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THE NATION Monday, April 27, 2009 5A

BUSINESS B AT T L I N G R E C E S S I O N

HEAD-TO-TOE LOVELINESS

PACKAGING FIRM COUNTS BLESSINGS Owner buoyed by support from employees, customers ANOMA SRISUKKASEM THE NATION

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OP Natural Products marketing manager Apaiporn Srisook shows the Avatar combination make-up and body-skincare series. It hopes for sales of Bt80 million.

dvance Packaging has received many awards in the area of corporate governance, but according to company owner Prapoth Pholpipattanapong, the greatest award of all has been the continued support of stakeholders in the firm. Such support is especially important now, as Advance Packaging, a leading producer of polyethylene plastic for exporters in the electronics, electrical and semiconductor sectors, struggles with a 50-per-cent drop in orders. “We are so tired. The company continues to grow, but we weren’t prepared for this kind of economic situation. We just built a new plant and bought new machinery,” Prapoth said.

But the company owner said he has received a psychological boost from the understanding demonstrated by employees and customers, who have shown they are willing to help him and the firm weather the economic downturn. Prapoth has cut many operating costs, such as electricity bills, overtime hours and working days, in the hope that the moves will partly compensate for the firm’s falling income. He has also shortened the production process and improved inventory management to ensure Advance Packaging is does not face an interest burden due to excess inventory. Employees have shown understanding and cooperation about the cost-reduction policy because, thanks to good governance practices, they have been kept constantly informed

about the company’s situation, including the recent plunge in orders, Prapoth said. “We are in constant communication with employees so they understand the situation the company is facing,” he said. Some workers have expressed a willingness to apply for a voluntary early-retirement programme – if one should be introduced – saying they have no debts and face only small expenses. “Employees have expressed empathy and understanding to help us solve the problems. Without their cooperation, the company would be in even bigger trouble,” Prapoth said. Customers, too, appreciate the situation the company is in and have not put additional pressure on it, he said. Prapoth said the company is currently producing to order in a bid to

reduce inventory. Motivating these steps was Prapoth’s long-cherished belief in transparency and fairness for all. These same beliefs encouraged him to join his fellow university students in the protests of October 1976. As a result of his stand, he was forced to flee Bangkok and hide in the jungle for five years. He eventually returned to the city, however, realising that the uncompromising politics he had pursued as a student would not solve all society’s problems. Prapoth admitted that it was difficult to ensure justice for all. He decided instead to create his “dream society” by founding a company. He vowed to show empathy to employees, customers, society and the environment, treating all as if they were members of his own family. This philosophy has earned the company numerous awards, including the Puey Ungphakorn Institute’s Good Governance Award.

GUIDELINES FOR A GREAT CAMPAIGN, BUT THERE ARE NO RULES TO GUARANTEE SUCCESS This year has certainly been a time of consolidation so far, and this has tended to solidify my own opinions and attitudes. So this month I’d like to share my summary of the techniques that usually lie behind a great campaign. The first rule of course is that there are no rules that guarantee the success of any one campaign, so rather I offer these guidelines, which I hope act as useful pointers. Which is more important for the starting point of the campaign, what to say or how to say it? Sometimes we cannot separate one from the other, as they are so interlinked, so we need to analyse very carefully what’s really going on step by step before we commit the serious resources required for a full campaign. But we strongly believe that the core content of advertising is what really decides consumers to buy or not to buy, and so we now increasingly spend a great

deal of time and money to find out and determine what is the outstanding and leading benefit that we can promise to consumers. Quite often we use an in-depth interview technique with focus groups to establish what would be most likely to make them buy the product. But you know, sometimes it’s difficult to get clearcut answers from the group, so another technique we now often also use is to prepare a series of advertisements, each one offering a different version of the promise, to find out which one wins hearts. As we all know, this is a very competitive time for brands to share the consumers’ pocket, and we have to look in great detail into what the consumer is actually paying for. For instance there is an increasing trend for consumers to want to know much more about what is behind the brand, and even the science behind it’s prod-

ucts. When the brand has a unique position in the market, it is of course much easier to present a compelling argument using the magic of the brand’s depth and history, but it is less easy when we are faced with the inconvenient fact that the brand’s products are perceived as being about the same as several others. In the second case, I think one successful approach is a more factual one, where the hard data are clearly presented, maybe with more technical information than usual, to portray solid, well-founded products that are ahead of or at least abreast of the times in terms of technological progress. We can then give this story a perverse twist of course, but I know from my experience that

MARKETING

TALK KANAPORN HUTCHESON MANAGING DIRECTOR OF NUDE COMMUNICATION CO

sometimes if I am presented with a well-distilled, well-researched presentation this influences my decision very considerably, and I think you are the same, especially in this crisis. In the end, though, I have no time to read something if it’s not interesting or not clearly put across. By presenting a factual argument you cannot of course bore people into buying, and it’s no wonder that consumers have acquired a talent for skipping the advertisements in newspapers and magazines or going to

make a cup of tea during television commercials: they’re being bombarded by billions and billions worth of advertising each month. Fifty thousand brand names are competing for a place in their memory, so to be at the forefront, your voice needs to be unique. This is our mission, to try harder every day to make our clients’ voices heard above the crowd. At the same time, we need to view each campaign as a radar sweep that can bring in intelligence about new prospects as they come into the market, as well as giving us as keen a sense as a radar antenna of what is beyond the horizon. We can thus learn the psychology of new virtually unidentified target groups and can score a hit where they identify and say: “Oh, yes: I am that person.” Then finally we come back to the brand, which is always fundamental to everything we’re doing: every cam-

paign needs to make a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image rather than just forming a day-to-day solution in itself to increase sales. Creating or updating a brand identity is of course the most difficult of our roles as an agency, because this perception has been built up over a period of many years. It is the result of many factors: advertising, pricing, the name of the product, its packaging, the kind of television shows it has sponsored, website, the time it has been on the market and so on. And it’s not easy to perform a facelift on an old brand: in many cases it would be easier to start again with a fresh new brand. But it is very clear that the advertising which builds the most sharply defined personality for the brand normally also wins the largest share of the market at higher levels of profitability.

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