Jul 10, 2008

Mktg - Brand Tendulkar losing appeal

They could have done it privately. But they chose to solemnise the divorce across public media. All to ensure that the termination was delivered to all target audiences, and Pepsi disassociated itself from Sachin's lengthening shadows.Vile as it sounds, in front of the onslaught of Dhoni, Raina, Yuvraj, Yusuf and T20, he was but waiting to be run over. Now no other brand will want to woo their audiences with someone so unkindly banished. And someone so brazenly branded as being too old for Pepsi. Sachin had long become redundant for Pepsi and similar brands. And if you and I didn't sense that, we are soppy fools. Not professionals. However, just to indulge my point, please pour yourself a mental Pepsi. In your hands is irreverent fizz. Liquid brashness. Sloshing fun. Frisky, wacko, brown and bubbly. It's an elixir. Rebel. Maverick. Anti-establishment. Rake and rogue. A nukeload of aggression. I may be close to Pepsi's brand DNA, but I don't think my exuberant adjectives characterise current Sachin. Once upon a time, he was the spirit of effervescence. The leather eating willow dragon. The whiz-bang cricketer. Sachin 2008 is a refined, mature and consummate gentleman. He is a repository of wisdom. A field marshal. Not a commando. He is a polestar. Genius. He can be a father. An uncle. Ombudsman. Chairman and chief strategist. He is guile. Not sinew. Brain, not brawn. In marketing terms, he can steer brands to talk to me. He is my peer. Not my son's. Because he is longer flawed. He isn't tempestuous. He isn't wild. The young don't rally behind calm. They like storms. They love irresponsible. They hate pretenders. Unlike actors who slip into characters, regardless of their age, athletes live and die by their physical prowess. Sachin isn't an actor. He is an icon because he conquered with willow. Not because he pranced around trees. He is real flesh and blood. And real flesh and blood heroism dies at the altar of age. While mature brands now have a great ambassador; for youth brands, Sachin has gone flat like that Pepsi in your hands. Chuck it.The perspective that I have is that some brands choose to target segments that may seem appealing to them at a specific point of time. There are other brands that seek a pan-Indian appeal without demographic restriction. While the perspectives differ they are neither right nor wrong. The only question is have they been chosen to match the needs of the brand correctly? This piece would like to submit is that there are two brands being discussed here-one a soft drink major and the other Sachin Tendulkar. Let's start with the soft drink major. The association that Sachin has had with the brand has been long, successful and mutually beneficial. But, the brand from my perspective has chosen to change a leadership stance and seemingly shies away to address a specific demographic segment. In this case-youth! Admittedly the youngsters seem to spend more on lower per unit cost items and as such are a possible target. Had the brand continued its leadership position, a continuation of the association with Sachin would have been automatic in my view. This attempt to re-position the brand using new and fresh faces is also natural, except that the strategy needs to stand the test of business success. The second brand in question is Sachin Tendulkar. I would only say that here the focus should be on continued relevance for consumers. The portfolio of (nine) brands that Sachin endorses spans the spectrum from children's products to sportswear to more serious lifestyle and luxury products like cameras and premium watches. To believe that these brands do not need to appeal to the younger generation would be foolish to say the least. Every brand that Sachin has endorsed has seen remarkable lifts in terms of salience, relevance and consideration. Over his entire playing career brand needs and consumer love and relevance have been the basis for choice and not age

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