Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Spot the Difference: Adidas and Nike

Strolling through the tube tunnel at the South Kensington station I noticed an ad poster in which a young, strong-looking bloke is looking right at me with more than a glimpse of attitude. The bold tagline proclaims ‘I AM THE RULES.’ The NIKE swish in the corner of the image seems to belong there – this is precisely the fierce, youthful and defiant campaign we have come to expect from this brilliant brand.
As I prepare to trot on through the freezing tunnel, the poster right next to it catches my eye.

In it, the guy is also young and oozing urban cool and confidence. A prominent shrift declares a stunningly similar-sounding line: ‘WE ARE LONDON.’ But this second ad is not Nike – it’s Adidas.
Both of these leading sports brands have successfully developed exciting, eye-catching but most importantly – indistinguishable – poster campaigns. When customer-centric marketers working for competing brands all talk to the same target group and follow the same trends, all brand managers end up with the same output and brands begin to lose their differentiating qualities.

Let this be a lesson to all of us.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Nostalgic Lure of Eastern Bloc Brands

Recently a friend returned from a trip to Russia and brought back some local chocolate. Following the advice of a Russian she had bought the brand ‘Krasniy Octabry’ (translated as Red October).
As you might have gathered from the brand name, it is one of the few old Soviet brands that are still going strong. ‘Red October’ was the name of the factory that made it, since brands as we know them didn’t really exist. I don’t know how this chocolate is perceived in Russia, but where I come from in Latvia (former Eastern Bloc) this brand has a really strong nostalgic appeal. It helps that everyone older than 25 had this chocolate when they were little – there wasn’t exactly much competition in FMCG.

The same seems to be the case in former East Germany – in a wave of Ostalgie (nostalgia for Ost – the East) there has been a surge for the old GDR brands. Initially when the wall came down these products were taken off the market, but were brought back and are now very strong iconic brands.

For example, the luxury East German drink Rotk├Ąppchen’s sales initially suffered following the political turnover, but the brand has come back with a vengeance and is now even more popular than before.

What’s interesting about these brands is that in socialist times they were perceived as inferior to Western goods. Yet the political and economic turnover of the last 2 decades has left consumers yearning for the products and brands they used to consume in what now feels like a secure and happy time.

So if you spot any other totalitarian regimes on the downturn…might be worth checking out what their local factories are making!