ANNA HAZARE: THE PER­SON­AL­ITY BRAND’S AP­PEAL EROD­ING

Economic Challenger - - CONTENTS - - Dr. Kisholoy roy

“A tale of two fasts: then and now. As the anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign gath­ers more steam, it is Brand Anna that ap­pears to have be­come the gal­vanis­ing force be­hind the huge move­ment, backed by In­dia’s in­creas­ingly as­sertive mid­dle class. And the brand­ing ap­pears to be care­fully crafted.”

“Many swear by him, sev­eral scoff at him. Like him or hate him, but he can’t be ig­nored. As the anti-cor­rup­tion stir in­ten­si­fies, me­dia and ad­ver­tis­ing ex­perts say brand ‘ Anna’ has over­taken all the other la­bels in In­dia in dif­fer­ent walks of life for the moment.”

On De­cem­ber 27th 2011, Anna Hazare called off his fast that was sched­uled to go on for three days at Mum­bai’s MMRDA grounds. Many opined that it was prin­ci­pally due to an ex­tremely low turnout of peo­ple at the venue. While Hazare’s fast at New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan wit­nessed around 30,000-40,000 peo­ple flock­ing to the venue, the Mum­bai venue saw just 3000-4000 peo­ple turn­ing up. The fast was planned to protest against the government’s in­abil­ity to pass an ef­fec­tive Jan Lok­pal Bill in the win­ter ses­sion of the par­lia­ment. The gen­eral opin­ion among the masses was that Hazare’s charisma that stirred an en­tire na­tion into ac­tion re­gard­ing the Lok­pal Bill had eroded. It was dis­cussed in the me­dia that Anna went wrong tac­ti­cally and lost fo­cus on the big pic­ture that found ma­jor­ity of the coun­try’s pub­lic aban­don­ing his mis­sion. The al­le­ga­tions against some of the Team Anna mem­bers re­gard­ing mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds were felt to be an­other rea­son be­hind the de­ba­cle.

How­ever dur­ing the fast at Ramlila Maidan, Hazare along with his en­tire team of ac­tivists were found to mo­ti­vate and mould the sen­ti­ments of a large cross sec­tion of the In­dian pop­u­lace. The great In­dian mid­dle class was found to hail Hazare, a 74 year old so­cial ac­tivist as their sav­ior, as a cru­sader who had the guts and cal­iber to fight for their cause. Many ex­perts from the world of me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tions felt that the mak­ing of brand Anna was a very metic­u­lous ex­er­cise. Ac­cord­ing to se­nior jour­nal­ist Bhaskar Roy, “The or­ga­niz­ers be­hind Hazare’s protest un­der­stand the mar­ket dy­nam­ics and the role of me­dia to­day. Hence the need to build Brand Anna.” Madi­son World chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Sam Bal­sara ob­served, “Brand Anna will stand for hon­esty, trans­parency, upright­ness, speak­ing up and silent protest. Yes, Anna is no doubt be­com­ing a brand and An­naism is be­com­ing a phrase and con­cept that other brands will soon want to ride on.”

BRAND ANNA: THE ES­SEN­TIAL IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

A brand whether a prod­uct, ser­vice or per­son­al­ity is ba­si­cally a set of men­tal as­so­ci­a­tions that the tar­get au­di­ence can re­late to and feel pos­i­tive about. First and fore­most any brand needs to be based on cer­tain core val­ues that are ap­peal­ing to a large cross sec­tion of pop­u­lace. To start with the core val­ues of Anna Hazare were based on Gand­hian ide­olo­gies which had been in­stru­men­tal in gen­er­at­ing not just tremen­dous in­ter­est among In­di­ans about Hazare’s cru­sade but had also gar­nered huge fan fol­low­ing. Gandhi as a name/ brand in­spires re­spect and rev­er­ence and any­thing or any­one to do some­thing with Ma­hatma has al­ways found to at­tract lots of eye­balls.

How­ever be­fore the emer­gence of Anna on the na­tional hori­zon, many ob­served that Ma­hatma Gandhi as a brand has lost his rel­e­vance among the com­mon man. The chang­ing so­cial fab­ric, the bla­tant and un­re­stricted cor­rup­tion has all contributed to ero­sion of Gandhi’s rel­e­vance. At the same time, peo­ple were found to de­sire for some such per­son­al­ity who would be a con­tem­po­rary avatar of Gandhi. A per­son who would be an apos­tle of Gand­hian val­ues but whose con­duct will be rel­e­vant to the con­tem­po­rary scheme of things.

One of the pri­mary fac­tors that con­trib­ute to the success of a brand is the tim­ing of its launch. Thus in case of brand Anna, the first and fore­most as­pect that went in his fa­vor was the tim­ing of his emer­gence on the na­tional hori­zon. That was the rea­son why Hazare’s fast at the Jan­tar Man­tar in New Delhi in April 2011 gar­nered in­stant ap­peal and adu­la­tion.

The first step in man­ag­ing a brand is to de­velop and con­cep­tu­al­ize a strong iden­tity for it. As per Kapferer’s brand iden­tity prism, there are six facets of brand iden­tity and each and ev­ery facet needs to be well de­fined. The mar­ket­ing mas­ter­minds be­hind the Anna phe­nom­e­non en­sured that brand Anna pro­jected a strong and well de­fined brand iden­tity (Ex­hibit I).

It is the phys­i­cal facet of a brand that is the start­ing point of de­scrib­ing a brand iden­tity prism. In case of Hazare, his short, stout stature with an undy­ing re­silience on his face had been found to serve as the foun­da­tion for the brand’s rapid evo­lu­tion. Anna’s in­ter­ac­tion with the me­dia, politi­cians and the gen­eral pub­lic had been ob­served to im­part a con­fi­dent, hon­est and up­right per­son­al­ity to the per­son­al­ity brand. Brand Anna had been found to pos­sess In­dian cul­ture and sec­u­lar val­ues. Anna Hazare had re­port­edly caught the imag­i­na­tion of not just the great In­dian mid­dle class but also the celebri­ties from var­i­ous walks of life. ‘Team Anna’ or the sup­port­ers of Anna’s phi­los­o­phy had been found to be the peo­ple who be­lieve and sup­port Gand­hian ide­ol­ogy and fa­vor trans­parency in deal­ings. The gen­eral out­look and life­style of th­ese peo­ple proved that they were cru­saders for a bet­ter so­ci­ety. Trust has been found to be the ba­sis of re­la­tion­ship that brand Anna shares with the so­ci­ety.

The evo­lu­tion of Anna Hazare from a name to a power brand re­port­edly hap­pened at an in­cred­i­ble pace. A per­son who was a lit­tle known so­cial ac­tivist at the be­gin­ning of year 2011 had within a pe­riod of some six months be­come not just a brand but a power brand. With his fast at

the Jan­tar Man­tar in April 2011, Hazare be­came a brand, a name known na­tion­ally from be­ing a name known only within the state of Ma­ha­rash­tra. Dur­ing the course of his fast at the Ramlila Maidan, brand Anna was found to gar­ner huge fan fol­low­ing glob­ally. A power brand is a brand that is known and rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally and that in­spires many world­wide.

The me­dia thus de­scribed Brand Anna as the lead­ing power brand of 2011.

There are four ma­jor com­po­nents that con­trib­ute to the eq­uity of a brand viz. brand aware­ness, brand as­so­ci­a­tion, per­ceived qual­ity and brand loy­alty. Hazare’s cru­sade against the cor­rup­tion within the government ma­chin­ery was found to seek ex­clu­sive and wide spread cov­er­age in the on­line and off­line me­dia. It was re­ported that Anna Hazare had been the most searched key­word on the In­ter­net dur­ing the pe­riod of April 2011 and Au­gust 2011. The above facts clearly in­di­cated that brand Anna had suc­cess­fully gen­er­ated high amount of aware­ness. Gen­er­ally peo­ple as­so­ciate a be­spec­ta­cled man with white kurta and dhoti along with a Gandhi cap on his head stand­ing for the right is­sues and speak­ing fear­lessly with an in­spi­ra­tional fig­ure, prob­a­bly a politi­cian of a by­gone era when the com­mon man looked up to the politi­cians as role models of the so­ci­ety. Thus it had been ob­served that Anna Hazare with his ac­ces­sories and con­duct was able to con­nect with the greater chunk of the so­ci­ety. In case of per­son­al­ity brands, per­ceived qual­ity is based on a per­son’s wis­dom, ac­tions and thoughts and there too brand Anna had re­port­edly ruled the roost. Anna Hazare had re­port­edly at­tracted thou­sands of peo­ple to his fast­ing venues along with trig­ger­ing large scale protests in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try. Not only na­tion­ally, but in­ter­na­tion­ally too, In­di­ans had re­port­edly come out on the streets fa­vor­ing Anna’s ac­tions which con­firmed the fact that brand Anna en­joyed high de­gree of loy­alty.

Con­tro­ver­sies had of­ten been found to play a ma­jor role in brand build­ing. Utopia is some­thing that is gen­er­ally un­be­liev­able and un­ac­cept­able by con­sumers and they have been found to be more at­tached with such brands that re­sem­ble a nor­mal hu­man be­ing who is sup­posed to have some grey shades along with white. In the case of Anna Hazare, there were cer­tain mem­bers of the Congress Party who called Anna a cor­rupt per­son fight­ing against cor­rup­tion. There were also some who felt that Anna was adamant about con­tin­u­ing his fast at the Ramlila Maidan just to seek greater mileage and there was no fea­si­bil­ity as such af­ter the Prime Min­is­ter ap­pealed to Hazare to end his fast stat­ing that his government would def­i­nitely look into draft­ing and in­tro­duc­ing an ef­fec­tive Lok­pal Bill in the Par­lia­ment.

It has been ob­served that good brands are not al­ways suc­cess­ful brands and that in­di­cates that any brand needs to be mar­keted ef­fec­tively to gar­ner max­i­mum con­sumer fran­chise. Many felt that the success of brand Anna was not just a mat­ter of val­ues that Anna Hazare as per­son stood for but it was more to do with the mar­ket­ing ma­chin­ery be­hind the pro­mo­tion of the cause and the brand.

MAR­KET­ING THE ANNA PHE­NOM­E­NON

It has been ob­served that suc­cess­ful mar­ket­ing of a brand starts with suit­able tar­get­ing and po­si­tion­ing strat­egy. Mar­keters of the con­tem­po­rary era have been mostly found to tar­get the youth while in­tro­duc­ing their brands. Around 70% of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion com­prises of the youth out of which 55% of them fall in the 15-25 age bracket. Any brand that can woo the youth bri­gade in this coun­try has re­port­edly been found to seek rich div­i­dends. The same had been the case with brand Anna. The two fasts of Anna Hazare es­pe­cially the one at Ramlila Maidan wit­nessed tremen­dous par­tic­i­pa­tion and involvement of the youth. They were found to be the ma­jor force be­hind forc­ing the UPA government to se­ri­ously re­con­sider the suit­able draft­ing and in­tro­duc­tion of the Lok­pal Bill. Brand Anna was po­si­tioned as the mod­ern day Gandhi, a cru­sader for a bet­ter so­ci­ety with Gand­hian and sec­u­lar val­ues.

An­other very im­por­tant mar­ket­ing strat­egy that has of­ten of­fered rich div­i­dends to mar­keters is the repo­si­tion­ing strat­egy. Brands are of­ten re­quired to al­ter their stand, their ap­proach a bit in or­der to gain greater ac­cep­tance and rel­e­vance. In case of brand Anna, a sim­i­lar as­pect was ob­served. Dur­ing his first fast in con­nec­tion with the Lok­pal Bill at New Delhi’s

Jan­tar Man­tar, a poster of Bharat Mata (Mother In­dia) formed the back­drop of the stage that in­vited crit­i­cisms from the Left par­ties. More­over per­son­al­i­ties like Swami Ag­nivesh and Baba Ramdev were promi­nently ob­served to share the dais with the Hazare that many felt was largely a Hindu rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Dur­ing Hazare’s fast at Ramlila Maidan, the poster of Bharat Mata was found to be re­placed by a gi­ant por­trait of Ma­hatma Gandhi which im­parted a sec­u­lar face to the demon­stra­tion (Ex­hibit-II). More­over it had been only Hazare who had been on the dais which were the rea­sons for the greater ac­cep­tance and rev­er­ence of the per­son­al­ity brand.

A well planned and ex­e­cuted celebrity en­dorse­ment strat­egy has of­ten been found to en­hance the iden­tity and im­age of brands. Anna Hazare as a per­son­al­ity along with his thoughts, val­ues and ac­tions had been en­dorsed by lead­ing movie stars from the Hindi film in­dus­try like Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan as well as by the cine stars of the re­gional cin­ema. Per­son­al­i­ties from var­i­ous other walks of life like Ki­ran Bedi (the first woman IPS Of­fi­cer of the coun­try) and Booker Prize win­ner Arund­hati Roy were also found to ac­tively sup­port and prop­a­gate Hazare’s de­mands. Such en­dorse­ments had been found to lend more cred­i­bil­ity and im­pact to the cause and the man be­hind ini­ti­at­ing the cause.

For quite some time it has been ob­served that event-based mer­chan­dis­ing has a pos­i­tive rub-off ef­fect on the event and the per­son(s) in­volved in the event. Dur­ing the course of Anna’s fast at the Ramlila Maidan, it was ob­served that mer­chan­dise like the Gandhi caps with taglines – “I Am Anna” or “Main Anna Hoon” have been sold like hot cakes. Peo­ple of each and ev­ery age bracket were found to don the caps with plea­sure and pride. Apart from the caps, posters of Anna Hazare, the na­tional Tri­color along with wrist brands with the tri­color painted and um­brel­las were sold at the fast­ing venue as well as at var­i­ous other parts of the coun­try

In the con­tem­po­rary era, it is largely be­lieved that no brand can sur­vive and sus­tain by ca­ter­ing to the off­line com­mu­nity only. There are bil­lions of ne­ti­zens across the globe and suc­cess­ful brands have been found to con­nect with them through var­i­ous modes. So­cial net­work­ing sites like the Face­book had been found to play a defin­ing role in gar­ner­ing sup­port for Team Anna and their cru­sade against cor­rup­tion within the government ma­chin­ery. More­over gam­ing sites were found to quickly latch on to the op­por­tu­nity of cre­at­ing some in­ter­est­ing games around Anna’s cru­sade. ‘Play the Anna Hazare Game’ had been one such game that was found to be quite pop­u­lar on the In­ter­net

The mar­ket­ing of the Anna phe­nom­e­non was found to in­spire sev­eral re­sponses in the aca­demic and the cor­po­rate world. Many opined that the me­te­oric rise of brand Anna had been the rea­son be­hind such re­sponses.

Case stud­ies on the mar­ket­ing of the Anna phe­nom­e­non were devel­oped by var­i­ous lead­ing man­age­ment in­sti­tutes of the coun­try. At the Fac­ulty of Man­age­ment Stud­ies, New Delhi, stu­dents were found to have a class on ‘Brand Anna’ where they de­lib­er­ated on the phe­nom­e­non. A lead­ing fac­ulty mem­ber of the in­sti­tute fa­cil­i­tated stu­dents to gain in­sight into how Hazare turned the cor­rup­tion is­sue into a brand and the mar­ket­ing in­volved. Var­i­ous blogs were started to gen­er­ate in­for­ma­tion and in­sights for de­vel­op­ing case stud­ies on the is­sue. In De­cem­ber 2011, it was re­ported in the me­dia that Anna Hazare was plan­ning to go on fast again if the government at the cen­tre failed to pass an ef­fec­tive Lok­pal Bill in the win­ter ses­sion of the Par­lia­ment. Anna was re­port­edly not happy with the con­tents of the Bill as he wanted greater accountability on the part of the government rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Although the newly drafted Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, the Bill did not see the light of the day as it was stalled in the Up­per House and Anna de­clared to go on fast at Mum­bai’s MMRDA grounds.

THE DOWN­TURN

There were many in the me­dia who pre­dicted a flop show of the event at MMRDA grounds as be­cause it was largely felt that Anna Hazare com­mit­ted cer­tain car­di­nal mis­takes dur­ing the months be­tween Au­gust 2011 and De­cem­ber 2011 while the UPA government at the cen­tre was metic­u­lous with its ma­nip­u­la­tion. It was felt that

by declar­ing a fast at the said junc­ture, Hazare got his tim­ing and tac­tics wrong along with high­light­ing his loss of fo­cus on the big pic­ture.

The big pic­ture con­cern­ing the Bill was to bring the Prime Min­is­ter and other bu­reau­crats within the purview of the Bill. This as­pect was in­cluded but then Anna was not sat­is­fied with the de­tails in­volved. The ci­ti­zens of the coun­try were in­ter­ested in the Bill get­ting passed and the Congress-led government at the cen­tre was at­tempt­ing to do just that while they found Anna cre­at­ing hur­dles in such a sce­nario that did not go well with the pub­lic. They strongly felt that Hazare was try­ing to seek po­lit­i­cal mileage and was at­tempt­ing to se­cure his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions in the name of the Bill which saw a large cross sec­tion of the In­dian pop­u­la­tion stay­ing away from Hazare’s mis­sion. Apart from Hazare, Team Anna mem­ber like Arvind Ke­jri­wal and Ki­ran Bedi were per­ceived to be des­per­ate to make their own mark in In­dia’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

The sec­ond big mis­take com­mit­ted by the surg­ing per­son­al­ity brand, Anna Hazare was re­gard­ing the tim­ing of the fast. The fast in the month of April was felt to be well timed as In­dia won the World Cup some fort­night back and there was a dearth of some ‘big story’ in the me­dia. More­over it co­in­cided with the un­veil­ing of the multi crore 2G spec­trum scam. Af­ter two big and suc­cess­ful fasts, the third fast by Hazare on the same is­sue was ob­served to be too soon that ac­tu­ally high­lighted the threat­en­ing and un­rea­son­able na­ture of the man who show­cased him­self as a staunch Gand­hian.

The third mis­take com­mit­ted by Anna was con­stantly at­tack­ing the Congress party at the cen­tre. It was ini­tially fine but then the gen­eral con­sen­sus was when a party was try­ing to make amends, they were sup­posed to be given time to come up with a prop­erly drafted Bill which Team Anna was not pro­vid­ing. More­over, Hazare was found to mix more with the BJP and the Shiv Sena who are in the Op­po­si­tion and the pub­lic by and large do not have a greater faith on th­ese par­ties. It was due to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the BJP in the Up­per House that the Bill could not be ul­ti­mately passed in the Par­lia­ment. Call­ing a fast against the Congress party at such a junc­ture was con­sid­ered as to­tal tac­ti­cal blun­der by many.

How­ever with the ‘flop show’ at MMRDA grounds in Mum­bai, there were many in the world of me­dia who were forced to pon­der re­gard­ing the fu­ture of Brand Anna.

THE OUT­COME

At the junc­ture of the fast at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, there were cer­tain ex­perts from the cor­po­rate world who felt that cor­po­rate brands would def­i­nitely be rid­ing piggy back on the success of brand Anna while there were oth­ers who felt that cor­po­rate In­dia would be cau­tious in this re­gard. Fu­ture Brands CEO, San­tosh Desai (Desai) ob­served, “Cor­po­rate In­dia is adopt­ing a cau­tious ap­proach in this is­sue since this is a com­pletely new kind of cat­e­gory of protest, so they do not know which way to go.” P.N. Vas­anti, di­rec­tor, Cen­tre for Man­age­ment Stud­ies too was found to echo sim­i­lar thoughts as she opined, “Busi­ness houses are still not a part of the de­bate since it is a war be­tween the government and the civil so­ci­ety and they do not want to go against the government.” While ex­press­ing his ap­pre­ci­a­tion re­gard­ing the phe­nom­e­nal rise of brand Anna, Desai men­tioned, “His im­age is fresh and clean, he looks like some­body you can trust and he has proven this by his ac­tions and track record.” Ad man and lyri­cist Prasoon Joshi how­ever felt that it is parochial to re­strict Hazare to be­ing a brand be­cause he is much big­ger than that. He ob­served, “What we are see­ing in In­dia (now) could be a phe­nom­e­non, a thought process. It is much big­ger and broader than a brand.” Af­ter the de­ba­cle at MMRDA grounds, there were in the cor­po­rate world who felt that a phe­nom­e­nal per­son­al­ity brand like Anna Hazare stood ex­posed. His lim­i­ta­tions had come to the fore and it needed to be seen how the per­son­al­ity brand that cap­tured the imag­i­na­tions of the coun­try’s pop­u­lace al­most overnight would make a turn­around.

REF­ER­ENCES

Ex­hibit-I Brand Iden­tity Prism of brand Anna

Source: http://www.tel­ugucin­e­m­a­site.com/live/wp-con­tent/up­loads/2011/08/Tamil-Hero-Vi­jay-Still­sAt-Anna-Hazare-Fast­ing-Ramlila- Maidan-Delhi-1.jpg

Ex­hibit-II The Dais at the Ramlila Maidan

Com­piled by the au­thor

Ex­hibit-III Anna Hazare and Event-based Mer­chan­dis­ing

Source: http:// trak. in/tags/busi­ness/2011/08/ 20/an­na­haz­are-game/

Ex­hibit-IV A Snap of ‘Play the Anna Hazare Game’

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