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Right man at right place, right time

business Updated: Aug 27, 2011 02:43 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo

Consider the product: A campaign against corruption in the form of a long-stalled legislation. Consider the brand ambassador: a 74-year-old, little known Gandhian. Consider the budget: no real corpus. Consider the impact: the whole nation, all news channels and finally, the Indian parliament, taking a look at the old man and his mission.

Anna Hazare could be a marketer's delight, a brand manager's muse and a CEO's big puzzle, which, when solved, could potentially lead a company into new highs.

As his fast to press for the passage of a strong Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill to tackle abuse of public offices entered the eleventh day, it was schooltime for managers trying to read the events to and from Delhi's Ramlila Grounds to look for lessons in promoting a brand.

"Connection of the consumer's soul with the soul of the product, which in this case is (the fight against) corruption, is the basic thing.

Brand management is all about an honesty of purpose and truthful soul of the product. Other factors then follow," said Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman at advertising conglomerate McCann World Group, India and a Hindi movie song lyricist with an insight into India's mass culture.

Santosh Sood, an independent media consultant, said Anna also was a man of the hour in a changing India.

"He selected the right audience and see, he is hugely backed by India's increasingly assertive middle class.," he said.

But remember, the audience that swarmed to watch and hear and pledge support for Anna does not know much about the real product (the Lokpal Bill) or even about the complexities of corruption. The takeaway: impressions seem to count more than facts. It is also about perfect timing.

"Recent scam exposures made all of us doubt on the foundations of the country. We all wanted answers and Anna took the lead. As a marketer he smelt the demand of audience at the right time," Sood said.

Experts say a brand works best when it recognises a vacuum in the market and moves to fill it.And then, the viral way it all happened is critical. The use of youths and the emerging social media is also a crucial aspect in an India that now has 850 mobile phone connections. The packaging is crucial. Anna's austere clothes and his simple style go with the spirit and the mood of the campaign he is leading. The Gandhi cap is back in fashion. In Anna's own catchy term that would put any advertising copywriter to shame, "The second war of Independence." Old man, young ways

So, there it is, a campaign against corruption, served hot with patriotism.