The last two years have seen unprecedented circumstances forcing everyone to stay indoors, making celebrations and connections online. McDowell’s No1 Soda launched a song to encourage friends to come together and urge each other to take both the vaccine dose. The song has been composed by Sameer Uddin, who worked in popular movies like Junglee and Fukrey Returns, written by the ace lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya known for his hits ‘Emotional Atyachar’ & ‘O Sanvariya’ and sung by Abhishek Nailwal who has sung some soul-stirring tracks.
McDowell’s No1 Soda has always promoted friendship through music and dance. This song not only brings out the true essence of yaari but also spreads awareness and the importance of taking both the vaccine shots before making plans to meet yaars.
In an exclusive chat with MediaNews4U, Amarpreet Singh Anand, Executive Vice President & Portfolio Head, Diageo India talks on the business, Journey and much more.
Why did you get into the alcohol beverage business, and how has the journey been so far?
3 key reasons:
- The category offered so many exciting opportunities from a growth & transformation perspective. The narrative of the category wasn’t great back then & I could be part of leading the change in how the category was being viewed by not only consumers, customers, but also by society at large.
- Diageo was seen as a very progressive organization, with great purpose, iconic brands & world-class marketing & innovation capability. This gave me a great opportunity to learn deeper & newer aspects of brand building – the role of design, influencer, experience marketing, neurosciences etc.
- The category was always in a state of VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) which gave me a tremendous leadership growth opportunity to operate in such an environment.
The journey so far has been fantastic. I feel proud of the transformation which we have seen at Diageo India. And on a personal front – the learning’s, the success stories and the failures have helped me grow as a leader.
The pandemic hit certain industries hard, Alcohol was one, and how did you navigate through the crisis?
We were quite agile & connected with changing consumer, consumption & media trends.
- As consumption spent more time in-home – We moved significant resourcing to digital platforms from experience, on-trade & TV.
- As consumers were becoming more value-conscious – We invested more in delivering ahead of category product experiences
- As consumers felt lonely & disheartened due to the challenges around – we engaged with them through communication that was encouraging connections, demonstrated empathy & helped people celebrate life.
Digital has seen a huge surge in the last year, what would be your marketing strategy now? How is Diageo going to initiate innovative marketing opportunities in this new normal? How will the Alcohol – Beverage industry now maximize the impact of digital in its communications?
- Engaging content is exploding – so many partnership opportunities are opening up (e.g., our recent Mirzapur artist association for McDowell’s No1)
- Newer regional platforms are emerging – so this increases our ability to sharply target consumers across geographies & town-classes
- Influencers are growing reach & across genres – so it helps brands partner with them across multiple consumer affinities
- Emergence of allied categories through a D2C model– like sodas, cocktail mixers etc. augurs well for richer category experiences
Social Media plays an extremely important role these days. We feel responsible usage of influencers can help build appropriate brand perceptions. For example:
- For a very recent campaign for McDowell’s No1 Soda, We collaborated with choreographers, dancers, content creators, and micro-influencers who had an appeal to the brand and positioned them as its advocates to drive the #FriendshipDay #No1Yaari and #YaariKaComeBack narrative on Instagram. The videos primarily encouraged friends to take both the vaccine jabs through the song and the hook step of “Yaarika comeback”.
- During the cricket season in February, we collaborated with micro-celebrities who had an appeal to the Royal Challenge’s brand-relevant markets – Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and positioned them as its advocates to drive the #AllNewRC and #CricketSeasonsWithRC narrative.
McDowell’s No 1 is a leader, how are you planning to further evolve a communication strategy to maintain the position as the No 1 Whiskey brand to go to? What is your market share?
McDowell’s No1 has been Diageo’s flagship brand for many years. It is the world’s most loved whiskey and we recently (2020) also renovated the brand, its communication, and the liquid to align it with the brand’s goal of down-aging and premiumising it within the portfolio. The renovated/brand has been extremely well received and we contribute to driving comms around the brand’s passion points of music and friendship.
Are there going to be fresh launches from the other brands?
We are premiumising our portfolio across and this renovating our hero brands. Those are the new launches that are happening
What are some alcohol marketing trends that will shape the industry in 2021?
- Top-end consumers will premium, with lesser avenues to travel internationally & to buy duty-free – India market will grow at an accelerated pace
- Considering the pace of vaccination & hopefully not a severe Wave 3, we expect consumption for mainstream spirits to come back slowly to before Covid levels.
- DIY @ home is exploding & brands that can tap into this trend – will grow faster
- With big cricket properties lined up during the festive season – IPL, T20 World cup, India vs New Zealand – we expect brands to activate around them.
McDowell’s No1 has always promoted friendship, what is the new message this year for Friendship Day? The need for the new anthem?
The world today is all about digital connections. We’ve lost the pleasures of real-world connections. McDowell’s No1 stands to strengthen & celebrate the bonds of Yaari. Friendship Day is an excellent opportunity to remind people that the physical connections we missed over the last couple of years can be made possible only if everyone in their circle gets their jabs, thus paving the way for #YaariKaComeback. McDowell’s No1 Soda has been an enabler of friendships for the longest time, and this fun song is the best way we could think of encouraging friends to come together and take a jab. On this friendship day, we wanted to encourage yaars to take the vaccine for the comeback of Yaari.
What are the marketing initiatives for the brand in general, as today digital is the front runner?
We relaunched our power brands – McDowell’s No1 & Royal Challenge through the year. And we launched some marketing campaigns throughout the year
McDowell’s No1 Friendship Day: A campaign encouraging people to share digital hugs with their friends. We did this in collaboration with Vicky Kaushal& many leading singers & social influencers. We also bought back the iconic tune of “AisiWaisiDostiNahee, Yeh No1 YaariHain” with this campaign.
McDowell’s TuMera No1 Yaar: We realized 68% of people don’t actually tell their best friend/s how they feel about them very often. The reasons indicate that they believe the bond to be stronger than words can express. Whilst 44% say that they don’t do it “Because it is not required, they know how I feel”; another 38% say that its “Because they mean more to me than I can express in words. So building on this insight – we launched an integrated campaign during the festive season last year – where we encouraged yaars to reach out to each other & say what & how much they mean to them.
McDowell’s No1 Holi: Since yaars couldn’t go out & play Holi the way it happens every year, we collaborated with actors of Mirzapur fame & created an engaging pack-led engagement & content to still help yaars bring colors in each other’s lives.
Royal Challenge Covid Heroes: We collaborated with RCB & 21 real-life Covid heroes – who had gone beyond the normal call of duty to help people during a crisis. We created unique jerseys, content & social media activations to help to bring their stories to life.