afaqs!

POV: Can the right creative brief salvage brand Maggi?

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Foods | August 14, 2015
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As Maggi gears up for a fresh lot of lab tests, we wonder what its big 'comeback campaign' ought to look like.

In a partial reprise to Nestlé India, Bombay High Court lifted the ban on Maggi, asking the brand to undergo fresh tests of its variants. We asked creative honchos and brand experts on what should be Nestle's 'brief' to its communication partners on Maggi's 'comeback' campaign.

KV Sridhar

Ashish Chakravarty

Prathap Suthan

Suman Srivastava

Vibha Desai

KV Sridhar, aka 'Pops', chief creative officer, SapientNitro, India

I think Nestlé India should reach out to all the Maggi lovers as this is their victory too. The campaign should showcase Maggi fans rejoicing as their beloved brand makes its way back to the shelves. The brief should be precisely to capture Maggi's comeback and fans enjoying the brand. In this controversy, four parties were involved - the company, state food regulators, government and judiciary.

I feel that the state regulatory bodies did not give the company a fair chance and did not allow them to demonstrate their test results by independent or international agencies, nor did they agree on a methodology. The state governments acted in a panicky way because of the media hype, while the central government kept mum. Nestlé maintained a golden silence. The only two parties that acted were the people and the judiciary. While people voiced their support or dissent, the judiciary gave the company a chance to narrate its side of the story.

Ashish Chakravarty, national creative director, Contract Advertising

The communication partners will have a very hard time and task ahead of them. Unlike the Cadbury's chocolate or Coca-Cola's controversy, where brands got celebrity endorsers to assure consumers that they are now safe, the Maggi ban issue is graver.

According to me, Nestlé India should come back targetting consumers who have grown up on brand Maggi. They are much likely to accept the brand. It should not target children as primary consumers, as parents will rethink feeding their children a product which has been caught in a major health-related controversy. I have personally worked on the brand, and I know it is going to be a tough task to rebuild it.

Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer, Bang in the Middle

The brand is in a complicated situation and, therefore, the brief is going to be as complicated. I would definitely want tonnes of research and consumer feedback to build the campaign. The brief needs to evolve from what the bulk of India wants, expects and trusts. Has trust eroded? Will they forgive? Will they accept again? Will there be a govt. guarantee that Maggi is safe? What does the ruling mean? What are the new safety guidelines in play that will ensure harmful chemicals etc. will not be part of Maggi? Are other food products from Maggi safe? Will this be a corporate campaign or brand campaign? Or both? Plenty to chew.

So, unless I am privy to all of that information, there is no way I will anticipate the brief. The brand has one wonderful opportunity to build itself back, and it needs to get it right bang on.

Suman Srivastava, chief strategy officer, FCB Ulka

I believe, once the brand Maggi gets through this controversy and clears the fresh tests, it should start a new conversation with the consumer. There is no point highlighting the 'now we are safe' proposition because it is, in a way, an admission of failure. The best bet would be to initiate a larger and fresh conversation. There might be an initial resistance, but eventually consumers will participate. The company might consider launching a new flavour and weaving an interesting conversation around it.

Vibha Desai, independent advertising and marketing consultant

It's a very sensitive issue because Maggi is one of the most trusted brands, which has lost its equity in the last few months. They need to do a campaign which will build it back. It cannot be a regular 'We're back' campaign. They have to solidify the consumer base and ensure its Indian consumer that they take safety measures seriously.

They have to communicate that the health of families in India and globally is crucial for them, and they would never risk it. They have to highlight their 'ethics' when it comes to consumer safety. The communication has to be honest and one-on-one, where the company addresses consumers on a personal level. It needs to build trust and equity with a humble tonality.

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