Cavelossim Beach, Goa: Founder and chief executive of independent creative agency StrawberryFrog (SF), Scott Goodson, talks to Mint at Goafest, the annual ad industry event, on what to expect on the US launch of vehicles from Indian manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, and the most outrageous suggestion he has ever made to a client. Edited excerpts:
What can we expect from SF on the Mahindra account?
Big challenge: Founder and chief executive of StrawberryFrog, Scott Goodson, at the Goafest
Our responsibility is to launch the Mahindra brand in the US. I really feel we are going to be the first Indian brand that is going to be a premium Indian brand. In America, if you ask people about Mahindra, they don’t worry about quality, but there are no Indian brands that people know. It’s not like I say to you a German brand and you immediately think Audi or BMW... There is no (such) Indian brand. We are going to launch the first Indian premium brand in the world. It’s going to be a revolution. It’s not going to be a cheap brand. Personally, I would love this to be the Apple (Inc.) of India.
Our objective is to launch a car in the US in a way that has not been done before. We are not going to go to the US and launch a car with a tail between our legs. We are going to launch it in a way that people are going to say “Holy wow! That is cool!” We are not going to do it in the traditional way… It’s not going to be a bunch of commercials about a guy driving a car. It’s going to be a brand idea.
How will you position the brand differently from other car brands?
A brand has a cultural DNA—when you buy a British car, you think you’re an aristocrat, when you buy an Italian car, you think you’re an Italian gigolo, when you buy French, you think you’re a fashionista. So there is a DNA in the brand that says something about who you are, so there will be an emotional difference that will set us apart from Lexus or Honda as a brand. Also, we are not going to treat it like a traditional car brand or market it like it’s a packaged brand. The marketing is going to be through technologies that can’t be used by other brands that are so deeply entrenched in television. Especially legacy brands, which come with a lot of limitations. But when you are a new brand you can start from scratch and you can do things differently.
We are also really excited about the launch of an Internet 2.0 for this NGO called Nanhi Kali (initiated by the KC Mahindra Education Trust) in the next three weeks, which is going to be really cool. The new thing we are going to do is a widget. When you type in the name, instead of a website, a little girl comes up on screen and she’s holding a paper which says go to movie, film, contacts, etc. So when you press “about”, it would take you to Wikipedia, click on “films” and it takes you to YouTube, and so on. We’re already on Facebook and building communities. It’s totally cool, we’re even going to try and enter it into Cannes.
What is the most outrageous thing you have asked your client to do?
It was a suggestion we made to our client Pfizer. We did work for Viagra and in Europe you’re not allowed to advertise it. So, you know the Leaning Tower of Piza? Well, we suggested that Pfizer spend a million dollars to straighten it. They loved the suggestion, but didn’t do it eventually.