It’s Mera Bharat Mahaan for Micromax

22 Oct,2020


By Prabhakar Mundkur


In light of the Tanishq controversy, the new Micromax commercial provides an interesting counterpoint.


The larger  truth that I am missing in all the marketing discussions on Tanishq is that ‘brand purpose’ came about because Millennials and Gen X in the West were looking for authenticity, honesty and purpose in brands.  In other words, they were looking for brands to mirror their own feelings and their higher purpose.  And this higher purpose took the form of say ‘Real Beauty’ for Dove as a proof of authenticity or the higher purpose took on a higher social responsibility to support some cause: sexism, racism (for us it is casteism), climate change, sustainability, poverty, domestic abuse, climate change and a host of other causes.


I don’t know if the big brands have done a study of what this greater social responsibility might mean for Millennials and Gen X in India. I don’t think it is any of those that I mentioned for the Western audiences above.


But the important point here is a that it is not marketing directors who sit in their ivory tower offices and determine brand purpose or the language a brand speaks. For brand purpose to be real, it must coincide with the people’s aspirations. Just as an example if the higher purpose of our targets in the country is to prevent “love-jihad” they may want to see brands that reflect that higher purpose. And Tanishq’s higher purpose was at odds with the higher purpose of a section of the public that engaged in the destruction of their commercial.


After all, brands are not allowed to have a purpose that excludes the people it is talking to unless it wants to be altruistic or idealistic, which I am sure is not what Tanishq wants to be.


Moving on, I found a useful counterpoint in this Micromax commercial.


The commercial essentially announces that they are back in the game after having taken a beating at the hands of the several Chinese mobile handsets in the market.


In its ‘come back’ commercial appropriately titled ‘Micromax is Back’, the brand touches all the hot spots of the new Indian. Look at the various subtle inflections.  The story of an Indian entrepreneur who came from the ‘gullys’  of middle class India after borrowing Rs 3 lakh from his father.  A brand that was the No 1 brand in India and in the top ten brands in the world.  Stirring the new sense of ‘nationalism’ in the Indian.


Then look at the skillful way in which the brand provokes anger against China by saying he was put down by Chinese brands. And that too in his own country? Oh, the injustice of it all!


Then invoking the border conflict with China, invoking the Prime Minister were all briiliant strokes in a campaign that reeks of Made in India.  And to cap it all the new series being marketed by the marketers is ‘IN’. Another stroke of brilliance to use the first two letters of the country name. What could be more Indian, more desi that?


Now go back to the Tanishq commercial and think for yourself whether it invoked the right feelings in the target audience. Or did it provoke mob anger by touching on a raw nerve that people are most sensitive about.


For me this is a case study that brands cannot speak a language that does not strike the right chords among the people. Brands can’t hold beliefs that are in insolation without consulting the people they are talking to. Brands need the permission of the people before they speak.


We have a choice now.  Either conform to the feelings of the new India that has been emerging for the last six years or continue to live in the past.


Lofty ideals for brands must be examined in the light of the current mood of the nation.


Prabhakar Mundkur is a veteran advertising professional and commentator. And also a musician. He has worked across geographies. His views here are personal



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