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Stay focused and stay hungry. That’s the mantra Purple Focus has been following the past 16 years, making out-of-the-box creatives and campaigns, which have helped this growing agency win big brands and business
 
An advertising agency, they say, is all about its team and people. Purple Focus, a full service advertising and marketing communication solutions agency based out of Indore and with offices in Delhi and Mumbai as well, comprises a talented pack of people coming from different walks of life. Engineers, photographers, poets, dancers, rock climbers, all make up the quorum at Purple Focus. They bring with them interesting and fresh points of view, which reflect in the work that Purple Focus does for its various clients. The young and energetic team of Purple Focus today comprises of 130 highly motivated professionals who work together in a lively and congenial environment to deliver their best in advertising and integrated marketing communication solutions. The agency’s impressive roster of clients include well-known brands such as Bajaj Auto, Eicher Motors, Nokia, Big Magic, DLF Shopping Festival, Hathway, Next Gen, Shakti Pumps, Banswara Suitings, Patrika, Lohia Sterlinger, IBD Universal, Rotomac Writing Instruments, Promart (discount store chain from Provogue India), Tata Indicom (six circles), Dainik Bhaskar, DB.com, Ruchi Lifescapes & Countywalk among others.

Started in 1996 as a small advertising agency with a team of just four members, Purple Focus has come a long way in establishing its creative foothold in the world of advertising today. The stupendous growth of the company in a short span of time is reflected in all of its accomplishments – a strong infrastructure, sound financial position, technological advancement, a combination of the best creative brains and an experienced client servicing team. Founder & Managing Director Pankaj Acharya and Co-Founder & Director Rahul Vaidya say: “We believe that businesses are built around people and fortunately we have been able to bring on board the right kind of people. What has worked for us is the owner-manager model and thankfully all our partnerships have been successful for us.” Thanks to the agency’s foresightedness in forging and clobbering together enduring partnerships, Purple Focus today boasts of five major associate companies. These are Fusion Events, the arm responsible for creating and hosting events for the agency, Purple Shunya, the digital agency, Purple Spot, Purple Productions, the film production arm and Innovative Ideators, which is into crowdsourcing.

Today, Purple Focus has made it good on the national advertising stage and it counts amongst the top 20 agencies of India. According to Acharya and Vaidya, over the years there has been a conscious effort to promote a definitive culture in the agency – a culture that serves to promote the agency as a breeding ground for good effective advertising ideas! The agency’s long-term vision is to create an eco-system of self-sustaining businesses, which fosters creativity and innovation in bright young people and provides all the possible support, be it knowledge, experience or reassurance in realizing their dreams. Says Acharya, “We are one happy bunch of people having a diverse and rich experience. We have a deep-rooted connect with the street sensibilities and an intuitive understanding of the minds & hearts of India. It is our cultural conditioning, which is the bedrock of our meaningful and results-oriented marketing communication solutions.”
 
Over the years Purple Focus has successfully executed various memorable campaigns that have won the agency many international and national awards. The first major recognition for the agency came when it snapped up gold at the International Summit Creative Award 2003. Based in Portland, USA, the Summit Creative Award is the only competition of its kind which is created to recognize exceptional work by advertising agencies – video production companies, multimedia firms and other creative groups with annual billings of $15 million or less. The competition featured multiple international entries in 17 creative categories, which were judged against a stringent set of standards like originality, creativity of concepts, quality of execution and the ability to communicate and persuade. Purple Focus won gold in the outdoor/transit category for its award winning anti-smoking poster, which drew critical acclaim from one and all. “The credit for the award lay in the design’s simplicity and strength of the concept along with its strong execution,” recalls Acharya adding that the anti-smoking poster was not only noticed and hugely appreciated, but also proved its effectiveness by inspiring many people to quit smoking.

Despite winning critical acclaim, it’s difficult for small agencies to snag big accounts in their initial days. Reminiscing about the past when the agency was looking hard to land a big account in its kitty, Acharya says that the first move entailed moving out of Indore, even though the agency was doing good business there. “But then a market like Indore had its limitations. Delhi was booming by then in the area of advertising, Gurgaon was taking shape and so we thought of exploring the Delhi market.” The move paid off with the agency bagging the Tata Indicom account. “We handled the account in its six circles, and then other accounts came along in quick succession like those for Sprandi Shoes,” says Acharya. With business beginning to flow the agency slowly and steadily grew in Delhi. Some new big accounts added to Purple Focus’s initial success. Within a year of its operation in 1997, the agency bagged the account for Eicher Motors. As Acharya puts it, “Eicher was a big boost for us. Even if plans to make it big in Delhi or Mumbai were not exactly in place at that point in time, there was certainly a clear vision that we are here to give the full range of services that would be no less than a big agency in terms of quality.”

The moment of breakthrough arrived when the agency got to sign the deal, along with Ogilvy & Mather, for handling STAR Plus channel’s fiction shows in 2004-05. The deal provided the impetus to the agency for opening its Mumbai office. “We were associated with STAR when it was ruling the GEC segment, working closely on serials like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Bidai and Ye Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. We handled the STAR account for about 4 years,” says Acharya. The association with STAR ended in 2009, which came at a not very good time for Purple Focus. Its then creative director Vinod Bhargava, who had for long been associated with the agency quit that year amidst the economic slowdown that was ravaging many industries, including that of advertising.

“It was in 2009 that Vinod quit PF and it was probably not a very good year for us. We did not grow as much as targeted, given that the economic turmoil was at its peak then,” remembers Acharya, who works mainly out of Indore but keeps shuttling between all the three offices.


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A David Ogilvy Roadmap for India’s Most Powerful and Ailing Brand

Back in the 1980s, relative newcomer Nirma was dealing body blows to the venerable Hindustan Lever Ltd. It was snatching market share away from Surf like nobody had done before. Nirma was cheap, far cheaper than Surf and the Indian housewife was rapidly deciding that it was better than washing dirty linen in public! Brand Surf appeared to be in mortal danger. How did one of the oldest and most powerful consumer product companies in India react? It conjured up Lalitaji and her now legendary advertising campaign. Lo and behold: far from being exterminated by Nirma as many pundits were fearing, Surf enjoyed a remarkable revival in fortunes as an iconic brand. Brand Congress appears to be in bigger trouble now than brand Surf was back in the early 1980s. Arguably the oldest and most powerful brand in India, Congress is facing an existential threat. And the stakes for India are far higher than they were when Surf appeared vulnerable and besieged. Can the strategists shepherding the fortunes of this 126-year old brand script a remarkable revival?

They have to look a few decades back for some inspiration. In 1967, the Congress – thanks to massive consumer (read public) anger – lost massive market share in a number of states to upstart rivals. By 1969, internal feuds had triggered a split in the party. The leader of Congress and the Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi appeared more vulnerable than what Nokia appears today. Like Surf in the 1980s and Nokia now, it did look as if the days of Congress were numbered. But not for nothing do contemporary historians rate Indira Gandhi as one of the most formidable brand strategists India has ever produced, apart from being someone who evoked awe and admiration even if she was disliked by some. And why not? The Congress back then was in bigger disarray than it is now. And yet, Indira Gandhi scripted one of the most remarkable turnarounds for her beloved brand.

Slogans often make a brand win a marketing war and Indira Gandhi and her team coined two of the most memorable ones for the Lok Sabha elections of 1971. The first was was simple, direct and powerful: Garibi Hatao. For a vast majority of voters, that indeed was the biggest challenge they faced and the biggest dream they had. To further convince consumers (voters who might be looking for other brands), Indira Gandhi delivered a masterpiece in comparative advertising. The second slogan said: “Wo Kehte hain ki Indira Hatao; Mein kehti hoon Garibi Hatao.” They say a great logo that can effectively communicate the core value of a brand can be a potent weapon. Indira Gandhi was right on even here. Her team decided that a cow and a calf would be their logo; one that communicated the message that she cared for the poor and the downtrodden. All this electrified the sales and marketing managers of Congress, and more importantly, absolutely convinced the voters that this had to be the brand they must choose. The rest is electoral history.
 
They say that usually history repeats itself. But when it comes to brand Congress, can the daughter-in-law and grandson of Indira Gandhi pull yet another set of rabbits off their hats? Even as the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh lurches inevitably towards a defining election, all eyes are on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Just as in the late 1960s, brand Congress is facing a huge crisis of credibility. Inflation, corruption and arrogance have led to an alarming erosion in the core values of brand Congress. And there is little doubt that the consumer looks really pissed off with the performance of the brand. The consumer-voter-anger is even more poignant because brand Congress was handed a decisive mandate in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections despite the skepticism of numerous pundits and analysts. Today, the consumer feels cheated and betrayed. The sudden emergence of a guerilla brand called Anna – which is not even a direct competitor – has made matters worse for brand Congress. Inevitably, questions are being asked, just as they were in the late 1960s and in 1977 when angry consumers had decisively rebuffed brand Congress and Indira Gandhi in the aftermath of the Emergency. Can this old – and now ailing – brand survive for very long? Can Rahul Gandhi do what his great grandfather, grandmother, father and mother have done so successfully – to convince voters that there is no better value for money proposition than brand Congress?

 
 
Mahindra has been almost synonymous to tractors as the company has retained its market leadership in the domestic market for the past many decades. 4Ps B&M tries to explore how the on-ground activations are helping the company to keep its flag high in the Indian market while keeping the Mahindra brand close to its target consumer
 
It was in October 2009, that the largest player in the Indian tractors market, Mahindra & Mahindra gave a shot at tackling the much-worrying problem of the perception of using faulty hydraulics in its tractors among its TG. Labeled as the ‘Hytech campaign’, the company chose to opt for an on-ground activation activity to pass its message across the prospective consumer. It did a live telecast on the LCD screen to show how the technology in Mahindra products work. The campaign was initially started in the sub-urban and rural parts of Rajasthan which was later followed by several regions of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Soon after the campaign was kicked off, it started to reflect positive results as the aspirational image that Mahindra has been carrying among its consumers for the past many years is intact even today. In fact, if you are a believer of numbers speak louder than words theory, then as the Indian tractors market clocked 4 lakh units last fiscal, M&M stood tall on the pole position with a 42% market share selling 1,60,000 units. While the campaign is still going on in the various parts of the country, it has surely been very effective as far as the impact on the mind of the consumer is concerned. “Keeping in mind the low reach in the rural parts of the country as compared to the urban regions, on-ground activations serve as a perfect medium to touch base with the target consumer,” explains Sanjeev Goyle, Sr. VP – Marketing, Farm Equipment Sector, M&M. However, it is indeed very interesting to note how the various BTL activities that the company has been doing for a very long time is helping the tractor major to retain its crown in the Indian tractors market.

As far as its media mix is concerned, the company spends close to 55% of its total spends on above the line advertising while a healthy 45% share is committed towards the BTL activities. In fact, keeping in mind that the rural consumer is considered to be quite receptive in its nature and has more time as compared to its urban counterpart, BTL activities are considered to be one of the best medium to touch base with the target consumer by many marketers. It may be noted here that companies like Hero Honda and Maruti Suzuki, the respective market leaders in the two-wheelers and passenger cars segment have seperate marketing division catering to the rural parts of the country. “Mahindra focuses on two different aspects in its on-ground activations. One is aimed at strengthening the M&M brand altogether while the other focuses on establishing separate brands among the TG,” said Priya Monga, Business Head, RC&M Pvt. Ltd, an experiential marketing company that has worked on several rural marketing campaigns. Hytech was only one of the activity in a handful of innovative dope that the company has been giving to the rural consumer. The company also organises the Mahindra Mahotsav on an annual basis that moves from village to village as it creates a set-up of a carnival for the people staying in the villages. “Mahindra Mahotsav is one of the best on-ground activations that M&M has done in the past years. In fact, it is as a day-out activity for the rural consumer and hence it focuses beyond selling and buying of tractors,” added Goyle. In fact, there are brands like Airtel, ICICI and Nokia that have participated in the event in the years gone by and provides a perfect platform for several companies to get closer to their TG.

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