Sep 11, 2013

From Cost to Trust, From Pride to Cost

Advertisements are a great way to sense the economy and industry.. Couple of years back telecom advertisements were all about coverage, sms cost, call cost etc. All the players were competing on call plans, coverage ( remember the vodafone pug ads? ).. Today, it is moving slowly into parameters like trust ( Idea ads )..  The industry matured in such a way that it was pointless to compete more on call or data prices or network coverage. These were taken as granted.  Someone had to breakoff from the usual mode of competition into something else. Airtel tried it first, Idea followed ( what an idea sirjee - i think this was actually a wasteful campaign which did not reinforce or bring about anything new ).. Idea seems to have got its act correctly in the second wave of ads focussed on Trust. And, by far, it has been doing good financially as well

Another sector that is slowly getting into this mode of competing on something intangible is banking. Ads in banking were mostly about interest rates, home loans, atm network and all. I think thats slowly changing. Industry is slowly realizing that there is no point in competing further on these given parameters. Axis has come up with a few ads in those lines from this year beginning.

At the same time, auto sector - going through a severe slowdown - has just switched its gear in opposite direction. Car Ads over the last two three years were all about pride, comfort, brand image and things like that ( remember the Cheverlot Ads ).  Even Tata Nano , the low cost, fuel efficient offering tended to focus more on pride, brand in its campaigns.  Honda Amaze just turned the focus back on cost, mileage in its latest Ad - A clear indication that atleast for the forseeable future, for the passenger car industry its back to basics like cost of owning and running the vehicle

Typically the players who do such well thought switches in their marketing campaigns tend to be the outperformers. And this is one area where typically local players tend to adapt better than multinationals.

It'll be interesting to think about how and when Telecom industry will break out of this 'Trust' mode and  move into something else. Like that, will we ever see Samsung or Apple compete on trust ? Or , is this 'trust' a last resort option when there is nothing else to compete on ?

Sep 7, 2013

Eloping with the Lost Ark

Stephen Elop has been compared with Trojan Horse by the Finnish media for his fire-sale of Nokia to Microsoft..I think that has been a euphimism. The first character that comes to my mind when I think about this last Nokia CEO is Gordon Gekko - the incomparable wall-street icon of evil immortalized by Michael Douglas.. After having done a sale and leaseback of Nokia HQ ( a classic Gekko storyline, if I remember correctly), Elop was left with no other option but to sell it off . To be fair with Elop, i think he lost the plot initially itself when he linked Nokia with windows OS.. That deal was perhaps the most one-sided deal ( favouring Microsoft ) coming from a company that was still in a dominant position in mobile world..

Elop has the unique distinction of taking down Nokia share price by about 65%. When I think about Ballmer, the departing CEO of Microsoft, I can't think of any better example than the following Dilbert cartoon strip ==>

The scale and level of innovations in mobile phone / smart phone devices is kind of plateauing. When innovations are less, acquisitions can yield only economies of scale but not scope. Chasing share-holder value in such an industry by such corporate raiding tactics will inevitably result in an end like
Raiders of the Lost Ark