Prisma Advertising’s art of branding

4 min read
26 Nov 2017
4 min read
1386 words
In this interview, Dipu Lama, Director of Client Servicing & Public Relation Department at Prisma Advertising, talks about how advertisers keep evolving their craft

With more than 25 years of industry experience, Prisma Advertising is one of the most successful names in Nepal's advertising sector. Founded by Ranjit Acharya in 1991, Prisma is an associate of Ogilvy and Mather, a part of WPP (one of the largest marketing and communication companies in the world). The company has been a respected name in the advertising sector since its inception and represents international brands such as Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson, Bajaj, Renault, MicroMax and Western Union, as well as local brands such as Himstar, KL Dugar and Jagadamba E, among others. Over the years, Prisma has received many accolades and several CRITY Awards, which is a prestigious prize awarded by the Advertising Agencies Association of Nepal.

"One of the agency's most well-received campaigns has to be its Coca-Cola Trophy Tour of 2014 World Cup," says Dipu Lama, Director of Client Servicing & Public Relation Department. (Lama has been with the company for the past 11 years). "The campaign allowed Nepal to be a part of the worldwide Trophy Tour, and of the global football fraternity." In this interview with VMAG's
Monica Puri, Lama talks about many such other campaigns the agency has run for its clients and consumers over the years and about how advertisers keep evolving their craft.

Devising the perfect brand campaign

No matter what changes the market experiences or what technological developments are made, the basic rule of advertising remains intact: customers are always the first priority. Before we devise any plan to introduce a new product in the market, we focus on consumer profiling--psychological and emotional profiling of targeted consumers--and their current needs, among other particulars. That helps us predetermine the consumers' perceived value of the product, and we then develop a promotional campaign accordingly. For example, 'Taloo Ma Aloo' could be a good catchphrase if we were targeting youths, but if we use the same catchphrase for senior citizens, you can imagine what the reactions to the campaign would be. 

Thus, research prior to the campaign and after it has been implemented are both important. Research helps companies understand where they stand in the market as a brand, who their target audience is, what the market wants and what message the company wants to convey in the market. Only after understanding these can a brand connect with its consumers. We also conduct blind-testing schemes within an organisation or among the local crowd--to get their feedback. But ultimately, the strength of the brand is entirely determined by the quality of the brand's product. 

The future of the advertising sector in Nepal

I don't think much has changed over the years. But yes, we are seeing a gradual shift in the use of communication tools. A decade or so ago, advertising revolved around conventional methods of advertising and communication, such as television, radio and print. But today, we see more and more people switching to digital platforms to promote their brands and products. 

But the problem in Nepal is that we have very little to no data on how effective these communication tools are in promoting any company or business. There is no system of knowing the Television Rating Point (TRP) of the brand, and advertisers here do not use models such as the Share of Voice method either, to gauge an ad's impact. On social-media platforms, we cannot really pinpoint the kind of audience we are interacting with or know whether our posts are reaching the targeted customers, although the posts seem to be receiving huge numbers of hits. Without sufficient data to prove the efficacy of the tool, we cannot vouch for the credibility of such methods. And although we are seeing a shift in favour of digital platforms for advertising, these platforms, in Nepal, lack the amount of interactiveness that is actually required. Since most brands today also prefer conducting on-the-ground activities to get more consumers involved with the brand personally, it does get challenging to create interactive tools with the kind of limited budget and resources that we have at our disposal.

The Prisma advantage

Realising the 'need' gap in the market and fulfilling it is our responsibility. Creating an interactive space between brand and prospective customers is what we strive to do. For example, when we created a social-media campaign for Bajaj two-wheelers, by conducting a treasure hunt contest (participants would win gifts for every puzzle solved), we had great engagement (around 5,000 people, which at the time was considered a good number).

The sector is a dynamic one and that very dynamism means there's a lot of scope for doing much in the sector as well. To make sure that we stay in the game, we have made it a point to adapt with the changing market. We are constantly tweaking things so that our works actually speak to our audience. I believe our skill in bringing something new to our clients is what has led to the reputation we currently have in the market.

The differences between national and international clients

The fundamental difference between national and international clients is how the two perceive advertising itself--international clients consider advertising an investment, while many national clients consider it an expense. 

International clients are aware of the entire process that goes into creating a campaign. I wouldn't say that the local mindset about advertising is changing in that respect, because most people still think they're just spending, rather than investing, their resources when they opt for advertising.

When working with international clients, a huge focus is on the actual numbers that represent what an ad will do. Everything has to be estimated and calculated--from how and for what the resources will be used, to what kinds of returns the client will receive. International brands already also have an established image, and they are thus more focused on bolstering that image. But local clients need to start with promoting their brand image first, and think later about how to strengthen that image. 

Localising international brand identities

When international brands launch their products here, they have a set of guidelines that we need to abide by. But since what works in one market may not work in another, international clients allow some space to accommodate some local elements into their brand messaging. So for agencies, it's crucial that we create a campaign that makes use of that limited leeway allowed to localise the brand image for the general public here. 

I'll have to mention Coca-Cola in this context. With Coca-Cola, we have devised some of our best promotional campaigns. Nepal is the only market where Coca-Cola's global campaign 'Share a Coke' was tweaked. A new local slogan was integrated into the campaign to create a larger campaign called 'Mann Kholaun Coke Sanga'. Sure, there were attractive prizes to be won in the campaign, but the product, at the same time, represented the ethos of festivals in Nepal. By using the Nepali language on the packaging (words that translated to father, mother, brother, sister and family), an international brand became a local product that resonated with Nepalis on an emotional level. The 'Coca-Cola Money Mania' was another successful campaign for the company. We were able to get about 40,000 responses every day. In my opinion, when brands take such bold steps to connect with their consumers, it adds to the love and respect for the brand.