Monday, January 19, 2009

"Preach Marketing"

“Mother Teresa is my role model and like her I want to help the poor”, said one contestant while wiggling her butt. 

“I want to use my breasts to promote world peace”, said another contestant. 

The crowd cheered and hooted for them. They were declared the winner and runner-up respectively in the beauty pageant. The public just shook their head and said, “What a bunch of phonies, what a bunch of airheads!”

Brands that are busy espousing a cause are different. They are not like the above mentioned beauty contestants (how dare anyone imply otherwise). Here’s another scenario.

MoralGas Industries as part of its ‘Cause Marketing’ strategy decided to ‘Save the Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in the Upper Gangetic Plains’.

After extensive research and intense discussions with their agency, they arrived at a powerful desired response for the campaign - “Oh! MoralGas is saving the Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in the Upper Gangetic Plains? I will buy it.” Agency, after numerous iterations, came back with a tagline that captured the essence of the strategy, ‘Gas of the nation’.

If they had cared to find out the spontaneous reaction of the toad to all this, it would have been “I want to croak”

The campaign broke. MoralGas got extensive sound-bites in media. In fact, the CEO of MoralGas got to kiss the Red Speckled Toad on National Television (The toad in its excitement peed on the special shoes of the CEO made from the skin of the endangered Squint-eyed Crocodile of Sumatra). The agency went on to win awards at numerous ad festivals, locally and internationally. The campaign was declared a success with sales increasing by 50%. MoralGas Industries was declared the Social Marketer of the Year. Everybody was happy.

The Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in Upper Gangetic plains decided to migrate to Gobi Desert.

This Cause Marketing business is one of the biggest viral today that is slowly turning into an epidemic. The reason is not difficult to understand. In a country like India there is no dearth of issues (or causes). However, there is a paucity of role models. Marketers think there is an opportunity to take a moral high ground and fill this gap with their brand. They are actively encouraged by their Agencies and Brand Pandits who scent awards all the way. The Award Juries also want to be seen as being politically correct. This is a dream win-win situation for all concerned.

It is open season now and the party has just begun. Brands along with their partners are crawling out of the woodwork every day with their causes and with a single-minded objective, Preach India!

(Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge ‘The Red Speckled Toad that fornicates during full-moon nights in Upper Gangetic plains’ and ‘The Squint-eyed Crocodile of Sumatra’ does not exist)

(Picture courtesy: Phantom Kitty)


  1. :-) Good point well made. If brands just do whatever we buy them far and do that better, faster, cheaper, or easier, that would be their best contribution to society. "Preach Marketing" efforts, as you call it, are diversionary measures.

    Btw, do you mind removing the captcha for comments. I too had enabled it (fearing spam comments and all that). But when I removed the captcha, I came to the humbling realization that I am not important enough to spam :-).