Dear Mr. Brand Manager,

Congratulations on getting hired as the brand manager of Tapal Ice Tea. It’s a truly exciting opportunity. However, it’s daunting at the same time, considering the fact that Ice Tea hasn’t quite caught on like the epidemic of Sheesha and now Coffee Houses. You definitely have your work cut out.

Let me offer you a few tips to get you going.

The very first thing you’ll have to do is drink Tapal’s Ice Tea. Try all the flavors and honestly decide whether it has a great taste, ordinary taste or downright bad one. If it’s bad, cut your losses while you’re still ahead by quitting the job. There’s not a chance in hell the brand would be a hit if the product itself isn’t any good.

‘You can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time but not all the people all the time’.

Chances are , Tapal’s Ice Tea  does not have a great taste otherwise there must have been some good news doing the round about it.

But even if it’s ordinary, fear not. Just look at Mountain Dew. Ask yourself; does it have a great taste? Or is it all in your mind? If you affirm it has an absolute great taste, then how come it took consumers so long (it began somewhere in the 1960s) to realize it?

Think about it. Why did Mountain Dew suddenly become the talk of town after it got a branding boost courtesy a bottle shaped like a beer bottle and a string of TVCs depicting impossible feats?

Just remember that the consumer doesn’t need your brand. Going by Freudian logic, you’ve to create a set of conditions where the consumer’s desire supersedes his needs. In short the consumer needs to positively embed Tapal Ice Tea in his or her mind, and the easiest way to do that is to create +ve associations of your brand with those things the consumer already considers hip, cool and worthy of having.

That understood; waste not a single moment in grabbing hold of the Djuice brand manager to create brand alliance with that brand, especially for the Djuice sponsored gaming event. It’s the ideal opportunity for you to subtly etch your brand positively onto the consumer’s mind. The participants are already going to be pumping adrenaline by the truckload. With this level of stimulation and excitement, all you’ll need to do is offer free Ice Tea, and the rest would take care of itself. If the Djuice brand manager is reluctant about this alliance, get a food franchise to come onboard as well. The allure of offering free food and drinks to the consumer would be too great for Telenor to pass up.

The second thing is to read that spellbinding Bible of a book ‘Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. That’s because you cannot expect to be the first-mover in an obscure a category as Ice Tea and become a hit without inducing a cult-like following of your brand.

The brand needs to have ‘LoveMarks’, according to Kevin Roberts CEO Saatchi & Saatchi, to create an emotional bond with the consumer.  That essentially means cutting down on your cluster-bomb advertising strategy and using that money instead towards creating a brand community.

Putting your ad in places like the Aurora magazine is not going to make your brand a superstar, even if it lands you an Aurora Oscar.

The previous brand manager has already done quite a bit of advertising. That should do for the moment.

And for the love of God, don’t follow Tapal’s parent brand manager. The last thing we would want to see is two lunatics who not only happen to be on the same flight, but sitting next to each other, two lunatics who’ve brought their own Ice Tea onboard! Differ lunatically? I hope not, for your sake.

But what’s the biggest bang you can create that has everlasting impression on the consumer? Something that blows them away? Something that can be the epitome of buzz marketing?

A shot at the Guinness World Record.

It need to be a two-pronged strategy. First is going to be obviously setting up a world record which gets the Tapal Ice Tea permanently etched onto the Guinness Book.

 The second part is going to deal with giving consumers something they only dreamt of. In order to find out what stuff Pakistani dreams are made of,  you need to think like the Pakistani consumer. Won’t be difficult. In fact let me spell it out for you. Two things: Food and music, and that also free.

If somehow you can pull off this feat of offering quality live music and great food to the consumers who’re gathered to witness your great feat of breaking a world record completely free, your brand will attain a spiritual like affinity with the consumers, a connection that won’t erode for a long time to come, unless, of course, you do something exceptionally stupid, like Tapal’s Differ Tastefully campaign.

But what sort of record can it be? You’ll have to decide for yourself. It can be the biggest can or bottle of Ice Tea, the longest line of Ice tea Cans, the largest consumption of Ice Tea in a single gathering – anything that is valid by Guinness standards goes, even if it may appear ridiculous.

A Guinness World Record  with free food and music is going to be great and will last for a long time, but like the appeal of a great inning by a batsman wears down if he plays a string of mediocre innnings, the same holds true for any brand. You cannot rely on a past glory to sustain the success. You need to keep coming up with new exciting stuff and yet steer clear of eroding the brand essence. It’s a tough call, but then nobody said branding was a walk in the park.

Coming back to the experiences part, I can’t stress enough on how crucial it is.  You need to keep providing your consumers with great experiences while they’re consuming your brand. That’s the core of the strategy. Create a fool-proof association between your brand and the experience.

There are two ways to go about it. Either identify those occasions and events where the consumer is already likely to be having a terrific time, or create the experience on your own.

First let’s deal with the creation part. You need to create a Branded Café where people can hang around, have a great time and drink your brand. You can learn a great deal from Igloo’s Dip Shop, both positive and negative. On the positive side, it was a brilliant strategy to complement the brand with an ice cream parlour that provided great ‘add-ons’, and for a good amount of time, it worked like a charm, so much so that Igloo opened a second parlour on top of Ponderosa restaurant in the Sea-View area in the two-storey building now occupied by KFC. It was a well-built and decorated parlour, the second one, and yet it fizzled out after a while. Why? Probably because it didn’t generate any excitement, which is a requisite if your brand is ordinary, and let’s be honest with ourselves: Igloo doesn’t have the best of tastes. It just cannot compete with the delicious homemade taste of a brand like Hot Spot.

In short, open up a café along the lines of Dip Shop, but go further than that. Of course you’ll have to provide the add-on stuff like Igloo did (for instance toppings) and even create brand alliance with a food outlet to provide fast food, but that won’t be enough. Why would your target niche, or any consumer for that matter would want to visit this café?

 Maybe they’re into books, so you can start a book club at this café with all the frills like book-signing sessions with authors, maybe even entice a few foreign authors to come and have book-reading and signing session at your café. Nothing gets us going like a Gora endorsing a local brand, even if he’s a struggling author.

Maybe they crave rock music so you can hold sessions of underground artists, or better still of university bands comprising of students who frequently take part in concert competitions held in universities.

Maybe they’re into gaming, in which case you can tailor the café to be a gaming café.

Maybe they’re that rare breed who want to be entrepreneurs. For that you’ll have to bring organizations like TIE and Shell Tameer onboard to give lectures, hold workshops or counselling services at your café.

How about board game freaks? That’s a dwindling lot, but certainly you can identify a niche. Design the interior in such a way that there’s a board game available at every table, chess, ludo, scrabble, you name it. You then conduct board game competitions to further masalize the proceedings.

How would the target market know about these events? You’ll be making up online communities to go with the real world, of course, since the consumer spends a big chunk of his or her time online.

 Let’s now deal with the issue of taste. Say your beverage brand doesn’t have a great taste to begin with. How do you deal with it? Psychologically, of course. Does alcoholic drinks have a great taste? Nope. Then why do half the world indulge in it? Solely for the after-effects.

Do energy drinks have a great taste? Hardly. Then why…… To get that extra zap of energy.

The same line of thinking goes for your brand. What benefit is your brand offering? In order to recognize that, you’ll have to do some extensive research into the ingredients of your brand, a long and boring process. I know it because I’ve gone through it, preparing for the launch of a brand. It’s a necessary evil, and if you can endure it gleefully, it would help you tremendously in the long run.

For instance, what’s the caffiene content of Tapal Ice Tea, is it comparable to energy drinks, normal tea, below them, between them or what. Do you have any say in changing the proportion of caffiene or any other ingredient which will give the brand the much need differentiation for a successful marketing campaign? All these are facets of brand management, and you need to know each one of them inside out if you’re going to make your brand a   Superbrand. 


  • Two Questions:

    1. What’s The Idea Behind All of This?

    2. Where Do You Get Pepsi Like Budgets In Tapal?

    All you’ve done is identify great touchpoints and yes they are good. However there’s no idea there that will integrate itself across the media.

    Idea is what drives touchpoints, not the other way out. 🙂

    I don’t think Tipping Point mentions this one little fact.

  • 1) There’s no real ‘Idea’ behind it. I believe in David Ogilvy school of thought that you need to focus on making the brand communicate effectively by all means necessary rather than on being original or having ‘The Great Idea’. This may entail getting inspired by some other brand’s strategy.

    Read William Duggan’s ‘The Art of What Works: How Success Really Happens’ to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

    But if you must know the logic behind the Tapal strategy, it goes something like this: Hit the consumer with Tapal at a place and time when he’s having a time of his life. Do this consistently over a period of time, and you guarantee your brand a valuable real estate in the consumer’s mind. I’m afraid that’s not very original, but then that’s not the aim, isn’t it?

    2) You can’t and you don’t. You just have to improvise. But if Tapal can dish out a fortune for its Green Tea brand, surely it can give something to Ice Tea? Why the step-motherly treatment for this brand?