KESC – Karachi’s Electric Supply Cut?
It is quite bizarre how brands tend to highlight the “Promotion” part of the marketing mix and start believing that it is some sort of a therapy or a safe passage to utopia. As I tossed and turned in my bed last night agitated by yet another power break down I asked myself a simple question “What about the rebranding and promoting the new image of KESC ?” and that is when I remembered sitting in the office of the Advertising agency, handling the KESC account, for an interview and ironically for the same brand ! (Although I might not call it a brand just yet!). I remembered that the person interviewing me was extremely upbeat about the prospect of rebranding KESC and how he thought it would serve as a huge global case study as there were very few examples (or almost none so ever) of rebranding or actually branding a utility. He then went on to say that all the companies within that advertising group around the world were working on the brand and that made me pretty charged up to. This was all of course before KESC’s “rebranding” and extensive media and CSR campaign, which to me seemed logical at times and strategically strong but then there was the case of “Product” improvement. I will refrain from using the word “Brand” for KESC just yet because the only difference or perhaps the biggest difference between a “Brand” and a “Product” is that a brand promises something to its consumers and hence the whole story of brand loyalty and consumers associating themselves to a brand. To me, KESC has failed to deliver on a promise (if there was any). A lot of times our emphasis is on the promotion bit of the marketing mix and we fail the single most important bit of that mix which is the “Product” and hence the brand.
During the last year or so, the consumers have seen KESC transform in a way from their corporate identity to their service centers branding, from better call centers to an extensive media campaign which was all over TV, Print and Outdoor. All of this seemed brainy and creative but the product strategy somehow was a little short sighted. I believe that the people running the brand are its strongest critiques because they are the ones who have a better picture and seem to know their brand inside out. Power shortages have been a routine in the past and I am sure no one is naïve enough not to know that rains won’t create havoc in a city like Karachi. All that money spent on an extensive CSR campaign about telling people not to touch poles and wet wires would have been well served it there was some serious thought behind the brand strategy part and that is where consumer insights play a pivotal rule, which brings me to a recent campaign by KESC addressing the masses to tell them about people stealing electricity and getting away with it. I am sure KESC’s people would know exactly which people are involved in the theft and information from a lot of people suggests that these illegal connections have been deliberately set up by KESC in some areas. So if that really is the case then why go and spend huge money on a campaign which would get a common man in trouble? A lot of people or consumers that I talked to told me that no one would like to get into trouble just because he or she notifies KESC about an Illegal connection.
Rebranding KESC was an exceptionally good move because it signifies change, superior performance and a sense of something new but it would have been better served if the communication strategy would have been a little sounder, I personally believe that PR can be a very useful tool in a case such as KESC. I hate to negate everything that KESC has done so far (and I’m not!) it is often said that a brand is made over a period of time and It is yet to be seen how KESC tackles these problems in the long run and whether it can really promise its consumers unadulterated power supply or would it result in Karachi’s Electric Supply cut?