Have you ever seen commercials promoting Bacardi Music CDs but can never seem to find the product anywhere? Does it make you wonder why? Read on to find out. These well-known liquor brands, similar to cigarette or tobacco brands, are banned from promotion campaigns. The brand managers of these products have thus devised a new style of promotion – surrogate marketing/advertising.
Surrogate advertising is used for promoting a brand or a product indirectly. It essentially utilizes a substitute product, brand or person to communicate the real product to the target customers. It works as a collaborative strategy to achieve exponential and rapid publicity. Promoting a product and a service together to achieve profits from both is an excellent example of positive surrogate marketing.
Surrogate advertising, new initiatives, social service campaigns and awards are the channels used in surrogate marketing. Imperial Blue launched a series of advertisements using the tagline “Men will be men” in India to promote its whisky brand. Though the advertisements are for their music CDs, it clearly conveys the message to the target segment for their whisky brand. Bacardi music, Kingfisher soda, Bagpiper club soda ads also use the same principle. Other brands like Four Squares has pioneered a new concept of publicizing its cigarette brand through Four Square bravery awards. It focuses on the value proposition and creates impression in the minds of customer that the brand is for brave people. The celebrities endorsing such brands are carefully chosen to reflect the values the company seeks to portray. In the past, Sunil Shetty and Sanjay Dutt featured in the Haywards 5000 and Akshay Kumar in Bagpiper club soda ad to promote the brand. Companies are also utilizing channels other than ads for their promotion. Royal Stag owns an IPL team and promotes Coke Studio performances. White Mischief uses cheerleaders to promote the product. These increase the visibility of the brand by increasing exposure levels.
The inception of surrogate marketing is based on the inability to promote brands legally. The ethicality of it is certainly debatable. However, needless to say, this is absolutely an exceptional way of working around the loophole of the law.