Of Rakhi Sawant and Marketing

When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, but when life gives you Rakhi Sawant then errr you learn a thing or two about marketing. No, seriously you can if you scratch the surface. When you hear the words “item girl” it invariably conjures an image of Rakhi Sawant (don’t tell me you came up with someone different, anyways let’s stick to Rakhi Sawant because that would make explaining things easier).

Why is that? Why is her name so synonymous with item girl? This is exactly what brands tend to achieve – that is to be synonymous with the product.

The major reason is timing, which the men in suits like to call ‘first move advantage’. She appeared on dancing scene at the right time and more at the time when very few were into it. Prime example of this is photocopy, can you think of any other brand other than Xerox, surely I can’t. It is so ubiquitous that it has become a verb. After having introduced photocopier in 1959 the company had only risen and no one has been able to dislodge it. In contemporary scenario the same goes for Google which is synonymous with searching. “Searching it online” and “binging it” don’t have the same ring as “googling it”, do they?

Fans of Katrina you’d agree she might be a better dancer than Rakhi but then why isn’t she regarded as item girl. The reason is ‘comparative advantage’. Katrina is a better actress (if you could call speaking acting) and being called an actress definitely commands more respects than being labeled item girl so item dancing is left for lower forms of life (in relative terms of course). In commercial world the perfect example would be iphone and micromax. Iphone definitely commands huge profits being a niche product and it would want to capture territory acquired by micromax so both go on their merry way.

With Rakhi you always assume someone who is loud, crass and doesn’t care to speak her mind (here we can have some unanimity). There is no ambiguity here and there is a fixed image or brand. A brand cannot signify multiple things at once. Here the famous failure of Iphone 5c comes handy, when I said Iphone is a niche brand and the brand signifies- richness, so I don’t wanna hold an Iphone-5c and let someone tell me –“hey that’s the cheaper one right” and only I’d understand the pain of shelling of 40k for something cheap. More recently it can be applied to Mr. CM Delhi who would be perfect fit for U-turn signage. There is certainly confusion and not even supporters know what to expect of him let alone opponents and when you are not able to connect with you target audience you are doomed.

And with Rakhi you expect her to be seen or be heard regularly even though that could be disturbing for most but still it helps in reinforcing the brand Rakhi. There are umpteen examples of loud advertising benefitting a brand but this doesn’t really need to be verbally or visually. Each new mega structure that spawns in Dubai is a clarion call to say “we mean business”, you don’t need to see the building to feel the vibes even by just reading the news you’d realize that something dramatic is happening there.

Would brand Dubai have been the same without Burj-al Arab, Burj Khalifa or Palm Jumeirah, I don’t think so. It is definitely greater than some of its parts. But you could argue that recent RG’s interview for Times Now hasn’t done any good to his brand , the then if you are projecting yourself as a smart Indian leader and complement it with dumbness again and again it certainly wouldn’t work. Had he been projecting himself as a participant on “Comedy Circus” then certainly the brand RG would have reinforced itself.

So when as an item girl Rakhi’s career remained stagnant she adapted and moved to reality shows. When there are changes in your immediate surrounding you need to adapt and move on. Nokia are you reading all this? Ohh, wait never mind. Initially branded shampoos were just sold in bottles but it didn’t make much headway in ‘Bharat’ because the price was too steep for an uncharted product, Cavin Kare adapted and introduced sachets. For those underestimating the success and innovation of this should read this- In 2011, 87% of shampoo sold in India was in sachets. That is some success for adaptation, right.

Everyone is not so useless after all.

PS: Just as every good brand I am also open to suggestions and feedbacks.