For foodies who love watching culinary shows, Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma, India's favourite epicures and co-anchors of the cult TV show, 'Highway On My Plate', need no introduction. The duo's quest for good food has taken them across the country - and the viewers on an unforgettable gastronomic journey.
Now the Rocky-Mayur duo is visiting the factories of Maggi, the Nestlé-owned noodle brand, which has just turned 35. Through a four-part video series, the brand intends to proactively reach out to its consumers to give them a virtual walk-through of its manufacturing facilities. The communication is aimed at increased interactivity by showcasing the product journey, right from procurement of raw materials to the manufacturing and packaging of the product.
"This 'farm-to-fork' style of storytelling is aimed at eliciting consumers to voice their expectations and concerns from the brand which would, in turn, be addressed openly through owned social media and digital outposts," says Maarten Geraets, general manager, food, Nestlé India, while elucidating about the recently launched campaign 'Kuch Achha Pak Raha Hai'.
Created by Publicis India, the campaign recognises the changing status of women and also attempts to change the way it speaks to its consumers by making its advertising more inclusive. The narrative is reflected in the brand's latest campaign film for its tastemaker Maggi Masala-ae-Magic, wherein the mother encourages her son to let his wife work after marriage, making the point - just as recipes are changing, so are relationships.
Another key initiative of this campaign is 'From Our Kitchen To Your Kitchen', where consumers will be invited to learn about Maggi products and how they are made. The campaign will leverage Maggi's 24x7 consumer engagement services team and the brand's digital asset, www.maggi.in. This is where Rocky and Mayur step in. Two episodes have been released so far and the third film will go live soon on Maggi's YouTube channel.
'What was the big idea behind such insights?' we asked Bobby Pawar, managing director and chief creative officer - South Asia, Publicis India. Also, what made a brand like Maggi opt for this kind of influencer marketing?
"The narrative," explains Pawar, "is constructed to address the changing consumer trend. People are becoming conscious of the food they consume and its constituents. These videos will enable the consumers to have a better understanding of what they are eating and provide the context for deeper conversations and a deeper connect with the brand." He goes on to add, "Rocky and Mayur are veterans of the food category. Their vast experience and unique style of presentation lend a certain tonality to the messaging which resonated with the consumer."
Bringing back bad memories?
The last time we saw product production films in a factory setting from any brand was by Coca-Cola and Cadbury when traces of pesticides were allegedly found in the former while Cadbury faced allegations of worms inside the product. Hence, the new explanatory film from Nestlé Maggi reminds one of the lead controversies. In fact, the films look a lot like damage control (or in other words, an image rebuilding exercise).
Is there some residual mistrust that still exists?
According to Pawar, product production films are not necessarily a reactive measure. They are a very potent way of instilling or deepening the consumer trust in a brand by adding an element of transparency. "The videos shot for this campaign only serve as a pretext for deeper conversations on the product between the brand and the consumer. As far as trust is concerned, the brand enjoys unparalleled trust amongst its consumers and the robust market share in the category is an indicator of the same," says Pawar.
Geraets adds, "Maggi remains one of the most trusted food brands in the country and has been an icon in Indian popular culture. The kind of nostalgia Maggi evokes is almost unparalleled. Through the video series, we are only boosting the credibility the brand enjoys."
As part of 35th-anniversary celebration campaign, Nestlé Maggi has completely changed its advertising track from being a traditionally taste-based product (Maggi Hot Heads or Masalas of India) to influencer marketing. We asked the experts about what this shift will do for the brand? Could it backfire?
According to brand consultant MG Parameswaran (Ambi), brand Maggi was originally launched as a quick and easy snack for children. But over the last five or ten years, Nestlé has moved away from just focusing on kids to looking at the brand as a ready snack for anyone.
"There was a wonderful film done two years ago where a mom is worried about how her daughter will manage alone in a strange city and the daughter assuages her mom by making her a bowl of Maggi noodles. That film said a lot about the brand and the independent mindset of today's young Indian women. I think the latest ad featuring Neena Kulkarni and her son is a continuation of that stream of thought. The new Maggi ad is a good addition to this genre of what I am calling 'NeoVisualisation' of gender roles in advertising," he says.
Ronita Mitra, former senior vice president and head of brand, media, digital and consumer insights at Vodafone, who recently launched strategic marketing consultancy firm Brand Eagle, feels that Maggi is going through a phase of re-defining itself with a new strategy and new launches. Mitra also believes that the new brand purpose-led communication is a part of that exercise.
She says, "Given how established Maggi's product credentials are, integrating brand purpose into its proposition is a natural and logical progression for the brand to take brand affinity to the next level. However, it is unclear whether the brand purpose is restricted to a single product - Masala-ae-Magic or Maggi, including the entire range of Maggi products."
Ayan Banik, head - brand strategy, Cheil India, finds the timing of the campaign very interesting. He says, "The fact that this communication has appeared now, makes it appear more authentic and way more credible than had they appeared earlier (during the controversy). Then it would have appeared as a knee-jerk reaction from a brand desperately trying to do damage control through smart PR tactics. But now, the campaign looks like any other on-going consumer-focused communication from a brand that really cares about its consumers and is keen to be a part of their everyday life."