Does the mission Fallout to Superman? (the babble of Brand recall)

(DISCLAIMER: I’ll try to keep this short, but if my heart pounds, my fingers won’t stop)

** cue in the second most memorable secret agent theme music after Mr. bond **

The pre-launch of Mission Impossible:Fallout witnessed a lot of acclaim towards Tom cruise’s death defying stunts, a few fun interviews of the talented star cast all over social media. But none of the questions posed such conviction and passion as to when co-star Henry Cavill would return to reprise his role as Superman. Which brings one to inquisitively think, does a person’s identity to his past work define the success of his present and future? or whether the image associated with Cavill’s alter ego personify his brand which would bear fruit for further upping the moolah quotient of his future ventures?

Just a small detour; prior to any sort of footage release of Mission Impossible 6, Mr. Cavill (or rather his moustache) gained  worldwide (negative) attention while shooting patch shots for the-then anticipated superhero flick, Justice league (Read about Moustache gate and cost of removing his moustache at your own risk). But this clearly made an indelible mark on fans worldwide; Mr. Cavill is Superman, the embodiment of ideas, philosophy and the character; ultimately, Superman-the brand

While one may argue that, such a proposition of  pop culture cross-pollination would be counter-productive to marketing another unrelated movie and the box office entries, there is a subtle conspiracy theory that whispers, “this step was a master stroke”, through instigating all the geeks and fanboys of the Warner Brother Allegiance, to watch their beloved savoir dawn the role of another agent.

Characters are like brands:

In recent times, Mr. Cavill (Superman/Mission impossible fame) isn’t the only one caught between two worlds (albeit two well rewarding worlds). For people who lived and breathed professional wrestling in the 90s, they may remember one iconic character from the WWE known as KANE. The character played to perfection by one Mr. Glenn Jacobs, has just been elected the Mayor of a town in Nashville called Knox county. Kane is billed as a 7 foot monster with a hell inspired demenaor, destroying his opponents while sporting very scary costumes. But while he may be remembered for his kayfabe persona, in real life, he is a very mild mannered individual with a strong educational background in comparison to his other wrestling contemporaries.

Fun fact: Before he was about to start his victory speech, he was welcomed by his mayoral colleagues and all present over there with his epic unforgettable wrestling theme(Brand audio ident 101 anyone?).


While both the examples share subtle hints of the much loved phenomenon the pop culture enthusiasts term as CROSSOVER (cue the  Avengers-Infinity wars twitter and facebook memes), it is not be misinterpreted as stereotyping. Stereotyping is, if Tushar Kapoor only managed to get acting roles of a person who can’t speak, owing to his lovable portrayal in the Golmaal franchise,

Brand recall 101:

This brings to light the very fundamental principle of great marketing; Brand recall. Something that is tried and tested time and time again, and more importantly, one that most often WORKS. But above all, one that manages to settle in the best form of advertising real estate; that is your mind and your heart and remains there.

But there is a catch, to keep the core ideology of the brand/identity the same while evolving with the market. For eg. Tomorrow if Sanjay Dutt has to dawn the role of a well learned British NRI, that wouldn’t stop journalists from asking Mr. Dutt to quote one of the dialogues form that project while being in character of the beloved Munna Bhai.


Hit and MISS

In the brand world, we’ve noticed some hits and misses by quite a few brands. But  in more recent times, a textbook case of brand recall completely devalued, is that of the brand APPY. Ask anyone what they think of it, and 9 out of 10 will be quick to respond, the APPY bottle. The imaginary 3D life-size bottle brought to the foray(in terms of its character), a sassiness, satire and humorous sarcasm which every youth and young working professional could relate to. In fact, we wouldn’t mind if this bottle were the 4th main lead in the movie Zindagi naa Milegi Dobaara, but then, Mr Farhan’s character strengths would be slightly over-shadowed by this genius of a bottle. However, the brand failed to see this as money maker. What could have been a series of online activations, customer engagements, a funny twitter/insta account was just put down. And now, enter two  big Bollywood superstars who (in my opinion) brought the brand recall down. Moving from APPY, the creators behind 5 star are playing it safe, trying to keep the Ramesh-Suresh angle going, but they need to be on their toes to make a significant push, else the majority of Ad viewers will still cling to one line from one of their earlier 5 star ads “Masterjee, pitaji ki patloon ek blaank kum kijiye”.


Be remembered for good…or bad

A typical example of a consistent successful brand recall is that of the Amul butter girl. Traversing through all current affairs while tweaking it to place its messaging, the print ads have seen mileage like no other brand from an Indian context. However, they have stuck to the print domain and not explored the video medium too often. Then there is the other side to the brand recall of a character, not the good kind. Sasha Chettri, AKA the Airtel 4 G girl and the TRIVAGO guy. Need we say more? Then, for those who might not recall, an obscure eccentric character who sold us the promise of man hair with beard shampoo….YEAHHHH!!!! unfortunately it was so bad, that it was actually good(for some people like me).But I digress, for there is no press/publicity like bad press/publicity. After a stint of 2 video ads, the Park Avenue brand pulled that obscure bespoke legend of a character out of their communication. The contemporary  new age “Real life scenario” ads with couples or friends in a more real setting(cue google/pepperfry/amazon etc.), can’t get the leverage of a more fictionalised character.


First Impression is last impression….(with exceptions off-course)

Another thing to note is that, the audience watching is one that remembers. If they’ve loved something and then you change it, and they don’t welcome it, there is little to no chance of salvaging the earlier idea (unless its brought back with such fervour and tactical execution). Case-in-point, Flipkart introduced a series of ads which had kids (fictionally) enacting real life adult scenarios. This was a hit, from the script writing, to the subtle pauses for coming timing and kids expressions. Then, they went and shifted the campaign by having young adults  to pande…oops… I mean CATER to the youth market. But in the process, lost out a lot of traction. Even as they try to revive that novel idea once again by including star power(Ranbhir and Shradda)along with the kids, people would most likely opine that they aren’t big fans of the current slew of ads.

Finally, as a closing remark to this insight or rant(whichever way you see it) is that even though we are encouraged (Sometimes forced, if I may) to be creative and take risks in this ever changing (and recycled) advertising environment, sometimes the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can do more good than damage for a brand.


Until the next rant…



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