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Can math­e­mat­ics be a brand?

The Brand Reporter - - BY INVITATION - By Ab­hishek Keni

In the Eighth stan­dard, our His­tory teacher told us the story of the Civil Dis­obe­di­ence move­ment dur­ing the free­dom strug­gle. How­ever, no­body in the class seemed will­ing to lis­ten to her; they con­tin­ued talk­ing to one an­other; ig­nor­ing the only adult in the room (ironic, given the topic). In a fit of rage she would throw the duster on the podium and yell, “Is this a fish mar­ket?”

Fast for­ward 15 years later and I now re­alise, she was right. A class­room is in­deed a mar­ket. It’s a mar­ket that com­prises 50-60 con­sumers (stu­dents) in one clus­ter with dif­fer­ent needs, wants and re­quire­ments.

Some of them like science, oth­ers art, and some take to sports. Stu­dents as­pire to be many things - sci­en­tists, the next Sachin Ten­dulkar, a fash­ion diva/in­ter­na­tional su­per­star like Priyanka Cho­pra or a tech icon like Steve Jobs.

An ideal mar­ket­ing chal­lenge for any cat­e­gory (brand or prod­uct) is to iden­tify the needs, wants and re­quire­ments of con­sumers and pro­vide so­lu­tions for them with the right mar­ket­ing mix. Can we mar­keters use this class­room anal­ogy to solve a prob­lem?

First of all, does a prob­lem which needs to be solved ex­ist in a class­room?

Yes, it does, es­pe­cially in our coun­try. There are prob­lems like:

An ideal mar­ket­ing chal­lenge for any cat­e­gory is to iden­tify the needs, wants of con­sumers.

- Kids whose in­ter­ests lie in science are show­ered with math­e­mat­ics for­mu­lae.

- Those not pay­ing at­ten­tion in his­tory class, be­cause ev­ery­thing, ex­cept art, sounds ‘un­in­ter­est­ing’ to them.

Things we have done in the past to solve this prob­lem in­clude:

- Blam­ing the author­i­ties for strin­gent ed­u­ca­tion rules, where kids are forced to study all sub­jects wherein their in­ter­est lie only in one or two; and

- Abol­ish­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion sys­tem, as­sum­ing kids can’t han­dle the pres­sure.

Nev­er­the­less, we should not for­get that Sun­dar Pichai and Satya Nadella are the prod­ucts of this same sys­tem. In­dian brains are re­spected glob­ally and it’s the same ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem which has done that. The sys­tem is not a prob­lem; the way ed­u­ca­tion is ‘con­sumed’ is a prob­lem.

Here is where mar­keters and ad­ver­tis­ers can play a cru­cial role be­cause they are the ma­gi­cians who can bring life, soul and voice to a prod­uct and make it a ‘brand’; one that goes on to be­come an in­te­gral part of the con­sumer’s life.

Here is an ex­am­ple of how it can work:

Let’s take math­e­mat­ics to start; let’s con­sider it a brand. The prob­lem for this brand is that con­sumers feel it’s too te­dious and its con­cepts are dif­fi­cult to mem­o­rise. So, our sin­gle minded propo­si­tion for the com­mu­ni­ca­tion is to make math­e­mat­ics a pre­ferred choice for kids who love to play.

In­sight: Math­e­mat­ics is con­sid­ered to be boring be­cause most of the ‘con­sumers’ do not know where to ap­ply the con­cepts which are be­ing learnt from their books.

Idea: Cre­ate a mar­ket place in the class­room.

Ex­e­cu­tion: Teach­ers distribute paper cur­rency among kids in the class­room and cre­ate a makeshift mar­ket place. Let them pre­tend to be buy­ers and sell­ers of goods and con­sum­ables while teach­ers guide them in the real us­age of con­cepts like ‘uni­tary method’, etc. This will en­sure kids un­der­stand the prac­ti­cal us­age of num­bers and can later learn how best to use it, more­over, start liv­ing with it.

IM­PLI­CA­TIONS FOR THE AD­VER­TIS­ING BUSI­NESS

Agen­cies that pitch for ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes can no longer just de­mand money for cre­at­ing art­work of hoard­ings with mes­sag­ing like ‘No. 1 In­sti­tute in In­dia’, ‘Spa­cious Class­rooms’, etc. They can have a big­ger say in the busi­ness of ed­u­ca­tion man­age­ment. Ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes can find a more valu­able part­ner when they col­lab­o­rate with cre­ative agen­cies.

The point I’m try­ing to make is not to make teach­ers re­dun­dant, but to tweak ed­u­ca­tion so that teach­ers can find a valu­able plat­form to show­case their ex­per­tise i.e. teach­ing!

The next revo­lu­tion in ed­u­ca­tion is not about us­ing tablets in­stead of books, but in chang­ing the way ed­u­ca­tion is con­sumed.

Also, we can make use of sto­ry­telling to make child­hood more en­joy­able. Prob­lems like the in­fa­mous ‘Blue Whale Chal­lenge’ are just symp­toms of a big­ger prob­lem i.e. men­tal ill­nesses like de­pres­sion, caused due to stress. This can be a re­sult of many fac­tors. How­ever, ed­u­ca­tion can be­come that pow­er­ful tool which could cur­tail the men­ace. We just need to care­fully use the power of sto­ry­telling.

Thus, it’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion for three stake-hold­ers - stu­dents, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes and ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies.

Let’s think it over. This is an open ended de­bate. ■

(The au­thor is se­nior ac­count ex­ec­u­tive with Con­tract Ad­ver­tis­ing, In­dia.) feed­back@afaqs.com

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