ALIENS: The Destruction of Brand Delhi (and India)

AliensThe past decade has witnessed a surge in the social networking space from a digital perspective. The by-product of this from a marketing perspective has been the renewed interest of brands in building communities. There have been brands that have been at it even before the dawn of the digital era. All of us as marketers have read and discussed about how brands stand on communities and not campaigns.

This post though, attempts to look at the flip side. How communities through their actions build (or in some cases destroy) brands. In a hyper-connected world every and any incident has the potential to trigger a mass reaction. Malcom Gladwell, in his book The Tipping Point has given several examples of how seemingly disparate events can be cinders that light up and cause a wildfire!

Delhi, the capital city of India has been at the centre media attention for a while now. As a city and as a brand Delhi has always been a city that evokes reactions that are on the extremes. At this very moment however, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of Delhi would perhaps be very low.

Just under 7% of the GDP of India comes from tourism. The 12th Five Year Plan (FY2012-17) puts its bets on Tourism as a sector that can deliver above the national average growth of between 10-12% whilst creating 5.5 to 6.7Mn jobs from the impetus that it can give to allied sectors. Traditionally, the so called focus on tourism has meant multi-million rupee campaigns by State Tourism departments and crass commercialization has ensued around the “destinations”.  The bare necessities such as infrastructure and hugely warranted “social conditioning” have at best been given lip-service.

Delhi has been touted as the Soul & Spirit and the Gateway to India. A city where the ancient and the modern blend seamlessly.

In the spotlight as far as this post is concerned are 3 recent incidents that I believe are pushing closer to the point of imminent disaster. These are incidents that depict how Delhi (Aam Aadmi and the Aam Aadmi Party) treats Tourists, Foreign Nationals and does not spare its own nationals from the other parts of the country! All of these certainly have had an impact on Brand Delhi and on Brand India. Let alone “Atithi Devo Bhav” we treat our guest worse than how Aliens get treated in cinema.  Ranging from ridicule to suspicion, objectification to torture.

  1. The Vigilante Incident (Read More)
  2. The Tourist (Read More)
  3. The Different Looking Guy (Read More)

If we have to serve our own interests as a community this is as good a wake-up call as any before we hit the tipping point.  The onus therefore, is on us as a community and a society to build Brand Delhi or Brand India.

Living on the edge

We would all agree that it’s a tough job getting our message across to our target consumers. Add to that a puritan (engineers) definition of communication which is considered complete only when it is interpreted by recipient in the same manner as intended by the transmitter (Prof B at my engineering college must be heaving a sign of relief)  and we are talking a steep slope that needs to be climbed.

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, the purpose of this blog is not to propound new theories, it is to present a perspective. So pardon references to Marketing 101.

Moving on, consumers today exposed perhaps over-exposed to messages of all sort. Thus to laden the expectation of decoding/deciphering our communication is expecting a bit too much. Moreover, pumping in marketing dollars hoping that he would is bizarre!

Most communication, even advertising operates on simple parameters we learnt in high school physics. Amplitude, wave-length and frequency.  In advertising terms how loud, how long and how often. Well yes we pay the agencies and other experts to do that bit.

The most important bit and hopefully as marketers we hold it close like dear life is the what.

Establishing any communication is, has been and perhaps always will remain an uphill journey. One must realize though that the other side of the cliff is a steep fall. The best time spent therefore, would be at the top living on the edge.

Living on the edge

What we communicate goes through the organic phases milestones on the climb that I have chosen to call Ignorance, Recall, Attention and finally the top Recommendation.

The other side however, is the steep fall which starts with the flip side of recommendation i.e. Frustration and very soon thereafter Annoyance.

It is important to note here that what are being discussed are the stages of the communication not the brand per se.

Bringing back the concepts of how loud, how long and how often a marketer would need to be careful with the communication once it has been established. Push it to loud, long or often chances are you will find yourself free-falling straight to annoyance.

To make my point how a communication is living dangerously on the edge and to bring alive the discussion I am leaving you with recent communication from a popular brand.

  • The start

  • The build

  • The extension

  • The (un-necessary) stretch