The death of MAK Pataudi struck as the end of an era. Millions are shocked and saddened at the demise of an icon people loved and admired. He combined aristocracy, royalty, achievement and charismatic looks. From a marketing perspective he held tremendous value as merely an act of him standing next to a brand could transform a product into a highly aspirational brand.
In the pre liberalization period, many brands gained from his endorsement. One of them was Gwalior Suiting. The brand went on to become one of the top most players in the suiting market. This was the time of tailors and drapers. Readymade brands were very few and expensive. So close had been the association of Pataudi with Gwalior Suiting that one was unthinkable without the other. It was an era when for people the only aspirational class was the nobility, people who were born higher because of either birth or inheritance. Later Asian Paints was quick to realize the importance the value of this rub off effect when the company created a range named ‘Royale’ (derived from the word ‘royal’). This brand was meant for the highly discerning customer who wanted more than just a wall covering. Subtly the idea conveyed was that this paint would add a dimension of royalty or regality to the house. Royale is endorsed by Saif even now along with Soha Ali Khan.
Time changes and markets are always in a state of churn. New customers join and old ones exit. Liberalization has unleashed a new era of entrepreneurialism. The social hierarchies are redefined. The status and class which could only be gained by lineage and inheritance can now be ‘achieved’. Now people are able to cross over to ‘higher’ class by achievement in the material sphere of life. The wealth earned and consumption defines the class. This has altered the concept of role models and heroes. The role models of the present time are the achievers in different walks of life who made it big on their own.
So who are the real heroes for the present generation (next or now)? These include Ambanis, Sunil Mittal, S Jobs, Shah Rukh Khan, KB Patel, Bill Gates, Aishwarya Rai, Narayan Murthi, Manish Malhotra, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Mark Zukerberg.
A brand is values ‘bundled up’. Its success is purely determined by its resonance. In a sense brands narrate stories of their times. A great deal of psycho-social understanding can be gained by simply studying brand narratives. ‘Success’ and desire to make it big (‘Make it large’) are new resonance mantra. Even a country like India is attempting to cross over to the exclusive club of achiever nations. Customers talk to their brands and so do brands to their customers. For many customers brands are both identity makers and markers. Like Hitler once chose not to have word ‘impossible’ in his dictionary, the ‘now’ generation’s markers are ‘success’ and ‘achievement’ (‘Impossible is nothing- Adidas). This is the new discourse of the society.