Coins for Oxygen: Has it worked for CRED, or does it look gimmicky?

CRED is letting users donate their ‘coins’ towards the supply of oxygen concentrators. The initiative has fetched polarising responses on, and off, social media.

Users of the CRED app now have the option of donating their ‘CRED coins’ towards the supply of oxygen concentrators for COVID patients. The fintech brand has partnered with Milaap, an independent NGO, to execute this initiative.

CRED coins are accumulated by users when they pay their bills on the app. Now, a UI/UX tweak allows them to donate these coins in the fight against COVID.

To begin with, CRED was already being called out, by users and rival brands alike, for its lack of clarity on the real world value of these virtual rewards points. However, this latest coins-for-oxygen move has drawn some serious flak.

While some are lauding the move, many are questioning it, not least because there’s no clear information about how the team plans to go about ‘converting’ virtual points into lifesaving oxygen.

There are many who echo this view. All in all, will this effort to be charitable backfire and make the brand look opportunistic and gimmicky? Here is what five industry experts have to say.

Edited excerpts:

Navin Kansal – chief creative officer – 21N78E Creative Labs

When I redeemed my CRED coins, I was in two minds about whether I should share it on my social platforms or not but I went ahead and did it anyway so as to nudge other Cred users to act too.

The goodwill that Cred will get out of this initiative will be a result of the branding work they’ve done in the last few months since they’ve been very disruptive when it comes to their advertising. As far as this initiative goes, it is low hanging fruit for Cred since most users already had Cred coins that they in all likelihood hadn’t redeemed.


Opinion: Metrics that matter and the ‘Real’ ROI

Plenty gets tossed about on the topic of various performance indicators and ROI. The digitisation of the world has given marketers so many new acronyms to choose from that it’s become harder to keep track of them all. ER, CPC, CPL, CTR, CTOR, time spent, stickiness, page depth, CPM, COCA or whatever else that catches one’s fancy. The plethora of ‘X must-track metrics for all marketers’ listicles out there clearly shows that many marketers and pundits unnecessarily tie themselves up in knots.

As Michael Porter puts it, “The essence of strategy is to choose what not to do.” The situation is further complicated when even more abstract concepts such as ‘Brand Purpose’ are thrown into the mix. Sure, they can either be great tools to drive value and thereby measure ‘Real’ ROI (not without its own issues) or become wonderfully elaborate rugs under which to brush failures. With companies slated to be spending 17% of the budgets on analytics as per cmosurvey, it is important to be clear on what to measure and what to ignore.

So what is ‘Real ROI’? And how does one lock in on the metrics that matter, both short-term and long term? This will depend on what business you’re engaged in and what your long term and short term goals are. Ultimately, everything boils down to how much business you can generate through the activities you conduct, but when it comes to marketing we can all agree that some of this pays off only in the long run. To stay on course and also measure in the long run, one can undervalue or overvalue one’s efforts in this regard.

Burger King is a great example: unlikely anything except gain of market share against total spends would determine their ‘Real ROI’, however, each campaign had key metrics such as total people engaged or converted, total PR generated, overall sentiment, total sales generated, etc. These would be metrics for each campaign that ultimately helped ascertain whether meaningful progress was being made towards ‘Real ROI’. The reality is that very frequently ‘Real ROI’ can be quite nuanced and is something that has to be custom-defined for what you want to achieve with each marketing or advertising activity. CMO Fernando Machado put it best: “Not all campaigns will do everything, but they should be doing something in the direction of the objectives you have.”

To illustrate with an example, a recent project we were involved in forced us to define our success metric as the total number of people who changed their behaviour in a particular way. Given that there was no accurate way to measure this in the short run, we further abstracted it to the number of people who interacted with our communication in a very specific way that would indicate a tendency towards a shift in behaviour – with comments on social media, reflective of the same. The ‘Real ROI’ in this case was the total number of people that we could effectively bucket into this category. Counting and bucketing comments wasn’t easy, measuring success is hard work!

Media metrics (social and otherwise), vanity metrics, costs per Xs, among others, became indicators tending towards this one ultimate goal.

So why is this important? Starting with an end goal in mind is pretty obvious, but ensuring that it’s nuanced and well-articulated is something that gets skipped over in the hustle of our advertising lives. Machado says, “In the beginning, you need to prove the case, make sure everyone is aligned, telling them, “This is our strategy and this is how we will match success.”

Defining the ‘Real ROI’ for a specific activity or campaign helps make the strategic approach a lot clearer, the creative outcome is infinitely sharper and most importantly, the creatives not just quantitatively, but also qualitatively measurable. Continuing with the Burger King example: in February of 2020, Burger King decided to play a prank on Ronald McDonald on Valentine’s day. Gaining market share is ultimate ROI, of course, but the use of their #LonelyNoMore would have been their primary metric and the real ROI here would have been in how much free PR they got from the whole exercise.

Obviously, having metrics that matter in the long run will ensure your clients stay with you even if things don’t necessarily seem to work out as planned. If this isn’t good enough for you, there’s a very good possibility that when it comes to review time the clients, and agency partners alike, will appreciate having an honest conversation where it’s easy to identify what to repeat for future success and what to add to a list of ‘Dont’s’.

Who is responsible for defining and articulating these metrics or the ‘Real ROI’, you ask? While everyone can chime in with their thoughts on what the ‘Real ROI’ should be, the burden lies on the suits. Business (agency and client) plus strategy. The business teams have an understanding of what’s going to make the accountants happy and the strategic team understands what’s going to move their audiences in the right way to make the accountants happy.

How does this ultimately impact the work or the business? In this day and age of short term interests, buzzwords and so much data, there’s a tendency to shift our focus away from what may be really important. Sometimes this could also be a function of confusion due to the sheer number of stakeholders and everyone looking out for themselves. Having a handle on the ‘Real ROI’ on any activity helps to have a more meaningful and long term perspective on all the work being done. Ultimately only adding to the business would be considered ‘Real ROI’, but the truth is that adding business is in itself a long term goal, and there are meaningful pit stops that one must make along the way. As touched upon earlier, giving your business team an honest picture of what worked and what didn’t while also giving your creatives a way to evaluate and more scientifically approach their craft are also ways to improve the quality of your work. Not just on further iterations of that specific activity, but also take that freshly gained perspective and apply it to other work. That’s how you increase your success ratio across all the activities and projects that you undertake.

So what’s the TL;DR?

Meaningful Metrics and Real ROI are something that we should all be cognizant of, especially in this day and age of short-termism and data overload. It’s something that adland has managed to confuse, to everyone’s detriment. While there’s no cookie-cutter solution, having these honest conversations on what matters v/s what doesn’t make for a better industry in the long run.

Mark Ritson says that our understanding of metrics is broken and it’s time to get back to class for a “101 on market orientation”. The good news is that it’s not that complex, it’s about going back to basics and focusing on the metrics that matter!

Grey area: Sudhir Nair, founder and CEO, 21N78E Creative Labs

Ex-Grey ad folk reminisce about their time at the agency with Grey Group set to fold into AKQA

Campaign India is running a multi-piece series featuring ex-Grey ad folk. Here, they reminisce about their time at Grey Group, their fondest memories and learnings, and share their thoughts on brand Grey ceasing to exist in a few months.

Read Sudhir Nair’s memories of his 15 years at Grey Group. He quit the agency in 2015 as senior vice president and head of Grey Digital. Excerpts below:

How did you feel on knowing that brand Grey will cease to exist after a few months or in a year?

I’m very sad and disappointed. Grey was home for 15 years, and to not see the name after a few months is not easy to digest. While AKQA is a name to reckon with in other markets, it certainly is not in India.

Every agency has its ups and lows. In my 15 years at Grey, we bounced back twice when people had started writing our obituary. There was a lot of pride at Grey in telling everyone that we are doing well despite not having a roster of globally-aligned businesses. Even the current acquisition that is aligned to Grey – Autumn – has a good local standing. I don’t understand why one would replace it with AKQA. While I am sure there are some good reasons for this move, I don’t think local realities were taken into account.

In terms of professional growth, what did your time spent at Grey mean to you?

I joined Grey in 2001 when it was still Trikaya-Grey and the office was in Phoenix Mills. My role was to restructure the IT infrastructure. To be honest, though, it was that interview with Subhash Kamath that got me excited at the opportunity, with him alluding to a possible stint at the interactive division. As luck would have it, I was asked to take charge and revive the interactive/digital practice in just about eight months after joining the agency. There has been no looking back since then. It was a dream run for 15 years. We had great clients, arguably the best digital team, won Agency of the Year twice, and achieved many more professional milestones. Had it not been for those 15 years, I wouldn’t have taken the plunge as an entrepreneur.

Could you share some of your fondest memories at Grey?

I cannot forget the day Nirvik (Singh) called me when I was in Bengaluru in 2001. The first call lasted just 2-3 minutes in which I was told to take charge of the interactive division. I was given a generous 20 minutes to think about it. I said ‘yes’ and the next thing I knew, I was told was to present a business plan the following week. I thought I was presenting a rather brave break-even plan. Nirvik’s response to that was short and curt. He said, “I understand only profitable plans”.  And now, even I don’t understand break-even plans.

The other one is a pitch, which to me till-date is a masterclass on on-the-fly thinking. Nirvik simply gauged the mood of the room, decided to shut his laptop, and just talk. We won the pitch, but what he spoke that day had nothing to do with the presentation we had made!   The other one was when Ashutosh Khanna, Prathap Suthan, Alok Agarwal and I pitched for the launch of the ‘Incredible India’ campaign to the then joint secretary of tourism, Amitabh Kant. We won the pitch and I got a call from Kant (who spoke to me in Malayalam!) and reminded me of the seven-day deadline to launch the website and the campaign. What we churned out in that one week was an incredible 300 banners, a website with fresh content and nearly 250 pages.

What about Grey’s ethos and philosophy did you carry with you to your subsequent workplaces?

What was symbolic of Grey, to me, was its entrepreneurial spirit. Everyone was encouraged to think as business owners, be it in terms of the clients they manage or the divisions they were responsible for. In the Late Vinod Prabhakar (ex-South CFO at Grey Group who passed away in 2012), I had the best mentor that one could ask for. Sujit Sen (South Asia CFO at Grey Grey), who we lost to cancer last week, made sure we maintained financial discipline. Be it business plans or managing P&Ls, I have learnt it all at Grey. I continue to maintain that logic in my agency too. Some of those business principles are timeless.

Sudhir Nair, our CEO, gives his take on the ramifications that the new Govt guidelines have on surrogate advertising for alcohol and tobacco in exchange4media.

Almost each one of us has chuckled every time Imperial Blue’s ‘Men will be Men Music CDs’ ad has played on the screens, or hummed along with the ‘Ooolala la’ jingle of Kingfisher ‘calendars’. We may clearly not remember the music CDs or the calendars they seem to be advertising through these ads on mass media but it’s very hard to forget where a significant chunk of the revenues of the mother companies of these products come from — liquor sales. Now, as per the draft guidelines of the Consumer Affairs Ministry shared last week, these allied goods or brand extensions may need to soon start contributing a little more to their coffers.

Continue reading

Festive quarter will see most categories back in the advertising game, says industry

Sharing perspectives on Pitch Madison Advertising Mid-Year Report, experts said while Digital & TV are leading in the recovery path, IPL and festive season will mark beginning of normalcy for AdEx

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has left most markets with a dent. But with the nation gradually ‘unlocking’ itself and big ticket events like the IPL set to coincide with the festive season, the markets are much hopeful of a revival in the second half of the year.

Continue reading

Sudhir Nair of 21N78E tells us about the impact of the pandemic on the advertising business.

Sudhir Nair of 21N78E tells us about the impact of the pandemic on the advertising business.

Creative Block; not just for Creatives

You’re on a strict deadline. The clock is ticking. The document is open. You know what the right thing to do is but you don’t know how to go about it. So, you just sit there staring at the blinking cursor on the screen because you have hit a wall.

All my friends call it “The creative block”

A rather cliched beginning to an article that talks about creative block, isn’t it?

Since the initiation of the lockdown and WFH as the new norm, I’ve heard my creative partners complaining about how they were going through a creative block. They had no one to discuss & dis the ideas with. There was lack of inspiration.

I didn’t really understand this problem then, until one day when it took me 2 hours to make one PowerPoint slide.

I was trying hard to wrap my work as soon as possible so I could go back to my lame Ludo tournament with my cousins, but I just could not. I knew what I wanted from that slide; I knew all the details. But it just wouldn’t come out. When this exact same thing happened to me over the next two days, I knew it had hit me.

Continue reading

WhatsApp, boon or bane?

WhatsApp has been one of the most transformative technological boons to have ever graced the Indian sub-continent. Right after Jio, that is. It has helped strengthen connections, increase the spread of (mis) information, and has become an invaluable tool not just for people in their personal capacity, but also facilitated commerce.

Continue reading

The New Normal ?

Ever since COVID-19 broke out, we have witnessed a massive change in our lifestyle, work included. From helping with household chores, to knowing where the groceries are kept and becoming the MasterChef that one can be. Not to mention the fact that an otherwise ignored Roti-Daal finds its way to Instagram/Facebook/WhatsApp loaded with anecdotes.

Continue reading