BJP, Modi, Criticism and Refutational Communication

  • ‘India’s democracy was under assault”
  • ‘Govt talking big on economy, but nothing happening on ground
  • ‘Intolerant India’
  • “When it came to making speeches, Modi government got into the T-20 mode, when it was about announcing policies, it became a one-day match, and when it came to implementing promises, the government behaved as if a Test match has been abandoned,”
  • “Chhe Mahine Paar, U Turn Sarkar”

These  are some of the slogans that have surfaced at different points in time criticizing Modi government. Politics is a competitive game. It is same as when two or three dominant brands attack each other to gain supremacy. Consider, how Amaze directly or indirectly hits out at Desire and the battle between Coke and Pepsi gets direct and dirty. Marketing is also an attitude building, sustaining and changing game. Leadership implies that a brand enjoys positive consumer attitude and behavior. In the last general elections, BJP was voted into power which also implied that it enjoyed an attitudinal and behavior advantage over its rival Congress. The challenge for the leader brand is to defend and sustain its market by maintaining attitude. The challenger brand, on the other hand, can thrive by shifting and changing consumer attitude in its favor.  So consider the following:

·         “We are Number 2 but we try harder” (Avis Rent a car)

  • Volkswagen’s ‘Lemon’, ‘Think Small ‘ and ‘Lemon’ campaigns

This campaign by Avis allowed the company to gain significant market gains by the power of what in communication is called ‘refutational’ appeal or advertising. The communicator first raises a negative matter and then demolishes it. Volkswagen, after the Second World War launched Beetle car in the US with campaigns including the one in which it boldly claimed its car to be ‘Lemon’  followed by text refuting the claim that the car in the ad is plucked from the assembly line (lemon) by the engineers due to scratch on the glove compartment so that ‘you get plums’.  In a similar vein, Listerine which creates burning sensation in the mouth first admitted its burning sensation (negative belief, possible attack opportunity for the rival) followed by a refutation that this sensation is sign of its effectiveness. This strategy is also used by expensive brands. They first admit that their brand is expensive (therefore target of attack by lesser price brands) and then refute this claim by focusing on their long lasting quality. Why do firms adopt this strategy?

The idea behind refutational communication is to ‘inoculate’ the consumer/audience against competitor’s counter claims and destroy them. So what implications follow for the BJP government? The need is to study these attacks that the opposition is making or is likely to make in future and then use them to inoculate the audience and then refute them by showcasing what has already been done. It is better to erect perceptual defences before the enemy mounts attack.


Arbitrariness, desires and different levels of brand meaning

We use language to express our ideas and thoughts. But language is not the only way of expression.  Both verbal expressions and visual images belong to a sign system by which meanings are conveyed and made.  Ferdinand de Sausssure and Charles S Peirce explored the areas of signs and called their approach as ‘semiology’ and ‘semiotics’.  Sign, which comes from Greek word ‘semeion ‘sits at the centre of semiotic theory. People use language to express their concepts and ideas, in a consumerist society, products and brands operate as a system of signs.  Brands and products are signs that we surround ourselves with to send out messages to others.  Brands are valuable for their instrumentality in consumer identity creation and expression. A consumer’s body is like a piece of real estate on which products and logos situate themselves. A lot can be deciphered from the overall constellation of brands that a person transforms himself into.  Brands in this scheme of things need stand for something more than the product or service they envelop. They need to enter in the realm of semiotics or science of signs to achieve value transformation.

There are two aspects of a sign: the signifier (gold) and the signified (concept-precious).  The meaning is interpreted by people as is determined by cultural code. So the term ‘gold’ is immediately linked with ‘precious/costly’ according to cultural norms and values.  It is through the enculturation and socialization process we learnt what to associate with a given signifier.  These codes are essential to interpret everything that we are surrounded by. But the relationship between the sign and signified is not intrinsic rather it is arbitrary (Saussure). The link between ‘status/ luxury’ and ‘Bentley’ is a constructed rather than inherent one. Although Bentley is primarily denotes a vehicle for transportation, but it connotes status/luxury.  This arbitrariness of meaning provides marketers with a fertile ground to imbue their objects with meanings that create desires and promote consumption.

An object is like an empty vessel or a container. Besides its physical property and performance it does not contain any sign value. But when it enters into socio-cultural world, it begins to acquire symbolic or sign value.  Secondary signification or denotation is inescapable. Therefore how an object is initiated in cultural space critical determinant of its sign value. For instance a color is a color. But not all colors are equal. Consider a color like purple which a shade between crimson and blue, but it is not only this.  In its extended meaning it stands for royalty, luxury, power, nobility, wealth, wisdom and creativity. But exact meanings of things vary across cultural boundaries. For instance, in China the color purple signifies spiritual awareness, strength and awareness and in Japan it stands for privilege and wealth. However in Thailand it is worn in mourning.  Imagine the vast possibilities that this phenomenon opens up for a brand’s to acquire meaning other than what it stands for in objective reality.

The semantic perspective is only one way of looking at an object (Eco).  An object like a pen or automobile can be seen from different perspectives: physical, mechanical, economic and social level. Consider ‘black dress’ created by Coco Chanel in 1920s from different perspectives:

Physical level: this refers to the physical properties. The materials used in this dress were materials such as lace, tulle, soft weightless silks in black color.  In terms of its construction it was slash-necked, short and diagonal pin tucks.

Mechanical level: a pen at this level writes and an automobile transports. The little black dress provided simple and comfortable body cover.

Economic level: this pertains to exchange value. The economic value is measured by the maximum amount of other things that a person will willingly give up for something. It is about choices and tradeoffs that people make.  In present economies, it is reflected in the rupees or dollars that people are willing to give for something.

Social level: objects can be linked to a certain social class and indicate status, distinction and hierarchy.  Like caviar and single malts indicate rich class. Also brands such as Rolls Royce and Harry Winston are linked to social status. Starting as a simple wear without any class restrictions, the LBD socially epitomized elegant, stylish, sophisticated women.

Semantic level: at the semantic level the meaning of a sign is ‘cultural unit’, i.e. the meaning of signs is culturally defined.  Here the object does not remain an object, rather it into enters as a  unit into a system of cultural units and forms relationships.

Branding is all about signs and signification. Eco calls ‘signification’ as the semiotic event where a sign ‘stands for something’. Consider the latest communication of Coke-‘open happiness’. How the brand has been achieving semantic transformation in what the brand stands for. The resistance that has been brewing up against junk food in general and some brands in particular makes it essential for the suspect brands to transform what their brands stand for. Coke is reinventing its fit with new emerging cultural paradigm where Coke is beginning to stand for ill health.

Soft drink brands, Commonality, Personality and Archetypes

An interesting piece of writing by Gautam Talwar, chief strategy officer in The Economic Times throws how strategists use several methodologies to glean consumer insights to create brand resonance and differentiation.  Soft drinks come in different names and flavors but these essentially contain sweetened water with added fizz. This product sameness is both obvious and known. It takes not rocket science for consumers to discover that most brands of cola, lemon, and orange drink are no different from each other.  This product sameness makes marketer’s life difficult for they walk on a slippery path unsure of customer loyalty and commitment. Customers switch brands with drop of a hat.

When product element ceases to be a source of meaningful difference then branding assumes significance. When difference can’t be created by product then it brand symbolism holds some promise. With branding, marketers lower their anchors deep into consumer mind to get a hold and stability against waves of competition. Two of the bed rocks on which anchors are hooked are customer resonance and competitive differentiation.   

Different brands of cola like Pepsi, Coke and Thums Up tap into all kinds of cultural resource to create a sense of perceived inequality to kill brand indifference. These include plugging into meaning reservoirs like ambassadors, events and other forms of express communication. The brand asset valuator model is one of the diagnostic method ( of Rediffusion-Y&R)  which can be used to discover a brand’s  reality in consumers’ minds. This model tracks brands on four aspects: differentiation (brand uniqueness/ stand apart from competition), relevance (answer to personal needs/ appropriateness), esteem (living up to expectations/ perceived quality) and Knowledge (awareness and understanding of brand).

Most of brands in this category score high on knowledge and relevance factor of BAV but score low on differentiation.  This implies that different brands of cola are unable of stand apart from each other in spite of millions of rupees that are spent on building differentiation.  The attribute commonality restricts product differentiation. It is here the role of imagery or symbolism begins. Brands are given characters which often are inspired by archetypes (model of a man/ template of persona of a man). Carl Jung , Swiss psychiatrist  suggested that these archetypes come from the collective unconscious and are innate and universal.  These are mythic characters housed in collective unconscious of people: hero, creator, explorer, outlaw, jester, lover, caregiver, everyman, innocent, ruler, sage and magician.  These archetypes characterize our personality and hence become of interest to marketers. Brands are invested with human qualities or characterization to develop relationship.

Consider different brands in soft drink category, a large number of these are given an imagery involving dimension of energy and emotions.  Cola brands like Pepsi and Coke (including Fanta and Mirinda)  have been a joyous, free spirited and fun character.  Thums Up and Mountain Dew also come close to this imagery but with additional dash of Jester traits (daring, witting and resilient- live the present moment with full of enjoyment because you live only once). Given the competition it is a matter of investigation whether shifting these brands towards Warrior and Hero will help the brand further. The other drinks like 7 U p and Sprite share Jester character. Quite away from the crowing mango drinks like Maaza and Slice come close to enchantress and lover archetype. This brings traits like sensuality, glamour, and temptation to the brands.

When product element of a brand ceases to provide meaningful differentiation, marketers turn to symbolism. Human archetypes provide an important guide in shaping branding strategy to break away from cluttering effect created by proliferation.


Coke, Cadbury, Being good, Doing good and Branding

Marketing conjures up images of a salesperson aggressively pushing his products. It is popularly believed that marketing is all about selfishness wherein seller seeks to enrich himself at the cost of consumer. However in last couple of decades marketing practice has evolved and companies have begun to put consumer at the center of their marketing efforts. Accordingly marketing is emerging as a practice directed as satisfying customer or moving them on a higher level of existence (by solving their problems) making profits in the process as a consequence. But his shift of focus on consumer does not liberate marketing from selfishness or self-gain.

 In consumer centric paradigm, what do marketers offer? The marketers are made subservient to goals that consumers pursue or ends that they want to achieve. Consumer needs and wants present spaces on which brands are created. Branding mandate is consumer dictated. A brand cannot be anything other than want its target consumers want it to be. So what do brands offer to their consumers? Brands become agents of the delivery of material wellbeing- consumers’ material existence becomes the areas of focus. Brands position themselves as solutions to their problems emanating from their physiological or psyco-social spaces. Consider: Dove prevents damage to hair or skin; Dettol provides hygiene: Amul makes you healthy; LIC covers risk: MDH makes food tasty; Maggi saves time; Asian paint weatherproofs walls; Cherry shines and protects leather; Airtel connects with the friends; Ceat gives grip on the road; Sansodyne comforts sensitive teeth; Louis Vuitton makes you stand out; iPill gets rid of unwanted pregnancy and Fair & Lovely bestows confidence.

Within the overall imposed needs/wants structure, marketers work out branding strategy. Brands appropriate attributes (Castrol’s synthetic oil/ Vicco contains turmeric) and benefit (Bisleri’s safe to drink, Phillips bulbs saves energy). Mostly branding discourse is narrowly confined to the means and methods of making consumer’s material life better. Brands establish justification by delivering material gains or becoming devices enabling effective negotiation of material world. Rarely do brands tread the non-material or existentialist concerns. It may be due the fact that existentialist aspects do not translate into sound value propositions. May be being good and doing good make good theoretical sense but do not translate into branding opportunities.

Quite contrary to popular branding practice two brands that have taken the branding appeal to a higher existentialist level are Coke and Cadbury Dairy Milk. Both of these brands have been subtly shifting focus away from the product. Products are a physical construction and hence open to deconstruction and reconstruction. Objective differentiators are easy to outmatch. And in a reason based environment more is perceived to be better. Competition based on specifications can degenerate into collective annihilation. It creates dog eat dog situation by narrowing consumer focus on to objective product based criteria.  Therefore better brands develop escape routes by not being ‘more’ rather ‘different’.

Coke had its own share of product focused branding. It for a long period of time it used drink as the center piece of communication (secret formula/ hobble skirt bottle, tingle, taste, fizz, and refreshment). The brand also called itself ‘the real thing’ to suggest that Pepsi is not real or fake. But the question is how far these propositions can take the brand. The larger reality is that the product is nothing more than carbonated water packaged in a bottle albeit with different brand names. When the taste and sensations come close to a narrow threshold, Coke has taken the brand to compete on feeling platform but feeling here is not about activation of bodily senses  rather engagement with higher order consciousness.

Consider the brand communication. Last year the brand ran a campaign. ‘Ummeed wali dhoop sunshine wali aasha’. The core idea was to promote ‘ummeed’ and ‘aasha’ (hope, expectation) about the future. The brand tried to fight an overall sense of hopelessness about the way things are moving in different spheres of life (tomorrow is going to be better). And now ‘haan mein crazy hoon’ campaign takes the concept of happiness (‘open happiness’) from drinking (sensory pleasure- selfish) to doing things that make others happy. There is a shift from getting to giving. It urges people to discover the joy of giving, an appeal to higher order consciousness. The modern combative and overly competitive environment creates a heightened concern for self and a complete disregard for others. Sanity/ logical and mindfulness means concern for the self. But this singular quest for self-betterment/ concern for ‘I’ makes the collective existence hostile/ unlivable. The communication suggests break the rule, be crazy and do something good for others and bring smile on their faces. This kind of craziness (selflessness) is good

Cadbury Dairy Milk brand’s growth trajectory is almost similar to that of Coke’s. The brand sought to establish its legitimacy in the market by focusing on goodness of milk (brand’s logo depicts dairy goodness- milk being poured into the chocolate). This has been attribute based positioning which was necessary to get approval from mothers. Recently the brand took the communication from the literal ‘meetha’ to metaphorical ‘meetha’. It was transformation of the brand from sweet confectionery meant for kids to something that could be enjoyed by adults. The meaning of sweet was reinterpreted (meaning extension by subversion of sensory sweetness to sweet moments- remember cricket ad). The statement ‘Kuch meetha ho jaaye’ is a double layered with two meanings running parallel with each other (sweet occasion and sweet thing). Later brand changed its communication to ‘kuch meethas ho jaye’. With this the brand took upon itself to appeal higher order consciousness by urging people to  become agents of happiness – how small gestures can bring sweetness in relationships (wish your uncle Diwali who you have not spoken to for years).   

The only purpose of life is not to indulge in pleasure for the self. Humans are born with high order consciousness. It is a source of happiness for many. This gives brands an opportunity to forge deeper connections. 

Brand, Focus and Sacrifice

If you are not growing someone else is. This phenomenon can be psychologically very discomforting. This relativity in the market gets the managers to be possessed by competition. The Boards which set their eyes glued on the stock prices and market capitalization send memos down the hierarchy to grow and grow fast. The ultimate point of where marketers and customers intersect is a mental spot called brand. Brands create revenue streams and hence are also the growth drivers. One of the shortcut growth strategies is to expand the number of products that a brand offers to the market. But such tinkering with the brand with an eye on the stock market but away from consumer often sows the seeds of decline for the enterprise as a whole. A strong business cannot be built on the foundations of weak brands.
Consider the following:

  • When you want to buy a T shirt would you like to go to a Woodland store?
  • Would you consider a brand like Jaipan (mixer and grinders) while buying a mobile phone?
  • What would be your perception if Bata also sold jeans and formal wear?
  • When looking for a perfume, would you like to consider Lee Cooper?
    How about Pepsi selling urban wear?

Branding is about appropriation of an idea which is both relevant and different. The idea should be relevant from the customer perspective and different from competitive angle. Brands are built by establishing a differentiating idea. Consider the following brands and their appropriation of differentiating idea: Band Aid, Dettol, Marlboro, Nike, H&S and Duracell. What makes a brand successful also imposes a constraint. An attempt to increase the revenue by hanging different products on the brand can lead to idea dilution and thereby weaken the brand in prospect’s mind. The market logic often runs counter to the financial logic. How good an idea is to offer vanilla in a Coke bottle or synthetic running shoe in a Woodland store? How about Levis formal wear or a A luxury car from the stable of Maruti Suzuki? Branding success comes from carving out a narrow idea territory in prospect’s mind. It is inappropriate for a brand to transcend this territory. But if a brand does try to jump over, it seriously endangers its strength.

Branding is about focus not spread. Strong brands are built on the principle of sacrifice. Jack Trout suggests that taking everything can be bad for business and giving up can be good. Stretching a brand can erode or damage or dilute the very idea on which brand success is build. Hence firms must learn to sacrifice. Three forms of sacrifice are: product sacrifice, attribute sacrifice and target market sacrifice.

  • Some brands have product at the core to their identity. Branding success in these cases is built on a differentiated product. Consider KFC (Chicken), Duracell (alkaline batteries) Indigo (economy travel) and McDonalds (burger).
  • At the core of some brands is the pull based on a product attribute. Staying close to such attribute is the reason why these brands remain successful. Consider H&S (antidandruff), Volvo (safety) and Rolex (prestige).
  • Then comes target market sacrifice. Brand should stay focused on their target segment an attempt to get new customers from a different segment may alienate brand’s original customers. When Kingfisher name was hung on an economy carrier what effect would it have had on customers true to Kingfisher brand? Consider the effect of Lux (beauty bar for film stars) trying to woo men. Brand must stay true to their target customer.

Are you reminded of brands that suffered because of the violation of the law of sacrifice?

‘Swap your drive’ campaign of Ford: Market stagnation, Aggression and Comparative Advertising

What is common between SanjeetAhluwalia and Sarabjot Singh?
Well, these are two car users who feature in Ford’s ‘Swap your drive’ campaign. The headline boldly proclaims ‘we switched their cars for a week and changed their minds forever’. In the ad these two men from the masses stand smiling next to their Fords. But what is critical in this piece of communication is the mention of their currently owned cars which happen to be from the stable of Maruti and Tata Motors.
Comparative advertising is nothing new in brand communication, but it may vary in intent, execution and sting. Brand often bank upon ruthless comparisons to position the rival in poor light or rely on subtle form. Pepsi assaulted Coke with its direct hit on the face taste challenge campaign. Direct fact based comparisons are common is cars (for instance Alto is compared with Santro, Mahindra’s Scorpio is strategically compared with sedans), air conditioners, LCDs and other technical products.

However subtler form of comparison one finds in ‘chip chip’ (sticky cream) campaign of Boro Soft or many detergent ads where poorly portrayed brand is not mentioned rather it is left for the viewer to decipher (Rin versus Tide – which gives better whiteness, Heinz Ketchup versus others- the slow moving ketchup means more tomato, Olay- seven effects versus Ponds, Fair & Lovely versus Fairever with milk and saffron, water purifiers like Kent versus Acquaguard, Congress versus BJP on governance. Tata Indica Vista advertisement showed some Japanese looking people have a test drive and bow in respect to the car. In the recent ads of IndicaManza again a team of people from Japanese or Korean origin is shown to test drive the car and the boss asks his subordinates a series of questions mentioning car features whether their own car has these and the answer to all that is ‘No, Tanukasaan’. The brand communication leads the viewer to conclude him or herself.

Car buying is a cross between the ‘objective’ and the ‘subjective’. Specifications are important but experiential elements cannot be ignored. Great brands achieve their status from moving gently up from specification led objective superiority to subjectively held impression. Consider two most visible icons of the car industry: Mercedes and BMW (it has a long running campaign ‘the ultimate driving machine’, Toyota drilled ‘relentless pursuit of perfection’ to establish Lexus). The focus here has been on the brand to establish as highly evolved and finely engineered objects. The exclusion based on technological excellence has made these cars objects of desire.
The latest coup by Ford, ‘Swap your drive’ has taken the competition by the horns. The attack is very direct and scathing. It is not uncommon for cars brands to compare based on specifications. It is done all the time. But Ford’s comparison is based on customer experience. The object of comparison is not the car but the ‘subject’ of the car. Specifications derive the worth form their instrumentality in reaching the end customer aims to reach to. And the communication here shows the representative of the typical user class (slice of life) who share their swapping experience. This is precisely what ‘test drives’ help companies achieve. The testimonial from an ordinary person (commonality based identification) is often more effective than a celebrity. This is word of mouth in print. Car is not an FMCG. The infrequency of buy forces buyers to visit buying with full deliberation. It is here word of mouth and learning through the experience of others (vicarious learning) assumes importance.

How is it likely to be viewed by the customers? Certainly first issue would be that of source credibility. It is rare to criticize what one has or owns for it results in a dissonant state (positive behavior- owner ship and negative attitude of what is owned). Are these people paid? Secondly the claims made by the endorsers are ‘abstract’ (powerful AC, awesome mileage) which precisely potential people want to quantify in an expensive and long term buy. The ‘self-inferential mode’ has been substituted by ‘vicarious mode’ which intends people to jump over the mathematics of evaluation.

Naming the competition in communication is likely to pull the customer into more clinical mode. The brand so targeted is pulled into center form the periphery. Direct brand comparison also equally promotes the competition depending upon what customer lens customer uses to interpret information.

The essence of comparison is perceived proximity of advertised brand with that of competition. Comparison aimed to ‘differentiate’ also promotes ‘similarity’ by ‘affiliation’ and ‘contrast’. It makes more sense for a brand with smaller presence to affiliate with the leader in order to gain entry into consumer’s consideration by the process of ‘categorization’. Technically the brand intends to be categorized similar to the leader by focusing consumer attention on points of similarity and then points of distinction to prove its superiority. What happens when Ford Figo is compared with Swift and Ford Classic with Tata Indigo? The intention is to position these brands alternative to brands with higher sales by first by affiliation and then build perception of superiority by contrast.

However it is not a good idea for a leader to use direct comparisons. Customer majority trusts and buys the brand. It is better then to focus on brand’s strengths and move up the benefit ladder singularly. A direct comparison by a leader brand is an exercise in elevation of the follower and descent ion of the self.

Criticism in communication, customer response and brand Anna (10)

The essence of competition is competition. That is, action leads to reaction which in turn leads to counteraction. This game could be deeply  engrossing but mindlessly consuming. Therefore being within the ‘boundaries of reason’ is essential but a temptation to ‘breach’ it is phenomenal.
Consider when Ariel reduced its price substantially in a bid to capture market; Surf Excel did not lose any time to retaliate. When Coke became the official sponsor, Pepsi reacted by its famous ‘nothing official’ campaign. When Godrej entered the hand sanitizer market, Dettol and Lifebuoy went in to aggressive defense mode. Competition is all about territories and their protection but it is also about breaking into them.
A campaign to smear and disparage directly achieves little. ‘More’ could be ‘less’ in the absence of strategy. The way to fight is to win without assault. Observe the world of marketing and you will find that brands refrain from direct criticism. Direct mud slinging is rare. And when it happens nothing much is achieved. Recall recent Tide and Rin campaign. Often minor tactical gains are achievable but significant gains do not come by.
Competition need not always be bloody. If companies can meet their aspirations without having to cross lines,then existence is peaceful. But when one’s gain is the other’s loss, moves and counter moves define the situation. Rivalry is the name of the game when two or more firms chase the same target or aim to nibble at each other’s customer base. For instance HUL’s ‘Clear’ antidandruff shampoo would like to cut into P&G’s Head & Shoulders. Samsung’s Galaxy smart phone directly tries to woo i-phone’s customers (by calling it the ‘greatest smartphone ever’). Competition does not happen outside as we see. The real site of competition is the customer’s mind. The target of this winning or stealing is the customer. In case of the slugfest between the Government and Brand Anna, the target is the citizen of India. The indiscriminate ‘firing’ of ‘words’ is of little help. In communication often ‘more’ and ‘bitter’ is not the way.

If Pepsi wants to ‘win’ it cannot afford to blindly start attacking Coke. It must obtain finer details about the attitude and commitment of the customers. The nature of content and tone should accordingly be determined. Communication in a competitive scenario is not about what you ‘throw’ rather it is about what customers ‘pickup’. Pepsi (in our example) faces the following types of customers (similarly the Government):Committed to Pepsi; committed to rival Coke and the indifferent. Pepsi can win only when it manages to persuade the ‘indifferent’ and ‘Coke committed’ to be Pepsi drinkers.

The government’s response to Anna has been to mount an attack by identifying the ‘weaknesses’ (for instance: ‘Kejriwal receives notice from income tax department’; ‘CD involving the Bushans in conversation with certain politicians’; ‘Kejriwal collected money for NGO while in office’ or ‘investigation into Baba Ramdev’s businesses’). The critical question is how effective are these tactics in persuading the people especially who are either ‘indifferent’ or ‘committed ‘to Brand Anna?

Sheriff’s social judgment theory serves as a good guide in this context. The effect of persuasive communication (here, in this case anti Anna campaign) in terms of creating attitude change (of people given to Brand Anna or indifferent) would depend upon which zone it falls in. There are primarily three zones: latitude of acceptance, latitude of rejection and latitude of non-commitment. The ego involvement (how important is the issue ?) plays an important role defining these zones. The effectiveness of persuasive attempts by the government would depend upon where their arguments are falling.
Considering the response that Brand Anna received (exhibits high ego involvement with the issue of corruption or anchor point or the point of reference or initial attitude) people are likely to have larger latitude of rejection. A persuasive attempt or message discrepant to the original position (like Kejriwal collected money or his NGO  has tax liability) by the government will fall in the zone of rejection (contrasted with the initial position of reference/ message directed is very different from point of reference- commitment to brand Anna) and hence is likely to be rejected by the people who are committed to Brand Anna. However  reality would be exactly opposite for the people who are pro-government (assimilation effect).
Given the overwhelming response Anna received, it shows a very high level of involvement with Brand Anna (as anticorruption crusader) people are likely to have a narrow zone of acceptance (larger zone of rejection) for any discrepant information. The present strategy of persuasion adopted by the people in power is unlikely to result into desirable effect. ‘More’ the attempts and ‘higher ‘ the severity of criticism- less is the effect.