Pranav Pratap Singh interned at United Breweries Ltd (UBL) and shares his enthralling experience of promoting beer in IPL during his internship. Pranav is an MBA student at IIM Kashipur. Read on to discover his interesting story of promoting Indian beer brand.
THE PERFECT FIT
It wouldn’t be audacious to say that my internship was at least good fit, if not the best one. I was working on promoting an Indian Beer Brand through a star studded twenty-20 cricket extravaganza. I am sure that would explain why none of my batch-mates failed to remind of the “fit”. I guess by now, it would be needless to say that I always wanted to be a marketer. UBL wasn’t the first company to visit the campus with a lucrative marketing profile but it was certainly the first time I actually got tempted. So far I had just hoped that I get to drop plan A and jump to plan B, which was to jump into the 2014 election extravaganza on behalf of a particular political party. The only allowance I got from my family was that I could do so if I was still not placed for the summer by the half of my batch mates were. When UBL came I knew there was a great probability that they would post me in Bangalore, where I had already been posted before. Though a part of me wished that I went to a new, unexplored location, there was still another part that knew I couldn’t manage a day without Google Maps on Bengaluru streets. It was true that I had stayed there before but I had obviously failed in exploring the place beyond my needs.
THE SELECTION PROCESS
We had a GD elimination round followed by the individual interviews but facilitated via Skype. In the group discussion we were shown the Apollo Munich Health Insurance TVC done by former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly. The concept we were being questioned about was “breaking the clutter”, or the usage of traces of original or unique features by advertisers to distinguish its communication and establish strong memory trace of the brand being advertised. Not digressing into the details of what transpired in there I would just add here that I was confident of my performance within the small group of four or five. But there were only five more such groups to go and hence no calculations were worth the time at this point. Moreover to our knowledge there wasn’t supposed to be another round and we were back to the TT tables in our hostels still wearing our business suits. The unwritten- uncoded rules of the game made us keep our cell phones away in silence. As a result the Place-comm team called some n number of people to inform me about the “next” round which was now taking place as I was being informed. Though excited about the short-listing my initial reaction was of disappointment as I left game incomplete. I rushed to the institute building where I was ushered straight into the interview room without even a pause. Having raced my pulses rushing to the place I could not get the beginning right as I could not even name my three favourite TVCs. Actually I couldn’t think of any three. The interviewers were good to understand my discomfort and eased me in with a few questions around theory which I could answer. Next, they asked me if I knew any brands of Kingfisher and the next few seconds I acted out like I was ordering unlimited beer at a retail store. Needless to say, they had to cut me off with another question on one of their brands, Kingfisher Blue.
They finally selected two of us for the summers, the other guy being a teetotaller. The same guys who often complemented me on having a great “fit” with my organization never failed to remind my friend of this unbelievable mismatch he had with the brewery he was going to intern at. When he finally got a call from RBI I felt that some sanity was restored to the world, but “King of Good Times” had already worked its charms on our friend, who turned down the RBI offer with great ease.
These are often the most unproductive and uninteresting period of one’s engagement with an organization and our case was no different, except on special occasions we got to meet some senior marketing executives. Samar Singh Shekhawat, the VP Marketing was one person who lived up to his name. To my surprise, he was also a teetotaller and then there were many more that I met later. Another thing that I noticed, which wasn’t though to my surprise, was that everyone was very candid with us. This implied we would never have to struggle to reach people here and the interpersonal learning would be maximum. The one most significant aspect of the internship was that this was the time we were informed about our projects and this was the time when IPL finally happened to me.
THE DESK JOB WITH VARIETY
We were briefed about the IPL 7 promotion plan for Kingfisher Premium (the brand I was assigned on) the day our induction got over. Out of the ten interns in total, some of whom joined later, only three of us were working on IPL while only six stayed back in Bangalore as the rest were sent out on sales assignments to Mumbai, Cochin, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
From the very next day we were meeting with vendors and sitting with them to discuss their designs models. These were very small meetings and we were always introduced as team members and not interns to our vendors. This allowed us to speak up openly in all the meetings. To our surprise people always wanted to hear more from us. The rate at which we saw our ideas implemented always encouraged us come up with more and more. It would be extremely sinful of me to skip the part were the ideas were questioned and tested. Though the questioning never felt like we were being discouraged, it ensured that our learning was maximized during the process. The next two examples will show you how.
We were working on a counter top unit for traditional retail outlets and some premium walk-in shops. In the earlier version of the pic a number of foreign players went out of focus. I started by asking a simple question- “Aren’t all these foreign brands our major competitors across product categories?”. We all knew the answer to that but I was still conforming. Follow up question – “Kingfisher has always consciously tried to communicate that it is not just an Indian brand but an International brand from India right?”. The answers to these questions were obvious to the extent that they sounded rhetorical, but I just wanted to ensure I was not making a suggestion on wrong premise. Satisfied with the response, I went to suggest that we must bring the players in together in the focus area, in two rows. At that time I wasn’t even aware that we have different files of each kind prepared in t=different ratios. To my luck we had those options available and we had it implemented straightaway. The image on the right side is that of the final model.
Another situation, where my suggestion was of more profound significance came when I was on working on “Tricky-Cricky”, an easy and fun tablet based game which was supposed to be played by anyone who bought a promotional bucket of 4 Kingfisher premium pints. In other words it was a purchase led activation which made use of technology enabled engagement with customers who would then be gratified with IPL goods and merchandise from Kingfisher, based on their performance.
I still think the idea should have come to me earlier as I was given sole responsibility of the project’s execution, but I did well enough by getting my suggestions implemented before the rollout. In parallel to this we were also rolling out a table-top game called “What-a-Shot”, which was the cricket version of foosball. The game unit had limited branding space in context of aesthetics and it was decided, that only two team logos would be displayed. One on the bowling end and the other on the batting end. The only problem was that we did not have any empirical data to help us make decisions as to which teams’ logo should be printed on units being sent to which region. The decision making problem was aggravated by the fact that Kingfisher sponsored not one or two but seven out of the eight teams in IPL 2014.
Tricky-Cricky, fortunately asked the players to select a team to play for and another to bowl at them. I thought it would be interesting to know which teams were preferred for both of these positions, i.e. to play for and to play against. Some useful patterns that came out were that CSK would almost invariably be amongst the top two teams to play for as well as to play against in all regions. Moreover, people in Delhi preferred KXIP to play for this is season followed by CSK and its home team itself didn’t make it to the top two.
The data would also be helpful for UBL when they plan during which match they will activate promotional campaigns in different cities during the IPL 2015 to gain maximum participation.
THE BREWERY VISIT
The visit to the brewery would be an anecdote to narrate for a lifetime. There were seven of us who visited the brewery that day including a couple of undergrad interns. We were more than disappointed to know that we wouldn’t be able to witness the beauty of the bottling activity which everyone had raved to us about as it was a dry day. Yes, a dry day means that even the production would be prohibited. Not to be bothered we went ahead with the visit wondering if we would still be able to sample the fresh brewed Draught beer at the brewery. It was only when the visit was over that we could bring ourselves to pop the question. To our delight the sample was kept in a Lab which did not have to be locked down.
THE MARKET RESEARCH
We worked hard in the first month, even 9 to 9 on some days. But by the second week of May the work pressure had started shrinking and we went and asked for market research projects. We were out in the markets as soon as we got our approvals. It took me two weeks to complete my surveys, though even before my surveys had begun I was assisting my friend who was working on Kingfisher Ultra undertake his surveys. At the end of these two weeks I knew so much more about Bangalore and its several no entries and no left free lefts than I learnt staying there for 20 months in my IT job. That is when I was reassured that there was absolutely nothing to complain about a Marketing job.
THE LONG COMMUTE FROM HOME
I had put up with a friend at Marathahalli in the first week of my stay, and he never allowed me to move out from there. That I had to travel 30 km every day did not sound as a good excuse to him and at one point I gave up. It was good to come back to a home after work. And more over the longer I spent on the road the more I let Bangalore sink into me. I once saw a guy enter a nondescript farmhouse to be immediately surrounded by numerous dogs of no special breed. They were all loving him and he was feeding them back. I just wondered if in any other city would I find a man who would pet so many street dogs. Of course I didn’t forget to click, here is your snap:
THE PARTING GIFT
United Breweries Ltd. was kind enough to give us a parting gift of a number of Kingfisher and IPL merchandise. In fact I am still wearing the Mumbai Indians jersey they gave me as I write this. Another happy moment towards the end was getting the miniature Kingfisher bat signed by RCB stars like Morkel and Varun Aron. Again UBL brought me the joy of gifting which could not have managed elsewhere when I passed it on to my cricket cray younger cousin. The earlier occasion was when I could invite my friends to watch the DD v/s RCB match. The joys of both receiving as well as sharing were relived in such intensity after an extremely long time. It was certain that UBL had registered itself in my heart through unique emotions and experiences. That is precisely the reason that I penned down the entire experience here despite being the epitome of laziness that I usually am.
Editor’s note- Have you got an internship story to share? A chance to win cool Internshala T and other cash prizes by sharing your internship story here.