Saturday, October 07, 2006

The other day I had Brand Mgmt exam. This excerpt is from the article called "The Brand Report Card" by Kevin Lane Keller.

Maintaining a strong brand means striking the right balance between continuity in marketing activities and the kind of change needed to stay relevant. By continuity, I mean the brand's image doesnt get muddled or lost in a cacophony of marketing efforts that confuse customers by sending conflicting messages.
Just such a fate befell Michelob brand. In the 1970s, Michelob ran ads featuring successful young professionals that confidently proclaimed, "Where you're going, it's Michelob". The company's next ad campaign trumpeted, "Weekends were made for Michelob". Later, in an attempt to bolster sagging sales, the theme was switched to "Put a little weekend in your week". In the mid-1980s, managers launched a campaign telling consumers that "The night belongs to Michelob". Then in 1994 we were told, "Some days are better than others" which went on to explain that "A special day requires a special beer". That slogan was subsequently changed to "Some days were made for Michelob".
Pity the poor consumers. Previous advertising campaigns simply required that they look at their calenders or out a window to decide whether it is the right time to drink Michelob; by the mid-1990s, they had to figure out exactly what kind of day they were having as well. After receiving so many different messages, consumers could hardly be blamed if they had no idea when they were supposed to drink the beer. Predictably, the sales suffered.

Umm.. with all due respect to Mr. Keller: Are consumers' choices affected by the ads to that extent that they need to be told when they are supposed to drink beer? Sure, ads have an impact... but this is going too far. If I was a consumer of Michelob; after reading this I would have stopped drinking it, because I am being considered stupid here. I have to be told when I should drink the beer.
But then again, the ads have been changing...
"Where you're going, it's Michelob"
Hmm... so, anytime and anywhere is the right time to drink this beer. I dont need to look for an occasion.
"Weekends were made for Michelob"
Hmm... I should drink this beer only on weekends. On weekdays, I can have some other brand of beer. As a consumer, I would think of this beer only on weekends since the ad says so.
"Put a little weekend in your week"
Hmm... weekend means fun... I can drink this beer even on weekdays and I would feel like it is the weekend. This brand of beer = fun = weekend = weekday....
"Some days are better than others"
Hmm... Better days = this brand of beer
"A special day requires a special beer"
Hmm... So now I am supposed to drink it only on special days. I would not think about it unless there is some special day.

Ok, now it makes sense... but could these ads have affected the sales so much that the sales dropped from 8.1 million to 1.8 million? As a brand manager, I think I would have attributed this decrease to other factors... sure, inconsistent advertising would be one of those factors; but not the only major factor.