Liquor companies using social media to promote their brands

On Monday, @BudweiserIndia tweeted out a cheery message to its 6,000 followers: “How are you coping with your #MondayBlues! Keep your #Buds close and watch them disappear!” Does a tweet urging beer consumption constitute advertising? It’s not quite clear. The rules banning the advertising of liquor products are at least about half a century old and predate the computer age. Social media is, naturally enough, a grey area. No matter, liquor companies have been happily making use of the platform. Diageo, the world’s biggest liquor company, the UB Group’s Kingfisher beer, Budweiser, Tuborg, SAB Miller, Johnnie Walker are all active on Facebook and Twitter, using them to spread the message about their brands, complete with visuals. Kingfisher tweeted to its 44,000 followers on Wednesday from @kingfisherworld: “Okay so beerheads, here we go. Remember that 1st #KFBeer you ever had? We want to know the story! Tweet to #HowIMetMyKFBeer right away!” Last year, Diageo’s vodka brand Smirnoff, using the handle @SmirnoffIndia, had this to say: “You don’t need an occasion to gift someone gold! Treat your friends to the royal taste of Smirnoff Gold today.”

social mediaSamar Singh Shekhawat, senior V-P (marketing), UB, said: “The guidelines do not clearly define ban on social media and there are no clear clauses for liquor companies by the I&B (information and broadcasting) ministry on social media and online advertising.”
However, he added that liquor companies tend to self-regulate by strictly following the age-restriction policies of the sites. “So whoever comes on to the social media platform are well within the drinking age limit. Whatever is not allowed on mainstream media we do not put on as digital advertising unless it is age gated,” Shekhawat said. However, while brands ask consumers to enter their age or date of birth in order to access their websites, there is no way to restrict the visibility of tweets. A top executive at another leading liquor brand said, “The maximum traction that social media gets is from our core target audience. The absence of any law has made it easier for us to interact with them directly.” Arvind Sharma, former chairman of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), said social media messages from a manufacturer qualify as advertising.

“On the whole any message put out by a company is an ad,” he said. “It is not an ad if it is created by the consumer. While ASCI is yet to receive any complaint against liquor brand related to social media activities, “such messages should not be allowed as social media is also a form of media”, he said. Although the rules haven’t been amended in the last 50 years, the spirit of the law can still be implemented, said Prem Rajani, managing partner of legal firm Rajani, Singhania & Partners. “While one may argue that you need a clear statute to pin them, I would say the current statute if interpreted properly should be enough to pin them down.” The information and broadcasting ministry hadn’t responded to queries as of press time. Interestingly, tobacco brands in India which are also barred from advertising, have not taken the social media route. Even international brands such as Marlboro don’t have any social media engagement with Indian consumers.

- ET

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Panasonic to make India its headquarter for mobiles

Panasonic Corporation will make India the global headquarters for its mobile devices business and expand operations into SAARC and Middle East countries over 2014 as it rebuilds its presence in the smartphone market worldwide after retreating last year. The Japanese consumer durables maker, which sells televisions, air-conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators, will spend 12% of its India revenue of $ 1.65 billion on brand promotion, managing director for Panasonic India Manish Sharma said. “India is a very promising market. The penetration and growth of smartphones will continue for the next five to six years,” Sharma said. India’s smartphone market more than doubled to 44 million devices in 2014 and is expected to touch 80 million devices this year, according to IDC.

panasonicPanasonic is aiming for a 5% share of the Indian smartphone market within one year, which should help India’s over all business contribute 5% to global revenue. The mobile phone business is expected to contribute 15-20% to overall India revenue by next year. The company also plans to launch smartphones that will run on the Windows Phone OS. Panasonic will begin exporting handsets to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal this month, relying on the contract manufacturing model used by Apple and other leading mobile phone makers. It plans to start sales in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the Middle East and South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Tanzania in Africa next month. “We will follow an asset light strategy and we’re executing the scrap and re-building model in all countries,” Sharma said on the sidelines of the launch of Eluga, its flagship smartphone, which costs Rs 18,990. About 15 smartphones and eight feature phones will be introduced over the rest of 2014, ranging in between Rs 4,500 and Rs 30,000.

- ET

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Rs 5284 crore Tamil Nadu power transmission corridor to be set up

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today made a series of announcements covering Energy, Transport and Adi Dravidar welfare sectors running into several crores of rupees. As part of her government’s efforts to ensure uninterrupted power supply and develop the infrastructure for the purpose, 60 sub-stations and 2500 km of high voltage power transmission corridor will be set up at a cost of Rs 5284 crore in the current financial year, she informed the state Assembly. Two sub-stations of 230 kv at an estimated Rs 338.08 crore will be set up in Chennai–one each at West Mambalam and Porur. Making suo motu statements in the House, Jayalalithaa proposed modernisation and up-gradation of two of the existing units of Solayar Hydroelectric station in Coimbatore district at a cost of Rs 120 crore. The installed capacity of the two units will be upgraded to 42 mw from the existing 35 mw and this was part of her government’s efforts to give fillip to the hydro-electric power generating stations that she said were playing a role in helping the government meet peak power demand in the mornings and evenings.

power transmissionAlready, similar power stations at Papanasam and Mettur have been modernised, she said. On the solar power front, 102 mw of installed capacity has been created since 2011 even as TANGEDCO had issued letters of intent (LOI) to entrepreneurs for generating 708 mw of solar power, she said. She also allocated Rs 435.50 crore for setting up a 400 kv sub-station in Ramanathapuram to add solar power being generated from rooftop of homes, a government subsidised scheme, to the power grid. A 230 kv sub-station will be set up in Virudhunagar district also at an estimated Rs 47.51 crore, she added. Recalling her government’s various efforts in increasing power generation in the wake of the 4000 mw shortage when her government assumed office in 2011, Jayalalithaa said TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation) met a peak demand of 13,775 mw on June 24, 2014, supplying a ‘record’ 294 million units. n the transport front, the Chief Minister said her government had decided to replace old existing buses and proposed an allocation of Rs 253.80 crore to procure 1200 new buses in the current year. With the small bus scheme in Chennai, which connects areas hitherto unconnected to nearest bus terminals, railway stations and airport, receiving ‘good response’, government has decided to increase the number of vehicles and another 100 buses will be added to the existing fleet of a similar number, she said, allocating Rs 16.75 crore for this purpose.

She proposed a sum of Rs 39.73 crore to ‘rescue’ buses which had been impounded on court orders for failure of payment of compensation to accident victims. A total of 554 buses have been impounded, she said. The government took this step following concerns raised by many members in the Assembly, she added. Making a slew of announcements for the welfare of Adi Dravidar and ST communities, Jayalalithaa announced setting up of technical institutes at Tiruvallur and Cuddalore districts at a proposed Rs 24.60 crore. Her other announcements for them included setting up hostels, upgrading facilities and providing new ones in such hostels.

- ET

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New Jaguar XE sedan to make global debut in September

Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover will hold the global premiere of the new Jaguar XE luxury sedan in London on September 8 with which it is looking to bring new levels of aluminium-intensive lightweight construction expertise to the segment.  The Jaguar XE will use a new grade of high strength aluminium called ‘RC 5754′, which has been developed specifically for the XE, the company said in a statement. “This new alloy features a high level of recycled material and makes a significant contribution to Jaguar’s goal of using 75 per cent recycled material by 2020,” it said. Commenting on the new product, Jaguar’s Chief Technical Specialist Mark White said: “The Jaguar XE body uses over 75 per cent aluminium content, which far exceeds any other car in its class.”

jaguar xeHe further said: “We’ve made sure our aluminium-intensive body structure exceeds all global safety standards without compromising on vehicle design or refinement.” Designed and engineered in the UK, the Jaguar XE will be the first Jaguar to be manufactured at a new purpose-built production facility at the company’s Solihull plant in the West Midlands in the UK. “The world premiere of the new Jaguar XE will be held in London on September 8,” the company added. It further said the XE is projected to deliver fuel economy of less than 4 litres/100km on EU combined cycle. JLR has been focussing on lightweight construction for its Jaguar brand. The Jaguar XJ, XK and F-Type have all been developed using aluminium structures. The XE becomes the latest model to use aerospace-inspired technology in cars.

- ET

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Temasek Holdings scouts for unlisted companies in India

Singapore government-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings is bullish on the India story and is scouting for unlisted companies, particularly in consumer goods and healthcare sectors, senior company officials told ET in an exclusive interview. With the new government at the Centre seeking to revive growth, Temasek, like other foreign funds, could pump more money into the country this fiscal than in the past year.  We will be lot more active in India this year, with our main focus being finding new investment opportunities,” said Rohit Sipahimalani, head — investment group and India head for Temasek International. “The valuations for the listed companies have run up significantly and the unlisted ones now offer good opportunity,” he said. At the end of March, India accounted for 4% of Temasek’s net portfolio value based on underlying assets. In April, Temasek, which makes portfolio investments in companies, invested Rs 240 crore to pick a significant minority stake in Star Agriwarehousing and Collateral Management, one of India’s fastest growing agri-solutions companies. Before that, it had invested in Snapdeal, the online marketplace.

temasek holdingsThe investment company is now in talks to invest in a few companies in industrials and healthcare sector. “We are sector-agnostic. We will invest in every sector that meets our internal target of good returns, decent corporate governance and better growth prospects,” said Ravi Lambah, senior managing director and investment co-head, India. Over the past decade that it has been investing in India, the fund has built up a portfolio that includes ACC, Adani Ports, GMR Energy, Max India, National Stock Exchange, Tata Sky, Shriram Transport Finance and Godrej Agrovet, among others.  The fund has a balanced portfolio of listed and unlisted companies. While the fund capitalised on the lower, beaten down valuations of the listed companies in India last year by investing in companies such as Shriram Transport and Godrej, the next wave of activity will come in unlisted companies. The high valuations will also mean that the fund, which does not have a defined fund like its private equity peers, will selectively look at exit for its existing portfolio. “We will look at exit opportunities selectively wherever we think the growth has played out and the value is appropriate,” Lambah said.

- ET

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