“Shaw Wallace” sponsored the Indian open golfing event as the Royal Challenge Indian openand the Kenya cricket team. Kingfisher promotes their liquors, beers and whiskies, whichconstitutes 95% revenues of the UB group, by different strategies like they owned a cricketteam ROYAL CHALLENGERS Bangalore and launching India’s costlier calendars which arelimited in edition.One interesting trend which was observed in the mid 2000s was the “socially responsibleadvertising” taken up by many liquor companies. Several advertisements exhorting viewersto be responsible citizens and refrain from driving after drinking were seen by mediaanalysts as a form of surrogacy.
  4. 4. The Drift between the industry and GovernmentGovernment feels that promoting these brands has influence on young minds, recruits newdrinkers, increase sales among heavy drinkers. In 2005 Health minister Anbumani Ramadossalleged that the tobacco industry was directly paying cinema stars to smoke in films. Whenmillions of people give polio drops to their children inspired by Amitabh Bachchans appeal,the impact of smoking scenes is not difficult to imagine. The industry people quote that advertising is only about protecting brand share, not totalconsumption, and industry self-regulation is the answer for any problems.Need of the HourHowever the surrogacy in advertising continues in the absence of a strong code by the ASCI(Advertising Standards Council of India). The need of the hour is to develop an unambiguousplan of action. Recently, the Information and broadcasting ministry assured that strictermeasures of surveillance to identify such advertisements would be put in place. The tobaccoand liquor manufacturing lobby has been trying to persuade the government to relax therestrictions on advertising. The following measure will go a long way in easing the deadlock:The ASCI should have an unambiguous guideline for differentiating acceptable andunacceptable forms of advertising for surrogates. Also it should be empowered toimplement the guidelines and issue penalties for non-conformance. The government mustlook beyond having the cake (the advertising ban) and eating (tax revenues).