Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Brand Talk: Don Carlos brings in a 'Brand New Experience'

Shoes are a weakness for me. When I lay my eyes on a good pair my heart misses a beat, I hear violins and time comes to a standstill.

But a good pair is hard to find in Karachi. Even though there are many shoe outlets, both foreign and local, it is seldom that a shoe sends shivers of excitement down my spine. Advertising of shoe brands has changed over the years too. There are more designer brands in the market but they serve a niche only. When it comes to shoe brands for the masses, the two top brands are still Bata and Servis.

When I think of Servis, there are three things that come in my mind; Cheetah (a brand of Servis), Shahid Afridi (who is the brand ambassador of Cheetah) and the Mountain Dew ad – 'Cheetah bhi peeta hai' (even a Cheetah drinks it!). This just goes to show that the best ad Mountain Dew ever made featured a Cheetah. Wait, we’re talking about Servis here!

Servis has developed a new advertising campaign for their Don Carlos brand. Don Carlos is a relatively high end brand of shoes which has as a bold, sophisticated and mysterious persona ( But even though the Don Carlos ad is probably one of the very good Pakistani ads, it somehow never really attracted the high-end target market it showed in the ad. We loved the ad, we made parodies of it in college/university but we never walked into a Servis outlet to check out Don Carlos shoes.

(Chick magnet?!)
I think, with the new campaign, Servis wants more sales and less mystery. They even changed the tagline from, 'The DonCarlos Experience' to 'A Brand New Experience'. Not a bad step since they were never able to define what the Don Carlos experience really is. The new tagline, for me, is rather tacky. The new campaign is aimed, primarily, at the youth and the focus is on the shoes and usage occasions; mountaineering, hanging out at the beach, at a disco. [They don’t want consumers to only think of Cheetah when they think Servis and subsequently end up discussing and drinking Mountain Dew!]

(I'm too cool for you girl!)

The concept of the campaign is good but it lacks aesthetics. The photography is not up to the mark and the backdrops seem artificial. There are just too many girls in the ad where one good one could’ve sufficed. They have created sub-brands in order to differentiate the various types of shoes in the Don Carlos range. Thus we have N-Dure (Experience the Adventure), Maximus (Experience the Privilege), Classic (Experience the Prestige) and Breezers (Experience the Comfort). This is a good step provided that they stick to these names and have them prominently displayed in the retail store also. More than that, the sub-brands would make sense if, and only if, there are noticeable differences among the shoes.  Sales staff must not only know the names of the various sub-brands but also understand the differences between them. The entire campaign will fall flat if the salesperson has a blank expression on his face if a consumer walks in and asks for a ‘Maximus’. [Wasn’t Maximus the name of Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator? Why does Servis do this?!]

A good campaign but it’ll only work if it is accompanied with availability of the range at the stores and of course, knowledge of the sales staff. An ad can lead a consumer to the shop but once there the product and the salesman close the deal. Let’s see how Servis does on that front.

One thing they do have is a very decent website. Do check out

(Hopefully, the shoes will survive the rocky surface!)
(These shoes don't look too comfy for dancing!)

Images: Sunday magazine (Daily times)