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Zoozoo merchandise launched by Vodafone and Shopper’s Stop

Reported by Nikita Rana

For Brand Equity, on ET Now (a TV channel run by the Economic Times, Bennett Coleman Group)

17 November 2009

ZOOZOO_ET_NOW_Devangshu_Dutta.jpgThey’re egg-headed, have squeaky voices and formless pale bodies, but the viewers seemingly can’t get enough of them. Vodafone’s Zoozoos have now ventured into merchandise. The reason: public demand.

"Everyone loves the commercials. It’s almost like public demand, where people wanted some part of Zoozoos which they could own," said Rajiv Rao, National Creative Director of Ogilvy and Mather.

For the moment it’s just Zoozoo T-shirts, but one can look forward to the soon-to-launched Zoozoo mugs, linen and bathwear. They’re all set to shine at Shopper’s Stop. But are the takers queuing up?

Vinay Bhatia, Vice President, Marketing & Loyalty (Shopper’s Stop) states, "There are millions of Zoozoo fans in this country. There are more than 300,000 people who are members of the Zoozoo fan-page. Given those kind of numbers you can imagine the kind of market potential for merchandise of a brand like Zoozoos."

The Rs. 1,500 crores merchandise market in India is dominated by Disney, which has a share of Rs. 500 crores. Bollywood commands a share of Rs. 50 crores. The sector is small and competition is tough. So will the Zoozoos be able to carve a niche for themselves?

Kumar Ramanathan, Chief Marketing Officer of Vodafone Essar, clarifies, "We’re not interested in the size of the business. See, if it is business which we’re after then we would define the demand, size of market and all that. We thought this would be a decisive way to keep the connect in a much more visible, tangible manner, and bring the character to some kind of life."

In that case, what’s in it for Shopper’s Stop?

Vinay Bhatia explains, "When we’d done movie merchandising, in the case of Om Shanti Om, a movie which we merchandised for exclusively, we did about Rs. 6 crores of turnover. In recent times we’ve done a hit movie called Love Aaj Kal, where we did about Rs. 1.5 crores of turnover. A movie is typically restricted to about 6-8 weeks of key selling. I think in the case of an advertising character it is a number of years where the whole thing plays out."

Vodafone is a dynamic brand and its ad campaigns change quickly. Ogilvy is, in fact, working on a brand new campaign for the telecom major. So what happens to the merchandise when the ads go off air, and the Zoozoos aren’t top of mind anymore?

Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of Third Eyesight, says, "When the merchandise is on the market, and the character is on air, clearly it’s going to help the merchandise and vice-versa. If the two are delinked, if the ads are not running then there is bound to be some kind of an impact because the awareness levels would dip, or maybe even the bond that you have with the merchandise would get a little weaker."

While loyal Zoozoo lovers would queue up to pick a T-shirt worth Rs. 299, it is clear that even an optimistic estimated initial sale worth Rs. 6 crores will barely make a dent in the merchandise market. And leaving aside the actual sales of T-shirts and mugs, the real question is whether the merchandise will enable more loyalty and subscribers for Vodafone.

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