Sandeep Goyal
Jun 13, 2017

Blog: #NekiKaMahina Messaging straight from the heart

Ramzan marketing lessons from home and across the border

Blog: #NekiKaMahina Messaging straight from the heart
We have become quite used to seeing some excellent Ramzan advertising from Surf Excel from across the border, though the creatives are locally produced, I am told, by Lowe Lintas Mumbai. Last year’s TVC with young boys helping out an old hawker, whose push cart gets immobilised, by selling his samosas and jalebis carried in the folds of their kurtas made for good advertising, straight from the heart. 
This year’s rendition from Surf Excel follows a somewhat time-tested formula where a young boy (this time too, like last year) reaches out to a neighbourhood elder and helps him start the fast with some sehri he has brought from his own home. A heartwarming gesture, nicely filmed it truly conveys the intended message of #NekiEkIbadat.
In a similar genre, though not themed on Ramzan, we have seen some excellent communication with Google and with Times of India’s huge campaign AmanKiAsha aimed at promoting cross-border harmony. All of these commercials in past years tugged at the heart, and moistened up your eyes.
But it is the recent Ramzan commercial by Big Bazaar featuring a Muslim lady doctor who rushes out to deliver a baby forsaking her end-of-roza meal, that caught my attention recently. The next day when Dr. Heena (as the doctor is called in the TVC) comes on her ward rounds, the Sikh family whom she has assisted the previous day with the child-birth hesitantly request her to break her roza with them. It is a really touching portrayal with some exceptional acting by Archana Puran Singh as the older lady. Dr. Heena obliges. And as she settles in for the meal, she asks what they are naming the baby girl. “Heena”, says the old lady.
The Big Bazaar ad does a really beautiful job of conveying its true message of #NekiKaMahina through a story well told. The messaging is subtle … even the Big Bazaar bag shows up just once, that too quite naturally in the narrative. There is no hard sell on the brand or its offerings. Both the doctor and the old Sikh lady play their parts to perfection. The bridge between religion, duty and the harmonious co-existence of communities is well made.
Ramzan is obviously an important festival for Big Bazaar. And it is a month long festival which makes it significant from a volumes perspective. And it is here that I would like to share an interesting marketing lesson from a few years ago. 
The year was 2011, or perhaps 2012. We were called in by Big Bazaar for a discussion on Ramzan sales. The marketing team wanted us to help them target Muslim consumers pan-India by using subscriber data of our telecom partners. On the face of it an Airtel or a Vodafone should easily be able to identify a customer by religion. Fact however is that CAF (customer application form) data available with the telcos is highly deficient as most data forms have historically been poorly filled-out. It was not easy to identify or segregate customers purely on religion.
I had a very bright and young analytics team working for me those days. They spent a couple of days ruminating over the problem. Finally, a solution was found that ensured maximal impact and minimal spillage in reaching potential Ramzan consumers.
The team took the addresses of all Big Bazaar outlets pan-India. These were converted into lat-long co-ordinates for each retail location. The lat-long data was then fed into the Business Intelligence (BI) database of the telecom operator. The BI was queried to find out how many subscribers could be reached in a 3-km radius of each outlet. 
But the interesting part of the exercise started from here. A couple of members of the team actually sat down on Google Maps, fed in each lat-long and then physically looked for mosques in the 3-km radius. The hypothesis was that Muslim populations are most likely to be found in the vicinity of a Muslim place of worship (true vice versa too).
Nearly one-third of all Big Bazaar outlets had mosques in the defined radius. These outlets alone were chosen for Ramzan promotions. The earlier BI data also defined the likely size of the target market. A specially created SMS campaign with offers for Ramzan was launched. It cost a fraction of any mass media effort. And, it was guaranteed to reach maximal Muslim consumers fasting during Ramzan. 
By Big Bazaar’s own admission the results were very very satisfactory with record conversions at the chosen stores.
My view is that sometimes creative solutions are easier to create than equally creative media solutions like the one I have just described. These solutions require both ingenuity and intellect. #NekiKaMahina is a superb creative effort but ROI of the ad is not quantifiable. The targeting exercise of Big Bazaar outlets was surely a boon as the results were measurable and quantifiable. And if you achieve both creative goodness and media cut-through, nothing can be better. It will be #FaydeKaMahina all the way.
Sandeep Goyal is a past President of Rediffusion, former Group CEO of Zee Telefilms and was the Founder Chairman of Dentsu India. Besides being a veteran ad-man, Goyal is a well known columnist and writer.
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