Have you ever bought music cassettes and CDs of 100 Pipers or club soda of Tuborg or paid big bucks for the Kingfisher Calendar? We all know very well that those were not the products these brands were actually selling, right? That’s precisely what Surrogate Advertising does.
In The Name of Surrogate Advertising
To define the term for a layman, Surrogate Advertising is simply using the image of a brand to sell another product of the same brand (well, technically, even though they do not intend to). But, why do we even have to do surrogate advertising?
Censor Board of Advertising
In India, there’s something called ASCI (Advertising Standard Council of India). It is similar to CBFC for the film industry. One can call it the Censor Board of Advertising. They have certain rules laid down for these brands to promote their, so-called, brand extensions.
a) The brand must be registered under an appropriate government authority such as Food &Drug Administration (FDA) or Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
b) The availability of that product must be at least 10% in-store at par with the leading brands in that particular category (mineral water, club soda, music cassettes & CDs, etc.)
c) The product should have a turnover of more than 5 Cr. every year or 1 Cr. in each state that product is distributed in
d) The brand should have a valid certification for its turnover and distribution data from an independent organization
e) The advertisements cannot disguise the product that’s banned or prohibited from advertising or even hint at the banned products (liquor, tobacco, etc.) under strict laws
The Law Says…
The current season of IPL certainly is played under strict COVID guidelines where the audience cannot physically be at the stadium to watch the matches. Also, there are stricter guidelines for liquor brands doing surrogate advertising.
As per Section 7(2) in The Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, 8(A) – no advertisement shall be permitted which – promotes directly or indirectly, production, sale or consumption of – cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants.
Before this law was implemented, the Cigarettes (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1975, made it compulsory to exhibit a statutory health warning on all packages and advertisements. That’s the reason we see a “No Smoking & No Drinking” disclaimer in every movie, advertisements, or even before the movie starts, on TV saying that the actors do not support or promote any such activities.
The advertisements during IPL are being observed microscopically because it is one of the biggest marketing platforms for brands in India across print, digital and OTT media.
Ever since the prohibition on liquor, tobacco and cigarette brands was imposed, using surrogate advertising has become of the most preferred marketing tactics.
Why, do you ask? It is simple – to generate top-of-the-mind brand-recall. We all remember Bira and White Owl in India because of its merchandise and product packaging rather than the product itself. It’s more like Paper Boat for adults. Honestly, Paper Boat is loved by the adults more than the children for its nostalgic feel. That’s what surrogate advertising can do to you. It can spark the right kind of emotions in people’s minds. Though do not buy McDowell’s to celebrate No.1 Yaari. We might not buy Royal Stag because we believe “It’s your life. Make it large.” We do not definitely buy Imperial Blue because “Men will be men”. You get the drift, right?
At 3 Dots Design Pvt. Ltd., be it advertising or surrogate advertising, we believe that the purpose behind advertising is what defines the brand’s storytelling. If we take a closer look at all the surrogate advertising commercials, the brand story is about celebrating friendships; it’s about inspiring people; it’s also about adding a little humor to our mundane life. The communication throughout this marketing tactic is more than just generating brand awareness. It’s about celebrating it. That’s what we intend to do – celebrate every brand we work on and we would love to keep the brand story going on and on.