Monthly Archives: July 2009

And so the Marathon begins…

I have registered for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2010 and successfully begun training today.

I trained with my Jai Hind friend Mohit Saxena and we jogged close to 1.5 KM today and walked 1.5 KM. So on the first day, we have reached half the dream run 😛

Hopefully I will be able to reach somewhere with this. I have to keep this up and convert this into a more complete and longer run. Also, have to take care of my diet to build up the stamina I will need from now on!

Too much to take care of while doing an MBA! Any suggestions and tips?


Would you show a customer choosing another product in your ad?

I am sure about 90% of you would answer no to the above question. Even I would.

But the Bajaj XCD ad shown below, proves to be an exception to the rule and does it quite well. I like this extremely risky idea of showing a customer choosing a different product. The ad in point however, makes it a point to show that the customer who is choosing something else, does not deserve the Bajaj anyways. They show the person choosing an average home and an average woman, so it goes without saying that he deserves an average bike as well. However, the execution of this idea is brilliant. They show him recollecting the old XCD ad which is a glossy, slick, upmarket, young, pacy ad of a biker riding with a girl who just won a fight with her twin to sit on the bike (I do like the earlier ad also, but more on that later). He then goes for the cheaper bike, satisfied with his choice.

It is a brilliant idea to create a position in the mind of the customer and at the same time an extremely risky ploy at these times, especially from Bajaj, which is known to give cheaper and more value for money kind of bikes.

What say?


Multiple positioning of brand Dove

Dove has always been a brand that has been associated with something special. It signifies treating your skin to a better product which everyone cannot afford. Dove has always maintained this positioning strategy (which makes sense as Dove is more expensive than other soaps too and not everyone can afford it). However, recently after the launch of their range of other Dove products they have changed the positioning of the original Dove product.

The recent TV ads for Dove talks about the benefits of Dove and shows a girl in her early twenties as a user as against their usual use of an educated english speaking, working woman. This strategy has shifted now to the hair products. The new ads for their hair care range has women talking in english (one with an accent even) about how they have stopped hair fall by using the Dove products. So they are now saying, that Dove soaps are not really that aspirational any more. Even though it is the same product and costs the same amount if not more expensive, more people can afford it and it would be better to show the benefits for everyone rather than show ‘very well to do accented english speaking middle aged women’. So, the product I guess has moved on to the next stage of the PLC.

BCG Matrix anyone?


Airtel follows Vodafone

Vodafone ads in India have consistently used the most appealing elements. Right from the time it was Hutch, they have used the two most appealing elements – kids and dogs. They have been known to create the maximum connect with the consumers as we had once discussed in an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) lecture.

Not only have they used the two most effective elements, but they have used the two elements extremely effectively. Combined with a catchy jingle, it has traversed every customer segment and managed to create an unparalleled recall value.

Telecom ads have always tried to create an emotional connect and never speak about the service itself. This of course is an exception with the Vodafone value adds and the CDMA networks. The big three, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have all had memorable jingles which have created the recall value they now have. Airtel has normally used the jingle as the focal point of all their campaigns. However, now Airtel seems to be trying to taking a page out of Vodafone’s book. Their new campaign about ‘Airtel 5’ uses 5 extremely cute kids. Not that the kids are ever going to use the mobile phones, but it is kind of similar to the Vodafone ads. Airtel has used kids earlier too, the one with two kids playing football at the border and the one with the kid who calls his dad on his toy phone after being scolded by the mom.

Look at the pictures below. The first two are the obvious Vodafone ads, the third one is the Airtel football ad and the last one is Airtel or Vodafone?

Is the new campaign with kids too similar to the Vodafone ads? Is the use of too many different themes by Airtel creating confusion in the minds of the consumer? After all, Idea and Vodafone have pretty consistent themes.



India launches nuclear submarine

Launching its first nuclear-powered submarine, India became the 6th country in the world to do so. Named Arihant, the 6,000 tonne submarine was launched by Dr. Manmohan Singh. It was entirely built in India with Russian assistance.

Dr. Singh said this is not mean to be any indication of aggression on any country. However, the sea is becoming an integral part of India's strategy. India till now had only capabilities to launch missiles from land or air; this will change once the INS Arihant becomes fully operational in about two years time.

China has recently expanded its position in the sea by helping the Sri Lankan government fight the LTTE. In return, they have got a strategic location in the island country, which is bound to play an important role in the Indian Ocean. This new Indian foray will not only add a new aspect to Indian defence, but also act as a warning to the increasing Chinese naval presence.

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Confused in translation

Everyone who lives in Mumbai is by now used to seeing thousands of hoardings all over the place. It is everywhere! The moment you raise your vision by 30 degrees vertically, you will spot atleast 2 hoardings no matter where you are. This, at the same time of course, is also true for any metropolis anywhere in the world.

No, I have nothing against these hoardings. Actually I do, but that is not what I am pointing at. If you have paid attention to most of these hoardings, the product they are trying to advertise are mass market products, given the reach that these hoardings can achieve. If these products are mass market, the obvious language that they need to communicate in, is Hindi. However, all of these hoardings are in english. Atleast they are written in english. What I mean is, even though they are written in the english language, they are actually Hindi words! Now, why would anybody do that?

I have been seeing this trend for a couple of years now and I am still confused about what the possible reason could be. For example, just two days back I saw a Castrol Activ hoarding. This one was a compliment to the new TV ad campaign with the two Sardars on the bike where the dad is teaching the son to ride a bike. The hoarding has the same picture of the father and son on the bike and next to them is written, ‘Stop – Go Traffic Mein All-Round Protection’. ‘Mein‘ here is a Hindi word which means ‘in’. So, not only is there a Hindi word in the midst, the sentence itself is supposed to be in Hindi. Of course it makes sense to keep a Hindi sentence as all the TV ads are also in Hindi and this is a product for the masses. However, if a person cannot read english, how will he understand it in the first place? And this is true for hundreds of such ads for products, services and the ones that use this the most, Hindi General Entertainment Channels! I mean, ALL their shows are in Hindi! Most of their audiences are non english speaking women! How can you do this to them?

Now the answer to this conundrum might be in the following questions:

  1. Do they mean that only if someone can read english can they buy their product?
  2. Have they figured out that Indians living in Mumbai like believing that a hoarding in Hindi script is unattractive?
  3. Do Mumbaiites believe that Hindi script is LS?
  4. Do the television channels believe they have all the non english reading people wrapped up and all they need to attract are english reading folks who think in Hindi?

The answer might be, that even though people in Mumbai like reading stuff in english and find it more convenient, they still think in Hindi. All their thoughts are in Hindi. This is what makes it easier for them to relate to a hoarding or an ad and most of the people who are driving are anyways people who can read english faster than Hindi.

Ahaan! Maybe I should have blogged about this earlier, I would have found the answer faster!

You think this is the right answer?

Welcome to island marketing

If you run a business on a small island, every interaction matters and every customer is precious.

There’s a finite number of people you’re going to be able to sell to, and every person you interact with knows everyone else, so you always have to be on your best behavior. You can’t say, “tough” and then go on to the next person. You can’t run ads that churn and burn through an endless supply of naive prospects. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and on the island, that impression matters.

Consider an airline in Chicago that can bully and bluster and greedify its way through an endless supply of business travelers, and compare them to a short hop carrier on Martha’s Vineyard. The Vineyard airline knows that people can always switch to the other short hop airline or the ferry, and they also know that the folks they serve have power, because there aren’t an endless supply.

As you’ve probably guessed, like most things in our ever shrinking world, all marketers are now on an island.

The island perspective is the Zappos model. Every interaction is both precious and an opportunity to delight. Marketers no longer have the money or the platform to harass and promote their way to success by burning through the market. Instead, we have to act like we’re on an island earning and then nurturing a permission asset.

Through this lens, banner ads and various pop ups make even less sense than they used to. So does the insane act of outsourcing the random dialing of businesses to do telemarketing spam. We used up those resources a long time ago.

Kurukshetra – The Mumbai Mahayudh

The saddest part for me is that I am not in this video. That is because I am the one with the camera!

Neither will I forget making this video nor will I ever forget the time we had making this event possible

To the batch of 2007!

Jai Hind BMS rocked!

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I want to….

  1. I want to read a library
  2. I want to backpack across India
  3. I want to drive a Formula 1 car
  4. I want to take a lap of the Top Gear track
  5. I want to run the half-marathon at the Mumbai Marathon 2010
  6. I want to place 300 students this year
  7. I want to visit Italy
  8. I want to listen to music in the rain
  9. I want to watch Real Madrid play
  10. I want to run the Marathon

I am on a spree, a reading spree.

I know it sounds geeky. Heck! I am a geek! I even used the word heck!

All of a sudden, I have derived inspiration from I dont know where. I have suddenly decided to read as many as 4 books every month! That is a book every week! I myself cant believe that. But this is a resolution. I already finished Kishore Biyani’s It happened in India last week. Now I am onto Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy. Yes, that is another thing. No more fiction for quite some time now. If you look in my facebook profile, you will see that I have read a LOT of fiction; and I want to lay off it for some time.
I want to see how much of this I can achieve. I would also require your help to suggest me books on marketing, branding, advertising and consumer behaviour.
P.S. I apologize to all or rather both of my readers as this spree will give me lesser time to blog.