POV: Can buzz be created around a product without advertising?

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 26, 2010
Is advertising the only route to make a brand popular

Is it possible to get talked about and sell a brand without going in for traditional advertising? afaqs! spoke to a few experts on their views about it.

Amit Tiwari, Country Media Manager, Philips India

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Buzz is all about how much people are talking about you. Therefore, in today's age it's not about what you tell people but about what you can get people to say about you.

Great examples of brands which have managed to create a buzz around them are the social

networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter. The key to their success is not that they spent huge monies in promoting themselves but that they created a product which enabled the consumer to engage with each other using their platform.

The consumer saw value in the product and he not only talked, but found ways of 'co-creating' with these sites as well. And all of this is not driven by the traditional GRPs but by the very old way of word of mouth.

Nakul Chopra, CEO, South Asia, Publicis

If by advertising we only mean brands communicating messages through commercials on TV or other traditional mediums, the answer is no. But traditional media is no longer the only medium to reach out to the people. If the message is contagious people themselves become a medium.

The question really should be: can we reach the masses without using a medium such as TV, which reaches out to 100 million or more people at one go?

Brands have to involve people in creating the communication, otherwise the mesage would be lost. Buzz can be created without embarking on mass vehicles. A BMW campaign in the US was executed by getting top directors shooting their own films, which were not put up on TV but the internet. A signature store, which is meant just for display and demo of products on a shop floor is again advertising. Advertising is nothing but the empowerment of individuals to feel a product and recommend it to the next 10 or 100 potential consumers.

Sunil Gautam, Managing Director, Hanmer MS&L

Yes, it can be. PR and social media are the two key elements to get your message right up front. PR has been the time-tested method for ensuring coverage. Today. we have a lot of digital campaigns happening and the new buzzword is social media.

Facebook applications have contributed a lot in disseminating information in the fastest time possible.

Many corporate houses and celebrities have dedicated teams and fan pages to promote their line of activity.

LinkedIn is an example of professional networking wherein professionals across sectors exchange real time information. IPO marketing is another trend which we see gaining popularity. This kind of advertising happens to be free word-of-mouth publicity. and it has changed the rules of the game.

Lloyd Mathias, CMO, Tata Teleservices

Anything startling - or a never done before activity - can contribute to creating buzz around a brand and this may not necessarily be through what we closely identify as advertising.

Tehelka is a perfect example of creating and building a strong brand without advertising. The magazine exploited and benefited from the sensation centred around politician Bangaru Laxman caught accepting bribes on camera. Tehelka, the brand, got created purely on media hype and the PR generated by the Laxman episode.

If the product proposition is powerful and differentiated, its dependence on advertising for creating noise is that much less. With the advent of malls and coffee shops, there are many more avenues that have emerged as expierential media, where brands get exposed to their target group. To create brands without advertising support, the brand manager has to look at driver ideas and use the appropriate media to blast the message.