An ambush marketing campaign - Will it stick?
Identify rival brand. Think about what users of this product struggle with most. Find a solution to the product flaw. Go to market with an ad campaign that highlights the difference. Toss in a Bollywood star and some silly humour - matching names, maybe! - for good measure.
That, in a nutshell, appears to be the marketing strategy of ResiQuick, an instant adhesive brand from the house Astral Poly Technik. We take a look at the team's new three-film campaign that features actor Varun Dhawan, who tells consumers 'Sirf chipkao nahi, jodo'. The agency is Lowe Lintas.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that even the most careful applications of instant adhesives like Fevikwik (marketed by Pidilite), manage to leave unwanted glue residue on one's fingers, due to overflow and spillage. Now, Astral's ResiQuick claims to deliver the same adhesive in a more controlled one-drop-at-a-time manner.
The ads are quite apparently an attempt at ambush marketing. Or are they? After all, ResiQuick doesn't actually bring up a comparison with any rival brand, Fevikwik or any other, in the films. Banking solely on the collective residual memory of Fevikwik's famous 'Chutki mein chipkaye' line, now part of popular culture, Astral's ResiQuick takes a dig, in broad daylight, leaving no tangible evidence of the act... notwithstanding the laughable acoustic similarilty of the product names, of course.
Interestingly, the three sorry scenarios shown in the ads (a kid's toy snake stuck to a dad's hand, twins -otherwise separate- conjoined by a sticky hi-five and a to-be bride with her ex's photo glued to her palm) are all potential storyboards that can be used to make a case for an instant adhesive. Remember Piyush Pandey's 'moochwali', a little girl who was stuck with a big black moutache all her life, after she pasted it on her face for a fancy-dress competition at school?
Anyway, team Lintas chose to portray these three situations as messy ones, caused due to too much product spillage and best avoided by the use of ResiQuick instead of... no, they leave that bit to the Indian consumer's fertile imagination, well watered by ads over the years.
By the way, Pidilite tried solving this 'overflow' problem back in 2016 with Fevikwik Gel, a non-drip variant that lent consumers some much needed control over the application process.
Getting a big ticket brand ambassador is something Astral is familiar with. We've seen Salman Khan endorse the company's pipes; the team also associated with the movie Toilet (Akshay Kumar plays the male lead) and an IPL team (Rajasthan Royals) for this range.
We spoke to Kairav Engineer, vice president - business development, Astral Poly Technik, about the product and the campaign. "We listened to consumers and their problem and then came up with the solution. We worked with a German company to develeop these tubes. The technology we acquired is expensive - the German blow-fill-seal machine cost us Rs.35 crore."
He admits that the only major player in this segment is Fevikwik, and that creating "a superior product" is the only way to chase market share.
Of course we asked him to comment on the similar sounding names ResiQuick and Fevikwik. "The name 'ResiQuick' was already registered with a company named Resinova Chemie, that we acquired..." he states. The adhesive business of this company was acquired by Astral in 2014 and product development began by 2015.
"But we knew the problem from the start... and what we wanted to offer to the market. I don't know why anyone else didn't think about this all these years... probably because it's expensive," he says.
Engineer defends the apparent marketing gimmick, "So we just used the existing brand name. It's not supposed to rhyme with any other brand name... we did not think of it that way." 'Resi' is taken from 'Resinova' and 'Quick' stands for 'fast adhesive', he goes on to explain.
Cyanoacrilate adhesives (industrial name for instant adhesives), he tells us, are not manufactured in India and are imported from China. "Hence, there was no point comparing the quality of the product (with that of an existing player). It's all the same; we just deliver it in a better way," he says, explaining why his team chose to exploit the spillage factor, over any other core product-related benefit, in the campaign.
Venkatesh Rangachari, co-founder, Hypersonic Advisory, an advisory and consulting firm, maintains that Fevikwik is a very effective product, with huge application issues - "finally addressed by someone."
"The Fevikwik adhesive flows uncontrollably, resulting in a mess, on the object being stuck or on the fingers. So the proposition here is very solid and appears well founded in consumer pain. It's time someone addressed this problem," he says.
"The advertisements clearly highlight this problem and refer to the competition. The scenarios identified are also very real - toys, vases, photo frames. However, the tagline 'Sirf chipkao nahin, jodo' doesn't build on this product USP. It seems clichéd. The brand should have used the 'one drop' or 'non running' proposition as the tag line to strengthen its claims. Closing with 'chipkao' or 'jodo' is like using the category hygiene factor to differentiate... which does not usually happen. There is a missed opportunity here, given the very real and valuable pain point identified," adds Rangachari.
Kiran Khalap, co-founder and managing director, Chlorophyll, a brand consultancy, finds the ads memorable, but thinks it will take more to draw attention to the flaw. Why? "Because it is not something I've experienced. A few may have, but it does not appear to be a flaw that can be leveraged to create a new brand," he answers.
"While I was still in advertising and at Lintas, we created a brand named 'Break' to ambush the then imminent entry of Kit Kat (because Kit Kat's tagline was 'Have a break, have a Kit Kat'). This is not like that," Khalap says.
In his view, the team should not have not played on rival brand name Fevikwik at all. "I can understand the temptation though," he says, "After all, 'Kwik' is category shorthand, so why re-invent a new category -and new brand- name?"
Speaking about the ads, Khalap says, "The ads by themselves are memorable, so let's give a big hand (pun intended) to the team."