Urmila teaches us about brand vs activation

Urmila Matondkar joined the Congress Party this week. She promptly trended on Google Search – obviously the younglings (who can remember GenX, Gen Y, Gen Z, Millennials, Centennials) trying to recollect why she is famous. Urmila – I last saw her in Bhoot – hasn’t had a big movie in around 10 years. But she still has name recall and association, which is valuable whether as a brand ambassador or as a politician.

There’s data that shows that the mix of brand vs activation budget should be 60:40.  Brand building helps to create a mental perception that positively inclines you towards the brand. Digital creates myriad opportunities to tell your story – heck, a little money can see you starring in your own movie! A little more cash and effort can ensure that your story is amplified in all the right channels, in the right language. Once I like your brand good old BANT qualification should kick in and you can move to the activation mode.

What is happening today is that many are jumping straight to activation mode, and the channels and messaging used for that are being force-fitted to serving the cause of brand building. That is not efficient. For example inserts are great for activation, but I receive inserts from brands I’ve never heard of. This would only work for a commodity or impulse purchase with low involvement.

On the other hand online videos do a decent job for both brand building and activation though the content would vary. It’s good to map your spend across brand vs activation and see how efficient it is. At Paul Writer Impact Network, we manage the entire portfolio of digital storytelling from short video creation to AI-enabled distribution for small and large brands. So if you want advice on balancing your media portfolio ping me.

Now back to Urmila. Since she has created brand awareness and emotional appeal through her long stint in movies, she can jump right into the activation mode of hustling for votes. This is why celebrities are much in demand in politics.

In other news, I was quite impressed that Ola had managed to export auto-rides to the UK. But apparently that’s just a marketing stunt as a prelude to their launch of Ola Cabs in a new city. Great as a teaser idea but I’m wondering if there’s a dissonance between promise and product in this case. Would love to hear your views!


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