It may seem like the most outrageous of comparisons, Zong– a telecom brand, and Minute Maid – a FMCG brand, but these are two of the latest BTL activities I’ve seen recently, so I’ll be comparing these two.

Have you seen the new Minute Maid campaign at the Forum? What do you think?

Well, to me it appears fantastic on the face of it. The decoration and the works have been done exquisitely what with all the Minute Maid pet bottles hanging from the top in an elegant array. Then there’s the fruit cart brimming with succulent oranges that all but ensures the association between the brand and the real orange. There was also the orange tarts on another cart with a girl trying to initiate the sales by putting them in a box and stopping people to have a try( she may have been the brand manager of Minute Maid by the looks of how desperate she was to tie in tarts with her brand). The tarts looks to be smaller than your usual size with a orange slice placed on top of them and priced at Rs.30. The cart carrying the tarts looked good enough as well.

So, on the face of it, everything seemed to per perfectly aligned with the brand essence.

However, beneath the glittering veneer, there’s something amiss. The one element that would have carried this branding effort from just another campaign to a great one is enthusiasm, i.e enthusiasm of the team executing it.

Not only was the enthusiasm missing, there was an aura of unease emanating from the Minute Maid team that I’m sure would have been felt by the consumer. I as a consumer surely felt it. The team looked uncomfortable like they didn’t belong there or that it was just a chore for them and they weren’t really enjoying it.

As far as the belonging part is concerned, at the risk of sounding discriminatory, I would say they didn’t. How can you expect people belonging to middle to lower-middle class to gel in seamlessly with the public at the Forum?

This same team would have fared better, I guess at maybe Millennium Mall or Dolmen Mall of Tariq Road and Hyderi. But here they just didn’t cut it.

No doubt the poor chaps were having a hard time looking like hapless Zombies. Enjoyment was the last thing on their mind.

In contrast, the Zong team at the recently concluded and surprisingly hit International Book Fair at Karachi did a much better job. Although their set-up was mind-boggling and nowhere as good as the Minute Maid one, the team comprised of young energetic youth who looked like they were enjoying themselves which piqued the interest of the consumers loitering about enough to ask them what was the big deal?

And that takes us to the interaction part. When you’re launching a campaign that isn’t going to bedazzle the consumer with its spectacle, you need to involve the audience in the event. It’s either that or this. There’s no middle ground.

Both the Zong and the Minute Maid campaign focused on interacting with the consumer, but while Zong fared much better, the Minute Maid effort isn’t anything to write home about. But why? In spite of the fact that the Minute Maid set-up was much better than the Zong one. Again it all boils down to the choice of team members. The Zong team comprised of university grads, able to converse in our former master’s language, English. That made all the difference. However, that wasn’t the only difference.

Zong had a two-pronged strategy. While at one end they were targeting the young adults with the chance to put down graffiti on the Zong board in line with the brand mantra ‘Sub keh do’, at the other end they were catering to kids with a drawing contest, which by the look of it, was a tremendous success. The logic of targeting kids, however, was a questionable one for a telecom company. This is the target market that is not going to be using a cellphone (with the exception of filthy rich kids with filthy rich parents), so it seems to be a strategy based in the far-out future.

Coming back to the Minute Maid campaign, there was hardly any activity going on.  The entire time I was there, the only worthwhile thing to happen was an announcement to invite the public to showcase some talent of theirs and get a prize. The only one to turn up was a kid who went to recite Surah Rehman. Now this surah is quite long, and although this kid who looked to be no more than 10 years old was quite good at the recitation, it didn’t actually make for an exciting activity.

One of my friends suggested that the Minute Maid team start throwing oranges in the air and give free brand samples to those who catch it. Although this would have created a ruckus in the Forum, it shows that even my friend who’s actually a finance person and does not know much about branding realized it was dull an affair  and that something needed to be done to stir things up a little.

Easier said than done, what would I have done if I were the brand manager? Nothing drastic. Half of what she’s doing is already perfectly right, i.e. the overall ambience. The only thing I would have done is change the human factor. Hire another BTL company that can provide energetic people with a sunny disposition, and then devise a strategy with a plan A,B and C. What plan to execute would be dependent on the situation at hand.

The best way to embed your brand in the consumer’s heart is to immerse them in a pleasant if not mind-blowing experience. Verdict: Zong did it to some extent. Minute Maid missed the mark.