Goafest 2009: Neeraj Nayar identifies the 'Contagious' of 2008

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, Goa | In Advertising | April 06, 2009
For Nayar, it is the internet revolution that has changed the way brands are perceived and advertised

Despite being the president of London-based Contagious Communications, a future-facing marketing ideas and emerging technologies company, Neeraj Nayar is strongly of the opinion that traditional advertising hasn't become redundant, and that it never can.

Yet, as the second speaker on day two of Goafest 2009, Nayar pointed out that with the internet opening up new avenues, one should definitely look at the positive aspects of new media.

Nayar also chose to focus on some of the key trends in the advertising business. The first and most in-the-face trend is that of radical transparency. Nayar gave instances of clothing company Patagonia, that launched The Footprint Chronicles - an initiative started by the company to make everything eco-friendly. The company website not only published information for public consumption on this initiative, but also all company details. This is quite unlike the great majority of companies the world over.

& #BANNER1 & #

Another notable trend, according to Nayar, is that brands have become entertainers. With snack brand Doritos launching, and Cadbury Dairy Milk putting in place, Nayar pointed out how user generated content (UGC) on each of these sites had transformed the positioning of these brands, which have gone beyond the 30-second commercial.

While Doritos had users walking all over the website and utilising the services offered on the site, Cadbury got users to upload their own eyebrow dance on

Set up in 2007, another website,, permitted mothers to upload videos and share their real life experiences: another example of how UGC has opened the landscape for brands to think beyond traditional advertising.

Another important trend, according to Nayar, which is fast catching up is that of brands being about 'services' and not 'messages'. Fiat launched the Eco Drive online initiative wherein users can download the application for free on a USB device, and then plug the application into their car to have details about speed, acceleration, deceleration, gear changes etc recorded on the USB. Once the USB is fitted into a PC, the user is advised on how he needs to improve upon his driving in order to reduce the carbon emission of his vehicle.

Other examples for the trend included that of Nike's Goal effort, an application that brings the world of live on the iPhone, and iFoods, another application on the iPhone created by Kraft Foods. "It's a great example of how they got people to be a part of this application," Nayar says.

Two-track branding - being both mass and niche at the same time - is in. The first instance is that of Method, an eco-friendly household cleaning brand which has grown through word-of-mouth advertising. By running detox parties and organic cocktail parties, the brand became popular for what it stood for.

Burger King's Whopper initiative got Facebook users to discard their friends in exchange of a whopper. Cadbury got users to upload their personal brow dances on Jive Brow '09. Ikea got people to get photographed and appear on the magazine cover. Guinness coined Rugby RFID (radio frequency identification) tags for sports fans. BMW wanted to know what kind of tyres are popular amongst its users, and so it sent out MMSes with pictures of cars, asking people to revert with the tyre of their choice.

The list could go on for Nayar. However, he ended his presentation with the focus points of the convergence of media gaining significance, brands being required to become useful, entertaining and relevant, brands being brave and about reaching out to people who matter.