Monday, November 26, 2007

Bollywood on the Blogsphere

Bollywood is probably the most bizarre, the most melodramatic, the most unprofessional and the most unorganized industry and yet between their song and dance sequence one could learn a lesson or two on marketing. A lot of debate has been brewing on the web about the big banner movies hitting the box recently, and I was curious to find out how much Bollywood has impacted the Consumer Generated media (CGM).

The results were surprising at times and predictable at most others. The cumulative marketing efforts by production houses and films had a trickle down effect on the blog. For instance Om Shanti Om(OSO) had started doing the rounds in the media almost a year before its launch. To top it all there were a zillion promotions, interviews, contests, 70’s line being launched at Shopper’s Stop and hype leading up to the day of its premiere. News like the release of the film across an unprecedented 2000 plus screens worldwide, and the Manoj Kumar fiasco further drove the film towards a box office success.The chart indicates the presence of both OSO and Saawariya in the blogsphere over the past 6 months and clearly OSO has had a head start over Saawariya. My guess would be the latter is here only because of the former.

Three month tracker of OSO and Saawariya starting almost 2 months before release on November 9th till 20th of November.

OSO and Saawariya have managed to get over 50% of their blog posts in the last month alone, a time little before and after the launch.

One can only applaud the Integrated Marketing Campaign since its ROI has been tremendous. Despite the lack of any real story the movie has been a box office grosser and it’s a buzz on the blogging space with a total of 7669 blog posts only over the last 3 months alone. Some say, a great story doesn’t need over the top marketing, but I say it wouldn’t kill it either.

Its rival Saawariya hasn’t been doing too badly either. My guess would be that the two big budget films were pitted against each other by the media and the drama that followed was exciting and saw a nail biting finish for both. The numbers also indicate that despite a more sober marketing campaign the media hype saw Saawariya to a great start and still sees about 53 blog entries a day. The Razzle Dazzle of Farah’s Om Shanti Om still rules the roost and the blog pulse is an indication enough.

Another flick, Jab We Met by Imtiaz Ali that hit the silver screen on 26th October manages to scrape an average of 38 posts. The film with its fantastic story line and music tracks came only third to Om Shanti Om or Saawariya.

In the last 3 months Jab We Met has lesser posts than what OSO had in the last month alone.

The Maduri Dixit starrer - Aaja Nachle has been averaging 10 blogs over the last 3 months, and this month alone the average has been 13 plus. Now I hope there is a change of tide and the numbers are just as racy as her Jhatkas Matkas. Not only is she looking better than where she left off personally, I feel she hasn’t lost her edge despite competition. Madhuri’s return and her being the mother of two is causing quiet and uproar. She has everything going for her; great looks, dazzling smile, and what seems like a great story. What better come back could the Ek, Do, Teen gal look forward to?

Aaja Nachle is likely to rake in more posts as its edging towards its release. One can only wait and see if it challenge the astronomical numbers of OSO.

Author’s Note: I have used two tools to do the tracking one is IceRocket and the other BlogPulse (a service of AC Nielsen Metrics). I liked different features in each of them and hence have used both. In Ice Rocket the results are neatly tabulated and indicate average posts per day, average percent of all blog posts and total posts till date. Where as, Blog Pulse allows me to see a trend over a longer period of time. However, what both the tools lack is the ability to track really old data, so one is unable to track the growth or trends that have impacted the blogsphere over a couple of years. These tools are really useful nonetheless.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Art Attack

Sprucing up my blog was always a big challenge for me. At coffee & conversation I can’t let the caffeine levels dip or the interesting conversation dry out.

I am constantly looking for alternatives to keep my blog bursting with energy and voila! I found another one of those small tools that’ll salvage it from monotony – Sketchacast! A fun way to animate a doodle and bring alive an idea or just add that little zing to your blog. So if you thought blogs were all about text, think again.

It’s simple and really cool to use. Just register, doodle and publish! There are very few tools to deal with, which makes in simpler. One could add audio as well while drawing and explaining something hence it conveys the message better than a long prose. A sketchcast can be embedded Youtube style on your blogs or the URL could be shared.

I attempted 2 such sketchcasts. I admit they look retarded and my creativity should not be judged based on these. The first one is ‘faces’, oh it was a struggle to keep the pen on the canvas.

The second one is a scoop of popcorn and a film reel which I intend to use for all the movie reviews.

There’s more to come soon. But in the meanwhile, you can review my doodling. I should try a yoga sketchcast that would depict the yoga asanas Well that’s for another rainy day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Feed a mouthful

I am skeptical about writing product or service reviews even if I find it particularly interesting. Simply because reviews are viewed as paid-for promotions. I have been accused in the past for doing so (If only people knew how difficult it is to make money out of personal blogs). There is this one service that caught my attention a program launched by to battle hunger and starvation.

The rules look pretty simple, it’s a multiple choice of synonyms and the idea is to choose the closest fit. For every word you get right, 10 grains of rice is donated to the United Nations World Food Program.

The points are indicated by a bowl that collects rice. The words are challenging and it gets tougher as you advance. This is perfect for GRE and CAT aspirants and the best part is you don’t need to register.

You can also extend your support for the cause by plugging in one of their assortment of banners into your blogs and websites. I am hoping one of my more technically adept friends will help me do so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Salt n Pepper Generation

For a long time fifty meant edging towards peaceful retirement, turning to Holy scriptures and planning endless pilgrimages. But today 50 marks a beginning. It’s time to catch up with life, no more worrying about kids, no more work pressures… and the salt and pepper generation are totally living it up. So what if they couldn’t travel or scuba dive or learn to cha cha in their youth they are signing up for them now. The 50 plus are ready and raring to go and their age, oh they have made peace with it.

At my dance studio a couple past their fifty enrolled for salsa. They were extremely graceful and energetic on the floor and if I may add very funny as well. A lot of dance schools and gyms have special programs and course plans charted out for the 50 plus generation.

“It’s my time and there is so much I want to do. I am not restless or insecure. I have no worries about competition and I don’t have to worry about getting somewhere in my career all the time.” My 55 year old aunt told me and boy was I jealous or what.

My yoga instructor herself is woman on the other side of fifty who runs Yogarakshana, a yoga school. She started the school only a decade back and works there from 8.00 in the morning to 6.00 in the evening teaching Yoga and Vedas to both young and the old alike. Her Yoga also takes her across geographies and she does get tired when she has foreign student visiting her for a crash course, and it’s only then that she allows herself a days rest.

Travel portals are also working over time and no they are not booking tickets to Varnasi or Kasi or Rameshwaram. The fifty plus are signing up for nature treks, adventure trails and jungle resorts in both local and international destinations.

This generation had to also grapple with technology, having to learn to use the internet and the mobile only in their forties. Today they are adept with web services like email, online ticket booking, blogging, uploading photographs, or checking out travel portals. They have no intentions of being left behind.

There are lots of interesting people still popular in the media who show no signs of tiring despite being way past fifty - Shobha De, Amitabh Bachcchan and heck the grand old Zohara Sehgal.

Here is a generation that is waiting to be explored, pampered and indulged. The Silver scalps know that happiness is not the monopoly of youth. Despite having to deal with the inevitable signs of aging and the changes it brings with it they are probably living their most creative, productive and dazzling era of their lives. They are on a high and living each day with wisdom, zest and that thing called fun. Mark Twain rightly said "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Image Source: Cartoon Stock

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Agony Aunt 2.0

The WWW has been around for a while, and has grown to become our pillar of support of sorts. Our best friend (as corny as it may sound) to be precise. Its incredible how one can turn to the net to complain, to whine, to celebrate, to connect, to reach out and to make a difference. And, in return, the internet has shown its relentless support by listening. Sadly marketers haven't explored its potential, they haven't been able to put their finger on the thump that is getting stronger and louder.

True the internet has propelled a whole lot of things, but it has also been a favourite medium for grouse. I did a rather juvenile search ‘hathway sucks’ (now that would clearly spell out my intentions). There were some 100 odd groups bitching about the service provider, while I was contemplating which one to join I searched for many other such angst portals. There are like a zillion of ‘this is terrible’, ‘that is horrid’ websites. However, there is not a single platform trying to play aunt agony. There are too many conversations but no one listening.

Today almost any service provider promises a great customer experience that is for keeps. I often wonder if ‘customer delight’ is their chosen pursuit or is it just a sexy term straight out of a management textbook. There is hardly any delight in dealing with the customer care officers, for starters they rarely ever get on the phone, which is extremely frustrating (especially if you have to lend a ear to the tireless electronic voice). And when they do get on the phone they are rude and insensitive.

Blogs, social media and communities are mushrooming all over the internet and consumers are splashing the pages with their angst. It has become critical for corporates to hear what is being said about them more than just pretty PR articles. I chanced upon a BusinessWeek article that made me write this blog and conduct many childish searches. A brand like DELL truly found itself by listening to blogs. The ROI of blogs and social media has been proved without a doubt, atleast in my head. All corporates need to do is put a little money and ear on the thump to plug the hole.