Written by Halima Sadia & Raisa Mim Chowdhury
A first of its kind celebration for the marketing enthusiasts of the country, Bangladesh Marketing Day has been observed on 1st July. A total of 76 universities and educational institutions, 56 corporate offices and other related institutions celebrated the day through small events, sessions and cutting cakes. An initiative taken by the Marketing Alumni Association, Dhaka University, and Convened by Prof. Dr. Mijanur Rahman, Vice Chancellor of Jagannath University, this much needed celebration was extended to 2nd July through day-long ceremony at TSC Auditorium, Dhaka University. The auspicious ceremony marked the commencement of another new initiative – Marketers Institution Bangladesh. The Co-Conveners of the event were Prof. Dr. Anisur Rahman, Chairman – Dept. of Marketing, Dhaka University, Mr. Asif Iqbal of Meghna Group, Mr. K. M. Ali of Partex, Mr. Mizanur Rahman of Bestway Group and Ashraf Bin Taj of Marketing Society of Bangladesh. The Member Secretary of the event was Drt. Shariful Islam Dulu.
From veteran marketers to young marketing students, stakeholders from all the sectors came together under one roof to share thoughts, experience and stories. Every single marketing niche was being displayed, from people teaching others How to market a book to others explaining how to handle large budget campaigns, so there was something for everyone to learn. Along with a beautiful rally in the morning, there were storytelling sessions, panel discussion, debate, cultural performances, and much more. Besides the speakers, some of the renowned marketers present at the ceremony were Muneer Ahmed Khan, Managing Director and Creative Chief of Unitrend Ltd., Syed Alamgir, Managing Director, ACI Consumer Brands, and Ashraf Bin Taj, President, Marketing Society of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Brand Forum, being a proud knowledge partner of the initiative, is sharing excerpts of the day-long ceremony through this story.
The daylong ceremony started with the welcoming speech of Shariful Islam Dulu, Member Secretary of Bangladesh Marketing Day Celebration Committee. His short speech was followed by the event convener Prof. Dr. Mijanur Rahman, the Vice-Chancellor of Jagannath University and the celebrity Professor of Marketing of Dhaka University. He shared the main purpose of Bangladesh Marketing day – sharing of knowledge, experience and expertise of all the people involved in marketing. “Consumers first” was the theme for this year’s celebration.
Dr. Mijanur Rahman stressed that people have the misconception that marketers exploit consumers. In reality, marketers need to satisfy consumers in order to last in the long run. With only 5 years of studying, we enter into a worklife of nearly 50 years. Practical knowledge is crucial besides theoretical learnings which can be gained through experts who share their invaluable experiences.
BANGLADESH IN THE EYE OF INTERNATIONAL MARKETERS
Jonas Wikstrom, CEO, First Aid Center, Sweden made his remarks at the event. Mr. Jonas explained how he faced skepticism from acquaintances when he decided to launch in Bangladesh; there were concerns about its long distance from Sweden, its different cultural and socio-political barriers. But his approach to accepting these challenges was awe-inspiring.
Also spoke at the event Mr. Shri Somanathan Sridharan, CEO, CBL Munchee. He shared his experience of establishing their brand in Bangladesh. A big challenge was thinking from the perspective of a Bangladeshi. As a marketer you want to provide your customers not just the brand but the whole experience that comes along with it. “We had to go few steps behind to establish adequate supplies, because the distribution channel in Bangladesh is kind of a hybrid model,” he stressed.
KEYNOTE BY PROF. SYED FERHAT ANWAR
A keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Dr. Syed Ferhat Anwar, Director of IBA, Dhaka University. He highlighted on the paradigm shift happening in the global context of marketing and how we, in Bangladesh need to adapt to it and make the best of it. He added, “I ask myself everyday if I am relevant. It’s a fast-changing world and we don’t know whether we are valid or not in any given moment.”
He went on to elaborate, “Marketers have to be aware of how the consumer mindset is changing. Consumers are the ultimate contributors to economic emancipation. However, a brand needs to cater to all of its stakeholders, or “customers”, and it’s anything but an easy thing to do. Marketers and consumers create and share products today, because the world is a vast interconnected zone, now more than ever before.” The term “VUCA World” is now also a strong buzzword because the marketing realm is evolving as a unified whole as a result of globalization, technology and zero tolerance. He also reinstated the core message of the event: consumer first.
While the paradigm shifts propose the challenge of how technology will cater to the massive upsurge in demand, Bangladesh in the meanwhile already has the right ground. Its huge population density is in fact the very reason why companies worldwide are eyeing heavily potential marketability here, an example of this is Lead Generation who helps businesses with a you do it yourself way of marketing as well as finding away of using SEO to market products to a growing audience by making it easier for them to find it online. Currently, websites like WordPress are making it easier for businesses to use targeted SEO to reach consumers, for example, something like woocommerce seo can help merchants reach possible consumers for their products. SEO and other marketing techniques can help bring in traffic for companies. Many would argue that it is even easier than ever before for those who have online businesses to be able to market their businesses by using something like these Clickfunnels templates to achieve their goals and interact with their consumers. He concluded, “This country can very well be an example for the rest of the world. We here are working to serve kind of large demand that is set to be a future scenario, not just here but overseas too. It is what we should have pride in as a nation, as our human resource and the opportunities that underlie are what the world is increasingly taking interest in.”
MARKETING FROM AN ENTREPRENEURIAL PERSPECTIVE
Following the keynote, Mr. Mostafa Kamal, Chairman & Managing Director of Meghna Group of Industries shared his extraordinary entrepreneurial journey. He added some invaluable perspectives on the wave of change happening, “Marketing, advertisement, logistics, transportation, etc. are all connected with the concept of branding. Marketers have more resources and information to work with as distribution channels have become more streamlined and consumer thought processes have evolved to create new opportunities.” His struggles and experiences in his entrepreneurial journey are a source of learning for generations to come as it teaches to stay true to one’s goals and never let any obstacle dissuade them.
The next speaker was Ms. Uzma Chowdhury, Corporate Finance Director of PRAN-RFL Group. She shared how PRAN has succeeded for decades by building on the love it received from its consumers. She emphasized how both qualitative measures and quantitative measures are equally essential for a business to flourish. Ms. Uzma believes that effective communication is key, otherwise any product will be a failure. “There are many ways to conduct effective marketing communication. Media plays a big part, word-of-mouth is just as crucial too. Positive notion has to be created such that your consumers carry it forward.” She believes that marketers have to have a lot of practical knowledge to materialize a vision, just the academic learning won’t suffice. Brewing hopes for Bangladesh, she concludes, “This country is not a bottomless basket anymore. Through platforms like this we are bringing the right minds together and I strongly believe that if we all work together, we can take Bangladesh to the next level.”
BUILDING SUCCESSFUL ORGANIZATIONS THROUGH MARKETING
The next session was by Mr. Syed Alamgir, Managing Director, ACI Consumer Brands. Mr. Alamgir is person behind the “100% Halal Soap” campaign which was even mentioned in Philip Kotler’s Principles of Marketing book. Nineteen years since he joined ACI, Mr. Alamgir has witnessed ACI reach many milestones. ACI has collaborated to sell four brands to SC Johnson of USA, one of the 10 best companies to work with. Mr. Alamgir had many helpful advices to share with the future marketers. He believes marketers create needs and have to understand the needs fully to be able to do that. It must be ensured that the unique selling points are backed by facts.
ROLE OF ADVERTISING IN THE MARKETING REALM
Next session highlighted the role of advertising agencies in driving marketing forward. The speaker was Nazim Farhan Choudhury, Managing Director of Adcomm. Mr. Nazim emphasized on advertising being one of the key elements of marketing functions. He discussed the different tradeoffs when it comes to advertising such as Macro vs Micro, Being Conceptual vs Being Transactional, Idea vs Execution and Team vs Individual.
He also shared different cases from his own work experience. The first case he discussed was Lifebouy. Bangladesh has the lowest per capita handwashing and our infant mortality rate is also high due to this very reason. So, they focused on the usage of Lifebouy in their communications by highlighting children should wash their hands five time a day through their campaign. Within 5 years, we now have the lowest infant mortality rate in the region. Mr. Farhan next discussed Robi’s Islamic mobile package, Nur. Nur was Robi’s one of the most successful product launches. In Bangladesh, majority of the people have strong religious ties and values. Mr. Farhan and his team used this insight and conveyed Hadith stories in their advertising which was ultimately a huge success.
Mr. Farhan requested all marketers to work together and do something big as well as respect each other. He also requested everyone to pay their advertising agencies good money because it’s indeed a worthwhile investment.
WINNING STORIES OF LIFE
Aman Ashraf Faiz, CEO of Gazi TV, shared some of his extraordinary visions and how he put them into action with Gazi TV. He defines marketing as a combination of science and art – while science can be taught in class, art has to be practically learnt from experts. Talking about the media industry, he reflects on the past and briefs on how there was no organized rural marketing media back in the day. “Some programmes, ran for the less privileged ones, couldn’t even be reached out to, even back in 1999-2000. 40% of the targeted audiences would live in the rural regions and 70% of these people were in the “media dark” zone.”
Mr. Aman goes on to add what extent of dedication he had to cater to his most remote target viewer. He believes that a marketer needs to explore the ground reality. “There is a missing link if we as marketers do not go to the field and experience a situation the way a consumer would do. We need to look at any scenario from the consumer’s perspective, not the producer’s. For example, product placement in the market is not always enough, ensuring product availability to the customer when and where they want it is the bigger challenge.”
GTV, besides being one of the top satellite TV channels of Bangladesh, has done a lot of CSR activities over the years. Aman says, “We ran a campaign with the brand promise “Ja dekhte chan, paben.” While this hit the right chord, we realized this campaign was not including those who were visually impaired. Later, we launched a program titled “Shopno dekhe chokh”, where we partnered with Sightsavers, to help visually-challenged individuals regain their sight free-of-cost and also raise awareness on preventable blindness. The episodes tell stories of dreams coming true after participants “get to see what they want” on the screens of GTV.”
GTV next plans to partner with international channels to take this project of theirs beyond borders. “It is still just a proposal. We aim to treat 20 people of 20 different countries and bring them to watch the final match of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 live.”
DISTRICT BRANDING THROUGH FUN
A Zila branding debate “Amrai Shera” was held among the inhabitants of multiple districts putting forward their fun-filled arguments of why their district is the best in branding. The debate perhaps made everyone in the audience laugh, at the same time rethink about the unique aspects of every participating district.
STORY FROM SUCCESSFUL MARKETER
The next speaker was Muneer Ahmed Khan, Managing Director and Creative Chief of Unitrend Ltd. The brain behind iconic slogan ‘Macher Raja Ilish, Battir Raja Philips”, Mr. Muneer believes advertising is basically the truth well told. He talked about how we are actually not knowledgeable enough despite having many certificates. “We should care more about learning”, he added. Mr. Muneer further points out that Bangladesh lacks in self-confidence and that we should find ways to build our confidence. Regarding communications, Mr. Muneer told that a continuity should be maintained in communications.
PANEL DISCUSSION BY DIGITAL MARKETING EXPERTS
A panel discussion was held among few of the top minds in marketing enlightening everyone about the marketing breakthroughs by digital technology. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Mirza Iliush, Communication Consultant of Bangladesh Marketing Day. Firstly, Mr. Sanjid Hossain, General Manager of Digital Services, Robi Axiata Limited discussed how digital marketing differs from traditional marketing. A platform is judged based on few criteria such as analytics, effective content etc. Next, Jhumur Sayeda, Media Director of Top of Mind, went over the transformation from offline media to online media. While Television is considered to have the biggest reach in media, when it comes to effectiveness, the answer is digital media. Digital media has gone beyond Facebook now. Even the clients are now changing their briefs focusing more on engagement, reach, target audience etc. Mr. Lutfi Chowdhury, Regional Manager, South Asia at Eskimi talked about the frequently asked question from the clients. One of them is if Facebook is free, why pay for the marketing in said platform. Nowadays, the budget allocated for digital marketing is however increasing. “The global companies usually have 15% budget for digital. As the smartphone market has already been penetrated, marketers are going over how to target the feature phone users.” Next, Mr. Azim Hossain, Head of Digital, Pran_RFL Group, explains what digital is really all about. Digital is simply just a media, a channel and a communication means to connect consumers. There are metrics associated with digital such as ROI, impression generation, consumer engagement, satisfaction analysis etc.
When asked to choose two among ATL, BTL and digital, Ms. Jhumur answered that it all depends on the campaign’s objective. Digital is a part of ATL. Mr. Azim added that digital marketing is the bridge between ATL and BTL. Mr. Sanjid then talked about importance of query management. “Handling complaints is much easier in digital as there are chatbots which capture different analytics.” Regarding career in digital marketing, Mr. Lutfi said that although digital media is currently booming, resources are low compared to the demand. Ms. Jhumur advised everyone to gain deeper understanding of brand and marketing. Mr. Azim stressed on how vast skill sets are expected from marketers. So, necessary steps should be taken to hone the skills of digital marketers for the future.
COMMENCEMENT OF MARKETERS INSTITUTION BANGLADESH
At this point in the event, a delightful official announcement was made by the Dr. Mijanur Rahman, Asif Iqbal and Shariful Islam Dulu to establish the Marketers Institution Bangladesh, urging the support of all the top notch brands attending the event. This is believed to be a unique platform for all the marketing maestros of the country. Through this institution, professionals can acquire skill refinement, certification, training, research opportunities, opinion exchange and much more. They announced that Marketing day will be celebrated on 2nd Friday of July from next year onwards hosted by Marketers Institution Bangladesh. Eventually the institution will branch out to other cities such as Sylhet and Chittagong.
TRANSFORMATIONAL MARKETING THROUGH CREATIVITY
The last speaker of the event was Asif Iqbal, Executive Director of Marketing, Meghna Group of Industries. Mr. Asif mainly talked about the transformation of marketing through creativity in his speech and discussed two very interesting cases.
One of the cases was on of MGI’s core products, Fresh. When Asif Iqbal joined MGI, most of the brands used to be sold below its market price. The production faced many problems such as short supply challenges. Mr. Iqbal led a team of 1300 members at the very start. Instead of changing his team, Mr. Iqbal decided to use company’s existing people rather than outsourcing. By conducting skill gap analysis, he provided training for the unskilled sales representatives. Across the brands, he worked on quality improvement. When he started out, Fresh milk powder was the 4th selling brand and he researched thoroughly to find out why Fresh was behind. Research was conducted by Quantum Marketing Research and Consumer panel. The research findings revealed that out-of-home consumption was more for milk powder. Now, ad hoc research was conducted to understand the specific problem of milk powder. Results showed that Fresh Milk Powder’s quality was indeed up to par. So, Mr. Asif decided to match price with one biggest competitor brand. He subsided the price with distribution excellence, pressured sales force to make the product available in every cluster market and got rid of the marketing gaps.
Another issue they identified was the packaging. Their production needed state of art machines to reduce the wastages due to leakage. The second issue was with brand positioning. During the FGD sessions, one housewife revealed that her performance was measured through her child’s report card. Using this as a key consumer insight, Adcomm came up with the campaign “Ami jitle jite jai ma”. Others were reluctant because the first ad showed that the boy did not have a mother which was considered to be a negative portrayal. Mr. Asif Iqbal personally related with this story because he lost his mother as well. In the end, the campaign was another huge success.
Mr. Iqbal concluded, “My job is to give my work a role that will inspire the whole society”. He believes creativity doesn’t lie in advertising but in structured and result oriented thoughts. Teamwork is another major driver of success because one cannot do it alone.
MARKETING YOUNG MINDS
At the end, students from the marketing clubs of different universities presented their views on marketing. With utmost enthusiasm, the young minds shared their clubs’ support to the initiative and presented how their club is helping spread the knowledge of marketing through different events.
Musical performances and other cultural segments ended the day-long celebration in a festive mood.