Cult Branding seminar in Mumbai a thumping success

MUMBAI: Cults. They are common as gardens in India and globally. Almost every few years a cult crops up, balloons into a movement, only to diminish quickly.

Agencyfaqs, BusinessWorld and Alchemist group, got together to organise a seminar around a phenomenon as fascinating as cults, namely that of cult brands. And holding centre stage to an audience of 100 plus was 28-year-old Matthew Ragas, the co-author of the book (along with Bolivar J Buneo) The Power of Cult Branding.

The seminar, held at the JW Marriot in Mumbai's western suburb of Juhu, and titled Beyond Advertising: The Phenomenon of Brand Cultism, was sponsored by Amity School of Communication, Hav-A-Tampa Jewels Birchwood Tip Cigars, Altavista, Cutty Sark, and Express Colour Scan. Among the big names who attended included: Arvind Sharma of Leo Burnett India, Times of India's Pradeep Guha and Bhaskar Das, Chandy of Malayalam Manorama, ace promotions professional Pradeep Narashima.

Ragas elaborated over two sessions why cult brands are crucial today, what goes to make a cult brand and how it is sustained, and the seven golden rules of cult branding. His belief is that because of product and advertising clutter, brands are getting commoditised and competition is getting fierce, with decreasing consumer loyaty. Cult brands help marketers to ensure repeat consumer purchase because of the intense customer loyalty. Cult brand consumers are hooked and happy.

Ragas explained that there are destructive cults (a La Hitler) and benign cults (a la Harley Davidson biker groups). He added that cults are not bad, rather their members are normal people, who want to improve their lives and be different, and want to feel like they belong. He elucidated that cult brands offer their customers love, attention, and to many of their consumers, they are a living surrogate family with like minded individuals.

According to Ragas, Abraham Maslow who postulated his heirarchy of human needs is the father of cult branding. Maslow's pyramid placed physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem and self-actualistion needs as a gradually narrowing group of human needs with self-actualisation being at the peak. Ragas says that cult brands primarily fulfil the higher level human needs of esteem, social interaction, and self-acutalisation. "Once a brand fulfils the higher needs, it becomes irreplaceable in the mind of the consumer," he says.

He then went to throw light on the seven golden rules of cult branding which were drawn up after two years of researching for his book. These are:

*Consumers want to be part of a group that's different.

*Cult brand inventors show daring and determination.

*Cult brand sell lifestyles.

*Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.

*Cult brand always create customer communities.

*Cult brands are inclusive.

*Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies.

He then went to illustrate how each of these golden rules apply to four cult brands: Apple Computer, Linux, Volkswagen Beetle, Harley Davidson (the other five that Ragas has studied in his book include: Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Buffet, Vans Shoes, WWE, Star Trek).

His session was followed by a session by former BBC veteran and Indophile Mark Tully wherein he tried to give his perspective on what India truly is and how it has changed over their years. His biggest regret was that companies are paying lip service to the rural market.

Last on was Alchemist Consulting founder Samit Sinha who elaborated on Indian cult brands such as Old Monk, Enfield Bullet, Thums UP, Khadi, comedian Ajit, and the Ambassador.

Ragas will be working closely with Alchemist Brand Consulting for the Indian market. Those wanting to get in touch with either Ragas or Sinha can send an email to

Latest Reads
Johnson's celebrates 125 years with new campaigns

American multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company, Johnson’s recently completed 125 years in the baby care products category in India.

MAM Media and Advertising Ad Campaigns
Team ITC makes India proud ,Wins a Silver Lion at the Young Lions Marketers Competition at Cannes

Two young women managers from ITC made India proud by winning the Silver Lion at the very competitive & prestigious Young Lions Competition at Cannes. The team comprised Raisa Chakravarty and Anupama Sharma from ITC's Personal Care Products Business. They had earlier won the India Challenge....

MAM Marketing Brands
Walmart sells $16 billion worth of bonds for Flipkart acquisition

American multinational retail corporation, Walmart, has decided to sell $16 billion worth of bonds to help finance its investment in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart.

MAM Marketing Brands
Greenscape gets insects to tweet & spread awareness about e-waste

MUMBAI: Most people dump their e-waste just like their regular waste. This results in e-waste ending up in dump yards and landfills. To discourage people from doing this, Greenscape, India’s leading IT waste disposition company, joined hands with Dentsu Webchutney to launch #TinyBugsTweet campaign...

MAM Media and Advertising Ad Campaigns
L'Oreal India appoints Amit Jain as managing director

MUMBAI: L’Oreal India has appointed Amit Jain as a new India managing director succeeding Jean Christophe Letellier who will shift within L’Oréal group after a five-year stint in the country.

MAM Media and Advertising People
Future Generali's Father's Day campaign breaks records on digital platforms

MUMBAI: Future Generali Life Insurance recently launched a digital campaign last week on Father’s Day, #AapkiHealthMereLiye. With #PromiseToMyChild, fathers across the country pledged a vow of health to their children as a part of the campaign. Digital marketing agency AdLift who were appointed by...

MAM Media and Advertising Ad Campaigns
Kraft Heinz to sell Complan brand in India

MUMBAI: US food and beverage giant Kraft Heinz is looking to sell its children's energy drink brand Complan in India. The sale could help Heinz in fetching about $1 billion. Kraft Heinz is said to be working with an adviser to gauge interest in the brand from potential buyers. These buyers could...

MAM Marketing Brands
Ajay Devgn venture ny cinemas engages ccs for branding & cinema styling strategy

MUMBAI: NY Cinemas, a venture by Ajay Devgn, plans to launch a 100 new multiplex theatres across India in the next one year, and has entrusted Mumbai-based creative agency Colour Craft Studio (CCS) with creating a brand and cinema styling strategy that will give Indian audiences a never-seen-...

MAM Media and Advertising Ad Campaigns
Gutenberg Wins Gold in PR Asia Awards for 2018

Gutenberg, an award-winning global and integrated digital marketing communications firm, has been named a gold winner in the Public Affairs category by PR Awards Asia, an organization celebrating the most outstanding, inspired and successful campaigns, individuals, and companies in Asia-Pacific’s...

MAM Marketing MAM

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories