PC Paathshala! For anyone who understand Hindi language, its easy to comprehend. As any other parent who is looking for every other opportunity of online classes for his / her kid, I reached the website with lots of expectations. Little did I know, that I would be welcomes with disappointment rather than rejoice. Not only as a parent, but also a digital marketer, in my opinion the campaign seems to be a great affiliate marketing oriented campaign, rather than any closer to help the end user (parent or teacher or student, as the campaign claims to be!). Shocked by this opening line with full of criticism? Well, I respect Intel a lot, but this campaign seemed to be pulled off in a hurry and with too much of performance focus (read: PC sales!) and a thin lining of purpose, as the campaign name suggests to be. Let’s get started to see why I think its a half-hearted effort by both Intel and Times of India –
PC stands for Personal Computer and ‘Paathshala’, a Hindi term means a place where education is provided, primarily used to term schools or colleges. So, Intel and Times of India seemed to aim this campaign as a destination to educate PC buyers with adequate information to research, choose and buy them.
The campaign name closely resembled to epathshala, an initiative of MHRD, under its National Mission on Education through ICT. Yes, the Grammar Nazis, might claim there is an extra ‘a’ in PC Paathshala vs epathshala, but in my opinion its a poor attempt to have such close resemblance. In near future if a parent searches with ‘pathshala’ or ‘Intel pathshala’ there are more chances that the user would land on MHRD’s epathshala initiative website than the PC Paathshala campaign microsite.
A simple analysis on Google Trends also reinforces the fact that, Internet users in India frequently searched the term ‘pathshala’. Hence, my worry here is how well this campaign will be recalled or registered in the end user’s mind.
The PC Paathshala campaign microsite is hosted on Times of India website, which clearly signifies that TOI is the main owner of the campaign, with Intel being the presenting sponsor. The microsite has five key sections:
- Partner Offers
- What’s New
- PC Guide
- Have a Question?
Let’s delve into each of them and see how they have been structured and how much value do they add to the user.
This Partner Offers section has all the key stakeholders of this campaign listed here. There are three types of stakeholders – Knowledge, OEMs, Retailers. Intel very well succeeded in bringing all key stakeholders on one platform, so that no one stakeholder or a particular player within from a stakeholder ecosystem gets undue advantage over another. Let’s see how well these stakeholders responded to the call of duty by Intel!
‘Gyaan’ in Hindi means Knowledge. Once again, the PC Paathshala campaign owners have tried to leverage, the country’s most widely spoken language as part of the campaign. This section hosts three partners – Khan Academy, KopyKitab, Udemy. Most of us would have heard about Khan Academy and Udemy for sure, the former for being one of the pioneers in the self-learning space and later especially amongst the working professionals and college students, as the go to destination for reskilling or upskilling. Frankly, I never heard about KopyKitab earlier, than from this campaign. If you visit the three partner’s destination pages from this campaign website, one won’t feel any customized offering. They are generic pages on the website. In fact, Khan Academy didn’t even bother to brand their landing page in sync with the PC Paathshala campaign, while other two did take that effort to maintain synchronous user experience. As two of the three brand are already well known amongst the parents and working professionals, college students community, not sure how much value addition this association brings in. However, yes it does benefit these players to some extent, as they get exposure from the audience who visit this campaign microsite.
The PC PROs
This section encompassed all leading PC OEM players – Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo. I am sure any parent who is assumed to be the major target audience for this campaign, would have definitely heard about at least three of these brand names in the worst condition, while there are very high chances that any metro city user would have heard about all five brands. So, what’s additional benefit that the user is getting from this PC Paathshala campaign on visiting these brand’s destinations? None! In fact HP seemed to be out of league for this campaign, as their landing page or destination page seemed to have no connection with the PC Paathshala campaign. At least the other four OEM players maintained good branding on their destination pages. We keep reading that increasingly people begin their search to shop on Amazon or Flipkart. In worst case, the potential user who would be planning to purchase a laptop, would either visit any of these brands websites or search in Google. So, in general I don’t see any novelty here, rather than giving an equal opportunity for all OEMs to sell under the umbrella of this campaign.
The last sub-section within the Partner Offers section lists all major retailers , the other key set of stakeholders in the PC industry. A user is spoilt for choices in this section with various retailers to choose from – Amazon, Croma, Flipkart, Panache, Recherche Tech, Reliance Digital, Shopclues, Snapdeal. Once again, my comment on this section, is same as previous. There is nothing new for the potential user. We all know about these online destinations, which anyway contribute hardly 20% of overall PC sales. Yes, still 75-80% of PC sales happens from offline stores, where customers tend to touch, feel, take demo of the product before they decide to purchase one.
This section hosts five articles (as of 22nd June’20), focusing on parental and student related tips to engage with online classes. These are good informative articles, for parents and students to know and follow during online classes, which have become a norm these days due to COVID-19 situation. In case Intel and Times of India, plan to boost this section with regularly articles, it would be a good engagement strategy, however the chances look bleak as of now. Let’s wait and watch.
Videos are always lively way to build engagement. This section has two videos. One by Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy and the other one by TJ Walker, founder of Media Training Worldwide. I thought, they are here to share some quick tips for parents and students. Well, my expectation soon came crumbling down. TJ Walker’s one minute video is nothing but a promotion of his one hour program, that he promotes to teachers. He positions his program and leaves a message for parents to subscribe the program. Similarly, Sal Khan and his colleague, promotes highlights the benefits of Khan Academy, the inventory of course they have and how it could be beneficial for students. So, once again its a sales pitch!
This section seems to be pulled out directly from some business presentation or brochure of Intel. I bet if any usual parent with a non-tech background would be able to comprehend anything from this section. It seems to be a good sales pitch for a technology decision maker in a school or a higher educational institution that may have plans to procure sophisticated technology solutions for online classes. Wonder, why was it was labeled as ‘PC Guide’. So, its a perfect sales pitch from Intel India to the technology decision maker.
Have a Question?
The final section of the PC Paathshala campaign microsite consists of an enquiry form. A parent, teacher or a student could ask any question here. After naming the campaign and microsite sections in a very Indian manner, campaign owners seemed to have missed the non-Indian model in the imagery below. Well, yes maintaining consistency when too many cooks get involved is always a struggle, which is evident here.
Social Media Promotion
The social media promotion by the stakeholders was in complete sync. Yes, most of them used the same caption to promote the campaign. As an informed user if you followed the campaign hashtag #pcpaathshala, one would experience this well-orchestrated symphony as shown below.
Any campaign I come across, I try to experience it with dual hats – one as a marketer / digital marketer and second as an end user. In this current campaign too, as an informed parent staying in a metro city, I didn’t find anything useful for me to decide on what PC to buy. As I started the blogpost, I reached this destination, with an anticipation that either Intel is planning to conduct some online classes for kids or is it an informative platform for some cause. I am sure, after reading above content, you would have realized by now that there isn’t much hand-holding or help for even an uninformed parent or student. What it turned out to be a list of players from PC industry, Retailers and couple of Knowledge Partners, of which many I would be aware of!
As a digital marketer, this campaign just comes across to me as a well co-ordinated affiliate marketing oriented campaign, where various stakeholders are brought to one stage and each one of them has an opportunity to sell their product / service. And Intel India has played a perfect orchestra by bringing various stakeholders to one platform, completely drifting away from the end user’s sense of need or satisfaction.
This campaign looks to be like a virtual exhibition where every other stakeholder has been given a space, as they would have been any other offline exhibition. Every exhibitor is just trying to sell their offering – be it knowledge proposition, online coaching tips, PCs etc. Where is the ‘Paath’ or education that a parent, teacher or student would have expected before reaching here? The campaign should have been named as ‘PC Mela’, where ‘Mela’ refers to a fair in Hindi language!