Brand Activation Summit 2010: Activations should be good for me, you and the world

By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 22, 2010
The need to look beyond traditional media and to convert powerful ideas of brand activation into assets was strongly felt during the first session of the Brand Activation Summit 2010

Various aspects of brand activation -- its meaning and implications in modern-day marketing, categories that lend themselves best to this tool and the ways of measuring it -- were under discussion at the first-ever Brand Activation Summit 2010. Organised by afaqs! events in association with Jagran Solutions, the summit was held at ITC Sheraton, New Delhi on March 19.

& #BANNER1 & #An eclectic mix of seasoned agency executives and veteran marketers across segments participated in the discussion, while sharing their individual experiences in this arena.

Kicking off the session, Prasanna Singh, COO, afaqs! highlighted the role played by activation in brand communications. He said that while more and more marketers are waking up to the potential of this brand marketing tool, there were unexplored territories in this space that needed urgent attention. As he set the stage for the experts, Singh put forward certain questions that were addressed by the panellists during the course of the summit. "Why did it take so long for activation to take off, given the kind of talent the industry is attracting and the challenges before the industry?" he questioned.

Next on stage to deliver the keynote address was Arvind Mohan, group chief strategy officer, Rediffusion YR, who focused on the changing lifestyle of consumers and its impact on their buying behaviour. According to Mohan, the need of the hour is to convert powerful ideas into assets.

"If brand activation is a powerful idea, we have to make it real and make people live it. A lesson can be taken from how big brands such as Manchester United use activations. People across the world watch MU players, wear their jerseys, sing their anthem and live the brand. If I can't make my consumers live my idea, I don't have a brand; I just have an abstract idea," Mohan hit the nail on the head.

He cited the example of luxury car maker Volkswagen which, as part of its brand activation programme, is promoting several social messages. To encourage people to use the stairs to stay fit, the brand has come up with staircases resembling a piano. Similarly, he informed, to prevent people from littering, it has come up with musical dustbins. These efforts, he felt, not just help people to imbibe good habits, but also create a good perception about the brand.

"I call it a holy trinity of branding," he said. "Unless an idea is good for me, you and the world, it's not a good idea," he summed up.

He opined that in India, agencies are cursed by the medium; that is, they cannot think beyond the medium they are working with. He used an anecdote to bring home the point: "If today our government calls for a pitch to eradicate poverty, ad agencies will invariably come up with a TV campaign; public relation firms will come up with a social media campaign; and direct marketing will come up with a one-to-one solution."

The only way to deal with this, Mohan said, was to incorporate trans-media story-telling techniques and engage consumers through brand activation programmes.

The Brand Activation Summit 2010 was presented by Jagran Solutions and Star News was Session Sponsor.