By Subodh Marwah
Director Marketing, Carlsberg India
Through my decades of marketing, a handful of incidents have managed to remain in my memory for various reasons. I’d like to mention three particular ones here.
The first incident occurred when the Australian team was touring India. I think it was the 2001-02 series. Then, brand Gillette was my responsibility, and we had an endorsement with Glen McGrath, one of the most accurate and successful bowlers in the world. For his association with us, we had a few brand and trade activations lined up to engage with consumers and our trade partners. For one such activation at a hotel in New Delhi, we arranged a mock cricket pitch and instead of showing off McGrath’s strength with the ball, we decided to make him bat against the consumers and trade partners. Funnily enough, if I recollect right, he was out seven out of 10 times. It was great seeing the wicket-takers’ expressions at getting a reputed international player out, though he was definitely not known for his batting prowess.
The second incident was also during my stint as brand manager in Gillette, handling new product development. We were launching one of our razor products and it was being introduced to customers, distributors and the sales team at a conference. It was to be a big show full of energy with glamour, music, light effects et al. The plan was to showcase the product and create a lasting impression. Therefore, the razor was created larger-than-life size to give the big feel. Just when the product was announced, the big razor was to appear from under the stage in an upright position with flashing lights, thundering music and glamorous girls dancing around it. The product announcement did take place as planned, only one thing went awry -- the razor appeared from under the stage in full glory, but immediately started to bend forward and came crashing down. The base could not take its weight. All the efforts that had gone into creating that one moment went waste.
Within seconds, our managing director, seated in the first row, simply went up on stage, lifted the razor and adjusted it back even as the whole hall erupted in applause. There was impact of the kind that I will never forget. The product eventually did extremely well in the market.
The third incident happened during one of my international assignments. I was working on the brand Braun, and we were looking to create enhanced women’s shavers and epilators. In order to understand the products and the category better, I used to use these products myself, albeit very carefully, or so I thought. One day, during a testing session for different products from across the world, I bravely used an epilator on the skin of my fist. Unfortunately, the device caught my skin and the pain was unbearable. That incident made me realize what women go through. I decided that I would work to create safe products that women would love. Meanwhile, the scar remains till date, always reminding me of that moment.