Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pun Intended

Marketers resort to creative routes / puns / things positively gimmicky to out shout competition and here is the proof. This is a hoarding outside Coco Cola’s corporate office on TTK road, Chennai.

This hoarding obviously gives onlookers a reason to smile at Pepsi’s cheek. Most brands today employ reactive advertising ribbing at a particular person or subject that is extremely topical. Amul has been adopting this strategy since time immemorial and it has been very well received by the Indian audience. None have been spared by them, be it Hollywood, politics or Major brands - Amul has an opinion about everything and everyone. Now a lot more brands are adopting the same trend. Think Pepsi blue Billion campaign.

Reactive advertising provides quick relief and catches the eye of the consumer, however its shelf life is limited. When a particular topic looses steam the ad serves no purpose. In my opinion it doesn’t contribute to the brands growth although it creates a high, but temporary, brand recall that may or may not affect sales.

After the recent media attacks on both the cola brands (the pesticide presence issue), it only makes complete sense to rebuild their bond with their customers. What better way to do it than cricket, a sales kicking idea indeed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sizing Up The Competition

‘She has no dress sense whatsoever’, I crinkled my nose.

‘I know, to top it all she is carrying such a tacky bag’, Renu nodded in agreement.

‘She’s a mess’ I concluded.

We went into a lengthy discussion about this particular girl’s clothes, her ill fitting bras, the men in her life, etc. Basically we were being super bitchy.

Women complain that men stare at all the wrong places, but women do too; at other women!

We notice and pass our remarks about all women. Nothing misses our eye from a bad haircut to a badly concealed panty line.

Most women in reality dress to impress other women, rather than men. They try hard not to repeat their wardrobe; make up, jewelry, or shoes. Each time they want to look like they just had a makeover.

Just this evening Prabhu and I were having coffee when this really plum woman walks in.

‘Oh, she’s got knockers’, Prabhu was drooling.

‘She carries them very vulgarly, too much cleavage is bad’, I was quick to respond.

‘Excuse me! The more, the merrier. Are you jealous?’ he winked.

‘No way Prabhu! Besides that was a lewd comment. You men are so cheap’, I retorted.

‘Oh me? Cheap? What about you girls? You totally claw other women apart. You could go on endlessly being nasty.

‘Oh she’s got terrible clothes’
‘Her make up looks hideous’
‘God knows what he sees in her’
‘What a bimbette!’…he mimicked my voice.

I was offended but I couldn’t argue with that.

After looking at my stung expression he cracked up laughing.

‘Chill! I had no intentions of picking a fight with you’

That conversation sure got me thinking. Women check out other women! It comes naturally to us. Weddings are a perfect example of this. My mum checks out what jewelry and saris other women are wearing and discusses it for days after the wedding. Even poor news readers on TV are not spared.

Women are under constant scrutiny by other women. It’s funny how we enjoy doing that. Like many other women, my generosity in displaying contempt for something as silly as a bad hairstyle has no bounds.

With men it’s completely different they want to constantly see you in the same attire. In their opinion if something looks phenomenal on you it only makes complete sense to wear it every time you want to look your best, why go through the hassle of finding the perfect attire. This line of thought makes my life far less complicated. Men like to experiment a lot lesser, but dressing up for your girlfriends can be the hardest thing. To get an approving nod from them is almost close to impossible.

Every time I dress to go out for dinner or clubbing, in my head I am thinking what I wore last time or the time before that or 10 times before that and try hard not to repeat. Each time I walk in to a restaurant or club I want heads to turn – not just men’s heads but women’s as well!

‘Ok I’ll try and be less bitchy’, I told Prabhu.

Prabhu looked skeptical ‘We’ll see…’

I cut him short.

‘Yuck! What a strong perfume! It’s too flowery’, I turned around to catch a young woman walking in.

‘Old habits die hard’, Prabhu burst out laughing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Absolut is nothing short of a legend, both the vodka and the ad campaigns. People in the Ad industry swear by it. Absolut’s campaigns have been ranked among the top ten in the twentieth century by the Advertising Age magazine, winning hundreds of awards, and have also been honoured in the American Marketing Association's Hall of Fame.

The brand’s courtship with the ad agency TBWA in New York ignited a spark of creativity which is still burning intensely even after 25 years.

ABSOLUT PERFECTION was the first ad that was released in 1980, and ever since their product centric advertisement recognised a new standard in creativity. Their Campaign is based on the local nuances and flavour of a country.
In India however, the brand hasn’t witnessed its true potential whether through on-ground activities and promotions.

Taking off on India’s top three passions - Bollywood, Cricket and Politics amongst others here are a few idea starters. I agree the execution is rather hurried (half an hour) but I like the thought.

Indians Love the Star power. The industry is attributed to wealth generaeration in the country.

Cricket in India is a religion. We dicuss cricket in great detail and a lot of our emotions are attached with the game.

This is my personal favourite. Politics, its our lifeline and this ad mocks the corruption that prevails
Courtesy: Amrita Sarkar

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

People Leave People

I once read a very interesting article somewhere which said ‘People leave managers not companies’. I couldn’t agree more.

Companies constantly strive to keep people turnover low through pay raises, perks and training, when in the end turnover is usually a bad boss issue. A bad boss is the worst of workplace stressors. It directly impacts the productivity and enthusiasm of his team. The consequences could be severe when you loose the best talent at higher levels.

Advertising, or for that matter the media industry itself, is constantly starved of talent. One pet complaint for most employees is that they are poor pay masters. This means they attract little or no talent and they make no efforts to retain the existing ones. To top it up, they do not have any employer friendly HR policies to boast of.

It’s my passion (ok I am an enthu cutlet) that keeps me in this industry. Loosing a Management Trainee would hardly leave a dent. I was contemplating a change in job ever since my boss recruited a new manager.

A couple of months back my boss told me a Mr J was joining us. He told me he was moving on to bigger projects and that I would no longer be reporting to him on a day to day bases. To say I was disturbed would be an understatement, the floor had crumbled under my feet.

After the initial teething period for both of us (for me because I was reluctant to welcome a new person on board) I clued Mr J on work, brought him on to the same page as the rest of the team and welcomed him to our organization by introducing him to the rest of the company. My soon to be ex boss clearly identified our distinct purviews of work so that we would take onus of our work and not pass the buck to the other.

As a management trainee it was amply clear to me I was to coordinate the back end and handle all the operational work (it is a grind no fresher is exempted from) while Mr J was to handle client facing. We were a weird duo and it was soon evident to me I was right in being apprehensive.

Right from the first day, he simply refused to take onus or initiative on any projects leaving me accountable for both our duties. I could never go to him with some grief for he would always say it was my look out and refuse to help me.

I was reaching the brink with late nights, material deadlines, artworks and just about anything was my look out. I was dreading each day, all my enthusiasm dried up, deadlines slacked, client complaints was pouring in with a renewed vigor and each time I would be pulled up and told the same thing. The last day of my career was fast approaching, either I was going to put in my papers or I was going to get thrown out.

I was angry and let down because my boss didn’t inspire me to work, didn’t make work fun for anyone and lacked the passion and drive for creativity. I seriously registered on to every possible job portal. I would shamelessly look for jobs while at work!

Eventually Mr J quit and his replacement was brought in almost immediately, a woman! Well it just took her less than 5 minutes to win my respect (not because she was a woman, I am not a sexist). She came in at a time when a wrong artwork had been printed and client had sent a howler. I seemed to be a major cause for it. I was sure this was the final blow, I had received a hundred warnings already. She came in, sorted half our problems, and I didn’t loose my job! I made an effort to spruce up and bring back the old tautness in meeting timelines. We make a great team. She put enthusiasm back in my work and made me change my mind about quitting.

The author said, ‘Beyond a point, an employee's primary need has less to do with money, and more to do with how he's treated and how valued he feels. Much of this depends directly on the immediate manager.’

Most of the senior management is too busy traveling the world, signing new deals, and raking in revenues, little do they realize that deep within an organization that otherwise does all the right things, one man could be driving its best people away!

Monday, November 06, 2006


I am mighty pissed, not because I worked till past midnight tonight, but because the world today has forgotten what chivalry is all about. I for one believe in equality of the sexes, I oppose separate queues for women at a ticket reservation counter, I am against gender bias of any form except probably in a Mumbai local train (and everyone knows why).

I am pissed because it was late and this particular colleague of mine didn’t offer to drop me home. I stormed out of office thinking, “what an insensitive being, how un-chivalrous of him”. After all the cussing (in my head of course), I began to think. My house is just five minutes away from office, why was I throwing such a fit and getting all agitated over nothing. That colleague of mine has been anything but un-chivalrous.

Most women have some distorted meaning of the word chivalry, for them it’s this preferential treatment that they have been subjected too.

I don’t need men opening doors or pulling up chairs for me, neither do I want them to drop me home after working till late, but just like every other woman in India I am a hypocrite and I admit I love it when they do all that. I am a big sucker for this preferential treatment that I have been subjected to – tax benefits, shorter queues, lesser crowds, opening doors, holding my chair and millions of other small benefits that I have taken for granted, so much so that I think it’s my birth right.

It has been ingrained so deeply into us that, any accidents on the road we seek to attribute it to the women-are-bad-drivers phenomenon. It allows any woman to walk away scot-free, after having run over any animal / person / thing, without bearing damages (that’s why I am so kicked about driving).

The world has witnessed many waves of feminism that has not just empowered women but has spoilt them as well. How am I ever going to grow up if the men folk flatter me by feeling me up in a public train or if a financial institution honors me with a free credit card? When can I tell myself the world is truly unbiased towards both sexes, for wherever I go there are special fast track queues for women or the woman’s double-discount-dhamaka plasters on every store?

Holding doors or bags etc. are such archaic definitions of chivalry. For me chivalry is in the heart. It’s in the manner of speech. You just know the man is chivalrous when he treats you with respect, he never addresses you condescendingly and his remarks are not derogatory.

When I turn around at my doorway after a long dinner to catch that final smile and wave before he drives off, I know he is truly chivalrous.
Sometimes I think I will make an effort to be this spoilt brat, its totally worth it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Name in Flame - Zippo, a Tribute

Until the first time I laid my eyes on it, I never fully fathomed its true worth. I always wondered why the men folk would relentlessly discuss it for hours just like they would analyze in detail a Manchester United - Arsenal match of the UEFA championship.

One evening my eyes caught the glint of shiny metal twirling between my friend’s fingers, which in my opinion he seemed to be quite adroit at. He brought it to a smooth halt and opened his palm to reveal a smart looking burnished case. That was a Zippo and this post is a tribute to it.

An all American cult brand of nearly 75 years is not just an obsession with most smokers but the non-smokers as well.

The Story of the Zippo Manufacturing Company is a remarkable tale. It’s the story of its people, from the founder - George G. Blaisdell, to the many Zippo employees, customers, and collectors who have played a part in its history. Their loyalty to Zippo has made it one of America’s great companies, one with a vivid history which is detailed here.

In 1933 Mr. Blaisdell remodeled a utilitarian Australian lighter and named it Zippo after his liking for the sound of the work ‘zipper’. Little did he realize then that this rectangular case would become iconic.

This rare Town & Country transitional Zippo from 1969 depicts George G. Blaisdell who invented the Zippo lighter in 1932 and who founded the Zippo Manufacturing Company in Bradford, Pennsylvania. He named the Zippo after the then recently invented zipper.

From the very beginning it was backed by Mr. Blaisdell’s unconditional lifetime guarantee – “It works or we fix it free(TM).

The Zippo history is an interesting marketing case study. To delve deeper one has to go back to the days of World War II, which had a profound impact on Zippo. Upon America’s entry in the war, Zippo ceased production of lighters for consumer markets and dedicated all manufacturing to the U.S. military, for which they made a special black ‘crackle’ finish lighter.

Millions of American military personnel carried the lighter into battle which was a significant catalyst in establishing Zippo as an icon of America throughout the world. Stories of the Zippo, nestled in the breast pocket, saving soldiers lives by biting bullets raised its reputation from being an iconic symbol to a religious cult.

Producing Zippos for the military market helped Zippo set up a full fledged manufacturing unit and made it a financially viable company.

Post war the company resumed selling Zippos to peace time America. To fuel this in 1947, the Zippo car was born.

Zippo has been cast in 1500 Broadway shows, movies, television shows over the years. To enhance the collecting experience, Zippo began hosting the Zippo/Case International Swap meet which is held every year at Bradford and Japan alternatively.

Music and Zippo have been a lethal combination since 1960. Theirs is a relationship of mutual respect and admiration. Zippo launched special lighters with music maestros engraved in them while the lighters themselves have been featured on album covers, tattooed on rockers’ skin, and wielded in Rolling Stone photo shoots.

The Zippo slim introduced in 1956, primarily to appeal to the women was another major milestone in the Zippo history. It appealed to both the sexes and a lot of men own Zippo slim.

Zippo Click the official collectors club has registered members from over 60 countries. Zippo has captured the world history in its lighters with special tribute to American presidents, Hollywood, sex icons, Music, countries, science and moments that changed the course of mankind.

1963 slim Zippo commemorating the European Trip of President Kennedy in June 1963, the same year JFK was assassinated.

This beautiful 1948 Zippo commemorates the War Crimes Trials held in Tokyo from 1946 to 1948 in which General Tojo and other Japanese World War II leaders were convicted. The lighter was hand tooled in Japan for Jake Schneider

Companies use Zippo lighters as an advertising medium and Zippo “advertiser” lighters continue to be among collectors’ favorites. This trend was first started in mid thirties by Bradford’s Kendall Refining Company who placed an order for 500 Zippos and branded it.

The official website of Zippo says, ‘The lighter is ingrained in the fabric of both American and global culture. In marketing parlance, the brand enjoys an unaided awareness rate of more than 98 percent. That means 98 out of every 100 people surveyed have knowledge of the Zippo name and lighter without being coached in any manner – an astonishing recognition factor.’

The company is currently owned by the W R Case and Sons Cutlery Company and despite almost 75 years the Zippo is still backed by its famous lifetime guarantee, “It works or we fix it for free.” Since 1933, no one has ever spent cent/paisa/penny on the mechanical repair of a Zippo lighter regardless of the lighter’s age or condition.

The number of antics one could do with the Zippo amazed me. My favourite and the only one that I learnt that night, lighting it by creating friction between your jeans and your Zippo. I dropped it a zillion times in the bargain much to my friend’s disgust, but what the heck, it’s got an unconditional warranty.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Brand Bollywood

Brand Bollywood is witnessing an upsurge thanks to Hollywood.

The Indian film industry is expected to be worth Rs. 100 billion by 2008, says a report released by FICCI recently. Bollywood alone churns out close to thousand films a year (of which only a handful go on to become box office hits) making it the second largest motion picture industry in the world. Ironically an industry with the highest mass appeal in this country has, until recently, hardly paid any attention to marketing. For the longest time, producers have been negligent in the marketing of films to consumers. As a result, a number of good films have failed to pull audiences to theatres. Yet, there have been instances of average films doing well because of the smart marketing strategies employed by its producers and distributors just before the release of films.

With limited options for entertainment available to the public, movies experienced a golden age, at least commercially, with audiences flocking to the halls over long time spans.

Things are not that rosy now. With the liberalisation in the early 90s, we suddenly saw a boom in entertainment options apart from good old cinema. Assuming that consumers have limited time and resources allocated towards leisure activities, Bollywood faces severe competition in the clutter of entertainment options available today. Besides competing with other movies and various avenues of entertainment, new releases have to compete with pre-release sales of pirated VCDs and DVDs.

Bollywood producers have now armed themselves with this new marketing mantra and are reaching out to the masses more effectively. Fast cuts, racy scripts, snazzy costumes, once very exclusive to Hollywood, are now very much a part of most bollywood movies.

Marketing has become very critical for Bollywood movies as the first three days makes or breaks a movie. To make a mark in this phase they create movie websites, mobile downloads and interactive content, place the actors in their characters in TV channels, tie up with brands for cross promotions to reach consumer touch points and get into movie merchandise.

Bollywood today is exploring new avenues to reach out to their target audience. After tapping into print, radio, television and the internet, many advertisers are gravitating towards the mobile phone, PR & events, in serial placements and even buzz marketing campaigns.

Some Bollywood producers are also resorting to desperate measures like negative publicity to promote their films. Sometimes creating hype works well too for example the Karan Razdan directed GirlFriend, which in typically ham-handed fashion "addresses" a lesbian relationship, opened to a 40 per cent collections.

Post-release too Girlfriend continued its rounds in the media. Be it the protests by political parties or the subject being vigorously discussed all over the media. The Rs. 20 million film (approximately) had finished its first week with a 50 per cent extra over the estimated collection.

Movie producers are also looking for online media partners to advocate their films. Films first made their foyer into the WWW with online movie reviews, then moving on to banners, shoskels and popups on web pages, to online contests, free downloads of movie trailers, music, wallpaper and ringtones. The audience could also read exclusive interviews of the cast featured on the internet. Movies are now the vanguard of the blogsphere.

One such famous example is the publicity blitz and marketing activities woven around the Aamir Khan starrer Mangal Pandey — The Rising. Mangal Pandey himself or Aamir Khan posted comments on an exclusive Mangal Pandey - The Rising blog on MSN Spaces and interacted with users as a publicity stint before the release of the film.

The Yash Raj film’s have invested a considerable amount to create online communities and online portals for their films. Their recent blockbuster Hum Tum, Bunty Aur Babli, Salam Namaste and even their average performer Neal ‘N’ Nikki had dedicated websites where one could read descriptions of individual characters and the cast, download the music score, lyrics, film promos, stills, wallpapers, ring tones, etc.

Movie merchandise in India is still very nascent and is restricted to sale of movie VCD / DVD, music CD and cassettes. The Indian Animation movie Hanuman saw movie merchandising go to the extent of sale of toys, gifts, T-shirts and other gift items. And while we’re still on the topic of merchandising, Rajinikanth’s movies in the south experience a lot of merchandising activities months before release. Rajinikanth’s moderate grosser Baba, before release, saw the sale of caps, bandanas, t-shirts, key-chains, etc, all with stills of Rajini holding up his famous Baba hand gesture. And, for the first time ever in South Indian Cinema, the Baba gesture and merchandise were patented. Maybe there’s a marketing lesson that Bollywood can learn from her South Indian sister.

India still has a long way to go to create a complete online experience for its movie goers. Online games engaging bollywood stars will soon catch the eye of big production houses one can then see a wide array of action and adventure games that the audience could select from.

With the advent of satellite television more and more Hindi films are taking a piggyback ride on wide reaching daily soaps to present their case. Weaving the movie character into TV serials allows the film producer to soft sell his film. Unlike other media it does not seem intrusive and forced on the viewer.

Big screen stars like Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherji made their debut on NDTV before the launch of Bunty aur Babli both of them presented the day’s news as Bunty and Babli. This not only assured the movie definite viewership, but it also helped NDTV push their TRPs. It was hence a win-win situation for both the film and the channel.

This tie-up was extremely sensitive since a news channel has the onus of broadcasting the right news to its viewers. Their credibility is built over a period of time and the channel takes extreme measures to safe guard the trust their viewers place on them. Therefore the entire bulletin was marketed, promoted and produced in a way that it was clear that this was a one-off affair.

The lead protagonists Saif Ali Khan & Preity Zinta of Salaam Namaste were seen contending in Star’s popular Show ‘Kaun Banega Crorpati-2’. This show is believed to have been launched with a record breaking TRP of over 19.0 plus. Riding on this success Yash Raj Film’s entered into alliance with KBC-2 to promote their film which went on to become a block buster.

The marketing spends in case of big banner films is big since their pockets run deep and can afford to splurge on marketing and promotion strategies. However even smaller budget movies these days have funds allocated for pre-release hype generation and other on-ground activities as a part of their marketing campaign.

A major challenge faced by filmmakers lies in convincing the distributor. Even though the audience tastes have evolved to some extent, distributors-who take the film to the last mile-are prisoners of eighties mindset and loath any change. Producers are now taking interest in every aspect of the film from visual merchandising to media coverage and not just restricting their imaginations to the storyline.

In a scenario where alternative forms of entertainment are available a dime a dozen, marketing becomes the best weapon in the hands of the producer. Filmmakers can't rely heavily on the story as the industry hasn't been stressing on innovative concepts and quality themes. Bollywood still uses the same old hackneyed formula of boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy gets girl and of course the villan is thrown into the picture somewhere. The audience doesn’t cease to be enthralled by the clichéd bollywood emotion and drama, and that is exactly what the bollywood marketers are doing by keeping the luster on. Its only a question of who does it better.

Thankfully, the picture is changing. The industry’s international profile got a boost through recent films with Indian themes such as "Bend it Like Beckham," "Monsoon Wedding," and "Lagaan" which was nominated for a 2002 Academy Awards. And a number of Bollywood production companies are now taking marketing of their films seriously.

Films both international and Indian are looking at innovation in their marketing strategies to reach their audience at appropriate touch points. Engagement is the new buzz word for all marketers even films have jumped into this shinning bandwagon which holds a lot of promise of green.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Girls Night Out

Don’t be surprised if you see women donned in dancing shoes and dressed to kill thronging ‘The Beach’ on a Wednesday night. For it’s ladies night out and the girls are all out to have fun. What was a revelation for me was that the Beach attracts even more number of men on Wednesdays; one needn’t take an Einsteinish guess to figure out why.

I was there last Wednesday with my girlfriends and boy we sure did have a blast – Bitching, girl talk and dancing.

The ambiance is that of Goa, very chilled out and laid back, and it helps set the mood for the evening. They often spice up the evening by having theme parties like retro, or bohemian. The liquor is on the house for all the ladies till 9.30pm even after which the crowd doesn’t cease drinking neither does it stop more people from flocking to the place.

The evening kick-starts with retro music and later transcends into hip-hop. Early on, one would find couples fresh out of dance classes doing their little jig on the floor. But later the rising crescendo and intoxicating concoctions gets the whole place moving and grooving.

Ladies ought to be prepared to listen to hilarious pick-up lines and to take home a couple of phone numbers for most men seem to readily hand out visiting cards.

I thought the ladies night was a sales kicking idea, besides partying on a Wednesday gave me the much needed break from the daily mundane of work. Come to think of it Wednesday is such a strategic choice for throwing a party. It’s the time of the week when everyone is suffering from the mid-week syndrome. To attend a ladies night out on Wednesday is a real spirit stirring (pun unintended) experience for both sexes.

So girls let your hair down and shake that booty a little harder for the tide is high and the music just couldn’t get better. And oh, don’t mind the boys. They just wanna watch.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Moment of Least Resistance

My knees went weak when Dhruv looked deep into my eyes, I had butterflies in my stomach (the kind of feeling you have when your on top of a gaint wheel) it was magical.

And suddenly Dhruv’s mobile buzzes ‘Win a date with sizzling Mallika Sherawat! Only on Airtel …blah blah’ He hastily hits the delete key. He looked at me with a sheepish grin before I could react he plants a quick goodnight peck on my cheek and he was off. I stood there feeling embarrassed. Now, Mallika had a way with men even without really being around.

Advertisers spend millions of rupees every year trying to out shout competition and to get consumers to notice but little do they realize they are either being intrusive or having no effect on them. It is important to catch them at the right time at the right moment –find out when they are most vulnerable to their communication - Identify their Moment of least resistance. Last night was definitely not Dhuv’s moment of least resistance.

The other day I was lying on my bed, it was a lazy afternoon and I was scanning through the newspaper checking out the films running in the city, the radio was playing in the background. I flipped through Bangalore Times, glossing over page 3. Reams of paper plastered with colourful ads I don’t recall a single one. In the background Radio City was ringing with jingles which didn’t interest me too much either. Suddenly my mobile buzzes, I wonder if it could be any of my friends but most of them wouldn’t have recovered from the hangover last night. ‘Take home a Swift ...blah blah’, (Yeah right!) I delete it even before it starts.

I had just tossed a meticulously conceptualized media plan into the bin.

"What about my reach?" Screams the irate client.
"I think we should increase the number of channels to corner her, maybe we could use pizza delivery boys to get her to listen to us she can’t possibly slam the door on their faces", explains the young incorrigible media planner." You see it was not her moment of least resistance maybe….."

Probably the media planner was right, maybe a Pizza delivery boy would have been able to talk to me and maybe it was not my moment of least resistance.

And how does one determine what is their consumers moment of least resistance?

Moment of least resistance would vary with a product or service. If the product was a glucose drink the target audience is the young wife or mother, her moment of least resistance would be when she opens the door to her tired children who’ve dredged back from school or when she watches her weary husband plop on the couch without giving her a second glance! Is there some way to reach her then? Maybe through on-pack messaging or maybe when she is out shopping for her family, subtly reminding her that glucose will help revive the josh in her family.

If it was a job portal maybe radio spots in the morning and evening when most of the working population is traveling to and fro from their offices. They could either be thinking about their work ahead or examining the days work. The radio spots could be supported by a Pub promo. Most people unwind at pubs after work over a mug of beer talking about work or bitching about their bosses or better still looking for a new job!

Women are hard to please and they don’t like changing their personal care products frequently. Consequences of it could be disastrous – no one wants a bad hair day or burst into a sever rash. So a moisturizer brand should promote itself in a salon, a place women frequent to pamper themselves, to feel good and to relax. Go right ahead and spoil her, sponsor her pedicure, lure her into buying your product by giving her a sample pack. And if you can get her beautician to put in a word for your product, you’ve won half the battle because to her, her beautician's opinions are sacrosanct. When you have her begging for more, you know she’s for keeps. What is the point of putting up danglers in retail stores or tent cards in coffee shops!

Vaseline did something similar with the launch of their new product alovera and cucumber moisturizer last summer. A mall promo where women could take a break from shopping and get a pedicure done. Sunsilk watermelon offered free hair wash during the summer, even men where thronging the stall!

It is crucial to identify appropriate touch points, but it is even more important to map moments of least resistance. Every media planner walks a tight rope and often has to choose between maximizing reach and maximizing impact, all in a shoestring budget. In a world where consumers are bombarded with a plethora of media, it is crucial to identify the optimal mix that would help reduce cost and maximize impact.

It is important to recognize when your consumer is most susceptible to the brand communication. Sometimes something gimmicky works, at other times plain cash offs work, but in either case you have to get them to take notice. One just has to know the when and where of advertising to nail their consumer. Some big budget marketers pointlessly spend millions on newspaper or plastering every available billboard in town, maybe something of lesser magnitude will also work. The key is to know when your consumer is most vulnerable to your communication, then engage them, give them some novelty to hold their attention. The last leg is to drive home the message. And that’s what will net that winning goal for your product.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Desi Blondes

Dumb blonde is a stereotype and an unproven theory. Marilyn Manroe and Jean Harlow were the two notable sex icons of the twentieth century America who helped popularize this image. Both frequently portrayed "classic" dumb blondes in their films, yet were known privately as intelligent people. Now blondes are a category in-jokes column, which are widely read and enjoyed.

Bimbos are a similar stereotype, though bimbos can have any hair color. They are interpreted as a backronymn "Body Impressive, Brain Optional".

Paris Hilton is considered a prominent dumb blonde judging on her many escapades that leak into the tabloids and the media.

Well India has its own league of blondes or equivalent bimbettes. Notable amongst them are Aishwarya Rai, Mallika Sherawat and their cronies from bollywood.

Bimbettes love being cute, coy yet incredibly sexy and use all three to their advantage. There is no dearth of men who won't fall for it. Batting eyelids, giggling for almost anything, twirling their hair all works with men and blondes are incredible at it.
I have met a few Desi blondes in my really short career in advertising and events that has spanned over 8 months. These women give a bad name to account management and I for one work in this department and have to live with the stereotype of being another bimbo. It is extremely difficult to break away for it’s a given women in client servicing cant write briefs to save their lives. What more we use fake smile to get our work done. And the irony of it all - it actually works. Some succumb to their charm grudgingly while the majority do so almost readily!

The new reality show on air 'The beauty and the geek' exemplifies the intelligence of blondes. The men may look goofy but they are all smart and intelligent. Probably with a little makeover they would look good as well. However, they seemed to be smitten by dumb blondes who are endowed with ample natural assets and with intelligence that of an ant.
Its really tough to be dumb and for most bimbettes it comes naturally. It sure pays well to be one most men are at your disposal. I have always wondered why men seem to have a fetish for bimbettes. Either they cant see through them or are simply pretending to be oblivious of their lack of intelligence.

The other day a bimbette just batted her eyelids and looked at our creative director and said

'Oh Pranav! do I have to write a brief? I have already told you what has to be done and I have also forwarded the mail from the client to you which pretty much tells you what they want. Can't you do this for me?'

'Relax sweets! I will do this no sweat.'

Ooch! I had just finished typing out my brief after carefully considering all the parameters.
So I walk up to Pranav and ask him
'Do you want me to write a brief or bat my eyelids?'

He burst out laughing (God bless his sense of humor for I could have been flogged by my creative director for my insolence)

'Don’t push your luck Dhivya, batting eyelids and you? Ha! got to be kidding so the only other option for you is to write the brief. I'll will endure your crappy writing.'

'Oh please its way better than batting eyelids or flashing a fake smile.' I reply over my shoulder as I leave.

As long as men find batting eyelids more impressive than intelligence and pout more flattering than a good creative brief we'll continue to churn out mediocre work.
All the other non-bimbettes may have to consider re working their strategy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bitching is Therapeutic

Last couple of days at work have been rough. Petty squabble over copy changes, endless arguments with my studio manager, manpower crunch, verbal lashing from my boss. Unfortunately for most a new campaign was breaking shortly for one of our client and we (the agency) have finally woken up to the realization after a rather long slumber. Tempers are running high and at the slightest agitation my colleagues are flying off their handle readily passing the buck to someone else for not meeting deadlines.

Advertising is extremely chaotic - attrition levels are high, technology fails you when you most need it and even if it doesn't most ad guys are pretty much technologically challenged and I am in the thick of it all and enjoying, cribbing, fighting, evolving, and learning.

I don’t hold anyone responsible, everyone is fighting hard to meet targets and each one is dealing with pressure his own way. Studio is dealing with it by drawing sadistic pleasure by being plain difficult for just about anything. Creatives on the other hand always blame the lack of resources and manpower and at every opportunity they'll reemphasize it. There are still others who do yoga, sweat it out at the gym, shop, quit jobs, change hair styles, do cross country running, or go on a holiday. I for one need a nightlong therapeutic bitching session and beer for instant gratification. It helps me calm my nerves. And heck yesterday specifically was an all nighter.

I have had the most satisfying bitching session. I was actually all charged up to take on more work today! Prashant was an enduring listener.

At the studio 20.45

'What about the artwork for the stickers, Saketh? I have been waiting all day for it. Its 8.45pm now. Besides where are the estimates you said you would give it to me yesterday?'

'I'll give everything tomorrow.'

'Why don’t you give me a time that you can stick too.'

'Dhivya if you want a time, then have it - next month.'

I couldn't stand the smirk on his face.

'Well too bad now you lost that liberty-I need it now or face the flak. I waited whole of last two days for it. You don’t seem to have too much decency to let me know. I will not take responsibility for this goof up on your part.'

'And what do you propose to…..'

I left. I walked out of office. I had had enough of this.

First two of our visualisers are on leave next the only visualiser available is overloaded. I asked him if he could help me with something the other guy had worked on. I also told him I was willing to wait and work whenever he gets free and that the job would not take more than ten minutes of his time. Immediately my copywriter took off on how ten minutes like these eats into their valuable time. And account executives like me only care about our respective clients and how he was doing both his and my work on this particular client who was celebrating his centenary year. I don't blame him he was doing his job and was overloaded with an obscene amount of work and with an unrealistic deadline to achieve.
So many times I have seen them play online games (maybe it was his way of dealing with stress), which obviously didn’t seem to hinder any of their work but ten minutes of my work, would put a grinding halt to whatever they were trying to achieve.

Hey, I was doing my job too, and I really didn't need to take so much of bullshit.

I have never given my studio or my creative team a timeline they cant achieve and I do acknowledge the fact that they work on far more accounts than I do. I have a deadline that’s pressing and clients can be painful sometimes this was really out of my hands.

I walked out that night with tears streaming down my cheeks. I got yelled at because I couldn't meet my deadline, I had to listen to how selfish I could be for trying to meet my commitments with my client. I have to answer a whole lot of people tomorrow - my client, my boss, the vendor. I was feeling slightly feverish at the thought of being pulled up.

Hundred things ran through my mind at that moment. I want to quit advertising - its not worth it - what a thankless profession - all I do is dirty work - I want to drink - I should call someone - why am I crying? - Am I a workaholic? - I don’t want to look incompetent.

At home 21.30

'I have had a horrid day lets drink'

30 minutes later I was seated at Stones along with Prashant - Bitching.

Bitching about everything and everyone. How the world was not fair, how I was just a flunkey in office and how my life was so miserable. I becomes easier to talk once you are three mugs down.

I am not wallowing in self-pity; neither I am I looking for sympathy. The fact is my job has a lot of dependencies - the media, the studio, the creatives, and the client and it is not something I would bring upon myself. Despite knowing this, despite plastering timelines on every available notice board in office, despite preparing everyone for the work in hand, despite anticipating problems we still had to outsource work.
It amazes me how eveyone so readily showers an Acount Executive with profanities. I have fought really hard to avoid being labelled, but today I am defeated. I guess I am going to be just another "servicing" person although in my head I know I wont settle for it.
I am embarrassed. I feel incompetent. I am tired.

Well I do hope it’s a glorious centenary year for a certain client of ours.


PS - All characters in my blog are fictional and any resemblance to a person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Babudom 24x7

Country's youngest channel - Lok Sabha Television (LSTV) has failed to take on the Indian audience by a storm. Well I am not surprised, a 24-hour channel whose programming content revolves around the Lok Sabha speeches that have a knack of having a somnolent effect pretty much speaks volumes.

The brainchild behind the 10-day-old channel, speaker Somnath Chatterjee said it was aimed at bringing some order into proceedings, which frequently got unruly. If not news worthy this channel will definitely be a source of entertainment - unadulterated altercations the Babudom frequently engages in would be hilarious to watch. I don’t think our politicians care too much, despite the glaring presence of the media they would still go ahead unabashedly and pick their nose or spit on the aisle or hit someone. It would take more than a television channel to bring about some decorum in the proceedings.

How many people are watching? It is early days, television viewers are being tickled by slick options that are now available to them - K sagas, reality drama, music, nature, news, history, action and more. Would something like Lok Sabha squabble that is a standing joke of the country ever be able to rake TRPs?

The channel is wholly owned by the Lok Sabha secretariat, and is available freely on cable networks. Only public sector units are allowed to sponsor programmes or advertise on the channel.

LSTV has not undertaken a rigorous marketing & promotional campaign due to constrained budgets however, when a footage of the proceedings is sold to private channel, they are not allowed to tamper with the contents therefore company logos on the screens will be aired on private stations too.

One could watch what the politician voted by him/her is doing at the Lok Sabha and may want to differ his choice the next time over.

Come to think of it I would rather watch a news channel which will give a comprehensive account of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha amongst others than watch LSTV that is wholly dedicated to Babudom. I could do without watching someone pluck a few hairs off Lalu's ear, which by the way, needs a trim.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Madhur Bhandar's Corporate

Last night my roomie and I decided to catch the last show of Corporate at INOX, Garuda. After a trip down tinsel town in Page 3 Madhur Bhandarkar in his next venture Corporate failed to provoke any though what so ever.

It’s a shame a filmmaker of his caliber, who has always treaded a path less traveled by Bollywood, would give a subject like Corporate such a shoddy treatment.
Corporate is a battlefield of power-hungry people (and sex starved professionals). A world filled with deceit and corrupted minds. Where wealth, fame and success are fought over. And rules don't exist.

CORPORATE tells the story of two leading industrialists in the food sector, led by Vinay Sehgal [Rajat Kapoor], Managing Director of Sehgal Group of Industries and Dharmesh Marwah [Raj Babbar], Managing Director of Marwah International P. Ltd. Powerful, ambitious and relentless. This war also extends to the choice of their women.

While there are many diligent people working for these companies, there is also Nishigandha (I wonder why they made her sound like Ranjnigandha). played by Bipasha Basu, a businesswoman with high aspirations and hunger to move to the top. She in the thick of all the action. The overly caked VP of the Sehgal group of industries is the face on every business magazine in the country. Even the most powerful let their guard down once in a way and she did just that - she falls hopelessly in love with Rithesh (KK Menon), CEO and brother-in-law of Vinay Sehgal. A pretty spineless character who has incurred loses that run in corers for the company.

Nishi steals highly confidential launch details of a mint based soft drinks right from under Marwha's nose and passes it on to Sehgal. He then decides to hasten the launch of their own drink (Just Chill), which was originally scheduled to hit the market a year later, and launch it within 45 days! (Some marketing target)

Shit hits the roof when 10 days before the launch traces of pesticides are found in the water that is used to make the drink. To keep his face in the media Vinay still goes ahead and launches the drink. The drink apparently captures 65% market share within a week of the launch (a feat not yet achieved by either of the Cola giants). The Marwah group gets hold of this scoop and plays the media, who very true to their reputation blow it up!
And from then on its turmoil of love, sex, power and money! And the intelligent Nishi is the pawn in the hands of the Sehgal family, who despite her own personal ethics takes the blame for the mishap and gets the Sehgal family the clean chit.

The movie had several good in- film placements. All the laptops used in films were Lenovo - excellent association, corporates and laptops go brilliantly together. Bisleri bottles were featured in all conference rooms. The power blue outfits of Bipasha are from Allen Solly. There are a few shots of the film inside the shops as well, very clearly indicating smart clothes for smart women. Times Now also has good screen presence - they are the media that covers all breaking news in business. Even a pencil brand should have been featured; every desk featured a pen stand with over 100 pencils neatly arranged. Bips is seen drinking Kingfisher strong - I cant really say strong beer for strong women :)

Madhur's Corporate philosophy in a nutshell

-Men obviously think between their legs (Bipasha says so!).
-With every promotion comes more sex!
-Pimping is a lucrative industry
-A woman with a rather colourful social life is tagged public ltd.
-Media is the biggest dog who mulls over anything and everything that comes its way
-Indians have a very short-lived memory
-PR gets one more than just a good media coverage it gets you into the sack!



Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Holiday Helpdesk

Confused about where to go this weekend? Would rather unwind in a tree house buried deep inside Bandhipur forest, or trek up the Himalayas? Visit and plan your weekend getaways and holidays.
India Resorts Survey (IRS) is first of its kind venture in India for all travel lovers. Here you can find new resorts, weekend getaways and hotels in India, add new ones, rate them on various parameters, join the network of travel lovers, and plan your trips.

One can join IRS by becoming an IRS explorer and enjoy the privileges that come with it. As an explorer you could help someone make their travel plans and earn brownie points by writing about the places you visit. You can also share photographs and experiences (both good and bad) with fellow travelers. You could make your own travel plans based on the reviews and ratings put up by explorers.

IRS allows you to filter your search based on distances from your residing city, tariff rates, type of resort, state, etc. This allows you to zero in on what you're looking for to make your weekend fun and exciting and thus reduces the hassle of having to go through reams of unnecessary data.

Online travel planning is a brand new concept in India but its a well-established business in the west. Most people in the states chalk out their travel plans based on reviews on sites like tripadvisor and igougo. This not only ensures they get their money's worth but also guarantees a fun filled weekend something they have been looking forward to.

From budget hotels to premium luxury resorts there is a destination for all kinds of travelers at IRS all one has to do is pack his bag and hit the roads.

The next time you're basking in the backwaters of Kerala or lying on the sands of virgin beaches along the konkan coast counting stars you know who would want to know. And in any case your trip was a rude surprise you can still log on and write about it.

On a personal note I think the site is user friendly and the navigation is relatively clear. There are a few travel blogs which make an excellent read and are also furbished with a lot of details and funny anecdotes but then again it limits my choice to a very few popular tourists locales. At IRS I can write, read and access information about my preferred (not necessarily popular) holiday destination. The site filters helps me find what I want amongst zillion other things.

The services of this site are more often than not labeled to be another, who are in the business of getting the best deals for travelers. IRS on the other hand provides a platform for you to connect with other travel lovers and share their experiences and thus helping you plan that perfect vacation.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The AXE way of Engagement

The work done by Mindshare Fulcrum for AXE was short-listed this year at the Emvies under three different categories: the best integrated campaign, best media innovation—digital and best media innovation—never used before media. This article throws up interesting insights on which the campaign was based on - The Axe way of Engagement

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Women's Mindspace - Part 2

The new entrant Marie Claire

After a decade we are seeing the entry of another big international name. Marie Claire is known worldwide as a fashion magazine for the thinking woman. So, besides a lot of elegant fashion and beauty they have strong features content. The outlook group claims they have first-person articles, special investigative reports, relationships, photo stories, and hope to develop a lot of bold and beautiful reports that tell people about India and not the rich urban India. They believe in being real. So they will talk about issues in India as they are. Their fashion content is slick and doable – it doesn't come from a dream factory but it shows women possibilities in fashion. And leaves them with many good ideas.

There is no dearth of choice for the Indian woman. With proliferation of foreign player the advertising pie will get redistributed, as will the readership.

In all this rat race to woo the India woman it makes me wonder - do these magazines actually address what a woman wants or do they tell you what a man wants? ‘How to make a man beg for more’ or ‘How to save your marriage?’ all or most of the contents simply explain how to keep the man/men in your life ecstatic about you even the photographic elements are for the men to ogle at. All women’s magazines satiates the Indian man’s appetite – the get a huge chunk of their readership from men.

So what are the contents of the men’s magazine (Maxim, GQ, Debonair, Man’s world)? -Even more number of preposterously dressed women. Although I must admit women’s magazines are far more subdued as compared to the men’s magazine.

I read Cosmopolitan and I would say it’s a lot of fun but besides good entertainment value does it serve any purpose? It has endless amounts of lifestyle ads, there has also been an increase in the number of white goods that advertise in these magazines. (Thank god for small mercies at least they stopped considering women technologically challenged) One could easily spot ads of pink clamshell phone, pink bikes, pink thongs and pink perfume (Oh pink from Lacoste is amazing). I am waiting for pink washing machines and laptops. All the ads adorn the colour of the season be it pink, black or burgandy.

Has this category evolved? They claim to be celebrating the new era of women, glorifying their achievements but the ads carried in them are for damsels in distress, hence we have pretty pink bikes, furry mobile covers and special SIM cards.

Is this category saturated yet? Is there room for more players? This category has still not seen anything innovative, it is predominantly a me too market, there is always room for innovation.

Is the audience mature enough to be able to accept it? Yes, although a very small section of the actual readership base is truly willing to embrace a change. Then again there is the marketing objective do they want volumes or a small loyal customer base? In a world where even the most niche brands are all out to lure the mass market I don’t think a small section really counts.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Women's Mindspace - Part 1

My bed is littered with Business World, Outlook, the Brand Reporter, Pitch and a 100 other odd magazines, some new some old. I have a pressing deadline, a presentation to make, and I seem to show no inclination to start. I glance at this mess with apathy, through a gap in the pile a brightly coloured paper catches my attention without moving the magazines above I know it is a Cosmopolitan. I push the heap of junk to find a semi nude Mallika Sherawat flashing a rather sultry smile amongst other things. A bold text strategically placed read '69 wild moves to make on your man’. Hmmm… interesting enough for me to flip through the contents of the magazine.

All women’s magazine follow a particular homogeneity brightly coloured, glossy cover, endless make up ads and topped with a lot of steamy content that makes a good read, I love the escapism it offers. The fight for the Indian woman’s mind-space started 10 years back when the women had very limited choice in both the no of magazines and content of the magazine. The English magazine consuming population had Eve’s weekly, Women’s Era, and Femina.

The paper quality was poor, as was the photographic element. The content predominately doled out advice on how to be a blushing bride, how to tackle in-laws, interesting recipes and what not to do to wreck your marriage, Women’s Era is pretty much still the same. Thankfully the other magazines have acknowledged the new age women who are extremely comfortable with their sexuality, confident and in control of their lives.

One could get an occasional copy of magazines like Vogue, Harper Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Marie Claire only if one of your distant cousins were coming down from abroad or you could spot an extremely old edition at the raddiwala.

The quality of women’s magazine saw a change with the entry of foreign magazines like Cosmopolitan and Elle. It shook the local English magazines from slumber and made them rethink their strategy. After a decade, Marie Claire from the Outlook group, yet another foreign player has jumped into the bandwagon to battle it out for the Indian Woman’s mind-space. This warfare would be an interesting one both in terms of content and marketing gimmicks undertaken by each of them. It would also be interesting to observe how the new entrant would fair amongst the already established players’ like Cosmopolitan and Elle who have gone all out to woo the not just the Indian woman but the men as well. (A lot of their readership comes from the men well I don’t think one has to make any Einsteinish guess here).
I have analyzed the contents and marketing strategies of popular Women’s English magazine and here are a few observations I made

Bold, Bright and Big – Three words that describe this magazine the best. Everything in this magazine is larger than life (even the models in the photograph!). ‘Sexy lingerie from Victoria Secrets’ - ‘What to wear in bed with him’ - ’Kamasutra revived’ and the likes are the genre of stories that are predominantly covered by Cosmopolitan. Their primary target audience are SEC A, A1 women in the age group of 23-35. An undisputed leader in the high end market Cosmopolitan prides itself in being the Bible for women today.


It is a suave international fashion magazine that also made its entry into India around the same time as Cosmopolitan. Red carpet dressing, international fashion trends, reviews of a designer’s collection, photo reviews of make up, lingerie, cocktail dresses, shoes and other accessories feature in this magazine. It is truly in every sense a fashion magazine. They also have niche magazines on home décor (Elle Décor) and one for teenage girls (Elle teen). Of late the magazine has diluted its positioning by digressing from its niche market and becoming another mass brand like cosmopolitan. ‘Whats your kink quotient’ – ‘Chocolate in bed’ and many more stories of this genre is gaining importance in their editorial content (someone should tell them Cosmopolitan is already working really hard at it). Cosmopolitan has far more aggressive marketing and distribution system in place. Elle on the other hand should rethink their current below the line strategies and non-media innovations, which is grossly mismatched with their brand image (they sponsor college fests!!! – killing the very concept of niche)


It is the Indian Cosmopolitan – A complete me too. Femina woke up from its hibernation to revamp their content long after Cosmopolitan had entered the Indian market and established itself. They have launched a magazine for adolescent girls called Femina Girl. Over the years Femina has shown a considerable improvement in the quality of its contents, they have tried to imbibe a very foreign feel to their magazine and are a leader in the mid segment. They have been sponsoring the biggest beauty pagent in India - Ms. India since its inception which drives in high visibilty and brings out excellent brand association (Pond's only came in much later and it then became Ponds' Femina Ms. India).

Women’s Era

A magazine even my mum stopped reading long ago. Its contents are what it was a decade ago so less said the better.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Spray Away to AXE Land

Skimpily clad women hurling themselves at a rather DUH! guy well has instilled 1000s more with the shining optimism that maybe you don’t need to be a foot ball star after all. AXE sure has given all goofy men some hope, reassuring them that they can go out in the arena of wolves and score with the best in the league.
Almost all-Indian products have treaded the path to titillation but more often than not it is usually tactless and despicable. Its true that sex sells almost anything from food to incense stick yet being lewd or plain cheap can have negative repercussions on the brand, a mistake committed by all advertisers.

I think AXE has to be credited for keeping their communication fresh with sexual yet youthful effervescence, without however looking risqué.

They first identified the problem- Most young men today find it difficult to approach young women for the fear of being rejected or even worse for the fear of being laughed at. AXE has gone out of its way to help these young men out, their communication totally scrapped the belief that being ‘cool’ is not the be all and end all of dating.

For this AXE set up an online training school to groom these clownish men and they did so by making the dos and don’ts of dating loud and clear. The ad said no matter what you do AXE will make you look cool anyway. Body odor is a total turn off and a complete no no in dating.

The initial phase of their communication showed a man pull off stupid moves (with aplomb) at a club, which became the hottest moves in town, the man soon found women falling all over him. The dance was popularized through their online training school, it was taught at dance schools and published in newspapers and magazines.

In their second phase AXE gave losers a passport to visit AXE land - an island that’s teeming with gorgeous women. This dream island is just a spray away and guarantees to titillate ones senses. What more is, one doesn’t need to know how to strum a guitar or play football!!! And for all the others who can’t make it to AXE land there are loads of goodies to be won.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Support Reservation

Dear Mr. Arjun Singh

Subject: I support Reservation

After carefully analyzing the happenings over the past two weeks, I have made a few observations. Over the fortnight I was contemplating whom should I extent my support to

- Fellow professionals like me who are strongly opposing your views on reservation which according them is a gimmick pulled off by you for some quick votes and an instant gratification of the left.

- You and your party, who claim it is not to gratify anybody or any particular sections of the society. And after considerable deliberation you feel (and your party seconds you) it is to improve the overall quality of life of the SC /ST and OBC who have been denied all basic necessities in life and thus by ensuring the rest of India is denied its basic fundamental rights
I fully extend my support to you Mr. Singh, I think the Government should bring about reservation in all departments and the PM and all the Politicians will have my backing for promoting this.
  • To start with Government should bring about 49.6% Reservation in trains for SC / ST and OBC. This reservation is not just for General Class but for First Class, AC 2 tier, AC 3 tier and sleeper coaches as well
  • To improve the quality of life of SC / ST and OBC you should bring about 30% reservation in all air planes with upto 10% in business class (Air India now Indian flies empty anyway)
  • 20% of the visas issued to all Indians to travel to America should be for BC / OBC
  • All operations conducted on politicians should be by BC / OBC
  • SC /ST and OBC should have adequate representation in all faculties (direction, production, music composition, choreography, acting, and even the censor board) of the Films Industry.
  • Ensure SC/ ST and OBC should be employed in all PSUs like Banks, Nuclear energy, Railways, and industry like Oil and Natural Gas, Mining etc.
  • All projects undertaken by the government like building bridges, roads, and railways should be given only to SC / ST and OBC engineers
  • The Armed forces should bring about 40% reservation for SC /ST and OBC in all their institutes spanned across India
  • Get BCCI to have SC / ST reservation in cricket and maybe request fast bowlers like Shohaib Akhtar to bowl slowly and if anyone from the above mentioned caste hits a four it could be tripled and sixes could be doubled
  • 40% of all athletes representing India in olympics should be from SC / ST and OBC

The points enumerated above are really skewed towards betterment of the lives of SC / ST and OBC who will be graduating from prestigious institutes and in accordance with your policy emloyment opportunities should also have reservation. Kindly act upon them at the earliest in order to prevent further denial of their right to a good life.



Ps - As a citizen of this country I definitely want to see equality instituted to one and all well that’s what the psuedo left of our country claim as well (socialistic ideals stem from equality to all citizen). Quota is a complete violation of my right to equality, ideals of socialism, and a complete disregard of Indian Intelligence. Far worse is beating up unarmed students, what started off as a silent protest with some 400 medical students now has the whole country standing up and fighting to safe guard the quality of education that you propose to dilute.

Many express their support by participating in the protest march, a few attempt to self immolate, others like me write about it and there are many other means one can resort to. How do you to intend to silence each and everyone of it?

Friday, May 19, 2006

‘Can I be friends with you?’

‘Hi a friend of mine just broke up with his girlfriend could you dance with him and cheer him up, you dance really well?’ I was quite dumbfounded. I was having a ball dancing to all my favourite numbers at the AD club awards in Bangalore, it brought back my days at Symbiosis and suddenly I found myself in a funny predicament.

Have you ever had people come up to you with the lamest of pick up lines? I can’t deny it can be mighty flattering at times, but mostly its embarrassing. I have lived on my own for the last 5 years and have gotten it so many times but every time in my head I appreciate their innovativeness. The most common and the corniest of all pick up lines is ‘Have we met somewhere?’ I would say ‘why did we have to now?’ My sarcasm has little or no effect on these men because many of them are used to this or are plain stupid and just don’t follow you.

With the internet community Orkut all one has to do is put a decent picture and your scrap book is flooding with complete bull like :
‘You have an amazing aura’ or
‘I feel l like I have known you all my life’ or
‘Hey I am from Bangalore too!!!’

Really, people need to go get a life.

I once read somewhere that one of the popular pick up line is to throw an ice cube in a club in front of a pretty girl and then say ‘Now that the ice is broken shall we dance?’ I found this ridiculous and I couldn’t digest the fact that men would go ahead and make complete asses of themselves I mean not to discredit their intelligence or anything.

‘Can I buy u a drink?’
‘Sure as long as its an unopened bottle of beer’

A lot of possibilities for date rape, it is a serious concern now. There have been numerous incidents of date rape, media is now talking about it as well and several precautions have been issued to single young woman.

Abroad several lawsuits have been filed and several legal battles have been won since more often than not pick up lines tread the path of sexual harassment the recent one being that of the automobile major Toyota.

Most pick up lines are innocent and are purely for kicks. I mean who would want to chat up some weirdo who stops you in the road (I am thinking maybe for direction) and tells you ‘Hey you got really beautiful eyes’.

Even though it was only for 5 seconds and he was not much of a dancer I did dance with that WIERDO the night of the AD club awards only to feel super stupid later. I felt sorry for the guy and realized corny pick up lines will never cease to exist as long as women like me keep buying that bullshit.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Shivering with temperature and shuddering with the horrible pain in my stomach I woke up one morning and dragged myself to work. I plop on my seat and put my head down on my desk; my boss walks into office with gusto and looks at me rather curiously.

‘Dhivya whats the drama for? Which one of your boyfriend is in town? You want a day off? Come on tell me’ with a grin on his face.

I really didn’t say much just mumbled and put my head back down. Now he was little worried.

‘Alright I will send for my car to drop you home go see a doctor and get well soon. Don’t work when you are sick.’

I got dropped home. I am new to Bangalore and I usually don’t fall sick so didn’t know any doctors around so I opened the yellow pages and found my self taking down the address of a Manipal hospital. Who goes to these morbid places for just a fever I thought. So I lay in bed wallowing in self pity.

I have always seen Dr. Nandakumar. He has treated my whole family- he has seen me through my vaccinations, he has seen me through various cuts and bruises (all a part of growing up), he has seen me as a pimply teenager coping with puberty, and I would have gone to him for this as well. He lived at the end of the block and more than anything else I trusted him.

I missed home suddenly, I felt horribly alone in this rather huge, exciting, cosmopolitan city, I missed rasam sadam, I missed my mum- oh I missed home. Well you just don’t think clearly beyond a point I was just getting cranky and the paracetamol was not working. I heaved myself out of the bed and decided I would visit Manipal hospital after all.

Hospitals make me sick; it housed people with funny ailments and wore an even funnier smell. One could see grotesque of sights there. With a heavy feeling I reached Manipal. I walked into a huge reception teeming with sick people. A tiny board said help desk which already had people standing in a queue in front of it I joined the end of the queue and waited for my turn. And when my turn did come before I could explain my position.

‘Ýou are coming to Manipal hospital for the first time?’

I nodded.

‘Register yourself there madam, next’ she pointed to another counter.

I walked to where she pointed and a board said registration. I explained to a woman behind the counter, who had more lipstick on her teeth than on her lips, that I am really sick and if I could see someone soon.

‘Fill the form’

The form had ridiculous questions like

Where have you heard about Manipal Hospital?
Any other

Which religion do you belong to?

And few more stupid questions. I filled the form and gave it to the lady she fed the details into her computer. The printer suddenly sprang to life and printed violently.

‘That would be Rs. 300 ‘

‘For what?’ I choked

‘Rs 50 for registration and Rs 250 for consultation’

‘You don’t even know what my problem is how you can put my consultation fee. The fee is paid after the consultation that’s why it is called a consultation fee’ I was nearly screaming now.

‘Thats what we follow here madam.’

The patients behind me were expressing their irritation so I quickly paid up and walked to the first floor as instructed feeling rather cheated already.

I enter the lobby to find it swarmed by more sick people the nurse showed me a chair at the far end of the looby. I sat there watching the muted television, I read the paper back to back both TOI and Express, I read some arbid magazines, I walked a little and read some posters on AIDS awareness and then I finally got restless. I walked up to the nurse and told her

‘I am really sick; I really would like to see the doctor.’

‘Madam everyone here are also sick, you have to wait for your turn.’

I don’t blame her for saying that to me although it just seemed like she slapped me on my face and I wanted to throttle her at that moment. Everyone waiting there were sick probably more sick than I was and she was just doing her job. I waited 3 hours before I met the doctor by which time I was normal my temperature had come down and it was way past my lunch time. The doctor looked at me and said.

‘What happened to you my pretty girl?’

I explained my symptoms clearly and he called the nurse to take my temperature which was normal.

He looked at me and said

'Nothing to worry my dear must be work pressure(certainly not) or a passing viral (what contrasting problems I thought). I will give some paracetamol and…’

I had waited 3 hours filled stupid forms to hear a doctor say paracetamol.

I burst out into angry tears the minute I stepped out of the hospital. It then dawned upon me I truly miss the Tender Loving Care that these big hospitals don’t offer they just fleece you of your money and are very impersonal dealing with sick people.

Dr. Nandakumar may have prescribed the same thing but I don’t remember ever having to wait in long queues, or having to fill tedious forms when I was sick. I always almost walked in and put my troubles in trusted hands and in return I always got back TLC.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Asif...

I dedicate this blog to Asif and to CRM. Its not obsession that drives me to write another blog on CRM but an honest experience. I am not in the habit of walking around scrutinising every flaw with the world around us, I am only voicing my concern.
Its Asif’s birthday today. Last night, 60 minutes before the stroke of midnight Asif and I had gone to café coffee day on 100ft road to catch up on the past weeks happenings and to grab a quick mid night snack. As a part of his birthday celebration I went into the coffeehouse (leaving him sitting outside) on the pretext of using the washroom to surprise him with a birthday jig.

"My friends birthday is in the next 50 mins is there anything you guys do for birthdays. " I ask the waiter.

"Sorry Mam we don’t have birthday celebrations here" replied the waiter at the cash counter.
"Its not a Birthday bash, there are only 2 of us. Could you get him a slice of the yummiest cake available here with a candle and sing for him as well…I’ll sing along."

"Sorry mam we don’t do all that here."
"Well ok atleast deliver the cake and coffee to our table outside and wish him happy birthday, thats the least you can do for me."

"Sure mam I’ll tell the waiter to do that for you."

"Thank you, that would be nice."
I rushed back to the table.
"Dhivs did you order our coffee?"

"Yes I…"
"Happy Birthday MAM! Have a great year ahead" announces a rather pleasant looking waiter. Asif looks at me all baffled and I look at the waiter.

"Its his birthday, why would I order my own birthday cake"

I was rather embarrassed now, the waiter was looking stupid himself and Asif was rolling with laughter.

"That is so cute of you Dhivs!" exclaims Asif to break the awkward silence. The now goofy waiter takes a cue and escapes.
Well it sure was a joke and we kept laughing through the night.
All coffee houses sell an ambiance and so does Café coffee day it is a place one could be himself and not put up a facade, a place where one could unwind after a long days work either alone or in the company of his friends, a place where one could read, play board games or do business.

For me it has been a place where I have bitched, gossiped, strategised, ideated, or simply procrastinated for hours. I have enjoyed my time with friends or in a company of a book at that place. And after last night I felt a little let down, after all I have been a loyal customer.

Coffee retailing has seen a stupendous growth in the last few years. Café coffee days, Baristas and qwiky’s have mushroomed in every street, it has been further accelerated with foreign players like Starbucks and Costa coffee threatening to enter the Indian market. Putting up a stiff fight requires deep pockets and in such a scenario its important that coffee houses not only provide value for money but also go beyond the expectation of their customer.
I understand that the waiters must have been quite tired after a long days work, they must have been exhausted after smiling the whole day at the most annoying customers however, they could have sung the happy birthday song (even if it was just a cacophony) and could have wished the right person and could have made Asif’s birthday special.

CRM is not just about making and keeping a customer (like I had published in my last blog) but it is also about going beyond the expectations of the customers and thus keeping all other competitors and substitues at bay.

I will still go back to Café coffee day and unwind and not let this incident sour my ties with them but in my head this place has lost its charm and I would also think that probably a Barista is a better option for the next birthday celebration.

And Happy birthday Asif have a smashing year ahead!


Friday, February 17, 2006

Did you forget to wish someone this valentine?

Ferns and petals sure did forget to wish many on Valentines Day. Many Internet portals failed to deliver gifts ordered by people online for their loved ones, this valentine. Obviously these portals had a sudden rush of orders for the 14th of February and had to work over time to live up to the promise but its all about CRM.

My flatmate Tanu in Bangalore distraught by the fact she was not with her boyfriend on valentines decided to surprise him by sending him flowers and chocolates. So she placed her order with Ferns and petals thinking, they are a good and trusted online portal (hmm I wonder why).
The flowers and chocolates don’t reach her boyfriend on the 14th Feb but on the 15th.

Well what was the point anyway, her boyfriend opens the door on 15th morning and a chirpy delivery boy goes ‘Happy Valentines Day Sir’…someone please tell him it was yesterday.

When Tanu frantically calls to check on the 14th why the order was not delivered she is faced with a rude customer care executive in the e-commerce division who bluntly tells her – ‘Sorry mam we are over booked’.

‘Then put it on your website that you are overbooked and stop taking orders’ retorts Tanu to a dead line and they further more refuse to pick up any of her calls despite trying over a zillion times.
In most management and communication schools students are put through grueling hours of classes on Customer Relationship Management (CRM). They are taught- how customer is the king of any organization and how crucial it is for any company to not only make a customer but to also keep him.

In a world where customers are becoming demanding, competition is getting more intense marketers have to invest huge sums of money to keep his consumers hooked on to his brand. It is only suicidal for any organization to loose their customers. Loosing one Tanu could be a loss of 10 new potential consumers for ferns and petals, because not only will she bad mouth them (hey she has all the reasons to – Late delivery, Rude support staff, no apologies, etc.) but she would also ensure that none of her associates ever use their service either. Negative buzz spreads faster anyway and it only gains momentum on the way.

Well Ferns and petals could have done the following to stop this disaster:

1. They could have Clearly specified on their website that they are over booked and they are extremely sorry to Tanu and her likes that they are unable to take in more orders.

2. Send an apology to her.

3. Apologised to Tanu’s boyfriend as well.


Well I sincerely do hope they are atleast better equipped with disaster management, let me warn them an angry customer is one of the worst disasters to happen (don’t forget the movie tickets it could help) and if they are not, boy I don’t know what they are thinking.



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Get paid for Blogging!

Personal blogs could now provide opportunities for sponsorship that is, if the contents are widely read for all the right reasons. If you have the flair and are quick witted consider becoming a professional blogger. Blogging for money has caught on and will only move forward in the coming years.
Read on...

Friday, January 13, 2006

The first phase of the Indian reality Television

The reality shows are fast becoming a reality on Indian television. As the number of channels increase by the day, there is a need for constant innovation. Reality TV programming is emerging as an answer to this need. No wonder, they are now an integral part of most of the TV channels' programming strategy.

The genre of ‘reality shows’ can be broadly divided into three main categories. In the first, the viewer and the camera are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional activities. This style of filming is often referred to as "fly on the wall". The famous 'Big Brother' series work on this concept.In the second type, hidden cameras are rolling when random passers-by encounter a staged situation. The reactions of the passers-by can be funny to watch, but they also reveal the truths about human conditioning. The very watchable MTV Bakra is an example of this category. In the third type, the so-called "reality game shows", participants are filmed intensively in an enclosed environment while competing to win a prize; Kaun Banega Crorepati being an example.
Back in 80’s MTv aired a revolutionary show called ‘The Real world’ which made celebrities out of ordinary young Americans thrown together in an apartment, getting along, getting frisky, racial tensions, a fantastic mix of high emotions and drama, until it turned sour and lost its originality and its audience by the late 90’s. But what it did was, sow the seeds for an idea, which is being regurgitated at the speed of light today, by media moguls and networks hungry for success.

In India the success of Indian Idol marked the turning point of reality television. Abijeet sawant the winner of the Indian idol must be thanking the reality genre. The show that was a direct rip off from the American Idol has changed his personality, fortunes, address and bank balance. He's moved into a five-bedroom flat in posh Vile Parle and is an icon of sorts for millions of Indians. His album ‘Aapka Abijeet’ sold about 5 million copies. The album was pitted against Nigam's Chanda Kee Doli at the recent MTV Immies and won hands down in the best album category. The reach of Indian Idol was unbelievable.
After the massive success of Star’s ‘Kaun Banega Crorpati’ Star plus has launched the second run of the show. On the first day of its launched it raked a TRP of over 19.0.

When it comes to production costs these shows are a huge money guzzler Karun Prabhakar, director operations at Siddharth Basu-owned Synergy which produced KBC, says: "A reality show can cost above Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) - an amount a channel spends for a year of programming."

However, even a meticulously crafted financial plan can fall flat on its face if the creative concept goes wrong. A hugely successful KBC or an Indian Idol cannot rub off the failures of the Govinda-anchored Jeeto Chappar Phad Ke (Sony) and Madhuri Dixit’s much publicized matchmaking show Kahin na Kahin Koi Hay (Sony) from the small screen. So, caution is the key word for any new show.
Today there are a host of shows searching and reaching to younger generation. What makes the lure of reality television so irresistible? “It makes make young people like me famous” explains Rooprekha Banerjee winner of the recently aired Fame Gurukul. An opportunity to work with big names in the industry, big bucks and tones of other freebies are a part of the lucrative package.

For those who seek adventure there is the MTv Roadies 3 and those who think they are going to be the next super model of India there is Channel V get gorgeous 3. Phenomena of Reality TV has taken the Indians by a storm there are shows that test your intelligence, skill, humor aptitude, talent or merely your physique.
But not everyone believes in the success of reality TV. For some, it's no more than a marketing gimmick to attract TRP ratings and generate revenue through SMSes and phone calls that cost nearly Rs 6 and Rs2.50 respectively, from which 40 per cent goes to channels and the rest goes to the service providers (in this case, Airtel and Hutch). Music channels have a minuscule share in the TRP pie, the reality programmes has helped them push the TRPs of the channel, bag popularity and carve a niche for themselves. A good example is Bakra, which is now synonymous with MTV. Shows like ‘Nacha Baliye’ and ‘the great Indian Laughter challenge’ have done wonders to the TRPs of Star one it has help push the TRPs of Star One from an average of 0.4 to over 4.0.

For so far, successful Indian reality-programming has been more or less only about recognising abilities — not about despicable, degraded voyeurism: cheating on partners (Temptation Island), betraying competitors (Survivor), hitching on to eligible millionaires (Joe Millionaire), swapping spouses (Wife Swap). This is the first stage of the life cycle of Indian reality genre as the audiences mature more formats of reality will finds its way into the tube.

Sources: Agencyfaqs, Amrita Sarkar SIMC