CEAT show the power of fresh consistency

In today’s hyper-competitive world, advertising faces never-before challenges – less than 2% of all ads cut through, according to some studies.  The typical response has been to make the creative product itself more spectacular: from ‘cinematic blockbuster’ ads to the increasing trend of creating 3-4 minute films for online distribution. But is this sufficient? I recently worked on an iconic FMCG brand that had seen 9 different creative ideas in just 7 years. Each ad was brilliantly executed and won awards, but the evidence was unforgiving – brand tracking showed that the advertising had done little to build core equity measures.

Fresh Consistency

The most effective communication campaigns tend to channel creative excellence to build what we call ‘fresh consistency’ : holding certain key ‘properties’ constant to build and tap into “memory structure” whilst refreshing other elements to maintain relevance. But research proves that it takes between 2 to 3 years to embed memory structure in consumers’ heads. These brand properties (slogans, colours, sounds etc.) engender recall and help people act on ‘auto-pilot’.

Creating fresh consistency is a real challenge, given the frequency with which brand and agency team members change, and their tendency to get bored with ideas much faster than consumers do. This results in much chopping and changing, often before a creative idea has had enough exposure to create memory structure; the creative tail often wags the brand dog.

One brand that has managed to pull off the ‘balancing act’ to have freshness and consistency is Ceat tyres in India. The brand has doubled its market share over a period of a few years by using this approach

‘The communication triangle’ 

We use a simple model (see right) to show the role of different elements:
Brand Idea
 is the most enduring element sitting at the top of the triangle and should be consistent over many years, if not decades. For CEAT the Brand Idea is ‘Unmatched Grip’

The Campaign Idea, is a creative leap that is true to the Brand Idea, yet offers a fresh and interesting ‘take’ on it. CEAT used the idea “Because the streets are full of idiots” for many years

A good Campaign Idea inspires a whole bunch of Execution Ideas, across media, and over time. CEAT generated a sequence of memorable ads that built share and ‘brand advantage’ on the central attribute of grip.

Here is one called ‘Pram’:

And another called ‘Manhole’:

Notice how Consistency comes from the same narrative structure, use of humour and the idea “Because the streets are filled with idiots”

Maintaining consistency across campaigns.

Recently, Ceat have taken a fresh step forward with a new campaign, “For the game called road”, which is already getting a lot of people talking about the brand. It is a clever balance of freshness and consistency:

Consistency: the campaign builds on the same Brand Idea of  Unmatched Grip, with the drama staying firmly focused on this key benefit. The use of humour is still present as an executional device, treating a serious, life or death subject with a lightness of touch.

Freshness: the campaign also demonstrates how the team has understood shifting consumer attitudes to road safety. Biker attitudes today have moved past fear/security, that the previous campaign tapped into, to one that accepts the inherent dangers of the road and ‘gamifies’ it in a ‘take-it-in-your-stride’ approach. This is reflected in the large number of young bikers buying much sportier bikes, despite the obvious dangers of Indian roads.

Summing Up

CEAT shows how fresh consistency is a simple framework to keep brands and their communication refreshingly fresh, yet reassuringly consistent, crucial to growing the core of any business.