Re-Launch of Frooti – The ‘Digen Verma’ Campaign

Q1 “With pressure from all sides, Parle Agro was forced to rethink its strategy.” Discuss the components of the re-launch for ‘Frooti’?

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Frooti, launched in 1984, was originally a drink meant for kids. While it continued to perform well on the parameters of product likeability and quality, its performance on “Top of the mind recall” was dropping. This was aggravated by the increased competition both from MNC soft drinks as well as from tetrapak fruit drinks and juices.

The re-launch of Frooti involved the re-positioning of the same as a ‘fun, trendy and modern drink”, thus moving away from its earlier target group of kids. More specifically, it was targeted at the 16-19 year old, college going crowd. The task thus involved a combination of breaking the perception of Frooti as a drink for kids and also at the same time conveying the new image of “trendy and modern” which the new target group associated with.

Having identified the new target segment and the image of the product to be conveyed to them, the campaign evolved starting with Teasers to create an interest in the targeted segment. The message conveyed, (using Digen Verma) would build the desired image, in a manner that the audience could relate to.

The first step was to find out where the typical collegian would spend his free time, and what would draw his attention. The typical hangout, not surprisingly, turned out to be the college canteen, where the student could hang out with his peers making small talk on the issues which interested them.

The next step was creating the campaign with tag-lines that would capture the flavour of such issues. Further, the creative team decided to create an ‘idol’ whom the audience could relate to, and hence would listen to.

Q2 Discuss the rationale behind the ‘Digen Verma’ campaign. Do you think it will be effective?

As mentioned above, the college canteen was a hangout for the target group to talk about their interests and issues. These issues often revolved round celebrities, quite naturally, but equally often the discussion turned to the famous people, the stars, of the college. Few students would actually know them personally, but everyone would know of them and in fact a legend who is much talked about but rarely seen achieved practically celebrity appeal.

While using a celebrity to endorse its products would be a tried and tested method, Parle Agro felt that it would not be sufficient to differentiate the ad campaign from those of the competitors who were also using celebrities and thus would not enable Frooti to garner significant mind share. Also, they felt, most celebrities are short-lived in the public eye. Thus they decided instead to create a fictional personality analogous to the “college legend”, with a personality any student could relate to.

The name Digen Verma was chosen to be slightly unusual (and hence easier to recall), but still able to blend in anywhere in India. The 15-day teaser campaign was designed to portray him as an ordinary everyday student, who does everything the typical “popular” college-going person does, and hence to project him as a role-model, the epitome of all that the typical trendy fun-loving youth would aspire to be. Thus he would be able to achieve top-of-mind recall among precisely that segment of the market which Frooti intended to target.

The campaign could be carried out at relatively low cost (compared to using celebrities) and the anticipated resultant reach, for the price of Rs 30 million, was phenomenal.

However, while the success of the teaser campaign was definitely not in doubt, it also came with the price of having created too much expectation. On one hand this would put added pressure on the brand to deliver the expectation of the new target group. Secondly, the follow up campaign to the teaser could not afford to disappoint the audience whose interest had been totally captured by the teasers. The character of Digen Verma had fulfilled his role, but now removing him would create a ‘void’ which could be hard to fill. The Company might well face a situation similar to that faced by 7 UP after the end of its Fido Campaign when the ‘blank period’ adversely affected the sales.

Q3 “Success of a brand is dependent on many factors besides the promotional campaign”. Comment.

Creating a brand is a time-consuming process because it consists of creating expectations for how the brand should behave based on its core values. In other words, branding is creating predictability. What the brand does today should help the marketer to anticipate what it’ll do tomorrow.

Promotion, on the other hand, is short-term by definition. It has the character of urgency. Whether it is an advertisement, a price reduction, a larger packaging, a tie-in with another product, a coupon, or some other incentive, it is temporary. There are situations where promotions, if not properly planned and executed, can potentially hurt the brand. In the case of the Digen Verma campaign, the fact that some analysts felt that name Digen Verma may become larger than the Frooti brand, suggests that the promotional campaign really didn’t help the brand as much as it should have. And the disappointment expressed by a section of the target audience, when it was learnt that it was a promotional campaign for Frooti, indicates a disconnect between the brand image and the promotional campaign.

As far as brands are concerned, consistency is the key word. And it is not just a matter of promotions which give out consistent messages. Successful branding begins with a well-defined brand that is relevant to the market. Having a logo/tagline doesn’t complete the branding process. And unless some of the key brand elements viz positioning, promise, personality, associations etc., are considered, the process doesn’t even start. Once a relevant brand is developed and defined, brand building should begin with employees, customers, prospects, partners, etc., through consistent execution, be it in terms of delivering consistent quality, availability or serviceability. Repetition is key to the success of the branding process. No one, including employees working for the brand, will ever really know or remember what a brand is, unless it is the same every time they are exposed to it. And without consistency, brand identification becomes impossible to achieve, no matter how much money is spent on marketing.

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