next coffee break at work may be sponsored by a beverage company, as advertisers are increasing their presence inside offices premises through activities such as games and contests. The objective is to engage with working executives who are most sought after by brand owners.
Entering the office premises has several advantages. First, reaching out to this category of consumers has always been a challenge for brand owners and office is the place where they spend a large part of their day.
Second, using television to reach young consumers is difficult. Especially in the early years of their career, working hours are erratic, and even after work, they prefer to go out with friends.
A senior industry professional adds, "When a brand reaches out to its consumer at work, it's bound to get a more focused response. There is also the factor of word of mouth - one spends so much time with colleagues at work that a shared experience increases conversation capital."
In fact, among the various types of offices, brands prefer to target BPOs because these provide access to people with high consumption behaviour.
"For promotional activities which require captive audiences, or for products which need an explanation, office premises are ideal. Shopping malls might have high footfalls, but they are full of hustle and bustle," he says.
Anand Halve, partner, chlorophyll Brand & Communications, thinks that it is a question of finding "clusters of prospects for the product, which are self-defining".
"Some products have characteristics which allow them to market themselves to a group in a defined environment. For example, for a nutritional supplement, the gym becomes a perfect fit (for a promotion)," he says.
In fact, it turns out to be a win-win situation for both parties. For employees, 30 minutes of fun activities is a welcome break, while for the brand, it's a great way of targeting its potential customers.
This phenomenon is common among all kinds of brands, but brands in consumer durables, beverages, mobiles and financial services and media companies seem to target offices the most.
Brands such as Dabur, Microsoft, Sony Playstation, Bharti Axa, Nokia and Sahara One have all tried this route. These are some brands whose target group includes people with a fixed disposable income in the 25-45 years' age group from SEC A and B.
The period between January and March is peak season for financial services companies. One of the routes they can be expected to follow is organising activities in offices.
Recently, Bajaj Capital launched a campaign in 60 offices in four cities, which was handled by Big Reach. The agency involved office executives in games such as Dumb Charades and Tongue Twisters, while informing them about the services of the company.
Manoj George, national sales head, Big Reach, says, "The best part about office promotions is that they are non-intrusive and the target audience is right there," he says.
Speaking about the campaign, Vishwajeet Parashar, senior vice-president and head, marketing, Bajaj Capital, says, "This is the first time we are doing an office campaign on a mass scale. It's the right time because people are looking for tax saving solutions. In offices, we get the perfect target audience - the salaried class."
Parashar says that the return on investment is better in offices than, say, malls, because people are in the mood to listen.
Different advertisers have different reasons for organising such activities. For instance, STAR Plus wanted to create buzz around its new candid camera show, Arre Deewano Mujhe Pehchano.
Ambika Sharma, national head, Jagran Solutions, the agency which handled the activation, says, "We planned candid camera gags with stars such as Mona Singh, Mandira Bedi and Divya Dutta. They got us huge buzz in agencies and with advertisers as well as the general public in Mumbai. As part of one of the gags, Dutta visited a media office in Mumbai. Disguised as Santa Claus, she met and interacted with the staff. Until she revealed her true identity, she was unrecognisable!"
However, Neville Bastawalla, head of marketing at Mid-Day Multimedia, says that all Mid-Day activities are just for fun. "We are a fun newspaper targeting corporate executives and all our marketing initiatives are geared towards making work fun," he says.
In fact, Mid-Day conducts such activities quite frequently. One of these is the Bollywood Lunch Contest. The winners of this contest get to meet the star of a newly released movie. In the current campaign, Anil Kapoor will visit an office to promote the film, Slumdog Millionaire. In the past, actors such as Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt and John Abraham have been part of the contest.
Besides, Mid-Day also organises parties at offices through its programme called Happy Hours at Work, which is sponsored by Foster's. The promotion has already covered 28 offices and plans to cover 30 more in Mumbai and Pune by June 2009.
Similarly, Castrol Magnatec, the engine oil, launched an inter-office cricket tournament, called Intelligent Innings, in five cities. According to Jagran Solutions, the agency which executed the activity, the company reached 200 corporates and saw the active participation of 50 per cent of these.
Tata Indicom organised its activity, 30 Secs to Fame, in 20 companies in Bengaluru. Each employee was given 30 seconds to showcase his talent, whether in singing, mimicry, dance or anything else. George of Big Reach, which executed this activity, says that the companies responded positively to the activity. The agency is planning to take it to other cities, too, now.
A section of industry professionals believe that brands adopt this route because of cost effectiveness. However there is more to it than that.
Jyoti Bansal, executive director, West and South, MPG India, agrees that it does work out cheaper to do an office promotion than one in a mall because the only thing required is the permission of the HR department and there are no venue costs involved. However she says, "More than the cost efficiency, it is the focused and interested audience which attracts the advertiser."
Halve is also of the opinion that the lower cost of implementation vis-à-vis mass advertising is not a significant reason for organising promotions in offices. In fact his estimate is that at times such activities can also be expensive. "Sometimes, the group of prospects may be scattered. Then, it's not as cost effective," he says.
Most industry professionals agree that there has been a marked increase in marketers showing an interest in office promotions. As long as that interest remains, coffee breaks will never be the same again.