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Sunday, September 24

McHealth and Brand Grey Zone

There are some big global brands about whom I feel increasingly indifferent and ambivalent. And I have an inkling this might be a shared feeling for a lot of us! Top of charts would be McDonalds and Coke/Pepsi...

Today is World Heart Day. I celebrated it by visting McDonalds with Shilpi and Neo:-)
As I had McBites and gulped Coke, a multitude of conflicting thoughts about the two brands raced my mind. Thoughts which never get captured in a focus group, a 2D Hofstede or a single lens laundry list of virtuous values compiled by the brand manager or the planner. But thoughts which increasingly traverse a knowledge-based consumerist culture!

1. Since 2003 if not earlier, I stopped believing in the McDonalds positioning - "If food is a friend, McDonalds is family". Today, McDonalds for me is a slickly packaged, kid-friendly junk food brand. Similarly, for me Coke lost it's 'always refreshing' meaning many years ago. Today, it's a brand of 'small indulgence' which has 6parts per bn pesticide( small enough not to desist me from drinking it twice weekly but large enough not to get the PET bottle home).

2. I am fairly addicted to Coke. Given a choice will always prefer it to a Pepsi. But then again I don't think I have a cache of positive feelings or loyalty towards the brand!
I am addicted to (a)it's complimentary role- Tandoori Chicken and Coke, Movie + Popcorn + Coke, Bland Canteen Food + Coke, Boredom + Coke; (b) it's taste and fizz,(c) the brand graphics and history and (d) the sense of Internationalism and Americana it still holds for me!

3. Increasingly, I find most Cola advertising(Indian) quite idiotic and unnecessary! It might be worthwhile to risk a quarter, free of cola advertising and check the resultant effect on sales. My wicked guess is nothing much will change! Cola advertsing I believe is largely an ego game for marketers and agencies played on mass media.

4. Most celebrity advertising, as I said in my last post is filtered by the savvy consumer(young and old). Celeb endorsement specifically for cola brands I feel is at best entertainment( when executed well -Thanda matlab Coca Cola) and at worst plain 'COLA noise'

5. Like many SEC A Indians, today I dole out generous reward points to health/ fitness conscious, natural brands! Climbing my mental InterBrand scale are brands like Himalaya, Dabur Real, Amul, etc. McDonalds and Coke/ Pepsi hold the bottom most ranks.

6 Hard sell doesn't work for me at all. Therefore, when McDonalds starts preaching vitamin science on its table-mats, I recoil. In similar vein, when Aamir or Rajeev Bakshi come on TV in defence of their brands, it irritates me more. My advice to these mega brands - Please don't jabber McHealth. Please be true to your junk core. I am partly addicted to your brand anyways. I will continue to indulge though in smaller SKUs. You will never regain the glory of yester years. And no amout of slick advertising, hard-nosed PR will ever change my views!

7. Well, the reason I went to McDonalds today was to check out the linking road branch for Neo's birthday! The place had a budget scheme, it had the balloons and the festoons, it had Ronald McDonald..And McDonalds would make my son and his friends happy. Yet, in my heart there was a great dissonance and resistance for the brand. Because my mind is storing a simple equation. McDonalds = Junk Food. And that's not good for Neo and his friends! It will never be...

Would love to compile a list of brands which we love to consume and hate as well! O smart consumer, welcome to the grey zone of modern brands...


pooR_Planner said...

Am back, am back. Did I miss the action on IndiAdRant for the last two days. Well, took Choko(ma lab pup) and Mom to BR Hills for my much needed soul rejuvenation programme.

No matter what, Cocojal (the packaged coconut water)and Murlimohan's Doddo Idli and hot sambar(the small eatery as you take the left turn towards BR Hills from Mandya) is going to give Coke\Pepsi\McDee's a run for their money.

meraj said...

one brand which immediately hits me as an example of 'hate, but still consume'category is the tabloid TOI. everyone labels it as trash, yet keep devouring it (specially page 3).

possible reasons:
a) sheer habit, the way most couples keep on carrying with their relationships

b)fad value, ie in hearts of hearts they love the daily but just because its hip (read intellectual) to criticise it, they do so