Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Vento: The Talk of the Town" by Ashish Kulkarni

It’s amazing what can be done with technology nowadays. If you pause to think about
it for a minute, you’ll be surprised at how far we’ve come in 2010. Checking mails
on the go, talking (on video, no less!) with friends while traveling on a bus, and
editing documents off your phone – things that would have seemed the stuff of
fantasy a decade ago are now fairly commonplace.
Of course, there’s one teensy-weensy problem with technology being so ubiquitous.
Standing out has now become a real challenge! Everybody has a blog, and everybody
has a twitter account. Everybody gets the new forms of marketing, so what’s a new
product launch to do, hey? Standing out from the crowd is a big challenge nowadays,
and one that not every product or marketing department has come to terms with – or
shows signs of coming to terms with, for that matter. So, to come back to the
original question – how do you stand out?
Well, you could get a newspaper to talk, for starters.
Sounds outlandish? Well, that’s just what Volkswagen did earlier this week with
their new car – the Vento. They went and embedded a tiny pre-recorded message on to
the last page of every copy of the Times of India with a little touch sensor on top.
As soon as the unsuspecting reader unfolded the newspaper, the sensor went off, and
a pre-recorded message played out, extolling the features of the Vento. To get the
newspaper to stop talking , you just had to touch the top of the sensor. And if you
didn’t, well, it would play in endless loop until the battery ran out.
The stunt did what it was supposed to – columns, blogs and tweets abounded, with
anybody and everybody jumping in to praise or castigate the move.
Those in favour couldn’t stop raving about the unique marketing move, and about how
it was sure to get a high recall value with everybody who had seen (heard?) the
advertisement. On the other hand, the detractors were quick to point out that this
was little more than a marketing gimmick, and you needed much more than that to get
a product off the ground.

- Ashish Kulkarni

(Ashish is currently working on his PhD from the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. He teaches Economics and Statistics at various colleges in Pune. He runs a boutique consulting firm, BPD Consultants, specializing in data analytics and training.)


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