Karan Ku­mar


The Brand Reporter - - CONTENTS -

Main­stream ad­ver­tis­ing lacks sto­ries that stir the soul. ‘The client’ is equally re­spon­si­ble for this.


Who is your big­gest pro­fes­sional men­tor?

The con­sumer. She has taught me ev­ery­thing I know about mar­ket­ing. Un­der­stand­ing her, un­der­stand­ing what she says and leaves un­said, un­der­stand­ing what she buys and why she does so – that is what has taught me. Of course, there have been peers and team mem­bers who have taught me a great deal but at the core of all their teach­ing is – hold the con­sumer as your men­tor.

If not a brand mar­keter, what would you be?

A psy­cho­an­a­lyst. I like read­ing peo­ple - their be­hav­iour and what mo­ti­vates it.

Name a brand (other than your own) you ad­mire. And tell us why.

I ad­mire Coca-Cola and the way they ap­pro­pri­ated a myth­i­cal char­ac­ter like Santa Claus. They made the brand come alive, and through Santa they found a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of ev­ery­thing the brand stood for. Spread­ing hap­pi­ness all over the world with chil­dren and fam­i­lies could be quite an oner­ous propo­si­tion to com­mu­ni­cate, es­pe­cially to large au­di­ences. But they cre­ated a ‘live and ac­tive’ rep­re­sen­ta­tion of each of those val­ues.


What are the big chal­lenges you see com­ing your way in the next 12 months?

To be ‘al­ways on’ as a brand, across all me­dia ecosys­tems and to be part of the on-go­ing nar­ra­tive. The days of broad­cast mar­ket­ing are com­ing to a close. En­gage­ment through brand im­mer­sion is the key to suc­ceed­ing in the cur­rent con­text and for that a brand needs to be ‘al­ways par­tic­i­pat­ing’ and plugged-in.

What’s the big­gest change in the way con­sumers ap­proach your seg­ment to­day, ver­sus a year back? To what do you at­tribute this?

They ap­proach it ba­sis the story our prod­ucts stand for ver­sus how they are priced. In an en­vi­ron­ment of plen­ti­ful op­tions, brand choice is be­ing dic­tated by the val­ues the brand stands for. ‘Value for money’ is get­ting re-lensed as a con­sump­tion driver. This is hap­pen­ing be­cause prod­ucts are in­creas­ingly be­ing con­sumed not out of need, but be­cause of the de­sire they stir amongst con­sumers.

Which prod­uct seg­ment out there im­pacts trends in your cat­e­gory most? Why?

Seg­ments that in­dulge con­sumer self-es­teem. Peo­ple are con­sum­ing what aids their self-im­age and its pro­jec­tion.


What’s the tough­est part of be­ing a brand mar­keter?

To con­stantly learn to stay ahead of the curve - of tech­nol­ogy, me­dia ecosys­tems and the art of sto­ry­telling.

Name the big­gest pro­fes­sional hur­dle you faced re­cently. How did you tide over it?

Con­nect­ing mul­ti­ple data sources and con­sumer re­search to cre­ate con­nected in­sights. We cracked it by cre­at­ing my own unique model which was crit­i­cally ap­pre­ci­ated at the M sia- acific con­fer­ence.

As a mar­keter in the dig­i­tal age, what is your big­gest night­mare?

To be ‘not’ al­ways-on.


What is your lead medium of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to­day? Which medium do you use least?

Print leads. So­cial has started com­ing very close to print now in terms of rel­e­vant reach and im­pres­sions. TV is a medium we use the least cur­rently.

Are the best cre­ative minds still in ad­ver­tis­ing?

Yes they are but brand cus­to­di­ans who chal­lenge those minds have gone miss­ing. Main­stream ad­ver­tis­ing is in­creas­ingly lack­ing sto­ries that stir your soul. And ‘the client’ is equally re­spon­si­ble for not push­ing for this.

In what way has your re­la­tion­ship with your agency part­ners - cre­ative and me­dia plan­ning/buy­ing changed of late? What’s the one must-have qual­ity for an agency to­day?

They are ‘part­ners’ more than ever be­fore. I see a sin­cere ef­fort be­ing made by them.

Are you open to pay­ing agen­cies a pitch fee?

Yes. It shows se­ri­ous­ness of in­tent and pur­pose and ac­cords a cer­tain value to the time and ef­fort that is go­ing to be needed for good pitches to hap­pen. How­ever, I must also ask whether the los­ing agency would be okay with leav­ing be­hind their idea to be ex­plored by an­other one. They have now been paid for it and there­fore that idea the­o­ret­i­cally be­longs to the client. That is an an­swer I would love to have.

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