Marketing Lack Luster

By Priya Chetty on June 8, 2009

Having a good advertising agency to execute your strategy could help a brand, especially the ones with no pocket-barriers. The recent campaign for Vodafone by renowned ad agency O&M has unleashed the revolutionary side of their alliance, easily winning over customer confidence with ‘Zoozoos’ and giving its competitors sleepless nights. Its only a matter of time before that word is added in the Oxford Dictionary! But it would be surprising to know that a brand, in itself, means nothing. After all, marketing helps build brands. What status could Versace enjoy minus the showcase of their apparels in Milan Fashion Week? It’s promotion that helps build the brands, its advertising that keeps it afloat. Many top-notch brands have delivered some forgettable performances while under-estimating the power of promotion to a brand.
The recent fiasco of Apple’s iPhone has left the gurus of marketing and Apple Inc petrified, very rightly so, after iPod’s dominancy. The PR campaign had given iPhone far more popularity than they could handle, even with an army of competent operators. They simply failed to connect with the audience. So disappointed were audiences by its price, product and services that on the day of its launch in Connaught Place, New Delhi, that the journalists outnumbered customers. Apple did not conduct a strategized market research before introducing a ‘3G’ gadget in India. The success of iPhones in western countries of North America, England, etc. was mistaken for a success in India, too. The marketing strategy occupied a king’s share of the pie in the failure factors.

Firstly, the whole ‘3G Phone’ concept was not entirely digested by Indians, even the tech-savvy ones.  It was bound to happen in time. Several other reasons are credited for the tepid performance of iPhone: product, price, promotion, distribution.

iPhone as a brand appeals to millions, but the product features were a huge disappointment. It missed some of the most important elements of a ‘cool’ cell phone: MMS service, poor camera (only 2 megapixel for the price of mega- extravagance), SMS forwarding (how could they miss out that one??), copy-paste…people simply expected a 36k phone to have it all, but were let down.

The promotion doesn’t get worse for anyone. In the western markets, the cell phones come with the service provider, so the customer stays married to the network as longs as he stays connected. They recover the cost of the under-priced handsets from the provider in due course.But India (being a democracy) is mainly a prepaid market and people wish the freedom to choose their own service provider. Apple entered market India with only two partners- Vodafone and Airtel. The low-key marketing left people stunned. Vodafone and Airtel are known for their liberal annual budget of Rs. 15-16 crores on their schemes. They only spent about Rs. 4-5 crores each on publicizing iPhone.

Despite being locked to Vodafone and Airtel, the gadget was priced at a ridiculous Rs. 31000 and Rs. 36000. People would much rather wait for Nokia N96 or Blackberry Bold or Samsung Omnia, who were more sensibly priced and well-promoted. People see cell phones as extravagance, not investment.

The phones are available only in the exclusive outlets of the service provider. Of what use is it to the customer?
An effective, convincing plan backed by a rational product and attractive price is all that’s needed for the hoopla. No brand, however big, can act savior without the proportionate blend of elements that satisfy the end-consumer. The Apple iPhone fiasco has left marketers to re-think each step twice to avoid becoming a laughing stock of the nation. For now, we only await the next phase of Apple iPhone.