The recent TVC of Red Bear instant noodle brand of Asia Foods Corporation has triggered very much criticism among consumers. This 30-second TVC tells a story of a child cancer patient who has no money to afford the treatment. Red Bear’s message is: if you buy a pack of Red Bear, you will have donated some money to save poor patients enduring a serious disease.
In a marketer’s viewpoint, we should have a deeper insight on what’s good and bad in Red Bear’s performance instead of echoing this TVC backlash as it is going on in public communication.
The effectiveness of Brand awareness creation
Before Red Bear has been launched, Vietnam’s market is quite crowded with many instant noodle brands (such as Tien Vua, Omachi, Bac Trung Nam, etc.). The late birth certainly challenges Red Bear to create brand awareness in the mind of consumers.
With noises after the TVC’s constant airing, it can be considered that Red Bear has succeeded to “stamp” Red Bear brand in consumers’ minds whenever consumers think of instant noodle.
Despite a lot of criticism, it is apparent that a group of consumers has got “moved” by Red Bear’s tears. Remember that the major target audience of instant noodle is housewives who are easily touched and they do not judge a message in a complex way as marketers.
The effectiveness of Brand Image creation
Unlike other competitors who often emphasize on the functional differentiation or product benefits (Ex. Omachi noodle is made from potato, which does not make hot inside, Tien Vua noodle is healthy because it is not yellowed by chemicals, etc.), Red Bear’s message is “Tie people’s love” with the purpose of raise the consumer’s humanity.
I think Red Bear’s concept is not wrong when Red Beer capitalizes on Vietnamese humanity tradition (Red Bear uses emotional appeal instead of rational appeal like other competitors). However, the weakness of this TVC is that this brand has gone too far in raising people’s sympathy: the TVC mainly shows “cancer” and tears for the wholetime. In addition, the “charity” message is quite sensitive to use in a commercial, which easily creates “unpleasant” feeling for the audience. Remember Vinamilk’s TVC of sharing 6 million glasses of milk with the similar “charity” message. They succeeded because the way to communicate the message is very moderate and natural.
It’s unsurprising that Red Beer’s TVC triggers negative reaction from the media and consumers. The worst result is that Red Bear brand image is somehow defected in the consumer’s minds.
Red Bear trade-offs emotional product benefits against the emotional message “Tie people’s love”. Unfortunately, it has raised negative communication effects. Therefore, it can be considered as a communication strategy failure though Red Bear was successful to create a high rate of brand awareness.
The lesson from this case is that the culture issue should be considered thoroughly in any communication/advertising campaign. Vietnamese people are quite sensitive when receiving humanity-related messages. The advertisement itself suffers bias from consumers. If advertisement uses unlucky lives to convey its message, the brand is likely to face communication crisis.
Red Bear’s story partially proves the point given in the book “The fall of advertising, the raise of PR” written by American marketing genius Al Ries 10 years ago. The book makes a new point that PR plays an important role in branding while advertising only maintains the brand image created by PR. Red Bear would had not faced the crisis if they has conducted PR activities to successfully create a well-known brand image of charity activities?
There is no chance for Red Bear to change what happened. However, other brands can avoid the same failure indeed.
Nguyen Duc Son
Brand Strategy Director – Richard Moore Associates