Sudipto Adhicary

Using a celebrity adds power to the advertisement": Ajay Gahlaut, Ogilvy & Mather

The last two sessions of the Brand Owners' Summit were addressed by Ajay Gahlaut, ECD, Ogilvy & Mather, India, and Shashank Surana of the DS Group who highlighted the power of the word-of-mouth as well as that of advertising.

The last two sessions of the 10th edition of the Brand Owners' Summit (BOS) - Stories of Brands Made for India, organised by afaqs!, and presented by India TV, centred upon the phenomenal success of the 'Pulse' candy and the 'Magic of Advertising'.

Using a celebrity adds power to the advertisement": Ajay Gahlaut, Ogilvy & Mather
Discussing how extensive research was done by the DS Group before launching the 'Pulse' candy, Shashank Surana, vice-president, new product development, DS Group, started the session with a quote by author and entrepreneur Seth Godin: "Don't find customers for your products, find products for your customers."

Diving straight into the topic, he elaborated on the marketing strategies adopted by the DS Group for promoting the 'Pulse' candy. Talking about the first major step taken by the brand towards knowing its target customers, Surana told the audience how the product was targetted towards the Indian youth, which according to him, were willing to experiment, were open to new ideas, and had an international outlook. Eventually, this led to the idea of creating a candy with a twist, unlike products from its competitors in the category.

Surana attributed the immense success of 'Pulse' to both consumers, as well as the extensive research behind its creation. While others in the hard-boiled candy segment were producing the regular-flavoured candies, 'Pulse' broke the trend and pitched itself at a higher price.

Surana even emphasised that there was an overwhelming response from consumers after the sample candies were distributed in various malls, metro stations, offices, and highways. And, the response was positive. "It was word-of-mouth promotion of the candy that helped it grow," he said.

Further promotions on television, radio, and newspapers created more brand awareness among consumers.

Surana summed up his address thanking the consumers who made Pulse such a success, "Great things happen when greats come together," he said.

The Flip Side

Using a celebrity adds power to the advertisement": Ajay Gahlaut, Ogilvy & Mather
While 'Pulse' got noticed through word-of-mouth promotions, many brands seek formal advertising to promote themselves. Speaking on the topic 'The Magic of Advertising', Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director (ECD), Ogilvy & Mather, India, addressed the last session of the summit.

Explaining the nuances of advertising through a series of videos, Gahlaut emphasised on the need to understand the culture and lifestyle of the target audience before making an advertisement. Citing the ads of Fevicol, he said, "The advertisement should have some cultural context to connect with the customers."

Taking a cue from Voltas' 'All Weather AC' ad campaign, Gahlaut explained how audiences connect with advertisements that depict some aspect of the consumer's day-to-day life.

Referring to the ads of Pulse Polio campaign, in which Amitabh Bachchan was shown scolding viewers for not visiting the immunisation booths, a move which eventually made India polio-free, Gahlaut said, "Using a celebrity adds power to the advertisement."

However, quoting the example of the Imperial Blue ad campaign, Gahlaut highlighted the fact that a good ad can be made irrespective of the presence of a celebrity. "You don't need a celebrity to make your ad, you make a celebrity from your ad," he said before signing off.

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