Mumbai: In recent times, some big advertisers have been opting more for ads that focus on the mother brand rather than on individual products.
Often referred to as umbrella ads, these ads take a catalogue approach and usually showcase all the sub-brands under the overarching mother brand. Multiproduct advertisers use this kind of strategy when the mother brand has higher recall and equity in the market than the individual sub-brands. Or when the variants themselves are fairly well established, as with brands such as Britannia. Traditionally a popular option for categories such as paint, consumer products and consumer durables, this cost-effective format is now also being considered an attractive option for categories that range from auto and retail to finance.
Big-ticket spenders, such as Hero Honda Motors Ltd, LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd (Life is good), Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd (Brighter living), Britannia Industries Ltd, the Future Group and Hindustan Unilever Ltd, among others, are increasingly running umbrella ads across mass media to communicate the primary brand proposition. Some use it to mark a milestone; Hero Honda marked its 25th-year anniversary this year with Desh ki Dhadkan. Brands also take this route to cut costs of individual product ads, especially in tough times
“Such advertising helps us protect our space and promotes equity with a wider audience,” says Lakshmikant Gupta, chief marketing officer, LG Electronics. The firm’s recent festive campaign featured all their home products. While the brand does advertise the individual TV or refrigerator brand, there has been a heightened focus on promoting the mother brand. A marked change from their strategy where umbrella ads would essentially be used during the festive season and were usually led by promotions or discounts. In 2008, the firm decided to focus on building brand equity derived from aspects such as quality, reliability and customer care, rather than be known as a promotions or discounts brand. The firm now allocates around 20% of its ad budget for umbrella ads.
The idea, say experts, is to tap the halo effect of master brands for sub-brands. “Britannia is the only food brand in India today that caters to all consumers in all demographic and socio-economic segments, across urban and rural India through everyday food such as bread, biscuits, cakes, dairy products. We wanted to leverage the master brand Britannia to communicate our credo and thus was born our Zindagi Mein Life campaign,” says Neeraj Chandra, vice-president, sales, marketing and innovation, Britannia.
In some cases it could also work the other way round, says Gowthaman Ragothaman, managing director–South Asia, Mindshare, the media buying division from Group M, a WPP Group company. “If the variant is popular, the company may want to use that association to rub off on the master brand and subsequently on to newer business.” A case in point is that of mobile service provider Airtel, which could use the goodwill and equity created through one business to propel newer ventures such as the dish-broadband interface.
Chandradeep Mitra, president, Mudra Max, the specialist media arm of the Mudra Group, says there could be an economic consideration as well. A second slot during prime time on a popular general entertainment channel could cost between Rs70,000 and Rs1 lakh. While an umbrella ad may result in overall saving on the ad budget, it tends to be slightly longer or larger than, say, a quick ad for an individual product. “It’s difficult to build a larger than life image in a 10-second slot. You need a little more time and space to establish all the variant products.”
Some experts, however, warn that umbrella advertising, which is purely tactical, may actually do nothing for the brand. “You can’t crunch all your communication into one ad and expect it to work,” says Ragothaman. “Each brand has to stand on its own leg, so unless a brand makes it a long- term strategy, it’s not going to work,” he says, citing how Amul, whether through advertising or branded content such as the Amul Star Voice of India show, focused on the master proposition Amul—The taste of India. The brand rarely advertises its individual products. Much of individual brand promotion is done at consumer touch points such as stores.
“As recession hits, consumer buying decisions become very rational… They buy products for specific reasons. So, the persuasiveness needs to come from a specific brand proposition,” says Sanjeev Bhargava, chief operating officer, Delhi, DraftFCB+Ulka Advertising Pvt. Ltd, which handles the Hero Honda account. “Mathematically, yes, a company may save money. But it’s not likely to work unless the (variant’s) proposition is not very different from the main brand and individual products have minimal equity, as in the case of a paint brand.”