Saturday, May 18, 2013

2011.Scan Group Kenya. Strategy Planning and Delivery Agency Leadership for the Region

The Shaky Start
For planners who are used to the luxury of secondary data on every category and research budgets for everything from concept tests to advertising copy testing, a stint in East Africa would be a shock. While research data on media usage is available it is used only for those Clients who subscribe to it and that is a fairly limited number. Conducting research in this market is in itself fraught with risks and limitations due to the high crime rate and the increased risk for expatriates. Most planners therefore cope with “surrogates” and common sense most of the time. Research exercises and reports done in the past , offer some kind of a benchmark, at best.
In this rather daunting scenario and with practically no knowledge of the region or its people, its culture or its norms I started my stint as a planning “expert”. J.

The first smell of coffee….Nescafe that is.. J
The first test of skill happened on a Nestle assignment for its beverage brand Nescafe. The result was a highly successful promotion for its Nescafe 3 in 1 recruiter brand.  The highlights are given below. For reasons of confidentiality a lot has been withheld in this post.
One of the barriers Nescafe encountered in Kenya which was a tea drinkers market was that coffee drinking and preparation were relatively alien to the bulk of the market. Nestle was also targeting the youth, since attitudes to coffee and to the brand Nescafe could be built easily, as against hardened tea drinkers who were older. To promote trial of coffee, easy to prepare 3 in 1 delivery sachets were being promoted. To further accelerate trial, it was being supported with a consumer promotion scheme. In fact the competition was already using  gifts to push their 3in1 coffee sachets in the market.
The challenge therefore, was to design a sales promotion scheme , which not just promote the generic category of 3 in 1’sachets, but  create preference for the Nescafe ready to drink 3 in 1 sachet variant.

 Data Collection… never mind the danger.
My research involved a few random discussions with University students and youngsters in malls, all of which was arranged by a very resourceful set of drivers in the agency J. It was clear that football is a passion for the youth of Kenya. The World Cup in South Africa had done a lot to make the game even more popular. People followed the game vide the EPL and the European Leagues.  Matches were telecast live in East Africa and had relatively high viewership. People followed footballers of African origin and supported the teams that hired them. Football however had a strong male skew. For Music and Fashion were however skewed toward women. Most leisure activities centered around these two pursuits.

The sweet smell of success
My suggestion was therefore simple:
Nescafe 3in 1 which is a ready to drink coffee, is runs a lucky draw for 12 weeks. Every week , the winner either a) gets to go to England and see a football match in the VIP box with all expenses paid. Or b) Gets front row  tickets for the Beyonce concert at Glastonbury.( options).
Consolation prizes for random winners which includes branded football merchandise in case of Option A and branded music and fashion merchandise in case of Option B.
Single-Minded or Unique Selling Proposition : Nescafe 3 in 1 helps me get more out of life/ embrace life.
Substantiation/Support :This it does by stimulating me and inspiring me to look for and try and realise my dreams. (Live my dreams.) By buying the Nescafe 3 in 1 ready to drink coffee, I may get a chance to go to England and realise my passion/dream.
Tone of voice/personality: Invigorating, Inspiring, Stimulating.
Communication channel :BTL & ATL:3 in 1 Promo campaign to run from June to August.
Mechanics: The scheme required the consumer to buy the trial pack and after using it, check the sachet for a number and an SMS code . He/she was required to send in the number vide SMS. This would mean that if he/she wins,  he/she would get an SMS back within  a week that she has won either some football (Option A)/music( Option B) merchandise or has won the big prize of the week which is an all expenses  trip to Europe to watch a given match at the EPL ( Option A) or see a concert at \Glastonbury \elsewhere( Beyonce in June).
The scheme also lend itself to significant PR opportunities with the announcement of winners, and photo opportunities of winners at the event venue, etal. There would be 11 weekly winners across the 3 months of the scheme and they would then be featured in media. ( For example, the “Live your dream  team of Nescafe 3in 1”!).
Please be advised that this concept was executed with changes and what finally appeared in media was this:
 The Client feedback was positive and after the execution its success has made it an annual feature...

 My work on P&G, or Procter and Gamble East Africa was towards getting the structure, systems and standard operating procedures for the Agency team in place for the entire region. Confidentiality agreements are tight and there is very little I can share except that I won a lot of accolades and appreciation letters for the work that I did. These included films done at very tight deadlines, launch of brands in key markets against very daunting obstacles, putting together a standard operating procedure which was accepted for global replication and the like. The appreciation letters for the film which was done in record time is reproduced below.

There was another instance which actually tested my skills and ability as an advertising professional to the limits. A fairly important presentation of an internal nature had to be done and the visual devices to support the presentation was given to the Agency. The deadline was met and the Account Supervisor sent in the material.All hell broke lose when the Client Leader saw the artworks. I had just about a day or two to turn it all around and the fact is that I surprised everyone, including myself by actually getting an appreciation letter at the end of it. It actually required me to work non- stop for 36 hours! Something which stunned everyone in Nairobi!! But it was worth it!! The evidence is below:
There are more such letters which evidence some very happy clients and work done against daunting odds. It was for me quite comforting that I could pull these stunts off even in markets that were new to me :)

For references please click on this link: References for Stint at Nairobi. 2011-2012. Vinod Natesan

Apart from work on Clients, there was a need to ensure that the army marched in step and that meant training. Planning skills were clearly the area of weakness. The fact that market research was hard to come by on consumer behaviour and on brand off take was another hurdle. However, with true Indian ingenuity I did manage with what was available. Since it was virtually impossible to get people to attend work on weekends, I arranged Friday Afternoon Lectures. This was branded FALS. In advertising it is impossible to get everyone together in one room willingly, I decided to send these lectures out as newsletters. It proved to be a hit with the newsletter landing up everywhere including the Client's inbox! It made me a bit popular and won me some badly needed friends and believers.:).

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