So the World Cup is getting serious these days and the games are getting … hotter!! But this is not the only thing getting hotter in South Africa. Have you read the news about the Holland’s fans who have been sent off the stadium during the Holland Vs. Denmark match?
Before going into this, let’s define something in marketing, something called ‘Ambush Marketing.’ It is when a company attempts to advertise its product/brand in an event without being an official sponsor of that event. Put differently, it is advertising without paying a load of cash to the organizer to win a sponsorship deal. Such attempts usually take place around the event. Like for example, when a company sponsors a team that is playing in a tournament sponsored by its rival.
Now, let’s go back the World Cup. The beer sponsor of the tournament, and the one that is allowed to advertise inside the stadiums, is Budweiser, the American brand. A Dutch brewery named Bavaria NV tried to throw itself an ambush marketing campaign by giving money to about 36 ladies to wear orange mini-skirts and grab the attention of photographers and TV cameras during the game; and attract they did! Although the girls’ dresses showed no brand on them, the what so called ‘Dutchy dress’ resembles the color of the Bavarian orange beer bottles (read here & here). Noting that the Dutch company refused the allegations (read here).
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=holland+fans&iid=9116600″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9116600/football-holland-denmark/football-holland-denmark.jpg?size=500&imageId=9116600″ width=”500″ height=”304″ /]
Anyway, I am writing about this incident for two reasons, or two lessons:
- Lesson 1: When advertising, catch the eyes of your audience. I am not saying bring beautiful women and let them wear mini-skirts (a lot of advertisers actually do!!). But try to stay away from typical ideas and visual executions. Sometimes a simple image with a meaning could deliver your brand message more elegantly.
- Lesson 2: When regulating sponsored events, be clear and act fast. That’s what FIFA did. Those girls were sent off the stadium by the second half of the game, and FIFA is contemplating legal actions against Bavaria. Now, take this to Saudi Arabia and especially the football league sponsorship deals. It is nothing but a mess between the three main players (the telecom companies). Sharp cuts between the different sponsorship deals are not clear and many ambush marketing campaigns are taking place under the nose of the organizers!
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I took this picture while waiting on a traffic light (you may want to click on it to have a better look). And that is what caught me eye in it:
- It is a branded car for the ‘Saudi Automatic Laundry’, let me emphasis on the word “Saudi”. Now the question is: what is the blond guy wearing the none traditional Saudi costume doing in a supposedly Saudi laundry!
- The print on the car is almost fading away and the car itself is not clean; but this is another story and may be another blog post.
It could be argued here that this is not a big deal; it is a laundry service for the God sake!And we all know that laundry services in Saudi do not give a damn about branding! And this is, unfortunately, true but it is not the point!
The point is just a reminder of how the logo, name, slogan, fonts, colors, and ad pictures of a particular business should all contribute to create a brand, or to be more accurate, to create a part of the brand personality (there are a lot of other things to do to build a brand!) Each and every one of these aspects create associations in the mind of the customer and those associations will determine how he/she would relate to the brand.
Great businesses, no matter small or big sized, take care of these small details when crafting their images and building their brands. That’s why Apple will never use an orange photo on its packages, Fedex will never use a turtle as a mascot, and you will never see an ad for Porsche without seeing it racing the winds!
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Smart organizations understand their environments. They know which buttons to press, which issues to tackle, and even which games to play!
And when it comes to Saudi, there is nothing better than the subject of religion to be hovering around. And this is exactly what Al Bilad Bank is doing with its new campaign ‘the service and the Sharia’ah (the Islamic law) are a whole thing that cannot be separated.’ ~ I have to admit that I do not totally get the meaning of this tag line!
Choosing to position itself as an Islamic bank is OK from the concept point of view. However, they should not be over thrilled by betting on it! I believe the Saudi banking sector has matured, for some extent at least, and passed the phase of competing solely on being Islamic; all Saudi banks are now providing some sort of Islamic banking for that matter. Customers satisfaction, competitive financial offerings, technological implementation, and the whole service experience have all been part of the modern Saudi banking picture. For that, It feels like Al Bilad is just positioning itself based on something obvious, something given; and this is not a very good marketing technique anyway.
I believe, among others, that if you want to be successful you have to be somehow unique and distinguishable. I am not saying Al Bilad should reinvent the banking industry (although there is no harm in that; if they could!) but they should be innovative in their approach to brand the bank.
Despite all of that, the execution of the marketing campaign itself lacks creativity and originality. Both TV and printed ads are typical, state nothing new, boring, and carry no message. Additionally, and this could be more of a personal taste, the guy featured in them is creepy!! I mean his face is consuming more than half the space on the streets billboards and, boy oh boy, is there something really scary about his eyes! and did I mention that he looks like a robot!!
Finally, I have to state that I do not know anyone working in Al Bilad, I do not have an account over there, and this post has not been influenced by a third party.
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Using humor in advertisements is not new but always controversial. For supporters, humor advertisements grab attention and foster brand recognition and loyalty. While those not in favor of the idea are always arguing that not all people have a sense of humor. Any unbalanced attempt to be funny could cost you a lot and simply back fire on your brand and products.
In the Saudi market, I am not sure I can recall an ad that was both funny and affective in delivering a certain message. I am even afraid that some local companies push it too far that you cannot even get the ‘joke’ or how it is related to the brand in any way.
Having said that, it is fair to say that Egyptian marketers have always been known for their own school of humor advertising. However, in a lot of cases, the focus on the joke itself outweighed the message they are trying to deliver. In other words, sometimes you can remember the joke but you are not sure what the ad was for exactly!!
In the following, I am bringing you number of brilliant ads that I believe their creators had successfully blended humor with effective branding messages. These ads are part of Intel ‘Sponsors of Tomorrow’ campaign. And of course when you think of Intel, technological advancements and geeky staff should be natural images descending to mind. Beside the elegant execution of the ads (e.g. the setups, the camera angles, etc…), Intel has been successful communicating through these ads that ‘we are different’, ‘we actually live in the world of tomorrow,’ and ‘although we are geeky enough to live in this tomorrow world, we are still human and doing human stuff!’
I find the last message to be very intriguing; Intel is known for manufacturing those powerful electronic processors making your computers alive. Let’s be honest, how are you going to emotionally engage with your customers featuring images of such product in ads?! Beside stating the obvious that their products are affecting your life in so many ways; they used a remarkable tactic to show you that the people bringing you this technology are like me and you; normal people. And guess what, they are happy doing whatever they are doing.
However, there is only one thing that I did not like about the ads; how they finish? The voice those people are trying to do is really noisy and just feels out of the place!!
Now watch the ads and tell me what came to your mind while watching them?
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On the 26th of last October, while talking about H1N1, its vaccination rumors, and how our ministry of health (MoH) was handling the subject, I posted the following concern:
‘Just imaging the situation when the vaccine becomes available and nobody is there to take it!’
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=h1n1+vaccine&iid=6915375″ src=”b/4/a/1/Swine_Flu_Vaccinations_75a2.jpg?adImageId=8508625&imageId=6915375″ width=”234″ height=”341″ /]You do not have to imagine anymore because it is a fact by now; there is nobody taking the vaccine. According to Arab News (in English) and Al Watan (in Arabic), the vaccination campaign against H1N1 that started last Saturday is recording nothing but huge failure. In Jeddah, 300 students out of 300,000 accepted to be vaccinated. And for those of you with good mathematical skills, you’ve already figured out that the percentage is only 0.1%. Honestly, I did not see that coming; it is a really horrible percentage.
Think about it this way; imagine that you have had endured huge expenses to bring some kind of a product to the market but reality decided to slap you on the face saying ‘guess what? Customers do not want your product.’ Yes, the analogy isn’t that accurate; but the concept is still the same.
It is fair to say that MoH officials are trying, but it seems that they are not trying hard enough. All the signs of failure have been there since the beginning but they chose to ignore them.
They certainly need more work now than before. Number of solutions that they might follow could be:
- Be Transparent: in my opinion, this is the most critical part of all. People are worried because they feel that MoH officials are not transparent enough. No one of them is directly addressing rumors and scientifically going through the controversies they are creating. Be open about the possible consequences of vaccination, if there is any!
- Understand your Customers: what are their fears? Why they do not want their children to be vaccinated? Are they willing to have it themselves?
- Reach your Customers: Go to schools, hospitals, or invite selected individuals who could influence others (e.g. Mosque Immams, company owners, TV or Radio hosts, University professors, etc …) and talk to them about how safe the vaccine is.
- Launch an Endorsement Campaign: engage with a celebrity or a prominent society figure to speak to the public about the safety of the vaccination process.
Let’s wait and see how things will turn out to be!!
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No matter how much money some organizations are budgeting for their advertisement, it won’t work and they better keep it for more rewarding plans. This occurred to me while watching the new commercial of Saudi Airlines.
It is really sad to see some big companies lose all their sense of direction and start stumbling in the dark seeking to score a point here or there when their main concern should be realizing their critical position in the market and how customers are actually looking at them (and bad mouthing them for that matter).
Saudi Airlines is, unfortunately, one good example of such companies. A good example of a company lost its brand value by being ignorant at times and short sighted at others. A lot of market opportunities have been lost following that behaviour, back then, when it was the largest player in the region.
Now, should the solution lay in producing more ads? I do not think so! Saudi Airlines needs to start thinking about adapting an integrative marketing strategy to rebuild its brand. A strategy based on the main reason of its existence; that is, SERVING its customers!!
The lack of a truly believe in the essence of customer service is the main reason why people are looking down on it, especially when comparing its services to the neighbors: Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways. Therefore, its managment should really consider building a customer service supporting culture. Yes, not an easy job, but not an impossible one either! Thereafter, this culture should be embraced by all its members, throughout its many levels (I do not remember the last time I met someone of its staff who was genuinely smiling or really trying to help!!).
Having said that, I really doubt people will be interested in its new comfortable seats! Because, I am sure, whenever Saudi Airlines pop up on their minds, they will be remembering the time wasted on its reservation line, the rudeness of its sales and ground staff, and the lameness of its on-flight services.
Now, I would really like to see how many commercials could possibly fix that.
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