New Delhi: Liquor bottles with commissioned drawings, art themed around a ketchup brand, music projects sponsored by leading beverage firms: the list is growing. Consumer promotional campaigns are expanding their horizon beyond the ordinary to compete in an age of innovative marketing and brand explosions.
Branded products are using art and culture to connect to consumers and build long-term brand loyalty with visual imagery and performance art projects.
In September, Del Monte, a leading processed food band, launched its "Ketchup Khao, Thoda Banao" promotional project, inviting consumers in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to make creative art works using the colour and texture of Del Monte sauces. The art works were posted on a Facebook site as brand feedback.
The chief operating officer of Fieldfresh Food Pvt Ltd, Yogesh Bellani, described the camapign as carrying food art to the next level. "Till this year it was confined to product packaging," he said.
"This was the first-of-its-kind initiative to innovatively engage with youth who are key users and influences in the ketchup and sauces category.
The contest entailed freedom of expression, using the texture and colours of sauces," Bellani told IANS.
The total exposure for the Del Monte art work activity was put at 15.5 million with a range of entries that included posters, illustrations, caricatures, ketchup gardens and portraits of personalities, Bellani said.
Grover Vineyards has been enhancing the brand value of its vintage wines with specially commissioned art works on bottles. It has an `Art Collection`
range for the past three years. The company says the art works give the bottles life beyond the brew it hosts - making them collectibles.
The collection is eye-catching. The Art Collection Viognier bottles sport figurative drawings with ethnic motifs by Paresh Maity. Abstract artist Rini Dhumal lends the wine line`s Sauvignon Blanc a quixotic look with her colourful semi-figurative compositions.
The Shiraz Rose bottles come with faces of women - drawn in random half-strokes by painter Rekha Rodiwittiya. Artist Sanjay Bhattacharya recreates legends influenced by Omar Khayyam`s "Rubaiyat" on the Art Collection`s Cabernet Shiraz bottles.
In September, writer-poet-calligraphist Vikram Seth added to Absolut Vodka`s creative art brand with three "word paintings" inspired by Nastaleeq (ancient Arabic), Devnagari and Mandarin scripts.
The writer of "A Suitable Boy" had to compete with Absolut Vodka icons like Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, Louis Bourgeois, Rosemarie Trackel, Angus Fairhurst, Jan Saudek, Beatrice Cussol, Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher, who had contributed to the aesthetic legacy of the brand.
A spokesperson for the company said the "brand had been blending spirits with artistic creativity to carve a niche for itself in the market".
Research indicates that art connects instantly to consumers with its colourful palette and could help position a product uniquely in the market.
In developing countries like India, China and Brazil, in south Asia and Africa, where the population is predominantly young with a median age of 35, the booming economies powered by youth look for connections beyond mere consumption. Researchers say a bulk of the young professionals is upwardly mobile, eager to embrace aspirational lives in which art and aesthetics play an important role -- even if the larger role has to do with business or lifestyles.
Listing 12 major consumer trends for 2012, trend watching.com said: "While cultural differences continue to shape consumer desires, middle class and younger consumers in almost every market embraced brands that pushed the boundaries."
For example, a recent tie-up between the popular cafe chain Batista Lavalier and Penguin Books India added refined brand glamour to Barista menu with a dash of literature. Under the partnership, Penguin will use select Batista cafes across the country to release its books.
The tie-up opened with the unveiling of Sobhaa De`s book, "Sethji" in November.
Says R. Shivashankar, South Asia director of Barista Lavazza: "The relationship will draw the best from both sides."
Coca-Cola has been creating a bigger brand footprint with its partnership with popular music television channel MTV to target the more than 23 percent of the world`s teenaged population and the fusion of cultures that they represent with their Indo-western lifestyles and the sub-cultures of the regional and ethnic India, where the brand has made inroads.
Coke Studio, a project celebrating India`s rainbow music, has brought together musicians from different backgrounds to create a "new Indian musical experience" that has not only won for the brand millions of new Internet users but accolades as well.
Common in the West, building brand equity with culture and aesthetics is coming into its own in India too.