Officer’s Choice gets its act together; pipes down Bagpiper

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The war in the alcohol market has been simmering and this time Kishore Chabria seems to be a winner over his arch rival Vijay Mallya. Chabaria’s Allied Blenders & Distillers (ABD) owned whiskey brand Officer’s Choice has overtaken UB Group’s Bagpiper in the Indian market in Financial Year 2012.

But this did not happen overnight. Back in 2007-08 Officer’s Choice whiskey, as per the company, quoting International Wine & Spirits Report (IWSR) was a distant No 2 with sales of about 66 lakh cases and a claimed market share of 14 per cent, while No 1 player was Bagpiper with about 1.32 crore cases (as according to Officer’s Choice spokesperson).

Ahmed Rahimtoola,VP, Marketing, ABD

Ahmed Rahimtoola,VP, Marketing, Allied Blenders & Distillers

The challenge
So what were the key challenges in front of Officer’s Choice in 2008? Ahmed Rahimtoola, VP, Marketing, ABD says, “Four years ago, although the brand was selling 66 lakh cases and growing, research indicated that the brand was showing signs of vulnerability. Packaging was staid and dated. The erstwhile brand communication was not relevant and differentiated, the value proposition was low vis a vis competing brands and that the brand lacked a big brand feel.”

To address these challenges Officer’s Choice adopted a three pronged strategy: New packaging, brand repositioning and giving it a ‘Big’ brand feel.

The first step was to upgrade the packaging to more contemporary and dynamic to give it a “today feel”. At the same time, certain core identifiers of the brand like the badge, the font and the red colour were retained so as to not alienate the existing consumer franchise.

It was found that the brand’s masculinity proposition was not relevant to the modern consumers. Rahimtoola says, “The research indicated that the Officer’s Choice consumer wants to be seen as a respected person who has authority and is conventionally successful. Recognition is his key motivation and the only way he believes he can achieve this, is through his deeds and actions. Being helpful, good natured and honest… The choices (right) he makes, is what he believes will make him stand out. Hence using these insights, we repositioned the brand OC on the righteousness platform with a tagline: ‘Jagaiye Andaar Ka Officer’ (Awaken the Officer in You).”

The big idea around which the campaign revolved was: ‘It is the choices and actions that we take that determine whether we are true officers or not, in life.’ The brand proposition was communicated heavily on TV through a series of three ad-films based on real life situations. The films show common men, faced with ‘choices’ that they come across in their day to day life and the right choices they make in life. It created empathy and affinity for Officer’s Choice and had a very ‘Feel Good’ quotient attached to it.
Other than TV, ATL mediums like Print, OOH and Radio were also used to push the new positioning of the brand. “Brand track research has indicated that the adorer base in terms of consumers has substantially increased after repositioning the brand,” adds Rahimtoola.

Larger than life image
The third step was creating a ‘Big Brand Feel’. For this, the brand conducted CSR initiatives like Salaam Bengal & Salaam Rajasthan, sponsored big musical shows with leading Bollywood celebrities and local/cultural festivals.

Through Salaam Bengal and Salaam Rajasthan, common people who have contributed to society are recognised and rewarded for the work they have done. This helped the brand break clutter present amongst alcohol brands. Talking about the clutter in the BTL space, Sunil R Shetty, Planning Services Director, Draftfcb + Ulka says, “The challenge is that how do you differentiate yourself in a BTL scenario when every brand worth its salt is fighting for mindshare through similar activities. Hence it will be critical for brands to build properties which have resonance with the brand values and hence can be uniquely associated to build mindshare.”

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Abhinav Mohapatra

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