Friday 13 April 2007

Brand Equity: Is it not worth thinking about?

Brands are not what they used to be. Once a brand was a symbol of reassurance. If a manufacturer put his brand on a product it indicated his confidence in the item to deliver if not quality at least consistency. The product delivered what it said on the package..

This appears not to be so as far as Ribena is concerned. Two Kiwi school girls discovered in their chemistry lab that Ribena, despite claims in its advertising contained virtually no Vitamin C. They took their findings to the company and were allegedly given short shrift. The New Zealand government took them more seriously and when their own tests revealed a similar lack of the vital vitamin, banned the said advertisement and imposed a hefty fine on top. The story was then reported on television stations and newspapers worldwide. You would have thought that adding some Vitamin C would have been inexpensive. I don’t know if Ribena in the rest of the world has the requisite amount of the vitamin but it should. That would be at least honest. Now much of the advertising investment of £5.7million in the UK in 2006 appears to be wasted and we‘ve played into the hands of those who think that advertisers and their agency advisers are all a bunch of charlatans. And grocery multiples, who take their own image seriously may refuse to stock the brand too.

Sadly its not only grocery brands that mismanage their brands franchise.

The Sunday Times reported the case of Charlotte Maltese. a young woman murdered in 2005.She had an insurance policy with the Norwich Union. who refused to pay out because she failed to disclose in her application form that she had had a smear test. Prior to this excuse they had claimed the beneficiary should be her boyfriend, but dropped this pathetic excuse when it was pointed out that as her murderer, he could not benefit from a criminal act. Incidentally, the smear test showed some abnormal cells, but nothing wrong with her health. Close friend Agostina Murgia said: ”Norwich Union seems to be trying every cynical trick to avoid paying up “

Last night on BBC1s Watchdog programme, its millions of viewers were warned that critical illness policies were the worst in paying up. Insurers apparently trawl through medical records, not just of the insured person but also of other family members. Over 1 in 5 claims are rejected. The programme warned that people who think they are covered against the onset of a dread disease should check their policies carefully

Imagine on top of the bad news about your health you are told that the money you were counting on to pay the mortgage and keep the family while you were treated will not be forthcoming.

Now no intelligent Marketing Director responsible for marketing and advertising budgets of several million pounds will deliberately let his brand equity be damaged by such callous behaviour. It follows therefore that company policy may be dictated to a greater degree by the financial people.
Some of them don’t appreciate the fragile nature of brands.

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