The Client Brief – Perfecting The Art


The creative brief is your roadmap. Your Sherpa. Your guide to the buried treasure. The creative brief is the contract between the client and the agency and between the agency account team and the creative team. It spells out in inspiring terms exactly what is that needs to be produced to solve a specific business problem.

Yet it is either treated like a piece of literature with an unending number of pages or an uninspiring piece of paper with check boxes to be filled out. There is also a problem of inconsistent understanding of how to develop and use the brief. Usually the account team does not think about adding value on top of what the client provided. The creative brief is developed in silos and this creates disconnect between the strategy, account management and creative teams. Given that the quality of the final work depends on the brief (Garbage In is Garbage Out) there needs to be a shift in the way we approach the creative brief. Creative Brief

To improve the briefing process, PAS recently hosted a one-day training workshop ‘The Client Brief – perfecting the art!’ on February 1, 2012 at Marriott Hotel, Karachi. The workshop was conducted by Sunil Gupta, a Master Trainer and a veteran of Indian advertising with 28 years of a wide range of experience across diverse brands, consumers and markets.

The new brief is a growing testament to the availability of hyper-choice in an extremely cluttered marketplace where traditional differentiation is no longer enough. The creative brief now is no longer just about the document. It’s about the thinking behind it and the ideas that comes after it. “I want to expand the definition of the brief from that piece of paper in which you put down that I want a 30 second Tvc and two print ads to this is my problem and I’m looking for a communication solution part of which can be advertising. Can you come up with ideas that create customer delight”, evangelizes Sunil Gupta. “The customer has to say WOW!” He continues, “Word of mouth now is very critical and that is created by experience. Now you have to say as your communication brief or engagement brief, what is the experience we want to create for our customers and can our systems support those experiences. Therefore internal communication and training becomes as important as communication and advertising. That is the point to create today. Your entire company has to be aligned around your brand. This is a question of willpower and discipline. You can have the best advertising and it still might not meet objectives because the product experience is damaging. Thus advertising is just one part of the strategy today”, said Sunil Gupta.

Muhammad Shoaib Baloch, Creative Director, Prestige Communication concurred with an observation of his own “A brief is a process and the agency is never made part of the actual process of what resulted in the need for advertising. Brief can be the dust or the gold, depending on how the client briefs the agency. The more exciting the brief, the more the out of the box campaign you’ll get”.

Thus it can be said that the brief is not a form to be filled out but the beginning of the creative process, the first creative thinking, the first imaginative leap and the first ad of the campaign and if it’s not written in the format that gets into the agency people’s minds, than they will not measure their work against it – one reason why despite bad briefing, the agency still produces great work…They simply ignore the brief.

Creative BriefYet advertisers cannot afford to take this aspect of communication lightly. With the pace of business quickening and as the number of brands multiplies, increasingly it is not companies but the customer who will decide which brand lives and which brands die and to do that it is now highly important to stand out in the market place. This means finding something, anything which can separate your brand from the clutter. To start this process ask yourself “Are you Asking The Right Questions”. The brief in 1992 which the agencies used to send to their clients included questions like:
• What is the problem or opportunity?
• Who are we talking to?
• What should the advertising achieve?
• What thought do we want to leave with others?
• What will make them believe this?
• What is required?
• Anything else?

Come 2012 and for most part agencies still follow the same brief format namely a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers’ to ‘target’, a message to say AT them, reasons to believe, tone of voice and what media the client needs. This is despite of the fact that the consumer and the media both have changed dramatically in the last decade. A more relevant method of questioning now is What’s the real problem?, Who is this among?, How might we best approach solving this?, Why might they talk about this idea?, How do they get involved? and What will keep the conversation going?

The brief also needs to follow some guidelines amongst which are:
Marketingese / jargon has no place in a brief. Speak with personality (ideally that of a consumer), and immediately you’ll use far more evocative inspiring language and not hide behind generic marketing nothingness.
A briefing is not a dictation. Make a brief closed or directional, and you’ll know what the creatives will produce even before they go away to work on it. A brief should be a platform from which they can launch off from. Not a means for you to force your ideas on a team. Always double check – can you think of two or three ideas from the brief you’ve written immediately? Are any of them your pet ideas? If yes, your agency will produce more or less the same.
A brief should not be written in exclusion of others. Whilst the planner should own the final document, but it is absolutely imperative to go to speak with the creative teams when writing it. Take some options, get their point of view.

If the creative brief is not itself creative, if it does not suggest solutions to problems, present information in an expansive and interesting way, and interpret the information with imagination and flair, then its authors and presenters have no right to expect anything different from the creative agency. To check whether it’s an engaging proposition or not, it helps to ask questions like Is it instantly clear and does it communicate exactly what you want to say?, Does it contain a fact about the product you didn’t know before you started writing? Is it surprising or thought-provoking?, Does it contain a strategic insight?, Does it contain a benefit to the consumer?, Do you yourself believe it? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these, it isn’t an engaging proposition e.g. we can say Dawn Newspaper is the paper of choice of the upper income segment of the population of Pakistan which are the core decision makers of the country, which in all likelihood will produce a typical ad. However a better brief would be Dawn Newspaper is for people who like to make up their own minds and a great brief would be Dawn Newspaper – not written for sheep. Thus when writing a brief, these are the top tips.

Consistent – The brief is brief for a reason. There is no space for tangents and multiple ideas. Pick your core theme, and trail it through EVERY element. If it is as fertile a thought as it should be, this will be easy.
Get the right info in the right boxes – Often boxes are mixed up in which Insights are passed off as objectives and the audiences are often found in mandatories. There are no “dull, functional” boxes. Everything should inspire and stick to your theme.

Language – Work hard to avoid the mundane. Let your vocabulary flow and inspire. Rewrite it. Rewrite it again. Every word is sacred. Make them all work hard. Remember, if you leave a loose word or loose thought, what’s to stop the creative picking up on this and basing their idea on it.

Follow The Template – It is a fixed template for a reason – to stop everyone going on for pages. If you need to shrink text or expand boxes, you are writing too much. Edit yourself, not the template.

How To Advertisement

Find your trueline – Marty Neumeier in his book ‘Zag’ says that all brand communication should emanate from your trueline. A trueline is the one statement you can make about your brand which is the reason why your brand matters to customers. It can’t be reduced, refuted or easily dismissed. The key to crafting a trueline is to focus on a single proposition. If you find yourself using commas or ‘Ands’, you may need more focus e.g. Avis – Because We’re Number Two, We Try Harder or for a insurance company don’t let your illness cripple your family.
With the wealth of increasing clutter of products, features, media, advertising and messages creating a poverty of attention in our world today, we need to ensure that we create emotions, aesthetics and experience that excite our audiences and creates vibrancy again in an increasingly dull and similar advertising landscape. To do that kind of magic requires crafting a magical brief.

Published: Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April, 2012.

Yes! We Khan – Social Media Case Study Of Imran Khan Rally On December 25th, 2011


Imran Khan Yes We Khan Rally Picture HopeThe highly successful Jalsa of 25th December, 2011 organized by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf was a major social media milestone for Pakistan. By using a disruptive technology in early markets, PTI has upset the status quo, catapulting a man who did not look like a serious contender for government initially into the forefront of the race whilst engaging voters in fundamentally new ways.  This form of tech adoption has also ushered in a new relationship model between leaders and their supporters (especially young ones) with all political parties now announcing and jostling for the ‘youth vote’ with their youth wings. Perhaps in the future it will also serve to change expectations of ‘Citizens’ and ‘Leader’s’ roles in government.

Imran Khan’s campaign epitomizes the opportunities  to be gained using your ‘customers’ to amplify the effect using new technologies despite contending with established players that have far greater resources and legacy. At its most basic however it’s about good fundamentals. For a start it’s about selling a product which people want [an innate buzz]. Dr. Awab Alvi, the person responsible for PTI’s social media strategy said “We are just an interface to communicate the product to people online. People want to see, hear and want to interact with our brand and we use a medium to give them what they want. The buzz is nothing to do with us marketing the product. Fundamentally the product is a need of the time due to the country’s situation and people are looking for an alternative and Imran Khan is being seen as that alternative.”

Thus authenticity matters and If one looks at the competitive landscape in this context, Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N have recently spent an inordinate amount of money on social media trying to make up for lost ground, but the difference is again in the vision that Imran Khan sells and the ‘more of the same’ approach which is being used by PML-N. In social media one can’t just adopt a brand and expect people to buy into it without authenticity. The new ‘Khudari’ message (something which PML-N didn’t do in 20 years) thus will not work for their brand in this case.

Another one of the tenets of social media that holds true for PTI’s approach is “go to where your customers are.” PTI made it possible for people to participate where they want, how they want, using the tools and friendships they want. Whilst it’s a butt of jokes that most of Imran Khan’s base cannot even vote and that children under 18 are not relevant to be targeted because they can’t vote. However in this traditional thinking, political bigwigs forget that these same generations can talk [and inspire] and help to build a wave of change. Social media enables them to use lower or zero transaction costs to do it. It is these passionistas  who serve as the base for the party.

“There is a tremendous army working for the organization which responds to queries, reputation management, etc and to date NONE of the volunteers have ever been paid. When you have passionate people doing something they love… they believe in the change, in doing it as an end in itself and all they want from us has been the recognition of that aspect’, said Dr. Awab. ‘I tell them truly that it’s YOU whose done this for Pakistan and I mean it’. Faisal Kapadia, a blogger and activist at ‘DeadPan Thoughts’ describes the feeling as ‘It was a high that I’ve never felt before with an energy level not even found at a U2 concert’.

Social media use by PTI includes clarifying and defense of the party’s policies and actions, reputation management and killing of the rumor mill, engaging with voters, provide the imagery that give hope and provide for a catalyst of change. The key engines thus that propelled the social media movement forward for the organization included but were not limited to Imran Khan (Official) Channel and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (Official Page) which are the Facebook channels responsible for organizing and mobilizing people for initiatives that support key processes whilst ‘We Want Imran Khan to Be The Next Prime Minister Of Pakistan’ and ‘Jagutho’ are initiatives for sharing viewpoints, helping supporters, volunteers and campaign workers to co-ordinate their offline and online activities.

Combined there are over 500,000 ‘fans’ of PTI & Imran Khan with over 50,000 plus active participants at any moment in time. These channels were the ones which provided the support needed during the Jalsa online and the figures below show the impact of these on the Jalsa and vice versa.

Constant engagement is key. Imran Khan campaigns and encourages users and artists to use the imagery they provide for their own purpose acknowledging and recognizing that they should give up control. The best creative developed Imran Khan addressing the Jalsa with the caption: ‘Hope Is Priceless… for everything else there’s Mastercard’. A big lesson for brands here is to ‘Make it easy for people to make you their own’. Let people act on their desire to get involved at a low transaction cost, and very visibly. This increases leverage.

PTI has also been present on Twitter with @Imran KhanPTI and @PTIOfficial channels. Twitter works since during the span of the Jalsa the PTI broke 11 global twitter trends within a 5 hour window and because of it reverberated across the 300 million strong community on the platform including ‘DilDilPakistan’ quickly being picked up across the region.

To understand its significance, one can take into account that as a baseline it takes a minimal of 500 active users and 1200-1900 tweets per hour to break a global trend. To dominate it as PTI did, it takes much more. Another platform which has been very successful for PTI has been the mobile 80022 which drives the membership for the party.  Utilizing this form of technology, PTI has their ‘army’ segmented via city, via constituencies and clumped by affinities which allows them to mobilize with great speed and effectiveness.

This informs people with SMS messages when an event such as the Jalsa is about to happen and asks for participation. Roman Urdu works better than English on the platform. In the future, this database form of marketing will serve its purpose for voter turnouts.

Other features enabled on mobile include mapping via SMS which was used to provide directions to nearest available pickup points for people and recently an iReport debut feature on the platform which was used to identify and resolve the problems that people were facing at the jalsa.

iReport holds the potential to be much much more. This is going to be a powerful form of Citizen Reporting platform and once properly activated will become a force for accountability in Pakistan as normal Pakistanis report their encounters on issues which PTI raises.

The jalsa also used an innovative platform of ‘Live Streaming’ the event globally to all those who could not be physically there. Using a 50 Mbps fiber connection, the event was streamed to over 35000 people at its peak LIVE across the globe.

The PTI Jalsa has broken new grounds in the marketing of politics and perhaps even for business. Marketing executives need to start focusing on what will happen when their stakeholders self-organize, mirror each other’s interests, magnify the interests into passions and make a lot of noise. This can change expectations fast. They should be aware of traditional thinking in their organizations so they can counter these. It must be remembered that all disruptive change always presents as a fringe activity at first. Thus marketers need to make it a priority to understand social media adoption milestones, so they don’t get caught by surprise. Some of the good lessons out of the Jalsa which marketers can learn from:

  1. PTI strategy is to focus on selling leadership, not policies. Most political campaigns sell their candidates like products, replete with features and benefits (“policies” and “programs”). More profound, leadership and personal qualities and beliefs inspire more easily than policies.
  2. Trust your stakeholders to discover and do the right thing. Smart organizations are becoming more cooperative by sharing “control.” Letting go energizes people to contribute in a meaningful manner.
  3. Realize you cannot control the conversation and that’s okay.
  4. The more transparent and collaborative, the stronger your organization will be as a competitor.
  5. Think small. Industrial Economy marketing held that the only things worth watching were big numbers and big initiatives. Yet in the digital age, many many people doing small things can have a big impact when they are using digital social media because it affords so much leverage. Many small numbers can roll up to a big number. Many-to-many means geometric growth and acceleration.

For PTI after a successful campaign, now on the Social Media Roadmap is to move on from ‘just defending ourselves’ to organization of the masses and translate the online activism to offline activism. “Right now it’s all Imran Khan’s draw but now we’ve seen potential we will be organizing leaders in colleges and universities. Jagutho is one of the initiatives which has created a ‘Responsible Citizen’ model which is organized around a mohalla basis which we hope to implement soon.”, said Dr. Alvi. “The Future is calling”.

Jeremy Gutsche – Unlocking The Cool Interview


Jeremy GutschePopular is not cool. Cool is the next big thing and in a world of increased competition, intensified customer demands and globalization, understanding how to be creative and then build up a culture of innovation is more important than ever before. One of the ways companies do that is to use ‘Trend Hunters’ or ‘Trend Spotters’, people who research ‘what’s cool?’. One of the pioneers of the field is Jeremy Gutsche, a Canadian innovation expert, author, “one of North America’s most requested keynote speakers” and chief trend hunter at trendhunter.com which has been described by The Independent as “the world’s biggest online cool hunting magazine”.

At the Marketing Symposium organized by Revelations, Jeremy was in Pakistan to talk about ‘Unlocking Cool: How to inspire innovation potential and infect products with Cool’.  Jeremy’s Culture of Innovation framework exposes the audience to ground-breaking ideas related to perspective, customer obsession, tolerance for failure and creativity. Aurora caught up with him to talk about the next big thing.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and do explain what do you mean by Trend Hunting?

I guess the best background for me is just to say that I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and I never knew what my business idea was going to be. Everywhere that I worked I was trying to get that inspiration. So eventually when I started trend hunter, I wanted it to be a place where people could come when they wanted to get their ideas and I’d get ideas from all over the world and hopefully I’d find my own. As TrendHunter took off I never needed to pick. The interesting thing is that still guides us. We have the world’s largest trend spotting network with 50,000 contributors signed up around the globe from where we publish ideas each day and with 40 million views a month we gather data to understand what clusters and what groups are interesting.

Q. Why should marketers care about Trend Hunting and what’s Cool?

Cool is unique, cool is cutting edge and Cool is viral. Micro-trends and innovations surround us so how do we make sense of all the noise? Trend Hunting thus is basically the search for inspiration. Looking for something new, a pattern that could inspire your next big idea. It’s not about the rise of big trends that everyone knows about like ECO or FEMALE PURCHASING POWER since everyone knows about those including your competitors. We’re looking at micro-trends, those unique niches of opportunities. When you see these opportunities you can take advantage of them and if you don’t your competitor or a new startup might and overturn you.

Q. For most businesses your ideas are quite scary. You advocate constant change, relentless questioning and an anti-bureaucracy. How do you create a culture like that in a traditionally steeped organization?

There are two parts to that that are important. One is the idea that you need to constantly change. Second, you have to realize is that the world never returns to normal. If you look at marketing, you can see things like social media changing the landscape.

I like to say that ‘Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast’. Thus in terms of how you get a traditional organization and get them to change, an interesting way to get an organization to get more innovative is to create a ‘Gambling Fund’. The idea is that it’s tough to try to persuade everybody to do things a new way but the real thing that stops people from being creative is because you get caught up in a routine. With a gambling fund you are allocating a specific amount of money and time trying something new. BBC’s ‘The Office’ was their most successful program and that came out of that fund.

Q. You talk a lot about destroying value to unleash new creativity and innovation. Yet cannibalization in business is hard. Is there a middle way for managers where they can balance both shareholder demands yet ensure that they live for tomorrow.

In innovation there are best practices and having someone kill your idea is important. There is a need for people to challenge the idea and there needs to be a push in all directions. Situational Framing Dictates The Outcome Of Your Creative Process. What is it that you’re trying to do?

It’s so easy to get caught up in your profit center that you stop adding fuel to your innovative new ideas. When push comes to shove or when you need a little extra money, companies cut off their innovative arms. For the long term, one of the most important questions is how do you re-invent ourselves and that always comes from destroying that which you’ve created.

Failure is part of the experimentation process.  In order to win, you need to constantly be gauging customer needs, tracking evolving trends and testing new ideas. Google is an example of this. They’re constantly testing new portfolios.

Q. You have come up with “The Exploiting Chaos Framework.” Give us a brief description of each of the four tactics and how they work in the framework. Do you think these tactics can be employed by Asian cultures which are more passive in nature?

The framework has four parts. Creating a ‘culture of innovation’ – Deeply Understanding Your Customer and Willing to Try New Things. The next part is ‘trend spotting’ – you identify opportunities from your customer, competitors or other industries. The third part is adaptive innovation – constantly adjust your strategy to ensure that you’re on top of a changing world and the forth idea is ‘infectious marketing’ – to create a meaningful change it’s about finding a way to break through the noise and create word of mouth. What this framework is about is that in periods of change these are the elements that help companies adapt and win.

There’s a difference between how people remember you and having people feel how they see you as part of their team. You can either make an emotional connection or you can go deeper and making a cultural connection. The difference is that with a cultural connection I see you as being part of my team. I don’t see you telling me what to do, I see you as part of my team.  Because we’re on the same team I want you to win and you want me to win. In any industry when you make a cultural connection, people are willing to refer you. That someone else says your product or message is the best.

Q. I love the quote you often use, “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast”. Do tell us more about what that means and how does culturally steeped nations can create the Culture of Revolution you often talk about. Are we doomed to passivity?

No matter how cool your PowerPoint deck is, if the organization is not willing to adapt and embrace change than it’s not going to happen. At the end of the day, what will make your company succeed or fail is the culture you’ve created. This means both the culture within your organization’s teams AND the cultural connection you’ve made with your customers. Within your team, you will always be more successful if your team feels connected to your cause, empowered to try new things, and able to test and fail. With your customers, you will always be more successful if you can create a cultural connection that makes people feel like your product is made just for them. Too often companies speak “to” their customer, but companies that create an authentic cultural connection make the customer feel like they are part of the same team… They talk “with” their customer.

Q. For a message to go viral, you recommend that marketers should Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story. What does that mean?

People talk about it in a given way. You can control that message by having a story idea that is simple, direct and super-charged. The idea is that if you can only remember 7 words or less – slogan or in every part of my company – you might want to think what those words are. You need to best describe what you do. By constantly figuring out what are the exact words that best define what your company is about you can get a disproportionately better impact and each word really really matters.

You need your story needs to be simple. I’ll give you the words that you can tell us. The second is you need to be direct. You convey your value proposition and why I must choose you. Super-Charged – messages, slogans, titles that makes me want to tell someone else.

The Blogging Scene In Pakistan


Ten years ago a set of 95 theses were organized and put forward as a manifesto, for all businesses operating within what was then suggested to be a newly-connected marketplace. Titled ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’, it put forward an idea that the Internet was unlike the ordinary media used in mass marketing as it enables people to have “human to human” conversations, which have the potential to transform traditional business practices radically. The authors asserted that a shift would occur through substantial and pervasive changes in current company-to-consumer interaction. Communication would shift from mission statements and marketing media aimed at consumer segments to open dialogues or conversations between businesses and consumers, whilst online marketing would be more about holding conversations with people rather than broadcasting half-truths about products and services. Turns out that tens years on that now everything is a conversation.

The fastest growing alternative media to the traditional channels (3.7 million results on Google Pages from Pakistan and 367,000 blogs found), blogs in Pakistan are now being credited from everything from bringing a giant corporate to its knees over its negligence during a reality show, greater consumer awareness, putting pressure on governments and politicians for greater transparency, showcasing the new and the trendy to the point where all gadgets now MUST have a blogger’s meetup at launch followed up by reviews, media practices, latest fashions, marketing and even general venting of frustration at All Things Pakistan.

The ability for anyone to have a thought, be able to type it up and then publish it online for the world to see for free has been equated with bringing in the same revolution as the printing press did 400 years ago. So much so that every traditional broadcast media & newspaper worth their salt has started their own blogging channels to avoid missing out on this cluetrain. Just on Dawn.com alone, one is treated to a myriad of subjects ranging from Politics, Satire, Sports, Technology, Business, Culture, Food to much much more. Politics of course is the favorite subject and one is treated to the widest range of topics from ‘Couldn’t She Find A Nice Indian Boy’ to deep philosophically inclined discussions on women’s rights and the burka. One is also treated to all the content that one would never be privy too in our traditional channels especially regarding our political leaders.  Sports too especially Cricket are the passion of the nation and nowhere is it more apparent than on the net with the keywords ‘Cricket Blog Pakistan’ resulting in 446,000 results from Pakistan alone.

The biggest benefactor of the blogging scene however has been the Citizen Journalism scene, everything from taking on the big bad corporate and their policies to exploit low waged workers and risk their lives in factories without proper precautions or rights, or to prison seriously injured workers in a hospital room to block them from the media and labor movements, action against exploitative advertising of baby milk or more minor issues like delays in payments has been documented and archived for generations to come. The citizen of Pakistan’s voice is finally being heard and it is loud and demanding remedial for the generations of anger, exploitation and squelching of our voices.

One of the management gurus Tom Peters said, “One of my grand theories is that, fundamentally, there’s only one source of innovation, and that’s pissed off people. I think anger is the essential motivator.” If this is the case than this is our time to change the Pakistani world the way we want it to be with the power of the word. It has been known for eons to be mightier than the sword and with digital distribution it’s a tsunami now which will shatter all that that comes in its path.

 

The Year Twenty Ten: A Review


It’s that time again when we reflect upon the world and aim to do better with our resolutions. This has been an eventful year. I guess we were expecting it to be when Google announced with a bang in January that its corporate network had been attacked. With the follow up being the attack on the Iranian Nuclear Facilities through the Stuxnet worm, the Gulf leak that occurred from BP’s Oil Spill, Pakistan’s Floods to the finale this month with the US Cable Spill, 2010 will be remembered as the year of struggles and crisis. In the midst of so much flooding of stress, tension, five distinct trends stood out which could well summarize the year that was 2010 and possibly tell us a bit of what 2011 will hold.

The Rise of Leaks and The End of Privacy

it was a very busy year on the privacy front and nothing showcased the power of the social web than the way technology was used this year in multiple forms. From the news of Tony Hayward, CEO of BP’s Yacht trip during the worst of the Gulf oil spill to the recent US cable leaks which have had consequences for the political fiefdom in our country and have given rise to new meanings to the terms ‘Open government’, ‘Public Interest’ (do we really care about the hot Ukrainian blonde) and ‘Radical Transparency’. With Google also in the hot water over it roaming street view vehicles, to Facebook’s new Privacy settings which basically sold your profile to advertisers expect the Web community at large and the government to become even more concerned about what to do with all of our personal data in 2011.

Recession Proof: Mobile Rules 2010

Without a doubt, the explosion of the smartphone landscape this past year and the allure of earning income from the new data services and surrounding industries in Pakistan have made the mobile and telco industry a behemoth to contend with.

Apple’s iPhone 4 was launched  early this year followed up by the equally drool worthy iPad and the world has never been the same again. Angry Birds was the number one application in the Apple’s Pakistani App store whilst locally ‘Gully Cricket’ became the first locally developed mobile game to be made available from a local carrier.

2010 can also be said to be the year of the Android phone – Worldwide HTC dominated the market with their Android assault especially HTC Desire. However the new Motorola Droid (Milestone) is getting the best reviews since their old Razr went blunt and reports of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 are very positive whilst Android has also made its presence felt in Pakistan, being launched by a Chinese Telecom company along with equally economical internet packages on the mobile phone which is expected to double the number of internet surfers within a year or two.

All these trends are expected to accelerate well into 2011.

Social Networks Come of Age

It can be said that Social Networks came of age in this country when users on Facebook crossed the 3 Million mark this year (3,075,480 at the time of writing this article) and politicians in this country took to twittering their thoughts and whereabouts to anyone who cares to follow them.

Marketers know that tough times also spur innovation and thus they are experimenting with mediums such as social marketing. Social marketing promises lower costs and bigger returns. In fact, word-of-mouth campaigns encourage consumers to do the marketing on behalf of the brand themselves. There are many brands which are getting on the social media band-wagon amongst them hair care, cooking oils, personal care are the most famous categories. Telecom industries are using the media as a form of customer service centers.

In 2011, expect social media to get even more popular, more mobile, and more inclusive as even the lowly Chinese phone starts supporting the different networks natively. It will also toughen the job of IT departments as people feed their social media needs through the mobile medium.

Pakistan IT Industry Becomes a Source Of Pride For The Nation

The Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) is an international awards program which provides networking and product benchmarking opportunities to ICT innovators and entrepreneurs from 16 countries in the region including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka among others. Out of 16 APICTA categories, the P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES) delegation picked up 7 Merit Awards (the APICTA Silver equivalent).  These included Merit Awards in Security Applications, E-Inclusion and E-Community, Financial Applications, Communications, E-Government and E-Health categories. It was our best performance ever.

The Rise of Online Movies & TV watching

Perhaps it’s a by-product of the ever declining broadband internet prices in the country and the ever faster speeds (10 mbps launched on 10/10/10) because of which online movies and episodes of the latest Indian or English sitcoms have become the trend to watch whilst free online. Indian movies are the most watched feature on internet with 3 Idiots being the top-most watched movie this year online. This trend is expected to continue even further this year.

The upcoming year appears poised to build on the strength of trends already in place: greater mobility, greener technologies, mobile technologies, more powerful hardware and web-enabled products and applications that focus on collaboration and interoperability. The marching advent of technology and telecom is shaking up the old and ensuring that Pakistan is coming of age in one of the fastest of the new growth industries. With that we bid farewell to 2010 and bring in 2011 with prayers for the prosperity of this great nation for one and for all.

The Rise Of Digital Marketing In Pakistan


Posted On Express Tribune: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/159/hello-digital-world/

As we celebrate almost two decades of the internet’s presence in Pakistan, intuitively it makes sense to believe that as the consumer in Pakistan gets ‘Digital’ and the technologies mature, there would have been innovations & change of behaviors in the marketing practices of companies. Yet astonishingly despite the fact that the computing grid is now increasingly available all around us via GPRS / EDGE Services, Wireless Broadband, DSL, etc, there is still a parallel and increasingly irrelevant universe which is inhabited by marketers and their agencies still clinging on to practices & notions of a pre-digital world where even in the best of times marketers used to admit that only 50 percent of their advertising worked and even then they weren’t sure which 50% it was.

As Pakistan comes close to approaching almost 20 million of its residents having access to and using the internet, instead of the gap between the consumer and the marketer shrinking, it only seems to be getting wider by the day. Marketers seem impervious to the fact that with over 80 broadcast channels catering to the masses, over 12 channels on the radio, over 4000 publications, such media onslaught is causing unprecedented fragmentation in media habits of a precedent which have never been seen before and still insist on doing things the traditional way. Add new channels such as internet, gaming, mobile, DirectToHome and activations and we can see why the number of touch-points to reach the average consumer have exploded making the job of the average marketer is now so much harder than the time not so long ago when you could have reached the entire country by advertising on the 9.00 pm news.

Traditional advertising models developed because the economics of the industrial era demanded it. Interaction was expensive, so information about the expected benefits of consumption of products had to be squeezed into slogans, characters, and logos, compressed into thirty-second TV ads and radio spots. Customer was not as much aware since means of peer to peer advocacy were expensive thus believed whatever the advertiser wanted them to believe. With the advent of the information age however and cheap digital interaction, these models are falling apart. What’s replacing it is digital media models where consumers are now in control. They can and do debate and discuss expected costs associated with and the benefits of the brand in incredibly rich details. The more cheaper this interaction gets, the more connected consumers become and the more they will talk to each other – and the less time they will spend listening to the often empty promises of advertisers. The information gap created in the past too disappears in these circumstances and marketers are left scrambling.

Increasingly marketers will start realizing that the multi-tasking, instant-messaging, e-mailing, cell phoning, emoticoning ;-), always on, gaming, Web-searching, blogging, social networking customers are for real and as they will scramble to find their footing in this new hyper-fragmented world, they will become painfully aware of the fact that customers are increasingly ignoring their marketing efforts. The traditional marketing model has been broken and it is digital marketing that will increasingly become the means of tapping onto such a consumer base, which has little time for TV, Print or Radio.

Of course the next question arises, what is Digital Marketing? Is it this thing called SEO? Is digital marketing having a website? What about this Facebook phenomenon is that digital marketing too?

I like the following definition and I use it in all of my seminars and workshops.

Digital marketing Is:

Applying interactive technologies to Contribute to marketing activities Through Developing a planned approach to improve customer knowledge to Deliver communication & services that matches Individual’s needs.

This means that whilst Digital marketing depends on tools such as websites, banners, SEO, Facebook, Mobile, Email, Digital Signage etc, these are not digital marketing itself. Digital marketing is about using these tools to reach customers in a timely, relevant, personal and cost effective manner through Engaging the customer with your brand. How to do so will be covered in the future topics in this blog. We will also cover the forms of insights & information available to advertisers thank to new media. Before advertisers had focused heavily on measuring the means of awareness such as reach, frequency, etc (which too were theoretical) rather than the economic value they gained from traditional advertising such as ‘Advocacy Rates’, ‘Sales Conversion’, ‘Sales Uplift’, etc because with the limitations of traditional media there were simply very few other metrics possible. However common sense dictates that just because I’m aware of something, doesn’t mean I want it (Guy Soap, anyone?). Marketers still do not fully understand this especially with regard to new media. Digital media is not shackled by this lack of data which pervaded traditional media and allows for metrics far beyond awareness, is superior and can be measured from the instant the user sees the advertised message up to the moment of sale and afterwards as well. Digital is the most accurate, transparent, and reliable type of media. The simplest metrics e.g. can enable the calculation of the cost of acquisition of a customer giving you a rupee for rupee analysis of your spending in real-time.

Most marketers  still work at siloed organizations that are built in a hierarchical and vertical way, reflecting an ancient management paradigm whilst the customer is leap-frogging ahead. Alvin Toffler said that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be the ones that cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, un-learn and re-learn.” I believe this perfectly encapsulates the zeitgeist and for many marketers this will be the last iceberg they will ever see, if they do not learn to grasp this technology.

InStore, InStyle – Marketing in Retail Stores Using Digital Media


Dawn Aurora - March-April 2010 IssuePublished in Dawn, Aurora, March – April, 2010

Over the last decade broader socio-economic changes, including growth in the urban middle class and disposable incomes have given rise to the modern retail sector in Pakistan.  There has been a marked decrease in traditional ‘kiryana’ stores, an increase in general stores and the emergence of new formats such as superstores, malls and retail chains to cater to the increasingly time-compressed consumer[1].Instore Marketing

Even a few years back, the concept of in-store marketing did not exist in this country. Yet today due to the fragmentation of traditional media and the tremendous clutter of information assaulting today’s consumer, stores are emerging as a viable alternative to the challenging mass-market advertising environment. They’ve quietly become a hotbed of advertising activity as more and more brands, big or small shift to in-store advertisement, providing effective and direct communication to the customers.

“Currently all our marketing activities are sponsored by our suppliers. Roughly speaking [instore marketing] accounts for 2 to 5% of Makro’s revenue. Instore marketing also include Makro-mail, which is fortnightly published and distributed to top 5000 customers as well as to all concerned suppliers and stakeholders.” said Salman Zafar, Asst. Category Manager at Makro Pakistan.

Research indicates that over 70% of decisions are made in-store or at the ‘First Moment Of Truth’[2] which is why marketers are increasingly seeking ways to control what ad messages their customers see and what information they access for making purchase decisions increasingly through digital media – one of the primary digital vehicles being used in-store is Digital Signage, one of the staples of modern trade outlets.

Through the use of Digital Screens / Retail TV and Interactive Kiosks, marketers are increasingly targeting consumers looking to learn about new product offerings, recipe ideas, advertised specials, etc. Fast Moving Consumer Goods brands in food, dry food and non food segments are most active industries in this space and actively use digital signage to differentiate their brands and provide customers a break from the rather mundane shopping experience.

Amongst the innovators in this category, has been Dalda Foods Pvt. Ltd. Recently in Ramadan, they launched an ‘Activation’ across Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad using Digital ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Interactive Kiosks. Using touch screens to provide instant play, software to control the inventory and multimedia to add excitement to their consumer offer (play and win on buying 10 KG of Dalda’s products), Dalda added entertainment to an otherwise mundane activity and the results of the activity backed their decision. In an otherwise crowded marketplace, these kiosks helped Dalda to differentiate from all the other brands out there using traditional formats.

Similarly, a high-end beauty products company utilized this medium to interact with their customers too. Using motion sensing technology called ‘Eye-Sense’ developed by Tuesday Digital, the digital characters would call out to the passerbys and get them to interact with the screens and products of the company. Aside from FMCG, PSO has also setup digital screens at its pumps, whilst banks such as Standard Chartered are experimenting by setting up live kiosks at their branches to give their customers a demo of their online banking facility.

These companies are not the only ones. Realizing the gains from going digital, retailers too are jumping on this band-wagon. Originally viewed as a potential incremental revenue stream and a way of sourcing more marketing rupees from brand manufacturers, digital instore formats are now also being seen as a way of differentiating the shopping experience and promoting their own offerings.

“Currently digital signages are not there in Makro, but yes Makro has plan of introducing them in future. In-store media can provide us with an effective way to increase revenue, both through higher average shopping baskets per customer visit and increased customer loyalty in terms of number of visits and what they regularly purchase while in that store during each visit”, Said Salman Zafar.

Aside from Digital Signage, another digital medium which is growing is the use of Mobile technologies in the retail environment. ‘BlueCasting is a relatively newcomer to advertising but stands to greatly change the way we market. The pioneers in this field are Mobilius who have developed ‘BlueStorm’, a proximity marketing tool which aims to engage the consumers. Using the technology marketers can broadcast pictures, audio, video and text within a 100m radius ensuring a very innovative and cost effective way of spreading the messages across thousands of people who visit these outlets. Since it’s fully mobile, BlueStorm” can be used to reach out to customers for special promotional campaigns like distributing redeemable coupons. It can also be utilized to organize promotional game shows such as treasure hunt at exhibitions/shopping malls or anywhere else, thank customers on exit and get instant feedback.Instore marketin

The future of this format is only expected to be bright. If the experience of Thailand is taken as a benchmark, one can expect that by 2010, modern formats particularly large supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience store chains will have captured about 25 per cent of the total retail market, and most of the middle and upper class markets. At the same time, one can expect that the number of outlets per thousand population would decrease from the current level of about fifteen down to ten. It is expected that the share of total retail sales held by both traditional kiryana and general stores would decrease from about current levels of 95 per cent to 50 per cent.[3]. Marketers are taking note.

“I think “the last mile” is becoming increasingly important even in Pakistan as categories go back towards commoditization with an endless supply of brands and the consumer lost between their choices. Especially for intangibles like telcos where data is the only thing that the consumer buys, it is much more convenient to deliver interactive ways to select and change package plans on the go”, said Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong.

He continued “Retail is surely becoming a key “moment of truth” in terms of delivering brand experience. In terms of dedicated brand outlets, franchises and more so our customer support centers are becoming more like experience centers rather than just a sales outlet. In the rural sector, our mobile customer support centers are taking the retail outlet directly to the consumer”, Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong

With the falling price of digital media gadgets and flexibility in content creation that only digital technology can offer innovative store technologies now allow grocery retailers to give consumers what they want: time and money savings. This is just the start of what digital can do for marketers and retailers.

“Retailers must make the jump to a totally integrated closed-loop model. To maximize return, retailers must deploy a macro system which seamlessly connects all in-store digital marketing with their POS and loyalty database systems [and if they don’t have any, they should start thinking about creating them] and in-store activation devices that connect customers in real-time to the retailer’s systems. What I’m talking about, is CRM applied at the store level. We call it transactional media, because it involves bringing together all the in-store marketing pieces in a coordinated customer-centric fashion to enhance the in-store shopping experience for consumers, increase sales transactions and build loyalty for retailers. What’s intriguing about this model is that by better serving their customers, retailers and brand marketers better serve themselves”, said Salman Abedin, CEO, Tuesday Digital.

As digital media  increasingly prove their effectiveness  — To retailers by turning their communication vehicles into steady revenue streams and to advertisers through better reach and targeting — the flood of interest and money will disrupt the status quo. This change will affect nearly all in-store marketing players, from agencies to retailers and everyone in between. Those that embrace the disruption stand to benefit the most.


[1] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.

[2] Source: POPAI, Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI)

[3] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.

Digital Marketing Workshop At Karachi Mariott Hotel, 17th March 2010


It’s finally here. I’ve decided to take the plunge.

I’m offering a comprehensive one-day workshop on Digital marketing for the people involved in marketing & branding. The workshop, which will feature proven techniques for engaging customers at every step of the purchase funnel will be held on March 17th from 9 AM – 5PM and will be hosted at the Mariott Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. It’s the perfect solution for ongoing training and continuous professional development requirements for all levels of staff, from trainees to senior execs and heavyweights.

Course description

This workshop will provide a fast track understanding of Pakistan’s digital landscape and the elements involved in developing strategies as well as the high level considerations when implementing digital campaigns.

The workshop will look at trends in Pakistan’s digital landscape, what the impact of these trends are on consumers and their media consumption, industry best practices and standards as well as new and innovative uses of the technology in advertising. The workshop also addresses the issues and challenges facing agencies and marketers in adapting their organization to the new digital landscape.

The discussion group format will enable participants to be exposed to the latest in digital marketing as well share experiences and exploring common areas of concern or confusion in the adoption of digital tools.

Why This Workshop

The ad inventory that has been sold for the last 50 years no longer works and marketers have started to figure that out. With declining returns on traditional media campaigns, marketers are increasingly looking for ways to get more out of their budgets in a media landscape that fragments more every year. Digital offers possibilities to do that.

In this workshop you will learn why:

1. Digital Is Not About ‘The Internet’

2. Digital Marketing Is Not About ‘Online Banners’, ‘SEO’, ‘Social Media’, ‘SMS Marketing,’ and so forth

3. Digital Is About Behaviors, Not Technology

4. Digital Marketing Is About Stories & Values, Not Channels Per Se…

5. Why Every Screen, Interface or Object Is An Opportunity For Dialogue, Interaction, Response & Collaboration.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course participants will:

  • Have a sound understanding of the general principles of digital marketing.
  • Be conversant with relevant technologies, devices and opportunities for digital communications campaigns.
  • Have increased confidence and inspiration for the development of strategic and creative digital communication campaigns
  • Understand how to integrate digital into the overall marketing mix.

The e-brochure is posted below:

Digital Marketing Workshop Brochure

For registration please contact Mr. Arsalaan Haleem at arsalaan@corporatetrainings.biz. The course fee is Rs. 8500 ($100) only.

For the first time, instead of focusing on just one set of digital tools, this workshop will show the participants how they can engage their customers using the multitude of tools that digital offers at the different stages of the customer’s purchase cycle, whilst at the same time keep tabs on the bottom line.The workshop will also focus on how to integrate the digital experience into traditional marketing campaigns.

Here’s a Peek into what’s going to be presented at the conference:

Digital Workshop Journey

For comments or questions, do let me know. Looking forward to meeting you there.

From The Archives (2006) – Marketing To Kids


Branding Kids
Published In Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April 2006

by Umair Mohsin

Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.

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Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids / You’re In MY World Now

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.

From The Archives (2007) – I Are The Media


Whose Afraid Of New Media
Published In Dawn, Aurora, March 2007

by Umair Mohsin

Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control

– Rupert Murdoch, Quoted in Wired, Jul 2006.

In a market with a yearly ad spend of Rs. 6 billion on TV and hotly contested by 50+ local players with another 20-25 new channels coming up, the power of the networks as distribution platforms and brands is diminishing fast. On the “business” side, the old networks have no end of new competition. The market is getting quite competitive, and as happens in a classical product life cycle, the players are feeling the pinch in terms of pricing, as well as differentiation in their offerings to the market. On the “consumer” side, the people formerly known as viewers have taken control of what, when, and how they watch and increasingly they’re doing it without commercial interruptions.

The old days of corporate media based on a centrally planned dictatorship are coming to pass. The old method of we will decide what you want & need, the limited channels of information with a central editorial control, government regulation and one-way communication is being fast replaced by advances in technology and communication, so much so that now we’re surrounded by information we see and hear. Overload is a huge issue. The old-school closed networks survived because of aggregation. The channel recommended the show by putting it on the air – it aggregated the content; it aggregated the audience; it sold the ads; it shared the revenue. Life was so simple. Well, so much for that. The power has shifted.

The viewer is getting smarter, more knowledgeable and has access to more media options than he/she can consume. Time-Shifting (the recording of programming to a storage medium to be viewed or listened to at a time more convenient to the consumer) whose earliest example was the recording of TV programming to a VCR and more recent is Video on Demand offered by cable operators, Space Shifting (The act of copying digital content for use on a device other than the one for which it is was originally intended, such as copying a music from a compact disc to an MP3 file for use on a portable MP3 player, or copying an MP3 file onto a compact disc for use in a digital audio player) & Place Shifting (watching or listening to live, recorded or stored media on a remote device via the internet or over a data network) of which one example is Mobile TV, combined with Time compression (the trend that people are busier and have less time. Plus they feel they have less time in their lives for all the things they want to do) are rapidly changing the way traditional media is consumed. The consumer is no longer dependent on the channel’s FPC chart and the trends point to the fact that as with the Internet, which you can consume anytime, anywhere, the same attributes will have to apply to rest of media, if they are to stay relevant to their consumer’s lives. Infact the only thing stopping these technologies from taking over right now are habits. The older the medium the longer will it take to change.

Customers getting used to customizing things to their preferences is the least of the worries of big media and isn’t the only aspect which keeps (or should keep) network executives up at night. Things are getting infinitely more complex. The Long Tail is taking over in our markets.

The concept of the long tail is simply that technology empowers the growth of markets serving smaller niches, minority tastes and because of it individuals are offered greater choice. Generally, as the number of TV stations grows or TV programming is distributed through other digital channels, the key demographic individuals are split into smaller and smaller groups. As the targeted groups get into smaller niches and the quantity of channels becomes less of an opportunity cost, previously ignored groups become profitable demographics in the long tail. These groups along the long tail then become targeted for television programming that might have niche appeal. As the opportunity cost goes down with more channels and smaller niches, the choice of TV programs grows and greater cultural diversity rises as long as there is money in it. The implications of this concept are that specialized segments would further fragment into specialized niche segments and mass would no longer command the same ratings. Such is already happening in our media world with channels increasingly dividing into Reach Channels and Affinity Channels. Translated in network’s terms it means that as the network’s audiences shrink, they cannot raise their rates, because they no longer control the clock; Furthermore, there is always somewhere else to reach audiences — somewhere more efficiently and economically. To networks with massive infrastructural & fixed costs, this can spell a death knell and indeed many of our local channels which cannot cover their costs will go under within the next 5 years.

“Regional language channels, specialized programming, niche content, are all new ways of tapping the same households that own TV sets. Instead of the same show at the same time being watched on the same channel, we see a trend of individual TV sets, with choice programming at desired timeslots as the current viewership practice”, said Khalid Siddiqui, CEO, CNBC Pakistan. “The challenge now, and more increasingly as we go forward, will be to carve out clear positioning through high quality, captivating content targeted to clearly identified target audiences. It will be difficult for channels to be everything to everyone, and some channels will have to do a hard think about which space they intend to occupy to match with their strengths”, he added.

The Long Tail also has implications for the producers of content, especially those whose products could not – for economic reasons – find a place in pre-Internet information distribution channels controlled by publishers, record companies, movie studios, and television networks. Looked at from the producers’ side, the Long Tail has made possible a flowering of creativity across all fields of human endeavour. One example of this is YouTube (incidentally the third most popular site in Pakistan), where thousands of diverse videos – whose content, production value or lack of popularity made them innappropriate for traditional television – are easily accessible to a wide range of viewers.

Revenue streams & thus business models are also changing fast for these networks. The amount of clutter on TV is fast leading to the traditional marketing model being challenged, and CMOs are increasingly vocal about the day when it will no longer work. GEO Network alone e.g. aired more than 160,000 spots last year. Marketing saturation has created a clutter environment that people are now resisting. Consumers are so swamped by pitches that many simply tune them out and the more affluent exercise enough control that with the flick of their fingers, they can bypass unwanted advertising.

“Too many agencies, are tethered to a 30-second TV spot mentality because agencies get paid based on 30-second spots and that financial incentive keeps them from changing their model.”, said Ehmer Kirmani, CEO Media Idee. “You can whip up those TV ads, spend millions on their productions and increase those (not so) catchy print ads as much as you like, but their impact is fossilizing and the companies that foot advertising bills are increasingly aware of it.”

Haroon Rashid, GM Marketing, Tapal Tea agrees. “A decade ago opportunities were limited. With the advent of new media such as activations, ambient media, mobiles, etc, the advertising world has changed. The cable networks and the line walas too are becoming stronger everyday. I don’t know if anyone imagined just how much of a new paradigm shift will be required to work with these”, he said.

“[Because of the decreasing returns from traditional campaigns] Tapal has been increasingly experimenting with new media techniques. We were amongst the first companies which employed internet advertising by buying space on Cricinfo.com and were also amongst the first movers who used the cell as a marketing medium to create an engagement with the consumer for our family mixture brand. 40,000 people responded to our campaign in the latter. Last year we’ve increased our presence on mobile media and used this channel as a means of participation for our Danedar brand. A 100,000+ users texted in their responses. So it’s no surprised we’re already putting more emphasis on new media technologies like mobile phones & internet especially with our new website. You cannot ignore television but the clutter is increasing everyday. There will always be a weightage in each media [whilst planning for our campaigns] but [the fact cannot be denied] that new media is more economical”, he added.

Yet inspite of these warnings, the media industry is growing increasingly nascent. 5 years onwards one can literally predict that the status quo would have only been broken by some examples of product placement, a few branded entertainment productions and some forms of new media. It’s not totally the industry’s fault. It too suffers from a range of problems. There are no quality parameters for software, lead times are high, talent is rare and payment cycles are long. Piracy itself is a major issue especially since cable operators rarely pay royalties for the content they air.

Yet even then the networks are not preparing for the oncoming world of infinite ubiquitous content on demand. The “million channel universe” will include not just traditional media delivery and the Internet, but also a whole set of new devices and delivery platforms. Will they stay relevant with their existing business models is a question that increasingly comes to mind. To succeed one must quote Imtiaz Noor, the business development head of MobMasti when he says “Personalization is the catalyst of the new interaction economy over the next 5 years”.

Many in the communications industry are aware that consumers are turning their backs. “We know that things are going to change. We are assessing what is changing, what is the current state and by what time we should be ready with it. It’s not about just creating a destination. First you have to know what your customer’s needs are and their allocation of time. What needs is this medium serving? Content or technology will not make any difference if it’s just going to be more of the same that consumers avoiding right now. It’s how you use these that matters”, said Yasir Riaz, Director Brand & Strategic Planning, GEO TV Network.

Thus channels will have to determine which need states they fulfill and then will have to follow these need states and passion points. Do they enrich your life, give you control, or are just a time pass. They’ll have to answer these questions to fulfill that role.

“We will have to move from being a shopping mall which promotes window shopping, to becoming a high street, specialty store, where shoppers come by intention and spend time there”, said Siddiqui.

In such an environment it is IMPERATIVE to let go of the orthodoxy of traditional segmentation and start looking at the people as “people” rather than numbers on a chart. Mostly because traditional segmentation doesn’t really tell us a lot about the PEOPLE behind the numbers. Firms are increasingly working with LSM (Living Standard Measures) segmentations, rather than traditional SEC profiles. LSM surveys collect data on Ownership of durables, type of house they live in, the extent to which people lack basic items of consumption (adequate food, clothing etc.), the extent to which people have comforts and luxuries (regular holidays away from home etc.), the extent to which people have had financial problems (defaulting on payment of electricity bills etc.),  the extent to which people had problems with their accommodation (leaks, faulty plumbing etc.), for families with dependent children, the extent to which they lacked children’s basic items of consumption (clothing, school supplies and children’s sports and recreational activities). These combined with data from people meters and sales data, will increasingly become the future for all stakeholders – including the agencies, the brands and the networks themselves.

“The role of the different agencies will change to those of ‘real’ brand partners and research will play a critical role in unearthing insights on which brand objectives will be based upon. To this will media selection will increasingly be dependent. At the same time skillsets & knowledge will both have to be upgraded to ensure the message’s seamless integration across all media vehicles”, said Fouad Husain, MD, Mindshare.

“We will remain focused on the quality of our product – i.e. our content – both in terms of inherent quality, as well as audience targeted.  If our content fulfils the needs and desires of the audience, we will have a strong foundation to approach clients to partner with us”, said Siddiqui.

Trends are toward the rise of the digital media in Pakistan however this medium has its own issues namely infrastructure & content. Moreso the marketer in Pakistan still doesn’t understand this medium. “We go with our preferred media. We don’t go by the consumer. Right now internet penetration [which stands at 8 million users] is greater than the combined readership of all English newspapers. However the ad spend going towards English newspapers is still larger than one going to Internet. However since we don’t find internet as our preferred medium, so consumers also don’t find it interesting”, said Riaz.  

So the lesson is not that old media is dead. It’s not that new media is better. It’s not that the content giants don’t know what they’re doing. It’s simply that the media houses are too stuck in the mindset of big, fancy and being infrastructure-bound where they should understand the value of being lean, mean and constraint-free. Many of these traditional media companies will find it difficult to adjust to the new media landscape of mobile platforms and customer created content due to their investments in old-media infrastructure and business models. Make no mistake. The internet and other technological leaps are upending the media and entertainment industries in much the same way that they have begun to turn businesses as varied as advertising, marketing, retail and communications on their heads. Technology has put consumers in the driver’s seat by giving them a vast array of new choices and better information — and corporations and agencies that want to succeed had better get on board. No longer personifying the consumer as avid, mindless drones will work. Now a new equation is needed.

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