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Arokia Rexton C Deepak. MR

Introduction and definition

Marketing is turning out to be a hard nut to crack with an inflow of numerous players for each and every product available on the earth. Right from small players to huge corporations depends on advertisements to pull customers. So completely staying out of advertisements is out of question for any brand. Hence even products like alcohol that are banned from direct advertisement have found a way to flash their brand names indirectly on screen. This technique has been coined a fancy name called surrogate marketing. Surrogate marketing is a technique where companies that manufacture products which are banned from direct advertisements, introduce brand extensions with same brand name as the banned product. The dictionary meaning of the word surrogate is to appoint (another) as a replacement for oneself. Here the brand extended product acts as a replacement for the main banned product only in the promotions and hence the term. A quick example would be McDowells soda as a surrogate for McDowells whisky. The ad comes with a flashy tagline The No 1 spirit . The double meaning of the word spirit has been cleverly used by the advertiser here.

Other examples that are used as surrogate include Kingfisher water and calendars, Bacardi music Cds, royal stag music Cds, Royal Challenge music CDs and golf accessories, Smirnoff apple juice, AC black apple juice and Wills fashion week events.

How to select the surrogate products

Brand Extension
Brand extension plays a crucial role in surrogate marketing. Once the manufacturer is pushed to go for surrogate marketing, the next important process is choosing the medium (product/service) through which they are going to advertise the banned product. Brand extension comes into the play at this juncture. The banned product brand would be extended to another product/service which has no legal issues in being advertised. The newly extended product/service is technically called as spinoffs or surrogates. Companies generally pick up complementary products that are used along the main product as surrogate products. This is done in order to set the same mood in the consumers mind as the parent brand would do (brand association). Care should be taken that the surrogates should comply in line with the parent brands image, awareness, attitude and relationship with the consumers. A list of products/service banned from being advertised, attributes connected with them and some possible extensions are given in the table below:
Product Related Attributes Possible Product Extensions (Includes the products/services which can be used as surrogate products) Sponsoring Comedy shows , sports programs Messaging apps like watsapp, we chat etc Restaurants Sponsored parties, Singing and dancing events, music CDs Restaurants Glass wares like beer mug, wine glass, bowls etc , bottle opener Snacks Carbonated beverages, water, soda Ice cubes* Adventure sports accessories Lighters, ash trays Mens deodorant Lighters, candles, lightings, match boxes Messaging apps like watsapp, we chat etc

Fun, relaxation, excitement Friends, Opposite sex friends, missed out friends Dim lights (bar effect) Dance, sing, shout, hoot, DJ, Dance floor Beer/liquor Exotic ambience Exotic glass ware, curvy bottles Side dishes Foam, cock tails, raw shots Low temperature Thrill ,Riding vehicles, Cigarette Smoke Lighting Sharing a cigarette with friend


Apparel Ash trays, shoes Tobacco Candies, mint, pan Bubble gum Children adaptation centers, Baby-sitting centers Infant Formula Innocence, tenderness Nipples and other baby products Purity, healthy Milk, cradle, other toddler products Fun, youthfulness Sexy model reviews, wallpapers etc Relaxation Bed, pillow, mattress, spa, Ayurvedic massage CDs and books Sexual Safety Condoms, contraceptive pills, Services/ Porn sexual wellness products Aroma Deodorants, room freshener, mouth freshener Sweat, tired, longer time Energy drinks Love, bonding Sex advice programs Privacy Personal diaries *ice cube, which is a commodity now, can be tried to be branded. Branded ice cubes can be sold at bars and pubs and they could take their POD as purity, flavors (eg: lime, mint, sweet etc) etc.

Style Put off Chew Spit Babies

India Vs other parts of the world

Promotions of cigarettes are banned in most of the countries (186) and hence only surrogate marketing such as event sponsors is done by them. As far as alcohol is concerned countries like Philadelphia, Turkey and Russia, alcohols advertisements have been totally banned as in India and hence the usual surrogate marketing by brand extension is used for promotions. But in countries like US alcohol advertising is allowed on TV programs where more than 70% of the audience is adults. Here though actual surrogate marketing is not used a milder version of it is used, as there are several restrictions on the content that can be shown on alcohol ads. Advertising based on the strength of alcohol content or the after-effects is not allowed. This means that they cannot advertise based on important features (i.e alcohol strength) and benefits (highness) but only on values. Value based advertising always involves a mild dose of surrogacy to bring in the in-direct effect. Hence in most of the beer ads some kind of surrogate like crazy dances or dialogues are used as the theme. Egs WASSUP commercial by Budweiser. [WASSUP commercial by Budweiser--Youtube]

Effectiveness of surrogate marketing

The main purpose of using a surrogate product while promoting banned substances is that the young people and the non-intended audience should not be influenced by these promotions. To check the effectiveness of the surrogate ads a market survey was conducted to a sample of 90 people (drinkers and non-drinkers). As a part of the survey the people were asked to view McDowells platinum soda ad and comment on what product they recalled after viewing the ad. 95% of the sample who had consumed alcohol recalled whisky after viewing the ad. 100% of the sample who were non-drinkers recalled the actual product being showing on screen (i.e soda). The above results show that surrogate marketing plays a highly effective role. [McDowells No 1 Platinum soda-Youtube ad]

Future -Merging into social media

Social media has become the buzz word these days. With millions of consumers shifting to interactive channels like YouTube, Facebook, twitter etc, the promoters of various brands including liquor and tobacco products are following suite. The shift from traditional (TV, radio, print) to social media looks like a great advantage for surrogate marketers. The main purpose of banning products from promotions is that young people and the non-intended must not be influenced by the promotion. Social media helps in the above objective by restricting content that can be viewed, by age and category. The Facebook page of Bacardi, India does not open unless the age of the Fb account holder is more than 25, thereby satisfying the first objective. The alcohol brand pages ads appear on targeted audiences Fb profile (who are already using alcohol), thereby satisfying second objective of intended audience. This target audience information is collected by Fb algorithms that navigate through user profiles, user check-ins, groups joined etc. As the content in social media is highly targeted as mentioned above, the Facebook pages of various alcoholic brands show explicit content without using surrogate or replacement. Slowly but steadily restrictions are coming up as to what can be shown on social media and hence brands like kingfisher fill their Facebook pages with surrogate content such as kingfisher fest, music shows, event etc.

Is surrogate marketing ethical

One important question any marketer should ask himself before deciding on a marketing strategy is that Is it ethical? Ethical issues have been making the job tough for the marketers in the recent past than in the early 19th century. The reason behind this was that there were no proper standards for ethics devised and followed throughout the globe. It varies between different time periods, social groups and even worse, there are different opinions within the groups themselves. Recent researches have proved that marketers and the customers have different view towards ethics.

Marketing theories have already taught us that for any product to be successful, it must win the customers acceptance and appreciation. Though this sounds fine enough, there are much more complexities involved in it when it comes to actual business. In India, surrogate marketing is completely legal. But one cannot conclude that it is ethical. Marketers have to view the ethical aspects from the customers angle. Having said all this, let us now try to appreciate this from the customers end. You might feel it is ethical, but your neighbor might not. If you could visit some online polls and forums about the ethical aspects of surrogate you could find that the entire population is split into two parts and are debating this issue. There hasnt been any concrete consensus on this debate so far. This poses a question to the marketers as to which customer groups ethics they should consider! It is a matter of time, till a unanimous opinion is formed among the public. Till then, the debate of ethical issues will have no one answer.

A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Ethical Dimensions of Alcohol and Tobacco Sports Sponsorships Author: McDaniel, Stephen R; Kinney, Lance; Chalip, Laurence Marketing Strategies for the Ethics Era by Smith, N Craig Strategic Brand Management by Keller Wikipedia-alcohol ads Wikipedia