Surprise your customer

Remember I shared an on-ground activity done by KLM where they shared the message of comfortable sitting in the economy class. What a brilliant way to showcase the message and the point is it was amazingly executed. This time again they have done something unique for their customers but this time they didn’t wanted to share any message but they wanted to make their customers happy by giving them pleasant surprises.

One basic consumer insight is traveling by airplane is cumbersome and waiting for flight at the airport is really boring so the entire journey via airplane is not comfortable and relaxing.

So KLM thought let’s give small pleasant surprises to the customers and make their journey little less stressful. The idea was to use social media tool called foursquare (Foursquare is a mobile application that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. It is a friend-finder, a social city guide and to know more about it http://foursquare.com/) at one of KLM’s venues at Amsterdam Schipol Airport, the airline’s team removed out as much information about the customer using the information they have posted publicly through social media tool like Twitter and Facebook and find a customized gift for that particular customer. They then attempted to make contact with the person through social networks and other means to meet up with them to deliver the gift. Have a look at the video, its self-explanatory.

I think it is one of the finest things to do when your customer is least expecting that you will go out of the way and do something exceptional for them. What KLM is doing is they are using this campaign as an experiment for using the social networks. KLM has taken social network at all new level where you remove information about your customer and give do something unique for them. You are hitting them when they are really bored and giving them something which is not general. Just think for a while if I give you a gift which is general or if I gift you something what you like which will make you more happy and delightful? ofcourse the latter.

After experiencing such an activity will it ever go out of your mind, they are not gifting anything expensive but they are gifting something which is personal and close to their heart. I think every other brand should learn from KLM, how to excite your customers and make them

HAPPY 🙂

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Deliver me to hell….

This is so great that I  had to share it with you all.

Before sharing the link I would like to share a small note about the brand. Read the note or don’t read it but I will assure you, you will enjoy the video.

New Zealand pizza delivery chain called Hell Pizza came out with an interactive thriller viral video on YouTube just to convey the message that they can deliver Pizzas anywhere.

Just to share with you the synopsis of the movie the heroine of the film is trapped on a car roof, ordering a pizza to pass the time while zombies bay for blood near the roof.

The series goes interactive when the action cuts to the hero, a delivery guy. Choices viewers must make (with a quick mouse-click) to progress through the video series include saving and recruiting a henchman, dispatching zombies with a choice of weapons and taking the right route to get the pizza to the girl.

Correct choices lead to a slew of gory zombie death and the chance to enter an email draw to win a year’s supply of Hell Pizza, the address revealed at the end of the final clip. Make the wrong move and a grisly end awaits the characters and the mission.

It generated more than 700,000 views in just 10 days, the zombie series Deliver Me to Hell by LittleSisterFilms, allows the viewer to choose characters’ move in a series of three-minute videos.

Have a look at the video and trust me you will see it till the end.

Close your eyes and you will find BMW.

What an ad. Superb use of technology, it can only be done by a brand like BMW who likes to give pleasant surprises to the consumers.

This cannot be shown on television coz of technology incapability that’s why they might have chosen alternative option which is cinemas. Doing it in Cinemas they didn’t get the reach like mass media but with the idea like this, automatically people will talk about it and gets huge word of mouth without spending high on media. Person sitting in India came to know about the ad with the use of free media what more a brand wants.

The message what they gave was awesome but audience were more keen about the innovative idea, how they saw the brand logo after closing their eyes.

I think this is first ever advertisement which didn’t had any brand presence in it but was more effective than all other brands.

The idea has so much of talkablity, each & every person who has seen the ad will talk about it with their friends, relatives etc.

I think its beautiful to think of such an idea, after seeing the ad I feel that people in west are so open to new innovative ideas and have balls to go ahead and execute it

Go Air!! Go Away..

Recently for official work I had been to Uttar Pradesh a northern state in India.

Considering the time factor I had decided which airline to go with rather taking decision on a particular brand. So as per my schedule I took Indigo airlines for Delhi and while returning back from Lucknow I took Go Air.

As per Indigo’s new commercial they have explicitly emphasized ‘On Time’, but trust me in the airline industry it is very difficult to be ‘On Time’. In the airline industry to stand on this proposition is very difficult and once you communicate it then a brand has to fulfill it otherwise customers will start criticizing about the brand.

‘On Time’ is a very strong proposition to stand and if they fulfill the proposition for certain period of time then it will be set in the consumers mind for years to come. Due to some genuine reasons the flight’s getting delayed then I am sure customers will understand the situation and forget it.

To start with I will share my experience with the Indigo airline, while going my flight was on exact time even it landed Delhi airport on the mentioned time.

But over here I am not trying to promote Indigo but I am here to share my experience with Go Air, an airline brand, both are low budget airlines but are poles apart from each other.

While I was returning back from Lucknow to Mumbai via Delhi, there was no direct flight available so had to come to Delhi first and then to Mumbai. My flight from Lucknow was at 7:45 p.m. so I had to reach airport by 7 p.m. anyhow coz as per new rule we have to check-in before 45 minutes.

Now at 5 p.m. I am getting a sms saying “sorry sir your flight has been delayed and now it’s scheduled at 8 p.m.

I was nearby to the airport so thought that I should go to Go Air airport desk and ask them the reason behind the delay but as expected they didn’t know the exact reason for the delay.

So I went to airport at 7 p.m. knowing that flight will take off at 8 p.m. to my surprise flight got delayed again and now it was at 8:45 p.m.

By this time passengers were really pissed but didn’t react to the entire situation. After sometime flight got delayed again now it was at 9:30 p.m.

Passengers were angry like hell and caught the in-charge manager of Go Air and fired the hell out of him.

With crowd I was also tired, angry and frustrated so showed my anger on the guy but deep down I knew that it’s not his fault.

What can he do in this? He is not responsible for the havoc, he is just following orders but he is the person who is answerable to the passengers, he could have managed the situation in a different way by arranging refreshments or dinner for the people or by just convincingly saying sorry to the people and making them understand that it’s not his fault. Over here passengers forced the manager to arrange for food for them and made it sure that flight was not going to get delay any further.

But to tell you the fact, flight took off at 10:30 p.m. till that time Go Air guys didn’t do anything to make the passengers happy.

Were there any opportunities to make the passengers happy? 100s of them but the manager’s responsibility was over after giving passengers to eat and passengers also were relaxed because they got something additional out from these guys and accepted the fact that they have made a wrong choice.

So should I go ahead with the story or this is more than enough, this is nothing if you read about my flight from Delhi to Mumbai you will go crazy, it was a connecting flight so it was Go Air again. After reaching Delhi we had to catch another flight so airhostess mentioned to one passenger that ‘passengers travelling to Mumbai have to go out of the airport and go to ‘x’ terminal’. Rather communicating this message to one passenger they could have given it to all just informing it through speakers. So now I am out from the Bus and walking towards the airport (no clue where to go) just following the tribe.

Finally reached the terminal and asked at the desk, What’s the scene about Delhi flight to Mumbai? Can you guess what reply I received? No prize for guessing it right.

Flight’s delay for 45 minutes.

Imagine, by now I had crossed all my patience and wanted to fire the hell out of the company. Not because flight is getting delayed but nobody is bother about the scenario. Not even single soul from Go Air is concerned about the passengers.

Is this a way you treat your customers or passengers? Then I seriously think you don’t know how to operate a brand.

This is not over yet, I landed at Delhi airport around 12:15 p.m. and flight got delayed by 45 minutes and took off at around 1:30 a.m.

After boarding the flight I sat on my seat finally hoping I will reach Mumbai & have a good night sleep but to my surprise the nightmare was about to start.

There was this beautiful girl who entered the flight and came towards my seat I was like okkkk & ‘she looked into my eyes & asked me’ SEAT 13E? I said yes.She replied then this is my seat’.I told her no this is mine’.

Guess what? We both had same seat number on our boarding passes. I thought what a beautiful coincidence it was (let’s not get into that…!

This didn’t happen with me only but with all the passengers who got their boarding passes from Lucknow.

Luckily airline was not full there were empty seats to accommodate all of us but that didn’t solve the issue. People were not ready to listen; there were few of them who abused the air-hostesses. Few of us just went to the seat which were empty and sat knowing the fact that it was a business class but still the air-hostess had the audacity to tell us that the seats are for business class you guys cant sit there (Please note: seats were not occupied by anyone).

Ofcourse I didn’t get up from the seat and after all this shit happening, in no time I passed out.

So you might be thinking what time did I landed Mumbai? It was around 3:45 a.m. reached home around 4:30 a.m.

Now I wrote this open letter to Go Air authorities not only to showcase that you guys suck or have badly screwed up with me and with all the passengers who were travelling on that flight. I also wanted to tell you that how can you have tackled this situation and still would have lived in our minds rather dying a cruel death.

Other companies can also read and get an idea what a customer wants when situation like this happens. Ofcourse these things might not happen on day to day basis with your brand, provided you are not Go Air but whenever it happens try this out, it’s just logic and thinking from the consumers perspective.

If the following things would have been done for the passengers then they might have thought to forgive you and would have given you a second chance. But now it’s next to impossible, the only reason they will fly Go Air is if they face time constrain and have to reach somewhere on ‘x’ particular time and there are no other airlines available on that particular time.

I think they should have done these things:

  1. First SMS passengers informing about the delay. (which they did)
  2. Second SMS saying sorry for the inconvenience occurred.
  3. Unambiguously informing passengers about the delay.
  4. Giving the passenger an approximate time of the next flight and if they are not sure about the timings then please don’t give it. They should mention it clearly that they don’t know the exact timing and as soon as they get any idea we will inform the customers.
  5. If the flight is getting delayed again then informing the passengers that they are really sorry for the inconvenience occurred, passengers can get fresh with the Go Air refreshing kit and will be serve some refreshments.
  6. After arranging for refreshments Go Air executives should gather all the passengers in one area and inform them about the reason for the delay and also inform them about the next steps they are planning to take.
  7. At Delhi airport one executive of Go Air should have accompanied with the passengers showing the way for the Terminal ‘x’.
  8. In the flight Delhi to Mumbai, it was major goof up, airhostess can’t do anything about the chaos and in this situation they should be more polite and more understanding towards the passengers.
  9. After landing to Mumbai airport they could have arrange for some refreshments again and a senior person from the staff could have come and apologized to all the passengers.
  10. In the end after a day or so, one sms should be sent to all the passengers accepting their mistake and showing their empathy towards all the passengers, this would have done magic.

If Go Air had followed these points I think passengers might have considered this situation as a genuine problem and for sure given them one more chance to prove them.

I would like to tell the senior authorities (specifically of Go Air) if you want your customers to be satisfied and if you want your passengers to be loyal to your brand and if you want they talk good about the brand to their friends, relatives etc etc. then you try and follow these simple logical points and see the after effect.

My last point to Go Air is there is no hope for your brand to live again in the minds of the passenger who were travelling on that day with me, only reason they will travel with you again is if passengers have to reach somewhere on specific time and there are no options available then only they will consider Go Air otherwise you guys are nowhere in the travelling consideration set of the consumers mind.

Sometimes my creative instincts just pops out so this one’s for you Go Air, I would love to give you a tag line “Go Air, Go Away”.

We’re the Blackberry boys…

What an ad, beautiful song, nicely executed and the message is simple and clear. But my worry is with the message what they have communicated. The ad is saying now we are not for corporates we are for everyone, by everyone I meant youngsters.

What few things I have learnt by observing brands and by working with different agencies is brand creates certain perception in minds of the consumers and if brands dilutes those perception by moving away from the core positioning it will affect them in some or the other way. They might enjoy the fruits in the short term but in long term it will damage the brand.

All the believers who don’t believe in line extensions and brand extensions will believe in what I am saying. One of my friend also likes to understand brands and study what’s happening in the market scenario even he has the same view on the step taken by Blackberry. His concern is also the same, why Blackberry diverted its focus from its core positioning? For more on his views, please visit ….. http://myadpsyche.wordpress.com/

But considering Blackberry as a brand and making it such a big move, I thought maybe there is a strong thought behind this move. I kept on thinking what’s the motive behind this move?

I still remember the initial days of Blackberry in the Indian market when my dad’s corporate friends use to flaunt it.

I thought what a differentiation in the clutter market, where you come and say I am the phone only for corporate guys. But if a brand says I am for corporates they too must have features in their mobile phones which are only used by corporates. Email as an option was rapidly moving in the corporate world at that time and BB got an email service feature in it. The BB email service feature was as simple as sending an email via computer or laptops. It was easily accepted and people started believing that BB is meant for the corporates. That’s it BB was positioned in the minds of the consumers as a brand for corporates.

Think about it, a strong positioned brand which is set in the minds of the consumers, why to move away from it?

After cracking my head on this for quite some time I wasn’t getting the answer to my question but one day while traveling in the train, I saw a youngster using BB and suddenly the thought struck me. Think about it BB never said now I have launched new models and new colors for everyone. Different segments of people first started using BB for different reasons that’s when BB came forward and said We are not only for corporate, we are for everyone.

Because of their features people outside the corporate world started using BB.

There are few things which compelled youngsters to use BB:

  1. First being they came out with different models with different price range keeping themselves.
  2. For these products they came out with different colors so people got more options.
  3. Third and main important point was BB messenger technology (BB users can chat with each other for free in which ever part of the world they are) was known to people and it got a huge word of mouth. I came to know about BB messenger through a friend who used BB.
  4. A huge PR generated that BB messenger is going to get banned all over the world because government has difficulty to trace the messages which are communicated through messenger.
  5. Most important point if you look at BB as a mobile for corporates it has nothing do with Corporates anymore, Corporates main feature on which they had differentiated themselves is used by all and that is email service, which earlier was only used by corporates now everyone uses it.

All these factors compelled people to put BB in their consideration set while buying a mobile phone.

So now when everyone is using BB and even youngsters have accepted it so why only stand for corporates. BB now cannot come up with another brand and say hey hi I am from BB called BB YOUTH for youngsters. They could have done this if youngsters would have denied using BB or had some apprehensions using it but they have accepted it knowing the fact it was meant for corporates.

So why not come and openly communicate that we are not only for corporates but for everyone?

I will conclude by saying BB has done a smart move by saying I am for everyone and moving away from the corporate image after having said that I will also say, as they successfully succeeded in moving away they have left the space open for another brand to come and say hey Hello I am for Corporates.

Ofcourse a brand for corporates has to come out with a unique feature or features which are majorly used by corporates. May be they can say I am a mobile brand for corporates because I have the best office feature which is as simple as Microsoft office in your computers or laptops.

Once Corporates uses it and feels that the brand’s office features are really simple and uncomplicated then BOOM the idea is sold.

SUPOR $uper

Tell me something, a non-stick pan should be as smooth as silk or if it doesn’t have the smoothness then its fine?

I have no clue about it coz I have never bothered about it, it’s a boring category & a women category. Y should I be aware about it, it’s not my concern, my mom should worry. It doesn’t make any sense I getting involved in the cooking pan’s category.

But as brand says non-stick cooking pans so ofcourse there might be a need for this kind of a product that’s why it has been in the market. After looking at the activity it’s completely clear that cooking pans should be smooth and not rough.

Let me show you the video of a brand who made this boring category of cooking pans an interesting one, it made it interesting for everyone not only women. In the end its all about top of mind recall when u go to buy a product. Right? So y not make everyone aware about it even kids for that matter.

Idea was really clutter breaking & the beauty is in the simplicity of the idea.

Here is the video of the on-ground activity done by a non-stick brand in China.

Have a look at it.

How’s it?

The idea is so simple they have created a skateboard zone where professional are performing their skateboard tricks and on their back they have these shapes created of eggs, fish etc. Showcasing egg or fish or something else is getting cooked.

It’s a breathtaking site, imagine something like this happening inside phoenix mall or in-orbit mall of mumbai or at a central place where there are high number of people walk-ins.

Isn’t it a breath taking site, won’t u stand for a while & look at what is happening ?

The idea intrigued the consumers & had a talkability value to it.

I always felt on-ground activation has to have four mandatory points to make the idea beautiful.

First it should attract the consumer, like what this idea did & my earlier article had a brand called KLM they also did a similar activity for their Economy Comfort Product with a man sitting on an invisible chair and Manchester Airport. https://itsallaboutbrands.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/btl-idea-with-an-atl-effect/ if you want to read the article.

Second necessary point is engaging the consumers. Consumers should be engaged and involved with the activity.

Both the brand KLM and SUPOR they manage to engage the consumers to the great extent with the respective ideas, be it person sitting on an invisible chair or professionals playing skateboards on a huge skateboard zone.

In both the activity people stood for a while tried to figure what these guys are doing & once they got it they started clicking pictures and started sharing it with their husband or friends or children or whoever they were accompanying with.

Third point and the most important point is to educate consumers about the product, this is the right time to inform them about the product because they are ready to listen. They are already mesmerized by seeing the activity.

Fourth another and the last important point is to make the idea amplified with other people who have not watched the activity or are not aware about the activity. We all know it is an on-ground activity so it has lesser reach then mass media campaigns. Total number of people touched are very few compared to any mass media campaigns.

So how can we make the idea reach to other people and make them feel the same way like what people have felt while watching the activity live. Think about it, it’s simple,

Similar way like I got it. Internet.

I think this idea suffice all the four important points which are crucial for an on-ground activity and lastly SUPOR increased sales by 20% with spending of nothing as compared to mass media campaigns. What else a brand needs from an activity ?

SUPOR the activity was $uperb.

Taj Mahal a Love Symbol or a Shiva Temple.

Purushottam Nagesh Oak (March 2 1917 – December 4 2007), commonly referred to as P. N. Oak, was an Indian writer and a Professor, notable for his historical revisionism based on the ideology of Hindutva.

Intent on rectifying what he believes to be “biased and distorted versions of India’s history produced by the invaders and colonizers”, Oak has written several books and articles on Indian history and founded an “Institute for Rewriting Indian History” in 1964.

To know more about P.N.Oak visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purushottam_Nagesh_Oak

Let’s see what he said about Taj Mahal in his banned book The true story of Taj Mahal. Few days back I received a mail saying hidden truth of Taj Mahal and thought to share it with you coz its very interesting.

In his book Taj Mahal: The True Story, Oak says the Taj Mahal is not Queen Mumtaz’s tomb but an ancient Hindu temple palace of Lord Shiva (then known as Tejo Mahalaya).

In the course of his research Oak discovered that the Shiva temple palace was usurped by Shah Jahan from then Maharaja of Jaipur, Jai Singh. In his own court chronicle, Badshahnama, Shah Jahan admits that an exceptionally beautiful grand mansion in Agra was taken from Jai Singh for Mumtaz’s burial.

The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur still retains in his secret collection two orders from Shah Jahan for surrendering the Taj building.

Using captured temples and mansions, as a burial place for dead courtiers and royalty was a common practice among Muslim rulers. For example, Humayun, Akbar, Etmud-ud-Daula and Safdarjung are all buried in such mansions. Oak’s inquiries began with the name of Taj Mahal. He says the term “Mahal” has never been used for a building in any Muslim countries from Afghanisthan to Algeria. The unusual explanation that the term Taj Mahal derives from Mumtaz Mahal was illogical. Her name was never Mumtaz Mahal but Mumtaz-ul-Zamani,” he writes”.

Taj Mahal, he claims, is a corrupt version of Tejo Mahalaya, or Lord Shiva’s Palace. Oak also says the love story of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan is a fairy tale created by court sycophants, blundering historians and sloppy archaeologists not a single royal chronicle of Shah Jahan’s time corroborates the love story.

Furthermore, Oak cites several documents suggesting the Taj Mahal predates Shah Jahan’s era, and was a temple dedicated to Shiva, worshipped by Rajputs of Agra city.

For example, Prof. Marvin Miller of New York took a few samples from the riverside doorway of the Taj. Carbon dating tests revealed that the door was 300 years older than Shah Jahan.

European traveler Johan Albert Mandelslo, who visited Agra in 1638 (only seven years after Mumtaz’s death), describes the life of the city in his memoirs. But he makes no reference to the Taj Mahal being built.

The writings of Peter Mundy, an English visitor to Agra within a year of Mumtaz’s death, also suggest the Taj was a noteworthy building well before Shah Jahan’s time. Prof. Oak points out a number of design and architectural inconsistencies that support the belief of the Taj Mahal being a typical Hindu temple rather than a mausoleum.

Many rooms in the Taj Mahal have remained sealed since Shah Jahan’s time and are still inaccessible to the public. Oak asserts they contain a headless statue of Lord Shiva and other objects commonly used for worship rituals in Hindu temples Fearing political backlash,

Indira Gandhi’s government tried to have Prof. Oak’s book withdrawn from the bookstores, and threatened the Indian publisher of the first edition dire consequences.

Now after reading this what you say about TAJ MAHAL, you believe in which story ? the story which has been told to us in our history or the story which has told by Mr. P.N. Oak ?

Ideally the current government should open the sealed rooms of the Taj Mahal under U.N. supervision, and let international experts investigate. There is only one way to prove a research wrong just prove the research findings wrong.

If government knows that Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved Mumtaj & they have enough evidence about it than why not they are proving Oak’s findings wrong?

Why are they not opening those doors which are sealed?

Why Indira Gandhi’s government tried to threaten publishers & banned the book?

To all these questions there are no answers but in the year 2000 India’s Supreme Court dismissed Oak’s petition to declare that a Hindu king had built the Taj Mahal and reprimanded him for bringing the action, saying he had a “bee in his bonnet” (strange idea or notion; also, an idea that is harped on, an obsession) about the Taj.

Let’s assume if Mr. Oak is right in his findings but the government is in such situation that they can’t disclose the truth, it can change our cultural and political scenario.

I only like to say that these facts will remain always be a myth & will always be open for discussions. In this world somewhere someone will be discussing about these issues. Few will agree with Oak’s findings & few will say that he has a bee in his bonnet.

Many things will change if Oak’s findings are proved right,

the world will come to know few facts which are hidden in the Indian history.

children will learn true history instead of the crap.

But finally I think Taj Mahal or Tejo Mahalaya the beauty of Taj will never go in vain. Number of tourist visiting Taj Mahal will also not decline, what will change is, the reason, the reason of visiting TAJ.

Ashish Shakya

Writer. Stand-Up Comic. Gulab Jamun Enthusiast.

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