Kingfisher, the brand from the UB Group stable, needs no introduction. Almost synonymous with beer in India, a high flying airline business, a lifestyle label associated with fun, style, fashion and sports - brand Kingfisher oozes oomph and panache in all spheres of its existence.
However, beyond the glamour of swimsuits and parties, Kingfisher is also a strong and aggressive brand with well defined marketing strategies. Thriving in an environment where liquor advertising is banned and still reporting regular growth in sales and popularity, it is a unique case of marketing success in the country.
Samar Singh Shekawat, vice-president, marketing, United Breweries, in an exclusive conversation with afaqs!, shares the recipe behind the brand's success so far and also unravels the way ahead for Kingfisher.
The beer brand is quite bullish on growth. Shekawat says that there is a huge scope for growth in the country as in India, the per capita beer consumption is only 1.2 litres as compared to a global average of about 22 litres.
"The challenge is beer in India is still not seen in the refreshment space like water or soda. It's still seen in the liquor space and is consumed on different occasions. This mindset needs to change for further growth of this sector," he explains.
Shekawat agrees that the 360 degree media approach, taking into account all possible ways to communicate with the target audience, has generated so much equity for the brand. "IPL is a good example of our all round approach. From TV, print (newspaper and magazines), digital, PR, merchandising, sponsoring to organising pre-night parties - we are doing it all," he adds.
Although he doesn't share the exact marketing spends for the brand, he adds that the current spends are commensurate with its growth rate.
Currently, the brand's marketing spends are directed towards four platforms - music, fashion, food and sports. In music, Kingfisher is associated with events such as Voice of Goa; The Great Indian October Fest (Bengaluru); and Pub Rock Fest. It also sponsors fashion awards, fashion weeks, individual fashion shows and is the official sponsor for IPL after parties.
When it comes to food, Kingfisher proclaims, 'Food tastes better with Kingfisher'. It has partnered with Explocity, an aggregation of city-centric portals, to bring out Kingfisher Food Guide and Night Life Guide.
Kingfisher supports all kinds of sports, right from cricket and football to tennis, Force India (Formula 1), rugby and others. The brand has also associated with Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon and World 10K Bangalore. However, with IPL emerging as the single biggest sports extravaganza in the country, the brand is spending about 20 per cent of its annual marketing outlay for the event. The returns are also quite impressive.
"We experience a 10-15 per cent increase in sales during IPL. Since the league happens just at the beginning of the season, it marks a good start for us and helps to push sales for the rest of the year," adds Shekawat.
As a part of its IPL campaign, the brand has recently launched a TVC featuring heavy duty players from the top four teams of IPL - Bangalore Royal Challengers, Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils. Conceptualised by JWT, it is a karaoke based story line commercial where 21 seasoned cricketers come on one platform to give their voices to the brand's iconic jingle, 'Oo la la la'.
The journey started some 15 years ago with one team singing the 'Oo la la la' tune. Now, there are 22 players from five different teams of the IPL singing the same tune with the same level of enthusiasm.
The film actually brings the Oo la la tune alive in a very interactive and explosive manner and delivers the line 'Divided by teams: United by Kingfisher' instantly. In fact, the various activities planned with Kingfisher Karaoke will amplify the tune across every possible channel, from party zones to even in-flight interactive entertainment."
The creative team which worked on the campaign included Kishore Mohandas, senior copywriter; Senthil Kumar, executive creative director; and Dennis Koshy, Rohit Kumar and Rajesh Gangwani, account managers. The ad has been directed by Bosco and Roshan and produced by Bang Bang Films.
Shooting for the campaign was a delight for the agency. Sharing some anecdotes about shooting with the star cricketers from around the world, Mohandas says, "Every single player was having a good time doing the karaoke. I remember how Shane Warne, after getting the song right at the first go, punched his fist and ran around as if he'd taken a wicket by bowling the batsman around the legs.
"David Warner, Dirk Nannes, Maharoof and Moses Henriques decided to do a jig to the tune on the set. Dale Steyn shot a video of Virat Kohli and Praveen Kumar on his digicam and then told them they're not singing it right. On the other hand, Andrew Symonds stayed back longer because Gilchrist suggested that they were singing the song together."
However, the challenge before the creative team was to get hold of all the players who were located in different cities, make them voice the jingle, do similar kinds of dance moves and wrap up all those within a span of about three days.
The brand now plans to use the idea of karaoke in social network applications, where it will ask users to record the song in their own voices, with the videos of different players singing the song uploaded on online video channels. It also intends to conduct live contests to engage consumers. Also in the anvil is a national go-karting contest, which will provide an opportunity for the winners to race with the Force India Formula 1 team's star driver, Adrian Sutil.
Last but not the least, the brand is consistently adding new names to its product portfolio. It has recently introduced two variants - Kingfisher Blue and Kingfisher Ultra - in the high alcohol content and mild beer segments respectively. It has rolled out another variant, Kingfisher Red, a premium gravity beer which 'tastes great when chilled and even better when not chilled'. Kingfisher Red is currently available in Punjab and Chandigarh. It will be launched soon in UP and Arunachal Pradesh, too.