Mumbai Capital

Of consultants, cricket, fans and likes

Anant Rangaswami  

Take a look at the tweets reproduced below.

“It is the 5th consecutive T20 loss for Team India against New Zealand!”

“Yesterday, Kane Williamson displayed visionary and coaching styles of leadership!”

“Will a lack of power hitters in the lower order of the Indian team be a disadvantage against New Zealand? #WorldCupLeaders #INDvNZ #WT20.”

“The Black Caps have lost their 3rd wicket! What cues should K Williamson take from @msdhoni’s leadership style?”

These tweets appeared on my timeline during the India-New Zealand match, as did other well-made graphics from the same twitter handle. The handle? @HayGroupIndia.

What’s Hay Group? It’s a consultancy firm in the ‘people’ space. As they say, they’re “the people people”. Hay Group advises large companies on their organisation structure, skills, emoluments, retention, and so on. So why are they talking cricket?

Take a few minutes and scroll down their Twitter timeline and you quickly discover that the cricket-related tweets are not just cricket-related, they’re also leadership and team-related.

It’s a brave and interesting communication strategy from Hay. The obvious thing for an organisation in the same space as Hay to do is to pepper followers with ‘leadership’ quotes from business leaders.

The result? Death by boredom.

Instead, Hay has ridden the wave of popularity that the T20 World Cup generated, by entertainingly talking about cricket while subtly plugging their specialisation.

Last week, I had interviewed Cheuk Chiang, CEO of Omnicom Media Group, APAC, on the opportunities that digital provides to marketers to target consumers better. In his response, he shared an illustration of how a manufacturer of a high-end car might use data to advertise to a prospective customer on, say Forbes.com (because people who can afford expensive cars would probably read Forbes) — but also on fishing.com (because the lifestyle of the rich includes fishing). Similarly, Hay Group realises that leaders on Twitter also like cricket.

That’s the new, efficient way to target consumers: their tastes. In the conventional method of media planning, ‘demographics’ are used, categorising consumers according to age, gender, income, location, and education. While this is still used, the availability of mountains of data about consumers thanks to the digital footprint now allows for much more perfect targeting because of the granularity.

The targeting is not enough: next comes the relevance of the content to the consumer and the ambience in which the content will reside. That’s why Hay Group deserves more than a pat on the back for what they’re doing on Twitter. Twitter restricts users to 140 characters or images or a combination, and it’s not easy creating content that works well in these confines. Just one of the cricket-related graphics shows us how it can be done.

Participative, directive, pace-setting, visionary, coaching and affiliative are the words used to describe Dhoni. What Hay wants the reader to do is to make him or her think about these styles in the context of their own seniors, juniors and peers.

If Hay got it right, in the same week, we saw State Bank of India getting it horribly wrong, releasing a front page ad in major newspapers across the country congratulating itself for crossing “Five million fans on the SBI Facebook page”.

First, Facebook doesn’t record ‘fans’. What SBI can truthfully claim is that it has five million likes for the page. Second, if the bank truly believed that it has five million fans, why on earth waste budgets advertising in expensive print publications? And finally, and this is perplexing, why hasn’t SBI announced this ‘achievement’ on their own Facebook page?

Over the next few years, marketers will look at good and bad use cases on social media to master the medium. For now, put the Hay example in the ‘good’ box and the SBI example in the ‘bad.’

The writer is Editor, Storyboard

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 4:53:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/business/of-consultants-cricket-fans-and-likes/article8379846.ece

Next Story