17 May 2022 23:06



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While travel and tour companies are going all out to target the traditional family and youth segments, Thomas Cook’s internal research has revealed the emergence of a viable TG in India’s Gen S- senior citizens with plenty of free time and disposable income (often enough, topped up by their children) and are increasingly fit and raring to travel. The Company has hence re-introduced an initiative which is not only a great product and a great idea but with a refreshing piece of communication as well.

Silver Breaks – Senior Citizen’s Holiday Plans from Thomas Cook has been specifically created for the needs and requirements of India’s Seniors / Silvers… A large population of eager travelers who may be even traveling for the first time and are filled with apprehensions and concerns about traveling on their own especially at their age. There are many people in this world especially in India who assume responsibilities at a very early age, and spend their entire lives fulfilling those responsibilities to their parents, children, family and society. They have probably never been even beyond their own neighborhood walls or city limits, never found the time or managed to save for an international holiday. This is an opportunity for them to fulfill this latent desire which they most definitely deserve to.

The films have been conceptualized and created by Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi. The commercials have been produced by Light Box films and will be aired in cinemas, on TV and digital mediums.

Speaking about the campaign, Mr. Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head – Marketing, Service Quality, Financial Services & Innovation, Thomas Cook India said, “Silver Breaks is yet another endeavor from Thomas Cook to continue its innovative and pioneering legacy in products and marketing. This is not only a great product, but a great service for those who really need the care and comfort while travelling alone or to unfamiliar places especially at an age when everything becomes a challenge. With easy paced itineraries and an attractive value, we are encouraging people to travel the world, no matter what your age is.”

Speaking about the TVC, Rahul Nangia, Jt. NCD, Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi said, “The film features real people in their real voices. Neither of them are actors or artists. The idea was to capture them minutes before they are about to leave for their first international trip. This is a moment when they are reflective about milestones in their life, before they embark on another milestone event.”

J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, the propriety research arm of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, today released a new study in partnership with the OPAM (Out Professionals in Advertising and Media) organization on understanding transgender inclusivity in advertising.

In 2015, the visibility of the transgender community in entertainment hit new highs, with celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox and Jazz Jennings breaking barriers left and right. Their voices are helping to educate many about the transgender community, break biases and garner greater acceptance, but more can be done, especially in advertising.

Surveying a sample of 500 US adults, the quantitative study features original analysis and research by J. Walter Thompson Intelligence’s SONAR practice, providing insights for marketers and brands looking to make their advertising more transgender-inclusive.

“Our survey is a helpful tool for marketers looking to understand the state of inclusive advertising, with examples from top brands, and consumer feedback on how to execute inclusive ads effectively,” said Mark Truss, Global Director of Brand Intelligence, J. Walter Thompson Company. “In this day and age, it’s not a question of should you be inclusive in your advertising, but how.”

Of the consumers surveyed, 74% agreed that showing transgender people in ads simply reflects the reality of our society today, with 65% agreeing that brands that show transgender people in their ads are brave and progressive.

While results showed that female consumers and millennials were among those more accepting and open to seeing transgender people in ads, there was a lag in ad recall of transgender advertising, with 77% of the people surveyed saying that they rarely, and sometimes never, see ads featuring transgender people – a result that leaves some wondering why brands aren’t doing more.

“Breaking out from the L from the G and the T in LGBTQ and understanding the nuances of each group is now more important than ever,” said OPAM’s President, Bobby Hickey. “What’s interesting about our survey is we uncovered that a lot of people think they know what transgender means, when in reality they really don’t. These findings show that advertisers have an opportunity to educate people about this demographic and breakthrough, as long as their creative executions are on-brand, authentic, and most importantly, accurate.”

On March 31, the International Transgender Day of Visibility, J. Walter Thompson and OPAM will bring LGBTQ advocates together for a roundtable discussion on transgender inclusive advertising. Inspired by J. Walter Thompson Intelligence’s original research, attendees will hear about the study’s findings, and gain insights from several marketers on what it took to push for inclusion and transgender visibility in their advertising campaigns.

“Converse is a ‘youth’ brand and we believe that the Converse TG cannot be defined by age, it's a youthful brand and Youth is not an age - it’s an attitude, it's a mindset. Relaxed and comfortable in your own skin.”-Said Rachna Aggarwal, CEO - Indus League, a division of Future Lifestyle Fashions Limited.

In an interaction with MediAvataar India Rachna talked about their brand Converse and how this iconic brand is making its noise heard!

Here’s the complete Q&A.....

MediAvataar: What does the brand ‘Converse’ stand for in the Indian Market?

Rachna: Converse is an American sneaker brand which believes that unleashing the creative spirit will change the world. Our mission is to unleash the Creative Spirit through products and experiences that inspire and enable each of our consumers to be his or her true, authentic self. It's not a product, but a mindset, Relaxed, and comfortable in your own skin. Every new pair carries a powerful message: This is your blank canvas waiting to be filled. Ultimately becoming a unique celebration of your true, authentic self

MediAvataar: With a flurry of other international shoe/apparel brands entering the market via various touch points, how do you plan to stand out?

Rachna: Converse is not about just selling the products, it is more about identifying and creating opportunities to unleash creative spirit in different fields be it music, arts, skate boarding etc which resonates well with our TG and inspire them to be their own true, authentic self.

MediAvataar: How do you see the e-commerce space in India? Where do you see it heading?

Rachna: I think it’s an interesting platform but we need to give it some time and see how this space develops. 

MediAvataar: How do you mange the counterfeit aspect of doing business in India?

Rachna: Counterfeits are a big menace across the world and we have a team dedicated to identifying factories and individuals promoting counterfeiting to take corrective action. The International Converse Team too is extremely proactive and supportive in this area. 

MediAvataar: Tell us about The Road to Converse Rubber Tracks event. 

Rachna: ‘Converse Rubber Tracks’ is a state-of-the-art studio located in Brooklyn with the very best of music professionals. Since its inception in July 2011, Converse Rubber Tracks has been providing artists across the globe the incredible opportunity to record there at no cost plus retain all the rights to their music as well. While there were a lot of International artists recording at Rubber Tracks we felt that there was a lot of hidden talent in India too that needed to be noticed and that had the potential to make a huge mark in the International Music scene.

Hence, we introduced Road to Converse Rubber Tracks in India (RTCRT in India) last year and the response was overwhelming. As RTCRT Season I winners, the F’16s won themselves an all-expense paid trip to Brooklyn where they recorded a couple of tracks alongside the professional crew. The experience we believe was very enriching for both the artists as well as for us. Post their return from Brooklyn the F’16s has gone on to play some of the largest music events and their trajectory is only on the upswing. Moreover this event was so well accepted by the music industry Season II is even stronger in terms of band registrations as well as quality of talent. We just can’t wait for the FINALE in Mumbai on 1st April at Blue Frog!

MediAvataar: How would it be different from the first edition?

Rachna: This year for RTCRT Season II, we are focusing on RAW STARS. The Underground Heroes who are not the hyped pretty boys, but the gritty talented workhorses who’ve not got the credit and recognition they deserve.

MediAvataar: What was the response like and what are your expectations this time?

Rachna: The response this season has been phenomenal in terms of band registrations as well as quality of raw talent. This year more than 375 bands have registered for RTCRT Season II (which in itself is like a 75% jump over last year) and we have discovered some real cool, raw talent which we are sure the Indian audiences will be crazy about in times to come

MediAvataar: Do you ever plan to broaden the TG from youth to older consumers?

Rachna: Converse is a ‘youth’ brand and we believe that the Converse TG cannot be defined by age, it's a youthful brand and Youth is not an age - it’s an attitude, it's a mindset. Relaxed and comfortable in your own skin.

MediAvataar: Do you think that virtual space will ever get bigger and better than brick and mortar?

Rachna: It would be too early to comment on it but from the brand's perspective our focus is on improving customer's shopping experience be it brick and mortar or virtual space. 

MediAvataar: Tell us more about the latest marketing campaigns that you are running and how is it helping the brand?

Rachna: On 3rd March, we have launched the ‘Chuck II Reflective Collection’ in India on the same day as the Global Launch Date. We have been promoting this campaign aggressively on the digital platform because that is where the youth primarily is. We are also creating NEW stores in line with the International Store Designs with the sole ambition of delivering the best Consumer Experience possible. All of these efforts are definitely helping us in being better connected and involved with our customers. 

MediAvataar: What do we expect in the future for the brand?

Rachna: Lots of excitement in terms of New Product launches, technology adapts, events etc. 

Customers in tight-knit groups are more likely to be negative about products or services to protect each other, but when consumers in large, disparate groups interact, they are more positive to boost their social position.

Among the many factors swaying consumer behaviour, word-of-mouth (WOM) ranks at the top. Many studies show that the number one source of information shaping purchasing behaviour is what others think about brands. As a result, positive and negative word-of-mouth are critical to the success or downfall of products and services. Industry research shows that a seven percent increase in positive word-of-mouth messages can increase a company’s revenues by as much as one percent. Conversely, another study shows that an increase of 1,000 word-of-mouth complaints can cost the airline industry an accumulated loss of as much as $8.1 billion over 20 months.

Particularly important for marketing executives is to find who, in their customers’ social networks, is most effective at spreading positive word-of-mouth about their brands and products. Given friends’ well-known tremendous influence on what consumers think, feel and buy, aiming to encourage word-of-mouth with friends seems a good idea. For instance, friends impact a wide range of individual preferences ranging from smoking habits to eating behaviour and even political preferences. As such, many marketing textbooks or advisors recommend to target customers’ close connections and encourage consumers to spread the word about their products and services among friends. This perspective assumes that one’s friends are disposed to speak favourably about products and services. But is it always the case?

My recent paper, Sharing with Friends versus Strangers: How Interpersonal Closeness Influences Word-of-Mouth answers this critical question by looking at the extent to which the content customers share with a message recipient is swayed by how close they feel to him or her. In particular we look at whether varying closeness between a WOM sender and a recipient changes the amount of positive and negative information communicated. For instance, do people share the same amount of positive and negative information when sharing with a friend or an acquaintance?

Not quite, it turns out. In fact, customers demonstrate a systematic tendency to share negative information about a product or a service to someone with whom they feel a strong bond, and more positive information to someone with whom they feel a weak bond. Therefore, surprisingly, while positive information tends to spread more easily across weakly tied connections, negative word-of-mouth tends to spread among close ties, making them potentially dangerous for marketing executives. This distortion emerges in both online and face-to-face interactions across contexts and product categories.

Why does this happen? The rationale stems from the activation of different motivations when addressing close versus distant others. Talking to a close friend activates a motive to protect him or her from any harm or hardship, making message senders more likely to share negative information. However, talking to someone distant activates a motive to self-enhance, making message senders more likely to share positive information to build their image and avoid being perceived as someone who complains.

Digital connections and the sharing of word-of-mouth

In social networks, feelings of closeness vary both within a platform (e.g., a customer might be connected with both friends and acquaintances) and between platforms (e.g., people tend to use platforms like Facebook for friends, and platforms like LinkedIn for more distant acquaintances).

In another study, we asked managers to share a message featuring the pros and cons of a service on LinkedIn with either a close friend or a distant acquaintance and found that they shared more cons than pros with their close contacts but more pros than cons with their distant ones. In fact, we found that the number of overlapping connections positively predicted message valence: the more friends in common between a sender and a recipient, the more negative she tended to be.

Building on this study, we asked young adults to share a message featuring pros and cons of a product to someone they knew on LinkedIn vs. Facebook. Within this consumer group, Facebook is typically used to foster and maintain personal connections whereas LinkedIn is used for professional connections. We found that participants, overall, included a greater number of pros than cons when sharing on LinkedIn but the reverse pattern when sharing on Facebook – confirming our hypothesis.

When does this effect occur?

We also investigated when the effect seemed stronger versus weaker. To do so, we varied in one study whether participants talked about either a novel or an established product. Why?

New product offers give consumers particularly rich grounds to build their image because they make them look more interesting, smart and in-the-know. At the same time, talking about the same new products also gives consumers particularly good reasons to protect others, because new products are typically associated with more potential drawbacks. As a result, one might expect the effect to amplify for new products with people sharing even more positive information with acquaintances but more negative information with friends. However, the effect should weaken when the product or service talked about is well-established and thus provides fewer reasons to self-enhance or to protect others.

Confirming our intuition, talking about a novel product produced both more positive word-of-mouth with an acquaintance and more negative word-of-mouth with a friend. However, the effect disappeared when the product was well-established. Overall, highlighting a product’s novelty amplified the effects of relationship strength, prompting participants to share more positive information with distant others, but more negative information with those close to them.

Shifting feelings of closeness in word-of-mouth contexts

Our findings hold a few key implications for brand managers. First, brands can encourage the sharing of positive (or negative) word-of-mouth messages by adjusting the context of their communication to trigger different feelings of either closeness or distance depending on the objective. This could mean displaying a photo of a potential recipient to make a customer relate or highlighting dissimilarities between the sender and the recipient.

In languages that have different pronouns to address someone close versus someone distant such as French, Spanish or Italian, varying pronouns to enforce closeness or distance with a customer can be a powerful vector to influence word-of-mouth valence. For example, in French, tu is used when addressing close others, but vous, when addressing distant others. In fact, in another experiment part of this research program, we manipulated whether people shared a message using the T-form or the V-form and found they were more negative in the former case than the latter. This is a small change that could help brands tune the sharing of information in the desired direction.

Greater attention should also be paid to the type of platform on which the organisation shares the information. LinkedIn may be a better bet for starting a campaign related to professionals whose ambition to self-enhance will help their message. For new products or innovations, extra care should be taken, as customers amplify negative information to their close groups, such as on Facebook. If marketers want to leverage key influencers such as bloggers, it would also serve them well to take a look at the size of their audience and closeness of their relationships.

Finally, our research speaks to the potential dangers of advising a company to leverage customers’ friends to spread ideas or products. This might not be the most effective way to build positive momentum; in fact, in some contexts, it might just do the opposite.


Written by David Dubois,Assistant Professor of Marketing at INSEAD


Outbrain Elevates Senior Leadership as APAC Business Accelerates

Two key promotions announced with intention to consolidate global leadership, fuel Asia Pacific growth strategy

Outbrain, the world’s leading premium content discovery platform is today announcing two senior leadership appointments impacting Asia Pacific. The engagements reflect accelerating business growth of the organisation’s regional and national publisher networks, growing uptake of the Outbrain platform by brands and agencies in the region and the strengthening of its relationships with major media buying groups including Omnicom, IPG and Dentsu.

Overseeing new growth in Asia Pacific will be Ayal Steiner, currently General Manager of Outbrain’s Australia and New Zealand operations. Steiner has been responsible for forging close ties with publishers and brands and cementing the company’s presence in this mature advertising market. Steiner has been appointed Managing Director of Outbrain Asia Pacific and will report to Outbrain’s Head of International, Eytan Galai. He will continue to be based in Sydney.

Also stepping up is Anthony Hearne, currently Outbrain’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia, India & New Markets. Hearne takes a new global role at Outbrain as Vice President, Global Sales Marketing, relocating from Singapore to the company’s worldwide headquarters in New York. He will report to Eric Hadley, who joined the company in Summer 2015 as the Head of Global Marketing.

In announcing these appointments, Eytan Galai, Head of Outbrain International said, “Anthony Hearne and Ayal Steiner have been pivotal to Outbrain’s success in Asia Pacific and we are thrilled to see them advance to take these important positions. We are confident that these moves will help us to build additional scalability and further support our regional leadership, while ensuring tighter collaboration across our global offices.”

Steiner led the launch of Outbrain in Australia and New Zealand in 2012. He specialises in marketing and product strategy and has extensive experience garnered from within the digital and tech start-up arena.

Steiner commented; “In a time when consumers’ attention is harder and harder to win, I believe Outbrain is an amazing platform that brings innovative and exciting opportunities for brands to engage audiences and for publishers to monetise digital assets.” He added: “Asia Pacific is a mobile-first, digitally smart landscape and I look forward to working with brands and publishers across the region to drive growth further.”

Anthony Hearne joined Outbrain in 2012 following a highly successful 20-year career in marketing leadership. Directly prior to Outbrain he was Marketing Director, Paid Content at News Corp Australia. This followed some seven years spent at SingTel Optus, encompassing several roles including: Marketing Director for Optus’ consumer division, Marketing Director at Virgin Mobile and Managing Director of a substantial subsidiary-distribution business.

Anthony Hearne said; “I am very excited to be taking on this new challenge and believe that we have only scratched the surface of content marketing and its potential to transform how brands connect with their audiences online.”

He added:“There is much work ahead of us as we continue in our efforts to advance digital marketing and help major brands navigate and connect with consumers at scale through content. Recent product releases like Custom Audiences are great examples of Outbrain’s continued investment in technology and innovation and our commitment to grow this space.”


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