Ubaid Zargar

afaqs! CMO Dialogues - Ruchira Jaitly, CMO, Diageo India

In our weekly series, we interview chief marketing officers to find out what influences their strategies and how they navigate the ever-changing marketing landscape.

Ruchira Jaitley, the CMO of Diageo India, is a marketer with over 23 years of experience. Her marketing career includes stints with prominent brands such as Unilever, PepsiCo, and HMD Global, among others. She joined Diageo India in 2021, as the executive vice president of marketing.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

Performance vs cause

We don’t have the classic marketing funnel that other categories do, and that is the creative challenge. We spend a lot of money on experientials, and there is a lot of effort that we put into making third spaces come alive for consumers. People don’t remember what you tell them, they remember how you make them feel.

David Ogilvy famously said, “Half my advertising is wasted.” There is a lot of waste inherently in advertising when you don’t bring alive the brand in the context of the occasion and culture. 

Standing out from the clutter of events

A good majority of consumers are actively seeking out authentic brand experiences. When these experiential events are crafted around the consumer’s preferences and motivations, it inevitably leads to a more positive outlook towards the brand.

Our philosophy has always been to drive not just the storytelling, but also introduce innovative themes in these experiences. For instance, Game Nights with IPL, or Echoes of the Earth with Johnnie Walker, are our events where people come together from all over.

Consumer trends and premiumisation

The connected journey of consumers today has changed dramatically over the course of the last few years. Premiumisation is massive in this category. Consumers don’t want to drink more, they want to drink better. They are actively looking for different propositions that help them drink responsibly. Consumers also look up to brands that are inclusive and aren’t derogatory towards any section of society. 

Another big trend is the normalisation of the consumption of alcohol. Covid had a massive role in causing this shift. This is healthy because now the consumption of alcohol has shifted to occasions, inclusivity, and social gatherings.

Also, consumers are now far more conscious about what they consume. 

A failure that was a blessing

I am going to go back to a time when we launched new flavours for a pretty huge brand that I was working on. We chose names that were so difficult that people couldn’t understand what they stood for. The flavours were fantastic accompanied by some of the best creatives I have ever made. We even aired the creatives in the IPL, which even then was one of the most expensive properties. So, a fantastic media plan, great creative work, and the product was ready-to-go, but the flavour names and concepts were so tough that consumers couldn’t understand.

We did everything very well, and somewhere in the larger picture, we forgot that the entire thing had to be simple enough for consumers to understand. However, we did turn that around quite dramatically.

A year later, we threw everything at yet another campaign- fantastic creative, and a media plan surrounding the World Cup that was even more expensive. But this time, we built concepts that were simple and focused on consumer engagement. And the results were chalk and cheese. If we hadn’t seen the initial failure, we would not have done such a good job later on.

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com