Seeking the “vantage point” for brand

Ngày: 11-03-2014


“Vantage point” is a dramatical and impressive Hollywood movie. The movie tells the story of terrorists who plan to assassinate American president in his official visit to Spain. The 90-minute movie describes the dramatical happenings in only 15 minutes. The terrorists find all ways to set the best location for shooting while the bodyguards make all their efforts to take the best location for the president to avoid bullets.


The war of nerves is determined by a vital factor: who gets the better “vantage point”.


Recently, Vinacafe brand launched a TVC with a quite “strange” message: “Coffee that is just made of coffee.”


Many may say: “What a nonsense! What is coffee made of, if not coffee?” In fact, the sapid cup of coffee we enjoy every morning may not be made not made of … coffee. There are lots of rumours and worries about the poor quality and unknown mixed ingredients of coffee. Ironically, the quote of Mr. Dang Le Nguyen Vu, the owner of Trung Nguyen, on Starbucks as “the coffee-flavoured water with sugar” seems to truly reflect the quality of unknown coffee, especially in street cafés.


Coffee that is just made of coffee! Vinacafe “shot at the target” of the worries about coffee quality. In Hollyhood words, does Vinacafe see its “vantage point”?


If you watched “Vantage point”, you would understand how well-planned the terrorists’ assassination plot is. They found the best location to kill the counterfeit president (he addresses the public) while with the help of the planted spy, at the same time they kidnapped the real president despite his special protection.


The war of seeking “vantage point” for the brands is increasingly fierce. Terrorists have a difficult-to-approach but visible target while the “vantage point” of brand is invisible and in customer’s mind. This point is difficult to define, and changeable. Especially the consumers are now confused with thousands of competitive brands. Consumers have so many choices so it’s getting difficult for brands to enter their short list.


To kill the target, the terrorists explored all locations surrounding the place where the president would stand. Finally, they found only one location that is easiest to shoot, needs least supporters (besides the shooter, they need a professional supporting group) and is effective to counter attack the bodyguards of the president.


To “kill” the consumer’s choice, there are many approaches for the brand to offer its products/services. However, the brand needs to find the most differentiated offering: easiest to be accepted by consumers, best leverage its competitive advantage and difficult for competitors to counter attack.


Whether “Coffee that is just made of coffee” message is the “vantage point” of Vincafe or not? In the context that consumers are worried about the contaminated coffee (processed with impurities), this is likely a “clean” bullet to shoot at the target. The “clean” feature is actually the inherent point of parity for a beverage. In Vietnam, it, however, is a valuable point of difference for consumers. What if there is another ABC brand claiming the same? According to the principle of preemptive claim, Vinacafe has certainly claimed a place in the customer’s mind. Any brand who wants to go against the awareness principle, just do it. However, let’s consider what happened to imitators of TH True Milk (the first brand claims and owns two valuable words: clean milk) or Kangaroo (the first brand claims “the leading water purifier in Vietnam”).


The connotation of brand’s “vantage point” is about finding the Unique Selling Point (USP) to win customer heart. This term is not new indeed. It was mentioned by Rosser Reeves, the American advertising legend, in the 1960s. In his book “Reality in Advertising” published in 1961, Rosser Reeves claimed that advertising should state directly specific benefits of customers.


“Coffee that is just made of coffee” message goes by this direction. In FMCG, there are similar messages:


“Melt in your mouth not in your hands” (M&M Candy)

“No worries of hotness inside” (Dr. Thanh Tea)

“Clean milk” (TH True Milk)


The term “vantage point” itself demonstrates its meaning: in spite of having some prominent features, each brand should only focus on one unique advantage. It’s essential to determine accurately where the “vantage point” is. This is a challenging task because “the vantage point of the brand” lies inside the customer’s heads. As Walter Landor’s quote: “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind”.


At present, “Coffee that is just made of coffee” can be considered as the fine “vantage point” for Vinacafe. The two following points may have prevented Vinacafe from being a media phenomenon: TVC has not been “inspired enough to emphasise the differentiation message; Vinacafe sells instant coffee, not the coffee chain brand – the ”hot“ segment for the war of seeking “vantage point”.


At the end of the movie “Vantage point”, there was a special emotional scene. In the way of escaping, the terrorist was driving at a deadly speed. He suddenly saw a little girl crying and looking for her mom right in the middle of the road. In 1/100 second, he decided to steer to avoid the girl. Very instinctively! The truck certainly upturned as driving at maximum speed and the terrorists all died. It is this valuable detail that is actually the “vantage point” of the movie: Although being serial killers, deep inside the terrorists’ hearts, they are still human with very “humane” thoughts.


Brands are like human. Even when it already set a “vantage point” and heavily promotes in media, the brand still need moments “touching” the customer’s feeling.


Is this what Vinacafe and other Vietnamese brands are lack of?


Nguyễn Đức Sơn

Brand Strategy Director – Richard Moore Associates


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