India's brands look for greater purpose

8 January 2014
MUMBAI: Indian brands have been challenged to respond to the new social environment engendered by the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and address issues around honesty, transparency and accountability.

Indian marketing website Afaqs! noted that the AAP's guiding principles were also the virtues that consumers looked for in brands and suggested the latter's communications should go beyond "fancy promises" and seek to make a real difference in the society in which they operated.

"AAP's success is proof that brands with a human purpose are more powerful," said Arvind Sharma, the former head of Leo Burnett India. "I do see more and more brands embracing this philosophy over time," he added.

The best brands were already doing this in various ways, including through CSR, said Samar Singh Shekhawat, senior vice president, marketing, United Breweries.

An example is P&G, whose Shiksha initiative saw it donating towards education in rural India when consumers bought larger product packs. And, as Nishant Mehta noted in a 2013 Admap Prize submission, the PR buzz generated by the campaign also helped it compete with higher spending rivals such as Unilever.

Tata Tea also successfully adopted an anti-corruption positioning with its Jaago Re campaign which sought to change people's attitude towards this subject.

While Shekhawat doubted that the AAP would necessarily increase the intention of brands to take on a higher purpose in their advertising, he did say that marketers could look at the party's success and "learn to be honest, realistic and down-to-earth in the brand's product service, delivery and communication".

For many brands this was simply part of an ongoing process, suggested Pravin Kulkarnii, general manager, marketing, Parle Products. He said that Indian brands were currently answering the question 'What is the role of the brand in the life of the consumer?' but would move on to 'What is the role of the brand in society?'.

"That is bound to happen," he said. "In fact, that is how brands in other countries (like Germany) have started operating. There, brands' role in society has become important."

Data sourced from Afaqs!; additional content by Warc staff
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