N. Shatrujeet

Brand properties: On a song...

Advertisers are pulling brand properties out of the confines of traditional communication and taking them into the area of popular music. What’s the rationale?

Tune into FM radio long enough, and chances are that you'd hear a by-now-familiar jingle that asks ‘Kya aap Close-up karte hain?' going on air. Okay, it's just a radio spot for Hindustan Lever's freshness toothpaste brand, you shrug. A radio spot, much like any other, that simply replays a nice jingle popularised by the television commercial for the brand. So what's the big deal?

Well, listen long enough (it helps that the jingle is immensely listenable) and you notice that this is not your average adapted-for-radio radio spot. In fact, it's not a radio spot at all, but a full three-minute ‘rap remix', rendered in true rapper style. With the Close-up jingle - ‘confidence se chalte hain', ‘aur penalty bharte hain' et al - layered into it in the form of a refrain, of course.

The Close-up radio spot (we'll call it that for want of a better word) is one of the most recent examples of advertisers pulling brand properties - in Close-up's case, the jingle - out of the confines of traditional communication and taking them into the area of popular music. Not by plugging the brand in as a lame prop (or a flashing neon sign) in some forgettable music video, mind you. But by actually creating original content that reinforces branding by virtue of being integral to the song or album or music video.

Close-up's extension of its jingle into a song is not an isolated case. Last year, whisky brand Bagpiper had created a standalone song titled ‘Yaaron ka yaar' (the brand was also the title sponsor of the Times Music-produced album bearing the same name), which centered at the brand's core property of ‘yaari' or friendship and male bonding. The song - written by Kamlesh Pandey, composed by Vishal Bharadwaj and sung by Sukhwinder Singh, Abbey and Jassi - was backed by a music video directed by Rakesh Mehra, which was all about the fun associated with the Bagpiper moment.

And going back some four years, Ford IKON had taken its ‘Josh' property forward by creating a song (‘Aao Josh mein', written by Javed Akhtar and rendered by Shankar Mahadevan) to commemorate the brand's first anniversary. A music video, an album comprising a mix of three original ‘Josh' compositions and some of HMV's properties, and a four-city ‘Aao Josh mein' concert had followed.

Clearly, advertisers are onto something here, although sheer numbers don't point to the concept having taken root firmly. That, of course, is purely a function of whether a brand property lends itself to 'expression through popular music'. After all, the Close-up property is fundamentally a jingle, while the Bagpiper property is linked to friendship, fun and festivity. Similarly, ‘Aao Josh mein' was essentially a celebration of a successful launch. In all three instances, the fit with music is natural.

In the case of Close-up, Pushpinder Singh, senior creative director, O&M, explains that the idea of taking the jingle forward into a song was part of the radio plan that the agency presented HLL. "Even in the film, we recognized the fact that the jingle will carry the ad," he says. "So even while we ran the jingle as is for the first two-three weeks, we created a longer story that was built around the jingle. The rap rendition, written by Neha Mitra of O&M, communicates the brand's core properties, while tapping into the strengths of the radio medium." Singh adds that the rap remix is even being played at some of Mumbai's discs and nightclubs.

Bagpiper's ‘Yaaron ka yaar' was also conceived as an original song/album, though the objective there was different. "Bagpiper was moving away from celebrity-endorsed communication for the first time, but it had to retain the brand's association with friendship and camaraderie," says an industry observer. "Given the restrictive nature of the category the brand operates in, the idea of doing a song and an album that cemented the brand's association with friendship was a good idea. And doing an original song instead of simply remixing a few numbers works better, as there is something that the brand can call its own and be identified by."

An original composition created for the sake of ‘mass consumption' wasn't the starting point for the ‘Aao Josh mein' idea, however. "There was no specific plan to make ‘Josh' into a song," says Sumantra Sengupta, vice-president & branch head, Thompson Connect, who had been the client services director on Ford IKON back then. Sengupta explains that the ‘Aao Josh mein' idea being an anniversary celebration, the agency decided on using music as one of the mediums of celebration. In the form of a music album that was to be gifted only to existing and potential IKON consumers.

"Once the ‘Josh' anthem was written, we decided to take the song one step forward into a music video and live concerts," he continues. "The song encapsulated the idea of getting ‘joshed', and we saw that music was a powerful consumer touch-point." MA Parthasarathy, associate vice-president & client services director, JWT India, adds that the ‘Josh' album communicated the spirit and brand gamut of Josh. "It effectively bonded the Josh proposition to the brand, to the extent that the ‘desert' commercial for the IKON had the song as its background score, and even today, the song is played during any on-ground activity for the IKON."

What emerges is that biggest benefit for these brands has been the multiplier effect. "The clear advantage is that you are everywhere, and not dependant on just one medium for your communication," says Singh of Ogilvy. "The mediums compliment one another, which tends to be cost efficient." The approach also breaks the tedium of the communication - a by-product of overexposure - that can cause consumer fatigue. Thompson's Sengupta agrees, when he says, "The Josh anthem was a different way of expressing the spontaneity and surprise of Josh. The big benefit in doing something like this is that the brand stays in the news, and the buzz is kept alive."

Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman & managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants, says it is a good idea for brands and brand properties to "get into popular areas, as they will be enjoyed more". He is of the opinion that when a brand increases its perspective across media and starts addressing more and more consumers it gains in salience. "Brands are built in the hearts and minds of consumers, and when a brand property starts becoming a part of folklore it begins moving towards brand immortality." He adds that with brands being forced to find new ways of cutting the clutter, the extension of brand properties into new areas is a "good way to go. Leave aside product parity, advertising itself is in a bit of a parity situation these days. There is a great need to create advertising disparity, and this can be achieved by exploring new forms of communication." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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