Take a ride around town, and you can clearly see that the next big brand battle plans are being laid out in the sugary category of frozen desserts and ice creams.
While the arrival of Engro Food’s Omore brand has only recently heated up the ice creams marketing landscape, Unilever’s Wall’s has been active in the category since 1994. Outpacing and absorbing many of its local rivals, the big red giant has since been steadily gaining market share and had become a default for ice cream lovers throughout the country.
Come March 2009, and Omore makes an entry, a decidedly dairy ice cream with strong connections to Olpers, a brand success story that makes Engro a worthy opponent against international players operating in the Pakistani marketplace.
As the brand launched in Lahore, Engro Foods commissioned an extensive marketing campaign that sought to blanket Lahore with ‘the art of happiness’. Surely, Omore’s integrated Lahore campaign got a good word of mouth going. People in other parts of the country were looking forward to trying Omore, more so because they couldn’t have it rather than any recommendations on the product experience itself. But due to the experimental nature of the product, it seems Walls did not pay much attention to the big O and continued about their business without any drastic alterations to their brand strategy.
Spring of 2011 is when Omore decided to land in Karachi, and they really went all out with a “conquer karachi” strategy that involved television, radio, activation, ambient and digital working in tandem in a dramatic show of stregnth to the city of lights. We’re no Igloo or Hico, Omore seemed to be saying.
Here’s where everybody blew things way out of proportion. Omore very carefuly plays the restrained underdog approach and leaves the audience to fill in the blanks themselves. Soon, people started talking about Omore’s alleged marketing standoff with Walls. Many prophesized Engro’s marketing team to be focused on slaying the multinational giant. Whenever anybody saw Omore in their environment, they created this myth in their head about how Engro was poised to overthrow Walls and emerge a dominant player in the market, as their parent company had done to Nestle’s Milkpak earlier.
Most people, however, are not marketers. They fail to see that this is a brand launch. Yes, it’s done very tactfully. But no, this does not signal any superiority of Omore’s marketing efforts over Wall’s. It’ll take more than a fancy battle cry to bring or break down the Great Walls of Pakistan, and Omore knows this only too well.
Wall’s painted the town red back in the day when they were launching even though they weren’t worried much about the Polkas of the world. Today, they understandably don’t want to be engaging in a show of marketing might. I appreciate the fact that marketers at Unilever aren’t descending to rebuttals like they did with Sunsilk.
The two brands in question are at different points in their cycle, and this is the little nugget of information that most spectators are missing.
Once Omore exhausts its launch budgets, once its newness has worn off, once that spark of a new product romance has faded away from consumer memory, then only will this marketing fog clear. Then we can see what brand holds power over the hearts and minds of the people.
Photo Credit: Maaz A. Khan