Thursday, October 16, 2008

Uncle Sam too in queue for free lunch!!

Is it really a fact or we just perceive it that way. Was the USA always a superpower or it has just behaved like one, I mean here the attitude. Brand America is perceived as a very strong, individualistic and dominant economy. Such brand personality has helped Uncle Sam maintain a reverend authority (perceived or real) since decades.

We have always taken west as a benchmark in everything we do, commercial or non commercial, and consciously or subconsciously look for stamps of approvals of west, particularly USA even for our own accomplishments. We are decades past the colonial rule but the ‘white is superior’ mentality still prevails. But, now slowly the tables seem to be turning. The year 2008 saw a new version of USA. The Wall Street failed and became the fall street. Even the US Government’s enormous bail out package is not proving of much help; instead, it has won US a jocular title of being a new USSR: the United States Socialist Republic! So, watch out, all those fans of Ayan Rand (the self proclaimed salesperson of capitalism)! there is a clear proof that capitalism too is not perfect.

India adopted a socialistic model that was very heavily inspired by the USSR (now this big entity has broken down). Nehru was impressed so he cut-pasted the formula here too; it failed miserably. The corrupt government officials hampered the nation’s progress. Poor became poorer while the black money market thrived. Public sector became synonymous with bribery and corruption. Though Indira Gandhi did some things very effective, like self sufficiency in food production, looking from the marketing and consumerism point of view, the business and entrepreneurship had literally no scope in India. Sabir Bhatia, Laxmi Niwas Mittal, etc are few examples of how people became successful when they went out of India. License permit raj ruled the roost. A 5 years waiting for a phone, bribery at each step, etc were rampant. They remain even now but, if seen in juxtaposition, the once-upon-a-time humble Indian consumer now commands the market and makes the even the biggest MNCs dance to his tunes. These ‘magical’ powers have come because of the LPG- liberalization, privatization and globalization. Though I am not finding flaws in the socialism but my point is that it failed USSR and India as well.


At last, the sleepy Indian government woke up, played a gamble (we borrowed heavily from the World Bank) and luckily, won, courtesy the Narsimha Rao govt. in 1991. It was a push factor rather than a choice. So India ‘had’ to open her gates wide to the rest of the world. Thus the poor and humble Indian consumer was made aware of his magical powers and he got a choice like never before. India got a fast makeover, and faster in the later part of this decade. Thus, it can be concluded that socialism flopped but this does not means that capitalism is infallible!

The salesman for capitalism, USA saw its biggest nightmare come true. Though India struggled a lot to stand properly after independence (if we compare to Japan, then we have performed poorly) the reverend king USA has also not been an A grader. Most people do agree with socialistic model of the government but to say capitalistic model is right, I feel is not appropriate.

At last everyone seems to be turning to a mixed economy model, may be with minor modifications.

Who can be called a terrorist?

The recent terror attacks (no need to specify the place as they have now become ubiquitous) left me not just depressed but contemplating too. People, including the most educated and modern ones, have been seen cribbing and calling Islam synonymous with terrorism. Even the most innocent Muslim citizens are perceived as a potential threat by their own friends and that is the most unfortunate part.

Is terrorism really synonymous with Islam? Answer is a big NO. Are LTTE Tigers of Sri Lanka Muslims? Or are they not terrorists? They killed a promising leader Rajeev Gandhi in a suicide bombing attack. Is the man Dara Singh, responsible for burning alive an Australian social worker and his innocent children in Orissa a Muslim? No again. Latest is the confession of a naxal cadre, that too on TV, for killing of Swami Laxmananand, because of which the Kandhmal riots started.

Are people spreading terror across Nepal Muslims? No again. Are the barbaric Maoists terror gangs Muslims? No again too. There is no dearth of examples of non-Muslim terrorists; only that they don’t occupy a centre stage in news. And some people seem to have a selective amnesia for them!

Recently, I happened to see a live debate on this topic on NDTV profit, at the end of which a lady posed a simple question, which left me thinking:

‘If we all convert to Islam will terrorism stop? ’

Any answers?

Zardari ka drama !

Mr. ‘Ten Percent’ Asif Ali Zardari does not perceive India as a threat, rather as a friend. Well, this apparently innocuous and inviting statement is rather very strategic in the fine print as Zardari’s strategies are as vacillating as he himself is. Mr. Zardari, the laggard husband of late PPP president Benezir Bhutto has now come out of her shadow, not because of his virtues but because of the compulsion of filling in the vacuum caused by Benazir’s untimely assassination.

Most important and noticeable is that in contrast to all his predecessors who considered J&K terrorists ‘freedom fighters’, Zardari has called them ‘terrorists’ openly, as if the world will believe that the innocent Pakistan is out of all the terrorism drama going on in India. And then he requests the world very ‘humbly’ for a loan of a whopping $100 billion in the name of Pakistan’s development, while covertly implying that fall of his government may land huge nuclear armament capability in the wrong hands. He might also be thinking that befriending India may help his loan kitty.

But most fundamentally speaking, the very foundation of formation of Pakistan is hate-India sentiment and since its formation the army has been calling the shots. Any civil government that has shown slightest pro-India leaning has been overthrown by armed forces as it could prove a threat to the very raison-de-e’tre of such a large force and could cut down its funding. And Zardari cannot be so naïve to this fact; either he is lying or it seems that his days will soon be over.

The latest is that he has reiterated previous governments’ policy on Kashmir!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Now that's not FAIR !

It’s commonly heard that the actual beauty lies inside. But does this thing hold relevant in India today too? How many marriageable people would agree to accept a dark complexioned person as their partner for life? Hardly anyone, that too in case when that person is doing exceptionally well or hails from a healthy financial background. Ironically India is a country of wheat complexioned people. Fair girls stand fair chance of getting privileges while a similar but dusky girl would not make it to the merit list. Parents get doubly disappointed when they are blessed with a baby girl, that too of dusky complexion. And we still say women power is developing? Why are we obsessed with the white skin? Is it in the Indian genes or a colonial hang over that white skin defines beauty? The market is flooded with the skin lightning creams. There is a new category been launched: the white glow? Indians do not have such skins! The models used in the ad are all western Celebes who have this type of skin. Still the marketers are laughing their way to the bank. Why are we drooping so low to make ourselves look alike the westerners, is it the source of our self confidence? Then it’s humiliating.

Fair n lovely from HLL is another brand that has filed a gap and, has a massive 53 per cent market share. HLL has other fairness products under its Lakme and Aviance brands It has intensively studied the Indian skew ness towards the fair skin and has clearly marketed a concept, a dream to millions of Indian consumers who either because of family or social pressures, low self esteem or some personal marriage rejection experiences are longing to get the stamp of approval of society by getting fair. Star plus even runs a tele-serial on this very theme: the duskier sister is not getting married and the whole family is in tension!
Now some interesting facts:

Of the Rs 3,000-crore cosmetics and toiletries market, the skincare segment accounts for Rs 1,200 crore. Fairness products account for a whopping Rs 700 crore of this segment. The annual growth rate is between 10 and 15 per cent. South is the largest market with 36 per cent contribution, with the North and West equally contributing with 23 per cent The East contributes 18 per cent to volumes. Category penetration, according to ORG, is at 11.6 per cent all over India. Andhra Pradesh is the highest penetrated with 14.5 per cent with Gujarat penetration at 2.8 per cent. Kerala, Gujarat and Bihar are the top three growing markets with Kerala growing by 40.37 per cent

Does that mean the dusky people stand no chance of getting success; at least the ad seems to convey this only. A dusky girl comes home like a lost solider, gets a complete makeover by using a fairness cream and wow! She is on the top. How many of us would like to marry a fair and lovely bimbo? Surprisingly, most of the top Indian models like Sheetal Malhaar, Carol Gracious, Noyonika Chaterjee, Dipanitta Sharma, Nina Manual, even Maliaka Arora Khan have dusky compexions.

Grooming experts say it’s not just the complexion rather the whole personality that counts. The way one talks, body language and of course the content in the head. Still, we do have two major preconceived notions that fair are beautiful and secondly beautiful people are good while dusky ones are vamps. Fair and lovely and other such crèmes do a thriving business exploiting these two major notions only. That means talent does not count at all? Being fair is a guarantee to success or dusky people in spite of talent cannot be successful till they become fair? The tag line of fair and lovely is; the power of beauty’ does beauty means only fairness?

I have seen parents discriminating kids on the basis of complexion. What can be more depressing than this? Should we conclude that Indians are schizophrenic? At one hand we are focusing on talent only while on the other we are discriminating, and what the basis is: the shade of your skin!

This is well absorbed in the Indian mentality that fair means success and attention and it is not wrong also. Fair and handsome is one such crème that exploits this notion. SRK is the brand ambassador and the success rate of this crème is phenomenal. I think it is the high time we drop all our preconceived notions and stop discriminating with those born with natural darker shades of skin. Success is not about the colour of someone’s skin. It depends on a lot more factors. I thing we all must open our eyes and make our hearts more receptive.
[1] The Hindu business line

Friday, October 10, 2008

AD-WORD-WISE: the ad sense

Each company strives to make a successful brand out of its product. Advertising is one of the methods used for this purpose. It is in various forms but the focus here is on TV commercials. Though they are not the only factors ensuring the success of any brand, these days they are too important to be ignored. Most of them are aired during the prime time and cost a lot to the companies.
Every firm wishes to hit the target audience with the maximum intensity through its TV commercials for which advertising agencies are given huge amounts but the outcome is often not up to the mark. There are only a few ads that rise above the clutter and are etched in the memory of the consumer (Surf- Daag dhoondte rah jaoge!).

Many TV commercials fail to register the product in the minds of viewer as intended and the product, the core thing around which the ad should revolve, is pushed into the corner. Sometimes the commercials are just too long, boring and/ or irrelevant to hold the interest of the customer and the poor thing (the viewer), instead focusing on the ad, starts switching channels in search of something interesting. And now there are double-meaning, suggestive and lewd ads that one cannot watch with the family; some of them have even been banned (remember the Axe and Amul Macho ads- in pics ).

Most of the ads fail to click as they do not use their elements properly, like kids are shown as irritatingly precocious, the set-ups seem extra-luxurious, or the ads are just too unreal to relate to the customer.
There is no dearth of good ads too, like Fevicol ads, but can we really say that our Indian advertising agency has come of age?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

AD SENSE : The print ads

Ads are sometimes no less then masterpieces. There is a high intensity creativity and brainstorming involved that when comes out in print is mind blowing.
  • Here are some print ads I got over the internet. 10 of them are given, some of them are award winners
  • Thanks to all the pple who have uploaded these ads over the intrnet!
1. Do not mix drinking and driving.

2. Hey! try khakis, after all Hitler wore then too!

3. See even ants now a days are figure concious !

4. Explore the wild side of urs!

5. My best friend : all the virtues of humans without their vices.

6. Paris Hilton Aunty ! we will miss u ;)

7. Ab koi darr nahi ! we re 100% safe.

8. Naughty socks!

9. Red bull coming!

10. 'Sangeet jaye sarhad ke paar'!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Some times such things happen that are beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Like you are having a dilemma and somebody unknown, a complete stranger smilingly walks up and provides you with a solution. You too, shed your inhibitions and discuss the problem openly and start feeling comfortable with him/her.
Here I am talking of such divine incidences that remain etched in one's memory for long rather forever. Meeting strangers and getting a solution is not uncommon; also going by the practical way of life it would rather seem very risky but there are some times when you instantly relate yourself to a stranger, your vibes match that of his/her or vice versa. All the confusions go and you feel yes! that’s what I always wanted to say or ask.

Can we say there is a divine element involved? If YES then certainly GOD exists and also that God himself might have met us incognito and if NO, then certainly there is something beyond the limit of human mind as such incidences do not deserve to be passed as just plain coincidences.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Well, the 'Wall street' has now become the 'fall street' and its ripple effects can be seen everywhere. This capitalist giant (USA) has been a witness to many such faliures in the past too, beginning 1970. But this 2008 wall street fiasco is the biggest one. Here check out this link given below. I got this in 'Mint-the wall street journal', one of my fave. newspapers. I found the story very informative and the presentations (in the paper) were excellent (given by Sandeep Bhatnagar of Mint). This full page story appeared on 3rd of Oct/2008 0n page number 20.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008


It is well known and well experienced that brands actually reflect the personality of the user. Though the personality is also reflected through many other factors too, but brands represents an extension of it. Brands are trying to woo the customer by any imaginable and unimaginable tactic. They are trying to become the focus of customer’s life. Basically, brands are products that have high perceived image; this image can be of quality, looks of any attribute (s). Various other factors too affect brands like the tagline and the brand ambassador. Now this much about branding, the core point of this article is, whether the ads of Indian brands up to the mark or they are yet to arrive?

I feel the TV commercials can be categorized into 4 major categories
1. The wastes: waste of money and time totally
2. The repulsive: the unbearable ones
3. The Could-be-better ones: a nice idea but poorly executed
4. The real clickers

Category I is of those ads that are not at all relevant to the product and its positioning in anyways. Many reasons can be responsible for this, like inappropriate brand ambassador, irrelevant story of the ad or lack of any relation with the product: Result? The main product is pushed to a corner.
Some examples have been given below that I THINK (with a sincere apology to their creators) fall into this category of my analysis of TV ads.
1. Pepsi: The ad in which its ‘Youngistan’ concept was first introduced. Even a moron cannot relate to this. Moreover, it was not really projected as a comic ad. The customers, especially the Indian ones, are not as gullible as the actor Shah Rukh khan seems to assume in this ad; rather they are far more mature.
Just see (above) how the brand Sprite has taken a funny notch on this ad!

2. BSNL: Why has Preity been chosen the brand ambassador of BSNL in the first place? What made BSNL sign her, I am yet to get. Here a docile girl (Preity) gets furious and rejects a good boy from a good family just because he is not having BSNL landline, LOL!! So all u guys out there make sure u have BSNL so your chances of rejections are eliminated!!

3. Pizza Hut: A group is bidding farewell to their boss and the farewell party is in a Pizza Hut outlet, one group member wants to propose to the boss, but could do so only after gaining confidence from the pizza that has Punjabi toppings! Wow!! Now what are Punjabi toppings? Are they different? The pizza in the ad looks like any other one simply overloaded and the man looks a wimp, as he proposes only after having the pizza even then very sheepishly!!! The tagline too seems to be inspired from that of Cafe Coffee Day (A lot can happen over coffee).
4. Nokia: A family is waiting for the father to return, makes a call from neighbor’s Nokia. I think it is more the magic of the network brand then the instrument that is Nokia.
Category II is of the repulsive ones, as one (me in this case) cannot watch them.

1. Rediffmail: Just too unhygienic, irrelevant and too long, like an epic movie. The man pees into the post box, so all the letters smell bad, so try e-mail….. what a pervert idea?

2. 7-UP: The bheja fry ad. OMG!! How can one make that?? Too repulsive, capable enough to make you puke, particularly if you happen to watch it during dinner time. The scene of frying brains is just intolerable.

3. Rediffmail: Again, everyone is talking of bigness. Lewd and stupid.
4. Lux Cosy: ‘Ye to bada toin hai’ (showing chimps). Indecent and perverted. The tagline too is very cheap.

Category III is of ads which have good central idea but could have been executed in a better way. Consider these-

1. Dominos: A composed executive during a business presentation (actor Arshad Warsi) starts behaving like a kid when he sees the Dominos pizza. A good idea spoilt!

2. Tata salt: Clearly a male dominated ad. The entire family seems to be in awe in presence of the male patricarch whose verdict seems to be the final one. C’on dude come to metros and see the other face of the coin!

3. Kurkure: Juhi chawala tries to play Cupid between an old patient and a ‘bhajiwali’ (played by model Rashmi Nigam). What is the logic??

4. Airtel: A papa at work is teaching the kid to draw, a female (probably mummy) could be seen behind, the busy papa makes sky the drawing sheet. Boring and unrealistic

Catgory IV is of those which are my favs Like,

1. Maruti: ‘Ki karaain, petrol khatam hi nahi honda!’ the cute and clever line with a cute kid steal the show.

2. Vodaphone: Though it has sparked some controversy from animal lovers, still it’s the central idea, the independence day version of the ad that is mind blowing!! It clicks (above).

3. Sprite: A boy two-timing very smartly; ‘Seedhi baat no bakwaas’ ad is short, youthful, funny and real!!

4. TOI Lead India: Truly inspiring! The way I think an ad should be. The jingle in Shankar Mahadevan's voice add to the beauty to this amazing ad. Definitely a show-stealer.