Prabhakar Mundkur: Not moving people but moving forward with Uber

14 Jun,2018

By Prabhakar Mundkur


The most noticeable campaign this week was Uber.  When two full-page ads appear on the cover of the Times of India, you can anticipate a major splash.  Arguments raged on LinkedIn earlier this week whether Virat actually uses Uber. In a more innocent world a few decades ago, we believed that stars actually used the brand they endorsed.  Marketers when questioned gave some hair-brained logic that pretended to be well-researched. They said that there is a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ amongst consumers.  But social media has changed that.  When a star endorses adevice but the tweet gets sent with another device, consumers know that celebrities are bluffing.



Karthik S gives two potent examples of how celebrities are cheating on their endorsements in his blog Celebrity Brand Ambassadors and Brand Fidelity.


The first is of Sania Mirza endorsing One Plus 3T but when you look at her tweet you know it has come from aniphone which is no doubt her device of choice.



The second example he gives is of Oprah Winfrey endorsing the Surface, but unfortunately you know she is an Apple fan because the tweet was sent out of an Ipad.



The modern world doesn’t want to believe that celebrities are using the products they endorse.  So, the natural question is why Virat wouldneed to use an Uber, when he would have a fleet of cars and chauffeurs.  And this was the discussion on Linkedin earlier this week.


So when Sanjay Gupta of Uber announced that Virat uses Uber when he is overseas, it was some consolation that he does use Uber sometimes.  Although what relevance using Uber overseas is to endorsing the brand in India, is quite another debate.



I quite liked the campaign after watching it a few times, although the poetry that Virat espoused about Uber in the TV commercial neither sounded like him, nor did it sound very sincere.  But the average consumer mightmay well buy it.  When I went to Twitter I found that the hashtag #MovingForward was not very unique, andI found various other non-Uber tweets using it.  It looked like Virat was a spokesperson for the Uber brand wisdom rather than selling the brand.  Although Uber was once upon a time a brand that wasn’t built on advertising, some of its other advertising overseas has been created to elicit a direct action from consumers like signing up for the app. But at least #MovingForward stays close to the global knitting of the brand which is Moving People.


However, what looked quite sincere was a video I found on YouTube where Virat announces his association with Uber and sounds like Virat and not like someone else.


Here he sounds honest and sincere, unlike the TV commercial where he has to recite some difficult lines written by a clever copywriter.  The honesty and sincerity with which celebrities endorse brands is an important factor in celebrity-led advertising.


How much is your award really worth?


Sometimes giving away an award must go beyond it being a recognition.  There must be a reward.  The Oscar which is plated in 24 carat gold is known to cost $400.  Most other awards are just a giveaway, a notional token to say you won something.  So while you may display them proudly in your office or your home you know they are a worthless piece of metal.


But the Star TV network seems to have kept this in mind when they designed the Re-imagine Awards that were given away to Swiggy and Fevicol earlier this week.  Also, they seem to have a star-studded jury that included Sir John Hegarty and Piyush Pandey.


But the most interesting part was how the award was made.  Designed by Peter Layton of London Glass Blowing in Burmendsey, the award itself is a piece of art. Layton uses glass as medium to express art and is putting glass on the world art map.



In addition there was an all-expenses-paid trip to a major sporting event for  24 members of the top two winning teams. Now that would make the winners really feel they won something of value.


Maybe a learning for other awards.  Give fewer awards of value rather than hundreds of awards that are worthless metal! 


Adidas Odds


It seems like Adidas Odds has been on a winning streak for creative awards around the world for the last two years and its latest recognition came from none other than WARC, when it was shortlisted for the Effective Innovation category.



Odds was a special edition pair of shoes created by Adidas as a tribute to para-athletes.  It is a pair of shoes with either two lefts or two rights and was first released during the Rio De Janeiro Paralympics in 2016.  It is an outstanding piece of creative developed by Dentsu Taproot that one can watch again and again without getting tired.  That is the true test of great advertising!



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