“Ohh my God, can you please switch the channel, I just can’t stand these commercials anymore”. An unprecedented irritation was self evident on my friend’s face whom I was hosting after his long hours connected flights. Why so? I asked with echoing of applauding comments for these Ufone TV commercials which I heard from a range of audiences. “I enjoyed these commercials thoroughly when I watched them sitting in lounge awaiting my next flight. But the frequency with which these ads were repeated on the TV (which was CCTV for sure), I felt repulsive because enough gets, at times, more than enough. ” Riddle was solved. The packaged program of those CCTVs in Airport Lounges was packed with irrationally frequent repetition of these award winning ads (ref. Latest PAS awards) reminding me Special Eid Transmissions of PTV a decade ago repeating ‘Tender Cigarette’ or ‘Baho Soap “commercials zillion times in a loop during so called commercial breaks. The actual program used to appear as ‘program break’ during commercials telecast.
It led me to a fundamental question of media research ie what’s the correlation between frequency & reach. The Airport Lounge or Daewoo Bus service CCTV commercial program packages simply signs out a negative correlation as the higher frequency caused low reach owing to diminishing ‘impact’ of the message. If I bring the same question in the realm of branding than the question will be if over-positioning leads to better brand equity. ‘No’ will be the answer if we avoid ‘deductive reasoning’ or rely on ‘common sense’ only. Prior to jumping on etiology and remedy of over-positioning, I would try to draw scenarios which define it:
a. Targeting a niche, developing and relaying the entire communication to address that niche without any slice for ‘others’
b. Claiming more than it actually delivers. Abusing the art of exaggeration the way it gets obvious
c. Over killing: in terms of unnecessary repetition with too frequent exposures on multimedia
d. Establishing brand / service as premium one with correlates of being high priced and exquisite when it’s not entirely so.
e. Reciprocating competitors’ positioning only with a fixation of counter offer or emulation.
Needless to say, positioning is the foremost lesson a new business graduate learns from Marketing Majors courses in their business schools. Why does it turn into over-positioning when paradigm is put into practice? Everyday tea whitener positioned itself for the executive who drives back to home in a luxurious car and gets rid of his tiredness when his gorgeous wife presents her a cup of tea with everyday . A nice presentation to address the highest end of society but it deprived this brand of the room for expansion to those SECs whereby the frequency of taking tea is much higher and with a greater sense of festivity attached to it. Consequently, Tarang took the leverage of this lapse and tapped those tiers which are the peak of a normal distribution curve of Pakistani society.
Then it brings me to another rat race of none other than laundry detergents. The premium one takes refuge in an epic loving relationship of granny and her grandson and a ‘hyperrational’ slogan of ‘dagh to achay hotay hai’. Others are still in competition with each other engaging housewives with two equally dirty pieces of cloth being washed with own and competitor’s detergent. And the result is … Wow! You know. The change of the anchor (from Adnan Siddiqui to Tariq Aziz and vice a versa) is the only constant in these over-positioned communications. If not a testimonial based competition, then wives of the ‘chauhdaries’ of the village to the supervisors of the factory are found preoccupied with the tidiness of their husband’s attire. Till this point, it’s not over positioned. But when, repetitively, the same theme is used as thesis and antithesis with colloquial sloganeering by the competitors, it becomes redundantly over-positioned. It discards every ‘other’ who is deprived of wife’s special attention to the details of his attire. And what about wives themselves? This patriarchal over-positioning of detergents never talked about cloths freak better halves.
Undoubtedly, targeting a niche for brand positioning is a critically acclaimed strategy. But when it gets overboard with socially ‘unapproved’ utility of texting, e-socializing or late night calling by Djuice, it may rightly be termed as over-positioning. Yes, no one is oblivious of the lifestyle of our teenagers but why to make it repetitively too obvious for the sake of commercial gains only? As a matter of fact, the over-positioning is based on oblivion towards the generation gap and socio-religious identity which is still a prime attribute of our society.
What’s the etiology of this over-positioning? Simply, it’s a disconnect between brand managers and a multitude of realities surrounding a common man and woman of Pakistan. When brand image overpowers the dynamics of product category and its usage by various target groups in the cognitive schemes of brand managers, over-positioning gets embodied in communication. When long lasting strategic brand positioning is replaced with adhoc sales promotional approach, over-positioning is committed. Instead of opting for proactive stature, when reaction to competitors’ propagation takes place, over-positioning creeps in. And the remedy lies in connecting dots and internalizing locus of control to bank upon the strength which comes from within. Seeing beyond the visible from the window just beside the cozy cubical will help brand mangers bridge the gap; a gap between own cognitions and consumers’ aspirations and limitations. The media planner and owner who sold and bought (respectively) the bulk exposures of fantastic creative need to understand that ROI is not only Return on Investment rather it may also stand for Relevance, Originality and above all Impact.