In January 2019, Gillette released their new DVC – The Best Men Can Be. This marked their transition (or at least start) from ‘the best a man can get’ to ‘the best the men can be’. From masculinity to standing up for social issues. From product marketing to purpose-driven marketing.
Purpose-driven marketing – being an opportunist?
There has been a significant uproar about this DVC. Many marketers and a few publications have criticized Gillette for being ‘opportunist’ and milking the #MeToo movement. Few have also voiced that Gillette’s take is a sweeping generalization of their own core TG – men. And hence not the ideal marketing message either.
On the other hand, significant others (the majority) have appreciated the brand for standing up for the social issue despite it being a complete shift from the communication that was pursued for years.
There will always be people taking sides, for or against, such campaigns. Today many of us are also eager to term them success or failure basis the creative or the video views this DVC is generating. Some of us are also pointing towards the sentiments of online conversations it’s triggering.
I personally believe that the success of such campaigns or initiatives should not be measured in mere numbers. Or even feedback on how good the particular asset has turned out (sentiments). Such campaigns must be looked at in a long term i.e. if the brand has supported this with other relevant messages and more importantly with tangible actions.
Believe in cause
It’s a good sign that brands are now standing up for causes and are bold enough to use conflicts as a central theme in communication. However, the intent must not be of short term gain, especially in digital media. Brands must back this up with sustained efforts. They could be creating a platform, facilitating conversation and actions or direct financial aid.
Consumers and digital audience, in general, are smart enough to see through the hollowness thanks to the incredible exposure and access to information. And hence, when it comes to purpose-driven marketing, the actions are as important as the intent (message) itself. And if not, will that amount to really anything?
After the Pulwama Attack, social media platforms were naturally flooded with very sharp and sentimental views. Most of us were talking about martyrs, their sacrifices, and as a country, the resolve and decisive action that we must take to avenge their deaths. The nation was angry, outraged and these sentiments were not superficial.
Brands, these days, strive to humanize themselves. This is especially true for digital platforms where they want to be a part of the organic conversation. And no marketer really wants to let go of a single opportunity of #momentmarketing in social media. But when it comes to real issues like national policies, politics, or real societal urgencies, brands often play safe.
No easy choices
What do you think brands (i.e. us marketers) should be doing here? I understand as a corporate entity operating in various geographies, it would be difficult for brands, to express such sharp views. But should they operate in a complete silo and pretend as if nothing has happened and continue with their regular content calendar? Or should they not post any update for that matter? Or should the brands go ahead and condemn the attack the way most of their TG has done? And be one of them (humanize the brand in real?).
There are a few brands that have come out and supported the government or military in tangible ways. Paytmmade it easier for its users to donate funds, Reliancepulled out from the production of Pakistan Super League. But most of the brands have stuck to the first two ways i.e. of operating in a silo. This may not be the wrong thing to do as their opinion probably won’t have any effect on policies and actions.
Humanizing brand needs action
I am not saying that it’s possible for every brand to contribute in a tangible way. And definitely, just a social media post is not enough. But when the audience gets to see that these same brands come up with interesting stuff to capitalize on moments frequently, it won’t be long when such silence will be considered odd.
If humanizing the brand is the ultimate goal, marketers must not operate in a silo. They must act as the eyes and ears of the organization and relay what’s happening. Try and drive tangible actions – and of course not in haste. And these actions could be positive as well – like contributing to relevant causes that are directly or indirectly related to the frontline.
Do brands need to respond to
such real issues (on social media)? Or there’s no merit in doing that? What do
Microsoft just released a series of ads titled ‘The Twin Challenge’. In these ads, one identical twin is using Office 365 – their subscription-based version of productivity suite while the other works with Office 2019 – the one-time purchase version. One look at these and the obvious question that comes to mind – why did Microsoft thrash Office 2019 on purpose?
This series of three videos shows 3 pairs of twins polish their resume and send that across to recruiters in Word, fill out data in Excel, and fine-tune a presentation in PowerPoint. Have a look at the ads below:
Of course, the twin with Office 365 works faster & finishes the task first.
Why this unusual tactic?
It’s weird to see how Microsoft thrash Office 2019 in these ads – its own product for sake of the other. Most of us would expect Microsoft trashing Google’s G-suite or even Apple’s iWork as a payback. But this unusual tactic has merit to it.
Office 365 is a subscription-based product that starts around $70 (Rs 4,199 in India) a year. Office 2019 that comes with a perpetual license (just a one-time sale) retails at $150 (Rs 7,799 in India). Given that most users and even businesses are slow to (or they hardly) update their productivity suits to the newest versions, making more people opt for Office 365 is likely to rake more cash for Microsoft.
While for many, even the basic version of Word or Excel would be sufficient, the execution of these ads where Microsoft brings forth Office 365’s cloud connectivity (access from anywhere, real-time co-authoring) and use of the power of AI to create impact content with fewer efforts, suggests that Microsoft is going for evolved users (professionals, students) and businesses that thrive on these features.
The cash cow
These ads accentuate what Microsoft’s VP Jared Spataro once said, ‘though Office 2019 offers full installs of office apps, it’s frozen in time (it doesn’t get updated with newer features, and is not cloud-connected). Office 365 not only includes fully installed office apps, but it also gets better over time with monthly updates and AI-powered capabilities.’ Basically, if a cloud hasn’t won you over, AI would win. And that would give Microsoft a steady stream of revenue.
The marketing team at Microsoft has certainly done justice to the
one line brief – there are people who considering Microsoft Office apps, make
them prefer Office 365 over anything else.
are over 33 Mn Office 365 subscribers at present & I won’t be surprised if
the numbers swell over the next few months.