Category Archives: Marketing

Move Forward Campaign by Uber India

We all are now accustomed to encounter couple of full page newspaper ads on weekends. But, this Sunday (25th Sept), at least some of us would have felt bit emotional after reading the long copy by Uber India, titled ‘Move Forward’ on the first page of TOI. Unlike other front page promotional ads, there was something unique about this ad. Before I go on to share what I felt about this ad, it would help if you go through the copy that you probably missed noticing and/or reading!

Uber India

Front Page Ad in TOI-Bangalore

So, after reading the above copy, what did you feel about it? Here’s my take on it.

The three paragraphs in the long copy clearly have been highlighting the three key stakeholders of the Uber India ecosystem – Uber drivers partners, riders and the community as a whole. The message was loud and clear for all stakeholders. I felt it was a great effort by Uber India to knit all three stakeholders and express their gratitude to each one of them.

Well, the story doesn’t end with just the front page ad. It follows up with a beautiful story expressed in first person (in the voice of a Uber rider) on the 2nd page. The story highlighted how a Uber partner could choose to not stretch at work and be with his family addressing their needs. This could be understood well with this video shared by Uber India on their Facebook Page.

And the end call to action of the two page ad was to share Uber story on Facebook or Twitter with hashtag – #MoveForward. A quick search of hashtag on Twitter led me to a sorry timeline with very few tweets. Couple of tweets highlighted the print ad. However, came across a tweet by Uber India, that reflected the story that was published on the 2nd page of the TOI. This tweet revealed the typo that Uber India’s long story had – girl’s named mentioned as ‘Natura’ instead of ‘Nathura’. Not sure if it was a deliberate move. And if it was one, I wouldn’t have made it to hide the identity of the girl, if her story was to be published on Twitter on same day!

But, why there weren’t many tweet around #MoveForward hashtag? Or did I miss them? I can’t digest the strategy that many brands tend to apply by choosing a common hashtag, viz. #MoveForward, #Chapter1 (by HCLTECH). There is a high chance that the content, brand is trying to crowdsource would get lost in the crowd of highly active hashtag. Either the hashtag has to be branded (with the inclusion of brand name) or should be unique to be noticed well by the audience.

Overall, I feel it was a great attempt by Uber India to match each media channel – Print ads, Tweets, Facebook posts etc. But its sad to see crowd not participate as much in the initiative. I have always found at least 8/10 people claim cheap rates, better Uber partners and so on. But, then where did Uber India fail to drive conversation? Does it mean the Indian crowd needs to be incentivized everytime a brand wants to run a campaign? Should the brand always take help of ‘social media influencers’ to get the hashtag trended or drive more conversations?

Leaving you with these questions to ponder upon!

Got some insights on this episode? Feel free to share in the comments section 🙂

Paul Writer Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

It was once again that time of the year when I found myself attending the reputed Paul Writer Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards at The Ritz Carlton, Bangalore. I had fond memories of last year’s event where we won an award too. This time too the panel discussion topics and the eminent speakers list truly motivated me to attend the event. Like always, I love summarizing the learning I had from the event in the interest of the people who couldn’t attend the event for various reasons. Let’s see what were the key points discussed, thought-provoking questions asked by the eminent speakers and how IT Marketing take a leap forward. The key attraction of this year’s event was that most of the speakers spoke candid, unlike other conferences where speakers seem to be speaking from books and not from their heart!

Panel Discussion 1: The iBuyer: How has the buyer journey transformed? – Sunder Sarangan, Lavanya Jayaram, Manideepa Dasgupta, Sumit Virmani

Straightaway this session took everyone by surprise with comments by speakers like – “buying is not always well-researched”, “we buy easily available and what is familiar to us”, “most of our buying is tactical”. Now, these are very bold statements by such senior level marketing experts, while the other marketing folks would argue that buying is a well-researched process with these 8/10 steps. Another key discussion that occurred was about relevance of Sales and how can marketing equip sales in this technology dominated era. Some of the key learning were – a) Sales definitely is relevant and they need to have more intellectual conversations with the prospects, b) Sales should be able to engage with the prospective buyer community online, c) Marketing should enables Sales regularly with right content at right place and at right time, d) Content should highlight simple business benefits, e) Employees should be encouraged and leveraged to evangelize about the organization, f) Key skills preferred in marketers include storytelling, automation tool expertise, analytics, and g) Human connect doesn’t go away. So, no matter how much technology may dominate marketing, at the end of the day, human-to-human connect is very much required for positive results.

ITSMA Research Presentation by Julie Schwartz

Julie presented the research findings from the research that ITSMA conducted amongst 426 respondents from mid to large size organizations from seven countries (US, UK, France, India, Australia etc.). 50% of respondents were IT buyers, while the rest were functional buyers. The key findings were:

  1. More than 50% of buying happens offline
  2. Top sources of information in IT Marketing are consultants, advisors, peers, subject matter experts
  3. While human interaction dominates in the initial stages of buying process, social media dominates in the later stages of buying process
  4. More number of marketing channels are referred to today in a buying process than they were a decade ago
  5. It’s an era of Omnichannel marketing
  6. Centralized marketing is needed

Panel Discussion 2: Should Sports be in Your Marketing Plan? – Apurva Chamaria, Poornima Couto, Vishal Jhunjhunwala

This was a very interesting panel discussion and very lively right from the beginning with all three speakers playing videos of their sports engagements. The panel discussion mainly hovered around the necessity, importance, pros for a brand to consider sports marketing as a key element of their marketing strategy. Some of the key learning from this session were:

  1. 70% sport engagements happens on social media
  2. TCS Marathon initiatives are mainly focused around employees in case of India. Employee engagement is the core objective
  3. Brands can leverage sports to address C-suite, engage employees, influence top funnel, create business impact
  4. It’s buyers market in sports domain, as every element of sports is available for sale – be it sports kits, apparels etc.
  5. Sports followers generally have a positive tendency for brands that endorse their favourite sports teams
  6. The focus of sports marketing should be on larger story and a brand should carefully distance itself from a particular team’s performance
  7. Sponsoring an individual players is very risky
  8. A brand could derisk by associating with a sports team that has rich cultural heritage as HCL has with Manchester United

Panel Discussion 3: Customer Communities: Creating and Engaging a Powerful Group – Jyotsna Makkar, Pratap TP, Anand Narayanan, Adarsh Pete

Building and nurturing communities has been a focus for both B2C and B2B brands. This panel discussed on the challenges of setting up a community, nurturing it and ensuring continuous engagement. All panelists agreed to the successful mantra of running a community to be Recruit, Rewards and Recognize. Some of the other key learning from the session were:

  1. Communities could be of three types. The ones build around – a) shared values, b) individual interests or c) charismatic figures
  2. Content and engagement strategy are the key aspects of a successful community
  3. Communities are fluid today because of digital platforms
  4. It is imperative that people seek recognition in the community
  5. Community managers should try to learn from one community and apply the learning to other
  6. It is helpful if brands have a full-time community manager
  7. Regular investments to promote community are required
  8. Communities don’t necessarily stay connected on digital platforms, but the members also love to stay connected in offline world
  9. Some of the key success metrics of running a community are – a) Revenues/Leads/Sales (Primary objective), b) Less number of opt-outs

Panel 4: How can Marketers increase Business Value – Indraneel Ganguli, Srihari Palangala, Sunder MadakShira

This was my favourite panel and all the panelists were really candid. Marketing is always questioned in the organization for the budgets they ask. Marketers are always under pressure to justify the ROI and to earn a face in the organization. The panelists clearly called out few issues and few areas of improvement for the marketers:

  1. Marketers should shift their focus from conversations to conversions in IT Marketing and all other sorts of marketing
  2. Marketers have to talk the language of accountability
  3. Marketers should possess an ability to build next 30% business
  4. Marketing needs to promise and deliver

Panel 5: Marketing in the Age of Digitisation – Suresh Thomas, Sarang Panchal

Each of the eminent panelists of this sessions had decades of experience in marketing research. They discussed on how technological developments are affecting the marketing research practices. They highlighted that the current young generation would not appreciate responding to lengthy questionnaires. Hence, it was essential for brands to identify engaging, fun-oriented research techniques to understand the consumer psyche. They suggested brands to go for implicit research techniques that leveraged technology.

My key three takeaways from the entire day were:

  1. Not only IT Marketing but any kind of marketing, needs to work closely with Sales and Product  Development teams. Marketing should take more ownership to build their relevance in the organization, rather than just focus on campaigns and engagement
  2. Leverage technology to understand customer psyche through implicit research techniques
  3. It’s time for brands to focus on omnichannel marketing

So, it was a great day of learning from the veterans.

It was also a great day for HCL Technologies (my organization) from two aspects:

  1. Apurva Chamaria, Global Head for Branding and Digital along with Gaurav Kakkar launched their book titled, ‘You Are The Key”. Social Selling is a key phenomenon which is emerging especially in the field of IT Marketing. The book promises to equip marketers with Social Selling skills.

You Are The Key book launch at The Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

2. We won three awards at the event in these categories – Customer Acquisition (#UnitedByHCL), Digital Media (#HCLShortCutsToSuccess) and Sustainability and CSR (#AMileForHer). It was a proud moment to receive awards for the work we did throughout the year.

The Great Indian IT Marketing Summit & Awards 2016

Thank you Paul Writer team for organizing this fabulous event which was very well organized and well conducted in the end. I am already looking forward for the next edition!

LinkedIn TECHconnect Bangalore 2015 – Focus on Relevance Marketing

Six months later it was yet again thought provoking event at Ritz Carlton, Bangalore on 22nd Sept’15. Earlier in Feb’15 I attended Paul Writer’s IT Marketing Summit and this time, the occasion was LinkedIn TECHconnect event where technology marketers gathered under one roof to discuss the various aspects about marketing in technology driven ecosystem. Even above the traditional objectives of attending event like networking, this event definitely left many of us ponder upon few thoughts and I am sure some of us would implement the learning in our respective roles and help our organizations succeed. Like always I will try to capture most of the learning here that I could grasp from yesterday’s event in the interest of the larger audience and I hope it will seed few thoughts in many others.

The major underlying takeaway for technology marketers in the house was to focus on ‘Relevance Marketing’, ‘Broaden You Horizon beyond ITDMs’, ‘Consider viewpoints of end-users’ and  few more. Let me take you through session-wise key points.

The evening began with a session by Russell Glass, who focused on Relevance Marketing and highlighted five trends that were driving technology marketing (in my view could be extended for non-technology marketing also!). He kept quoting Amazon, Flipkart, Airbnb, Uber for the seamless and satisfactory experience that these brands provide to their customers across geographies. He highlighted the complex buying behavior of B2B buyers and termed it as ‘random walk in a maze’, where B2B buyers source information from various touchpoints before arriving at a decision. His key urge to technology marketers was to think about the question – ‘How do I create “relevant experience” at scale?’ Its actually a great question that marketers need to answer if they wish to succeed. The key five trends that he highlighted were:

1. Relevance in mobile has become a reality

2. Data should be relevant with better content and experience

3. Focus on nurturing opportunities through technology

4. Technology is helping us predict better and hence unlock our valuable customers

5. Leverage the fusion of advertising and marketing technologies

Panel Discussion – 1

Russell’s session was followed up with a panel discussion on Disruption – Insights from the Cutting Edge of Marketing. The panel members consisted or four marketers who leveraged technology to disrupt the consumer behavior – Kashyap Dalal, Sanjiv Singhal, Vineet Sehgal and Adhil Shetty. The panelists had following suggestions for the audience:

1. Disruption should be embedded in the culture of an organization

2. Even in their successful times, an organization should continue to innovate

3. Organizations should look beyond their own business to derive inspiration for disruption

4. An effective combination of traditional marketing and technology pays well in the path of disruption

5. Disruption could be created with a contextual content that would result in long term business

6. At times even basic hygience marketing that improves customer experience (that has been ignored by your competitors) can result into a disruption

7. In this technology driven economy focus is more on product marketing

Panel Discussion – 2

The second panel of the day took a deep dive at today’s empowered technology buying process. The eminent panelists were – Kelly Kyer, Vasantha Kumar, Sudharsan R. and Srihari Gopinath. Kelly, set the stage for discussion of this panel by sharing findings from a survey that LinkedIn conducted amongst 3800+ technology decision makers. The key findings of the survey were:

1. 4+ functions were involved at each stage of the buying process. Some of the support functions like finance and accounting, support, sales, business development, marketing and purchase were also involved in the buying process

2. 2 to 4 pieces of content was consumed by decision makers at each stage

3. 51% decision makers consulted end-users

4. 25% respondents shortlisted a new vendor, which reflects that organizations should focus on retention

5. 78% buyers require education to sustain or make a change in the post-purchase engagement situation

The panelists later shared their inputs on how technology buying process was changing. The key takeaways were:

1. Marketers should go through a buying journey and help buyers in their process

2. Marketers should move from data analysis to predictive analytics and further on to one-to-one marketing.

3. Marketers should focus on non-ITDMs and end-users

4. Post purchase market is a huge opportunity and marketers should look forward to educate buyers in that stage

5. Sales process is no more like a funnel, it’s more like a ping-pong game

After two panel discussions, Ahmad Abdullah shared his insights on how marketers could leverage LinkedIn to build persona of their buyers. He educated audience with some basic steps (that are often ignored by marketers!) on knowing target audience, building relationships with them and engaging with them with relevant content.

The final session of the evening was on ‘Selling in a Social World’. Apurva Chamaria shared his personal experience, insights and advice for marketers on how to leverage social selling. The key insights shared by Apurva were,

1. Social Selling is a oxymoron. Selling always has been social

2. Listening is the new prospecting! Listen well using social channels and reach buyers at the right time

3. Sales professionals who use social media for selling are 3X more likely to crush their yearly sales quote

4. ABC of selling – Always be connecting!

5. Advice for marketeers: Start small. Define KPIs. Handle change management well

6. Sales Management Process – 3Vs Value, Volume, Velocity, 2Es Efficiency and Effectiveness

7. Gamification of Social Selling process can help sales leaders excite about this phenomenon

That summed up the truly thought provoking evening. Full credit to LinkedIn for selecting great panelists and speakers. Moreover, their team did a great job in managing time and ensuring audience had enough time for networking too!

Last, but not the least one would always cherish this beautiful gift from LinkedIn for all event attendees!

LinkedIn TECHconnect

Did Snapdeal and Amazon troll themselves?

We humans are so delighted to see a live brawl happening in our streets / arguments happening between our colleagues in office / politicians spilling venom on each other / journalists dragging each other to the mess. Can you stop for a second and recollect how many such arguments / brawls etc do you remember as of now? You might have even favored a particular party in such instances, but rarely does it affect your course of life after few days.

Now, let’s fast forward to the much hyped news of e-commerce giants trolling each other. If you are a digital / social media marketer, I am sure you couldn’t have missed to watch those pictures on your social media channel feeds or countless times shared on WhatsApp. Thanks to the coverage of this troll by mainstream media channels, may be few other common people were also exposed to this gimmick by e-commerce players.

Some journalists / bloggers tagged this as ‘ambush marketing’ (I seriously doubt if they understood what the term really means!), some of them were busy rehashing photoshopped (pardon me for this commoditized term!) images and gimmicky titles to drive traffic to their blogs / some of us happily shared / retweeted and may be even made this the topic of conversation during our lunch / tea / smoking breaks.

So who won this ‘war’ / ‘ambush marketing’ / ‘troll’ ….?  Or may be the right question should be who benefited the most from this?

Snapdeal and Amazon? Really? Can each of them attribute the sales that were driven ‘only because of those troll centric billboards or tweets or Facebook posts? Oh yes, marketers would vouch they established ‘top of the mind recall’. Again, my argument would be was a pre-event and post-event research done to establish by how much basis points did awareness or recall (aided / un-aided) improve? Not to ignore the digital marketers who would have set up listening tracks for their campaign hashtags and prepared jazzy reports to convince their top management about XX millions of impressions attained on those hashtags. In worst case some of the evolved analytical digital marketers would have tracked sentiment analysis or incremental visits to the website during those particular days and so on. But, lets step back and reflect even if all above metrics were higher for those 2-3 days, is it in anyway feeding for future sustenance of the brand? How is it strengthening the brand image? Do Snapdeal and Amazon want to be known as brands that are ever ready to snap at their competitors? On one side Snapdeal is spending crores of rupees to rope in Aamir Khan and creating Snapdeal TVCs while on other end engages itself in such, what I call ‘cheap tactics’. On the other hand, I am surprised how did Amazon India get into this mess given their global stature.

How about investors? After multiple rounds of evaluation, investors agree to fund startups and ultimately this corpus is spent on taking a dig at competitors. I wonder isn’t there any governance for such spends where huge amount is spent on creative strategy, execution, media buying etc. just to play these gimmicks to garner eyeballs of few thousand people, rather than invest this sum for better product development or sensible brand building exercise. Are these spends by any means justifiable to investors?

Marketing teams? It definitely helps this breed as they get an opportunity to splash their Facebook walls and Twitter feeds pretending how proud they are of working at their organization who has ‘supposedly succeeded’ in trolling their nearest competitor. May be they will adorn their CVs with these campaigns, but I am sure there would be few of them who would have felt a pinch of salt while executing them.

Creative Agencies? Another set of people who would have partied hard after being applauded by their bosses, clients and their fellow colleagues in other agencies. What have they made? A comprehensive justification to raise retainer in the next year and a case study which they would bid at next year’s any award function for a coveted crown! All these e-commerce giants are backed by agencies with extremely good track record and still its surprising how agencies just keep ‘short term objectives’ in mind. Well, having worked at two agencies before, I can visualize that the only reason they would be doing is to milk some extra bucks from clients, without giving due consideration of brand’s long term image.

Media publishers? The last and the most profitable stakeholder in this entire drama. Well, they would have very well cleared off their unused inventories at a premium considering the golden opportunity. Obviously, they have the least say in the entire value chain to suggest if a brand should engage themselves in such exercises or not.

Let’s now consider the final scapegoat (customers): Even before I share my views, please read these views of two industry veterans on this episode.

Anand Halve

Ashok Lalla

Apart from the fact that whether the end customers really keep track of these events, it is extremely debatable that whether such events have an impact on customer’s purchase decision cycle. Even a positive impact on customer’s consideration set would play a huge role after such gimmicks, however that remains a debatable topic. Some of the articles suggested that we have witnessed such incidents in traditional media between Pepsi vs Coke or Rin vs Surf, well my argument to those bloggers is ‘whether the scale of Pepsi, Coke or Rin is same as investor-funded these miniature e-commerce players?’ It makes no sense, on part of these e-commerce players to spend exorbitantly to just satisfy egos of their CEOs or Marketing Heads, with no tangible proof of benefit for the business.

My view is that brands should better concentrate on building their brand image rather than investing (rather wasting crores) in such activities that neither have tangible short-term benefit nor does it add value to the brand image in the long term. Launches Funny TVCs Yet Driving Strong Social Message has been one of my favourite online business model brands that has impressed me in recent times. They recently came up with two TVCs which has been going viral for quite sometime now. Though the pitch that brand made while launching these TVCs was that they are funny and highlighting their value proposition. However, I could also sense that these TVCs drive strong social message in a subliminal manner. In this blogpost, I will talk what’s so unique about their TVCs.

But, before that let me set the context by asking you all readers to think for a minute on brands that you remember have been successful to drive social message through their TVCs. I am sure many of you would recollect Tata Tea (Jaago Re campaign) or Idea (Latest campaign being ‘India ko no ullu banaowing’) or Titan (Remarriage campaign) and some of you would also relate to Amul’s billboards that try to cover the contemporary news. It has been a successful strategy for brands to leverage social message and build strong brand recall.

Let’s talk about how has tried to do the same. These are the two TVCs so far by the brand:

1) Hindu temple priest

2) Marriage event

Were you able to realize the social messages? If not, here is my take:

1) Hindu temple priest: Hindu is the predominant religion in India and people of this country have enormous faith in God. They consider the temple priests to be direct messengers of the God and blindly conduct whatever the priests ask them to do. One of the most common behavior of people visiting temples is to donate some cash on the puja plate. Some do it with the noble thought that this money would be utilized for temple’s development or the money would be used for a noble cause like feeding poor etc. However, many of them have a blind belief and enter into a cognitive deal with God that in case their wish gets fulfilled, they will donate X amount of money to the temple. Many prominent temples in this country earn crores of rupees in this manner. Some are well managed but, I am sure most of them have become a business model for so called wealthiest people around in the city / village.

I feel that this TVC highlights this area of corruption that is highly prevalent in this country and may be urges people to have a second thought before they blindly donate money to the temples.

2) Marriage event: Now, this is my favourite. Dowry, the hottest debate topic in India and also the most cruelest as it has led to many deaths. It is very well known that many women are tortured and even in worst case hacked to death in case her parents fail to provide the dowry that groom’s parents demand for. The situation depicted in this TVC is also one of the most emotional scenes in many Bollywood flicks. I feel this version tries to create an awareness amongst youth to avoid demanding dowry.

I feel these two TVCs have been a great output with best blend of highlighting social message and yet being funny for people to maintain interest. I won’t be surprised to see following themes in the future episodes of’s TVCs:

1) Kid and parent going to school / college for admission and the kid taking back few bucks as ‘cashback’ from the donation that parent pays to seek admission

2) A couple riding a bike being stopped by traffic policemen, husband paying bribe to get away fast and wife snatching back few notes as ‘cashback’

3) Jailor sneaking in few currency notes inside jail and taking ‘cashback’ from convicts

4) Youth being caught at airport by customs officer and the officer ‘earning cashback’ and allowing youth to sneak few products without paying custom duties

5) Election campaigner ‘taking cashback’ from the money that is given to voters (mostly a day before the election).

PS: This is not a sponsored blogpost. The promoters of do not have any clue about this blogpost, until they see it live.