Just for the record

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 03, 2011
Brands are breaking records to enter the Guinness or Limca Book of records. How does it help?

Future Generali recently gained entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the longest balloon chain in the world. Gillette's Shave India Movement found itself in the Limca Book of Records, while Oral-B entered the Guinness World Record for conducting the largest number of free dental checkups in 24 hours at a single location. Rival oral care brand Colgate has set three world records - first time in 2007, next in 2010, and the latest one in January 2011.

The list of brands queuing up to enter the world record books is quite long. So, what's this fancy for world record books? One simple answer could be that when more brands are trying to find newer ways to engage the consumer, entering a world record book acts as an immediate differentiator, thus breaking the clutter.

Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, says, "Breaking world records helps grab the immediate attention to the achievement."

Besides, it provides authenticity to the entire activity and the brand increases it credibility in the market. "The Guinness Book of Records is a respected brand, and associating one's brand with it earns it instant credibility," says Bijoor.

It is also a great way to say that 'I am as big as the record I have just broken or established'. Brand Consultant, Cajetan Vaz shares Bijoor's opinion, "The brand loyalty is reinforced very effectively when consumers see their favourite brand creating a new world record."

To top it all, brands also get a disproportionate bang for the buck in terms of awareness scores through such activities. "It is an excellent way of earning the editorial copy," says Bijoor.

For example, Tata Kappi built the world's biggest coffee mug a few years ago. The total cost for building the mug, showcasing it at the Bangalore Palace Grounds, and also unveiling it ceremoniously was Rs 25 lakh. But, in return, the brand got an estimated Rs 8 crore worth of publicity not only in India, but across the world.

Experts believe that this strategy works great for brands that have built great equity over the years, but haven't been doing very well in the present. Here, breaking a record could act as a brand booster.

While in some cases, a few brands could use the shot in the arm of being associated with a world record, but what that exactly is and how it transforms consumer perceptions are the more pertinent questions to answer. Industry observers have a few words of caution for the marketers.

Says, Ideation consultant, Vinay Kanchan, "Getting an award only for the sake of featuring in the Guinness book is a bit like the one-off scam ads that happen in mainline. They, at most, serve individual or blinkered purposes."

If the award is for an initiative that cements a brand position, or makes a relevant consumer-centric point in the brand story, only then are these initiatives of any use at all.

Adds Kanchan, "Records have a curious fascination with the general public; they sometimes give them stories to spread. The caveat being, the excitement of the possibilities of these new forums or avenues needs to be tempered with the inclination to get into relevant messaging."

Breaking world records need not be restricted to mobilising millions of people and boringly become a volume generation event management exercise. Says Vaz, "My best living example of a world record maker who has consistently got his achievements to enhance his brand is Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin brand."

Kanchan says simply, "The chance to get the consumer to really experience the brand on a personal level is a rare and valued one, and should ideally never be passed up for mindless pursuits that only seek to etch names on record certificates."

So, the question that goes out to all brands out there is: To break, or not to break? Think hard and choose wisely.

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