On Sunday February 17, 2013 the first page of Sunday Times was a shocker. The front page of the newspaper contained the following headlines:
- ‘Short circuits spark 75% city fires’
- ‘Farmer loses Rs 15L in fire’
- ‘Woman dies in LPG blast’
- ‘Family loss both children in blaze’
- ‘Car catches fire in Lucknow’
- ‘Fire erupts on 3rd floor of Indiranagar school’
- ‘TV sparks blaze in Andheri tower’
The entire page was flooded with news related to fire and devastation it causes. The reporting could shock anybody out his or her slumber. And in the middle of the page, a message in red ink sounded a warning: YOU MAY BE LUCKY …But ARE YOU SAFE? Disturbing visuals like a distressed women crying, fire billowing out of a building and fire fighters dousing the fire aggravated discomfort by stirring anguish and pain over loss of human lives and property.
The newspaper ‘disturbed’ readers literally. It ‘interfered with normal arrangement’ (absence of agitation, trouble, balance, poise, equilibrium) of the way people look at fire and fire fighting equipments. The message aimed to throwing people out of their mental balance (cognitions in harmony). It disturbed the belief that we are ‘safe’. Safety is taken for granted. It created a friction in cognition & feeling. It compelled people to pay attention to the fact as to how safe they are? It questioned: is it their luck which has saved them from the fury of fire so far or they are actually safe?
This was an advertisement in the garb of actual news which used ‘shock and awe’ strategy to capture attention and sought to engage prospects into an issue which is taken for granted (low involvement). A balanced state or lack of friction makes the system closed and withdrawn (out of buying space). Throwing a potential customer out of his poise is essential to pushing him or her into decision frame or solution seeking behavior. The upsetting of mind created by the first page was followed by a big advertisement of a new product named ‘Fireguard’, a new fire extinguisher (by Eureka Forbes) with the headline: ‘It takes one call to get it. Or a life time to regret it.’ The ad signed off with a statement ‘Get it. Or regret it’.
Fire extinguisher is a low priority product because it is not perceived to be significant. This is due to the fact that people do not entertain an uncomfortable idea of fire to them to their property and take their safety for granted. Its ownership is not important psychologically or socially (higher order needs) and hence are not desired. However they assume importance when exceptions happen. When it rains we look for umbrella, when electricity goes off we look for candles/torch, when our car breaks down we wish we had bought breakdown service and when burglary happens we repent on not having taken an insurance policy. These are cases of sleepy needs and hence products that satisfy them are sought after.
Marketing is difficult to a sleepy consumer. Unlike an active customer (who is in a state of automatic arousal) a sleepy consumer is a withdrawn and closed system. People tend to be open and look out for anything that is of interest to them like interest in diamonds or sports or electronics. Marketing is easy in these situations. So what do you do to get a consumer who is in sleepy state with respect to a product that you intend to market?
Technically the Fireguard launch ad aims to shift people from their sleepy state to lively/ alert state. The message alerts its prospects by linking the product to an issue of importance (high involvement issue- devastating fire). This it raises the level of significance or importance that a customer attaches to a phenomenon. This shift is first essential step in starting an engagement with target customer. The brand is likely to succeed if brand manages to achieve importance transference. For instance Rexona deodorant once ran a campaign which showed how body odor could lead to socially embarrassing situation (rejection). Here the brand used social rejections (important issue) to gain importance in consumer’s life.
Brands win when they become important to their target consumers. But this is difficult for brands in those categories to which consumers are sleepy.