11 August 2007

Does your brand salsa?: Coffee and Donuts/Nov 06/Pragya singh, JWT Planning, Delhi

Does your brand salsa?

When audiences across the world watch Shakira on television, they sit spellbound as she lovingly
orders her body to do all sorts of contortions with it. They get similarly captivated every time Malavika Sarukkai performs Bharatnatyam or Beyonce grooves to hip-hop. But is there more to dance than being awestruck by such magical performances? Or shaking your own body once in a while? How does dance resemble branding?

• Brand, at its most fundamental level, is the functional and emotional appeal of a product. It is
then layered with both tangible benefits and an intangible aura. Every kind of dance is a combination of its technique as well as its emotional context.
• All dance forms, like brands are constantly evolving; never frozen in time or space.
• Any dance performance ultimately, is as good or as bad as the dancer. Any brand too, rests in the hands of its custodians.
• Every dancer has his or her own style and though she may be using techniques that are being used by other exponents of the dance form, it is her style that ultimately makes her appealing and draws her audience. All brands in a category may serve the same function but each has its own unique approach.
• Like foreign brands that adapt to local markets, dance forms too are doing so. Salsa, which originally hails from Latin America traveled to the US, where the locals retained the essential structure (of a 3 step legwork), but added new dance routines of their own to it. So now there is LA Style Salsa (Latin American style) and a separate NY (New York) Style Salsa.So too in India.The traditional Salsa is a hugely sensual and seductive dance, involving generous touching among couples. To be taught to Indians (given that many students who come for classes will have to partner with complete strangers) the dance has been modified. And is now gripping even smaller cities like Lucknow and Kanpur.

So what inspiration can branding draw from this great art form?

• Narrative dance forms are an exceptionally captivating means of storytelling. A performance can depict somebody’s life story from beginning to end (say, Lord Ram); tell the story of an entire civilization (the age of Mahabharata); or vividly evoke a moment in history (a Radha-Krishna raas leela scene). BRANDS TOO NEED EVOCATIVE STORY TELLING.
• Dance forms have perfected the art of using the stage space. A dancer cuts the space, expands it, contracts it, transforms it, manipulates it, controls it. BRANDS TOO WORK WITH SPACE. THE SHELF SPACE, THE COLUMN-CM SPACE, THE 30SEC/TV SCREEN SPACE.
• Dancing is an exercise in synthesis. Selecting the right song, choosing the right lights and sound to depict a particular mood, picking the perfect costume, matching the dancer’s steps to the beat of the musical instruments, utilizing the stage, emoting the appropriate sentiment - all this requires sophisticated coordination and needs to come together in one smooth whole. BRANDS TOO COMBINE MANY DISPARATE ELEMENTS.

By far the most important thing that any branding exercise can realize from a dance form is the skill of emotionally bonding with an audience or consumer.

Classical Indian forms especially have paid attention to the value of this bond and NatyaShastra describes nine rasas or NavaRasas that are the basis of all human emotion

1. Shringara - Shringara means love and beauty. The most popular form of Shringara is love between a man and a woman. This is the domain of most fashion, jewellery, cosmetic and perfume brands. None have tapped into this rasa as well as DeBeers. So also Lux, Liril, Garden in their early days…
2. Hasya - Hasya is the rasa used to express joy or mirth. It can be used to depict simple lightheartedness or riotous laughter and everything in between.From Centershock, Alpenliebe,Happydent and Menthos to Fevicol, MSeal, Asian Paints Apex… many brands are climbing the humour bandwagon.
3. Bhibatsya - Bhibatsyais disgust. The emotion evoked by anything that nauseates us, revolts or sickens us is Bhibatsya.Think of cockroach killers and potty cleaners; Bhibatsya is alive and kicking in the advertising world.
4. Rowdra - Rowdra is anger. Outrage over audacious behavior, the fury caused by an offense,the rage evoked by disrespect and anger over injustice are all forms of Rowdra. Naukri struck gold when they captured the Rowdra every subordinate feels for bosses like Hari Sadoo.
5. Shanta - Shanta is serenity and peace. It represents the state of calm and unruffled repose that is marked simply by the lackof all other rasas. The territory of retirement plans and financial brands -ICICI, HDFC, Kotak all have focused on the benefits of future-proofing finances and the peace that this brings. Brands like Dove and Pears too operate in this space.
6. Veera - Veera is heroism. It represents bravery and self confidence. Manliness and valiance are the trademarks of a Veer or a fearless person. From small acts of heroism like going up close to another person in a deodorant or toothpaste ad, to daredevilry in Thums Up, Mountain Dew and Red and White are all here. So also social heroism – like the beauty queen who chooses to speak in Hindi in an international forum and the Femina daughter who marries off her widowed mother.
7. Bhaya - Bhaya is fear. The subtle and nameless anxiety caused by a presentiment of evil, the feelings of helplessness evoked by an almighty and cruel ruler, and the terror felt while facing certain death are all aspects of Bhaya. Many brands are built on human fears - fear of social rejection, fear of ageing, fear of lack of money, fear of getting left behind, fear of failing health.
8. Karuna - Karuna is grief and compassion.Naturally, brands like CRY, UNICEF and causes like eye donation and cancer work with this theme. The Surf boy who hands over the scholarship to someone who needed it more, is a surprising example.
9. Adbhuta - Adbhuta is wonder and curiosity. Adbhuta is the curiosity of man regarding the creation of the world and all its wonders, the astonishment caused by seeing something unusual and magical. From X Box to Nokia N series, Adbhuta has been the driving force behind technology brand communication. It is useful to keep in mind that a rasa encompasses not just the emotion, but also the various things that cause that emotion.


No comments:

Post a Comment