PanIIT Chronicles - ambush marketingI really have to pity SBI, which along with Videocon, was the principal sponsor of PanIIT 2006, after they gave Rs. 2.5 crores (25 million) towards the organizing of the event. I don't know how much business they got, because in addition to the name being displayed in all the halls, they got a huge space allocated in the exhibitors' area, that looked mostly empty, whenever I passed by.
I don't know how much mind-share SBI got, but ICICI definitely did. They were the darkhorse, nowhere in the picture, but yet managed to deftly ambush poor old SBI. They took advantage of the proximity of their HQ to the venue (hardly a hundred metres) and hosted a free cocktail party on the 24th evening, with personal invitation from KV Kamath, the CEO. Announcements were being made throughout the day on the PAS about the party in the evening. SMS'es were being sent to all the people who had registered. I met an ICICI guy who wanted announcements to be made in the halls where the actual sessions were being held. Indeed, regarding marketing and publicity, ICICI definitely pulled a fast-one over SBI.
I don't know how many went into the SBI stall, but most people did go to the fabulous-looking ICICI headquarters and stayed there for atleast an hour. Not many could resist the free booze (don't they realize how much they stink after consuming booze ?). I don't know what else they did, but the ambush marketing was the talk of the town at the PanIIT venue during dinner. Quite a few were of the opinion that SBI could never have thought of such a thing nor could it have been implemented - imagine the circuitous proposals, approvals to be made and getting necessary permissions from the Govenment babus ...
ICICI pulled off a great marketing coup, but knowing the experience of some people I know (the IBM ExtremeBlue/SpeedTeam 2006 interns in Pune), unless they can support their marketing push with high quality backend work and start really caring about customers (and not resort to strong-arm actions for loan recovery ... see here, here and here), there is no point in any sponsorship. Mind-share, yes, but heart-share no. SBI may not appear to be glamourous, it is atleast decent.