Jul 17, 2008

Mktg - Ground breaking innovation by Maruti

When it’s a cricket property on television, brands are bound to have a piece of it and how. Title sponsorships, ground sponsorships, ad spots, merchandising and the odd innovation or two, brands have tried them all with one single goal – to tear the cricket fan’s eyes away from the game to their screaming message, even if for a brief second. Nowadays, brands are increasingly trying to integrate their agenda within the content being consumed. In one such attempt, Lintas Media Group recently broke new ground (quite literally) for the Maruti SX4 during the Asia Cup 2008 cricket series. The innovation ran as follows: In a live match (when the shot of a top view of the ground and the players was airing), one suddenly saw the ground open up and an SX4 appear from beneath. Next, the car zipped past the fielders on the ground, leaving behind the brand name and tagline (‘Men are Back’).The Asia Cup aired on STAR Cricket. Oddly enough, this innovation didn’t have too much of a brief preceding it. VS Mani, senior vice-president and general manager, Lintas Media Group, says, “Yes, LMG developed and suggested the idea to the client. We had mutually decided to have a presence on cricket and, thereafter, we thought this kind of an activity would create better recall than a commercial.” In fact, the SX4 commercial didn’t air on the Asia Cup at all. Sanjeev Handa, deputy general manager, marketing, Maruti Udyog India, explains, “We didn’t need to. We only wanted this innovation to stand out.” “With such high ad avoidance, it is important to constantly look at ways and means to integrate brand message with content,” continues Mani. “We had to ensure that it was intrusive, but fit in seamlessly so as not to put off the viewer.” Thus emerged the ‘virtual meets real’ concept on the field. According to Lintas Media Group executives, the innovation brought in a surprise element to the viewer as it was unexpected during the match. There were 13 matches in all (three held in Lahore and 10 in Karachi). The innovation was carried out during the 10 Karachi matches; the visual appeared six times per match. First, a virtual ground had to be constructed digitally for the LMG team to decide exactly where the ground should break. The Lahore matches were left out because that would have required the creation of a separate digital ground. The whole exercise (conceptualisation and execution) took two months. “We worked closely with the ESPN STAR team to ensure the execution came out as desired,” says R Venkatasubramanian, vice-president, Lintas Media Group.

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