Friday, February 6, 2009

Praying for Dev D’s success

An year ago, at this time of the year, I was involved in an experiment to gauge viewer response to an unconventional cinematic experience. At a preview screening of the award-winning, The Lives of Others, Anurag Kashyap (AK) had been invited among other select film-makers to preview the film and help promote this niche cinema. Ours was a minimalist marketing campaign compared to a YashRaj campaign and every bit of support was commendable. He had seen the film long before, nevertheless he agreed to come and give his vie on the film.

So there was him in front of us 10 minutes before the screening. He definitely looked like the champion of world cinema even thought there were others who had spoken about world cinema for long. As the handsome film-maker with a maverick image he struck me more than anyone else for a simple act which he did. As he entered the set-up we had created, he picked up a write-up on Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, the writer-director and co-producer of the film. We had put up a few press-release kits on the registration desk which was manned by a PR guy we had hired. As the chap tried and hand over one to him he refused but went straight for this write-up which was kept near one of the edges of the furniture. He went aside to smoke and began reading this one-page write-up. What struck me most and has since remained is the image of AK as a craftsman with an eye for detail. This image will define AK for the rest of my life. He was a sight of pure concentration unfazed by the small chat which surrounded him. It conveyed what he stood for; that he didn’t care what the media thought of him and that he was never going to play to the galleries.

 How as a master craftsman he had noticed and observed every element of that stage-show we had put up and how as an actor he was determined to play his part right putting in interesting tid-bits from the knowledge base we had created for the event. There it was the persona of the next-generation, visionary film-maker which media calls maverick and critics find arrogant, occasionally brash and unwavering in criticism.

My friends have already branded me as one suffering from ‘Kashyap-attyachaar’ as they may wish to call it.  I have been following the film’s marketing efforts, ever since the first news and the trailer hit in mid-november or so. However what has struck me is the belief ever crew member has in this project and how he is willing to go an extra mile in achieving it. The blogs on PFC, the viral being put up and how the effort which went in making the film is being documented is simply amazing. In a world of wiki, the director choosing to share his vision, his inspiration for the Emosional Attyachar song and the entire process which crafted the first draft of the film puts me in an inspirational mode. I am sure through this exercise he has planted the ambition of being a film-maker in so many souls who read everything up on the film.

For AK’s followers it is an exam which they all want to clear with a distinction. They pray for this film’s success because they see a hope for themselves if this experimentation works. AK though is no stranger to the acid-test. He has braved it all, and as you can see in the coverage, only emerged stronger, be his failing to accept that No Smoking was a bad film to his choice of projects he has undertaken since then. After all after RGV’s debacle of remaking Sholay, we haven’t seen many trying to experiment with a near perfect script.

As one of the first review in ToI mentions, “Dev D is like that heady cocktail which has the vodka pitched perfectly with the tang. ” Any mention of AK is bound to be explosive like the man himself. With a penchant for the choicest expletives in person, he does not mince words. But with the eccentricity associated with the craft is one of the most well-read and passionate film-maker insiders would agree.

 What makes him a success is that he is a perfectionist and can hold his own no matter the odds. He defines his own standards (till now) which can be readily seen in the preview of Chanda’s sets and leaving his own mark without even concerning himself with the  viewpoint of his stakeholders. A film-maker I had met once, mentioned how Mani Ratnam simply gave up the idea of gauging audience response when Yuva was trashed in the opening week. He had said that a true film-maker makes cinema for himself and not for others. AK states the same in his fiery blog writings and criticism of the existing structure within the industry. There are instances where his writings seem to convey his childish wish of achieving utopia in this world.

Dev D is going to define how receptive we can be to new cinema. We have shown interest in seeking a change in the present order. Yet we do not substantiate the need for change by giving thumbs down to a lot of films. I wish Dev D be a success. For this would mean a refreshing change and reward to all those who are working hard to change the cliché that Bollywood has termed itself to be.

(Dev D released in theatres today and has received a 5-star review from ToI and a one star from Taran Adarsh, the veteran story-teller-cum-reviewer. I found the film extremely satisfying and do plan to write a review. Keep watching this space for more info.)


Friday, November 28, 2008

A rape peeping toms shamelessly watch

by Gateway of India


Armed with the latest technology and the best of the gadgets, they mock her state. Peeping Toms at My Lady Godiva! I have seen them taking away the spotlight from me for the past 48 hours. They have breached my privacy, spoiled my occasional slumber. Imagine how a 97-year old frail structure would feel if his daily routine was spoilt. I don’t mind them really, but then i think there are times when everyone needs privacy, especially in times of despair. Unfortunately no one cares about me anymore. Behind me or ahead of me, depends which route you take, is an elderly figure, the moon of my life, the cynosure of a city and a nation. My concubine in serenity.

In times of solitude we have found comfort. Hers has been a life of glory, of success in commercial activity while I have often been relegated as a doorkeeper. I do not grudge, for she is indeed beautiful and dazzling at times. She has a fair share of glamorous visitors. While I am visited day in day out by scores of people, hers is a story, everyone thinks is worth covering. While I often receive the irreverent citizen who doesn’t respect me at times and throws whatever he holds around; she, the jewel as they call her in Hindoostani, gets her bejeweled visitors, wearing the best of the clothes. I know she has had her paramours, the best in the world of politics, business and entertainment, but I have been her consort for years. I hear that she plays host to people seeking very expensive food conjured by a chap called Mori Moto. I was surprised, when a few came from the sea and ventured to attack her womb. All I could do was remain a silent spectator.

Since then, my life has changed. I have smelled smoke, injured bullets and seen panic, something which she would never offer anyone. I once overheard, they call her the epitome of what a cultured Indian woman would provide to a guest in a household: warmth, caring and hospitality. Why would anybody do this to her then? But these are bad times, I thought that we had wiped away cannibals from this part of the world. Alas! She has been raped, mutilated, maimed. And they have covered her from all angles. Some of them wish to expose her nudity and are hoping they are at a vantage point when she is stripped bare.

Times were different. She was conceived of a man's urge to prove that the natives were equal to the white-skinned, my creators. I was conceived to be a symbol of the white man's coronation as the ruler of the world. Our worlds were different, yet we have seen time flowing past us  as two banks separated by a river. The Sahebs, would arrive down the coast seeking solace that I was visible, a sign of their rule over this land. Ironically, when they left me alone, they chose the same shore. She and I have had a cordial relation but then we were born on the same place, 6 years apart by different ideologies. Yet over time, our differences dimmed. She was benevolent in informing her guests of my grandeur and they'd come out photographing my glory in the brilliant sparkling sunlight. She'd often give me stealing glances, at times amorous, assuring me of my masculine charm, over the years.

She has been my constant companion. She looked at me for her security. Today, I have failed. Some barbarians came and have wreaked havoc upon her. All i could do was watch the barbarism and wait for the brutality to end. They fight to save her glory but perhaps irreparable damage has occurred. A scar’s visible to me, which these peeping toms can’t see, and a void remains which I fear she can gauge around her.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A blast to rise on: The Exclusive Cliched Writing on the coverage of The Mumbai terror Strike

WARNING: On this post,a reader's comment
"aapko marte hua kaisa lagraha hain types wala hain tu bhi"

After having been in front of the television for the past 9 hours, how does a pseudo-journalist pen his anguish. As people debate if this will be the beginning of a new dawn of terror or a mere nightmare of India’s vulnerability, i thought i put this down in the perspective of all i have been in touch with in the past 18 hours.

It had begun as a harmless comment from a near and dear one who had casually mentioned by post-dinner stroll to be a walk to remember. It was on the road, that I first heard of the South Mumbai catastrophe, on phone. None, lest me, had thought it would be gruesome. 8 hours later my only release of emotion has been through constant flickering of my status messages.

A pseudo-journalist and a social spectator cannot resort to shooting random pics on the road or spreading rumors. He has to write of what he gathers from his surroundings provide him to.

I finally came up with a description of the level of the dreadful situation like every TV news anchor managed to.

"From astonishment to a disgruntlement with how hebetudinous we have become." 

This post is an outburst, not entirely in my own words, but of others who provided inputs in life or in spirit. It is about respecting democracy, mocking it and giving voice to it!

Heard from a fruit-seller on my way back home when I informed him of the tragedy which had struck

“Abhi toh hum road par hain, pata nahin koi blast wast huaa hai. Jab ghar jaaenge toh pata chalega”

A friend’s gtalk status message on hearing about the blast which accidently never took place in Vile Parle

“I heard the blast!”

A cousin in a faraway land

“ Aajkal waqt bewaqt Diwali ka accha fashion chala hua hai..

A concerned Indian

“Do you know how big this It is, he then uses my phone to call up his Foreign friends who frequent similar places to find out if they are alright”

A more concerned Indian

“jaise Macchar immune ho jaata hai na spray se, vaise immune ho gaya hun”

A concerned mother

“Zara kuch din yeh bolna ki Sab thik hai band karo. Don’t leave home”

An award winning blogger’s twitter feed

“Just narrowly survived the Mumbai terror Strike”

A friend’s ex-flame on the hostage situation

“Hmm hostage to hain! Ab sab hostage ho gaye hain apne ghar ke andar! Koi party nahin kar sakta”


International Herald Tribune 

India has been wracked by deadly bomb attacks in recent years, which police blame on Muslim militants intent on destabilizing this largely Hindu country. Since October 2005, nearly 700 people have died in the bombings. And since May a militant group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen had taken credit for a string of blasts that have killed more than 130.

Wall Street Journal(Now run under a Murdoch’ian style, this is part of the terror strike coverage)

“Opened in 1903, the Taj Mahal Hotel overlooks the Arabian Sea. The hotel has 565 rooms and is home to some of the city's most exclusive, expensive restaurants as well as the popular Insomnia nightclub.


Ill-Humor on a die-hard Mumbaikar’s face book status message when he wrote that he is waiting for the dawn

“”Dawn is a Pakistani newspaper :-) ”

My Status message when it all begun

“This ain’t Islamabad! Back off!”

J N Tata on being chucked out of the Watson Hotel 105 years earlier

He constructed The Taj Mahal Hotel. Notice the absence of The Gateway of India.

How the Taj Group puts the importance of the hotel on its website

“Billed by the Times, London as the finest hotel in the East, the Taj’s first hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai was perhaps the only place in the world where a British Viceroy could rub shoulders with an Indian Maharajah, where the Congress could debate with right wing leaders, and where sailors on shore leave could flirt with the Pompadour Follies. Built at the cost of a quarter of a million pounds, the hotel introduced a series of firsts that set new benchmarks in Indian hospitality. Over the years, the Taj brought into Bombay, “Professors of Dance’ Mademoiselle Singy to raise temperatures and a few eyebrows with the Tango, the first air-conditioned ballroom to cool things down, the first cold storage, the first licensed bar, and more. ”

Heard on NDTV India

“Kis tarah se maut ka nanga naach dekh raha hai aaj Mumbai sheher”

Heard on NDTV India a few months back

“Kis tarah se maut ka nanga naach dekh raha hai aaj Ahmedabad ”

My Gtalk status message in between

“Hogi Shanti Chaaron or, Hogi Shanti Chaaron or, Hogi Shanti Chaaron or ek din…..”

What the Taj and its food meant to Busybee(any Mumbaikar who hasn’t heard of him) in

“The Taj, and Rangoli is Taj, is one of the few five-star hotels which has a handful of Parsi dishes on its menu, probably because the owners are Parsis. Hence, I have had akuri for breakfast at Taj hotels ranging from the Lake Palace in Udaipur to the Taj Palace in Delhi. Though, I regret to add, that all the akuris I have consumed have been lumpy and onionous, the reason for this may be that the owners are Parsis, not the cooks. ”

What the situation meant to my dear bard when he joked about the footage of guards rushing in the lobby

“They ‘ll go in and eat a sushi at the Wasabi which they could not have afforded!”

A very pissed off friend fighting with another friend at 12 am who’s trivializing the issue

“How can this be a joke to you! This is serious! This is threatening”

The Same friend earlier

“You know the blast happened right behind the house where X lives”

The Same friend 4 hours after he had an argument about the seriousness of the episode


Arnab Goswami

Hats off to him! Though he didn’t top my good journo charts,I am a big fan of him after his marathon commentary until he took a break at 5 (corrected by a friend, thankful to him, given the post was written in a state of shock and weary) in the morning.

“This is not an attack on foreign nationals, it is an attack on India and the free world.”

The Politicians

Hats off to them for the Rs. 5 lakh award and refusal to admit that this is an intelligence failure

NYT( Please do compare this with what WSJ had to say! Icant find the link this afternoon)

“Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of terrorist attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen and dramatically different in their scale and execution.”

My Status Message

“Shall I at least set my lands in order?

London bridge is falling down falling down falling down


These fragments I have shored against my ruins

Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.

Da. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

Shantih    shantih    shantih”


The Administration(No names)

“Our priority is to get them alive or kill them”


Later, another administrative head

“Our policeman have laid down their lives!”

My relative in a faraway land on discovering the magnanimity of the episode

“Oh the taj otel..Don’t worry...India always stands back..

wish it wud fite back..”



“We want all mujahedeen held in India released, and only after that we will release the people,”

What the PTI thinks about the house that built the symbol of Indian Pride

An aspiring journalist friend on SMS after i gave her enough calls to wake her up from her deep slumber without any success

"I'm sitting in front of TV since morning and have read the newspaper as well. last nite, i slept off, n im really sorry for wat i did....Hpe ur fine"

An experienced Home Minister on TV

"We are all very sorry about it!"

The de-nationalisation of the issue: A Status message from a faraway friend

bhaiyyon ko nikalne wali MNS ab inhe bhi toh nikaale... 

The award winning blogger's respone to being safe

"Earlier today, I was working on a final polishing of my novel before it goes to press. Now I wonder what’s the point. The book will come out in April, and Bombay will be a different city then. This book was written in a Bombay before these attacks; it will come out in a Bombay after these attacks, and it somehow feels, as I sit here in the business center of a boutique hotel a stone’s throw away from mayhem, that it will be inadequate. It is a love story—and isn’t that perverse?"

Yogendra Yadav, a few months back on terrorism as an issue for the polls

"Terrorism resonates mostly with urban Indians", said Yogendra Yadav, a researcher with the Center for the Study of Developing Societies who studies voting patterns. His 2005 public opinion poll on sources of insecurity nationwide found that terrorism ranked far lower than common crimes and communal riots. 

YP Rajesh, Express mumbai reporter on the martyred Hemant Karkare

"The previous evening, hours after our meeting, TV channels had ‘breaking news’ that he had received a fresh death threat from some unidentified caller, apparently in connection with the Malegaon probe. An Indian Express reporter SMSed him asking him if this was true or if he had anything to say. His reply: just a smiley."

A.K. Antony on The security of the country on November 24 at Kochi

 Time was when the Himalayan region was thought of as border, but now the coastal region, more specifically the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), has become more significant in terms of threat perception and therefore we need to be more vigilant when it comes to coastal security

Epilogue(or Prologue).. the way you see it

The attack is whatever you interpret it to be. It may be India’s 9/11 or another Firecracker show for those who are immune to blast coverage. I have been thinking on just one aspect. A structure whose symbolism cannot be matched by what the Indian Polity has ever inspired the country to , since independence, was nearly brought down. The Gateway, a relic of the bureaucratic Raj, failed to check the threat from the sea, from where the terrorists came.

I bemoan the loss, I have been awake for the past 9 hours and have sat in front of television to prove that I am a concerned passing-by Mumbaikar. I cry for the loss of human values, Taj is India’s Bamiyan. It is about tolerance of the opponent’s view yet declaration of my nation’s magnanimity. It was a case in hand for Mr. Ratan Tata when he fought the Oriental Express onslaught. It is a symbol of a nation’s aspiration. The attack was never on foreign residents, it was on the non-residents that we have lately become.

Finally as it all boils down to the invisible hand, even i would agreed most with the sentiment

A friend’s gtalk status message


May every noble soul find its resting peace!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

FIR: Orange Hinterlands and the 9-seater enterprise

Last week I embarked on a trip to the hinterlands with a zilch of clarity where I was headed—in life as well as on the trip. While the ticketed destination was Nagpur, seat of the region of Vidharbha, in Western Maharashtra I ended up spending the trip in the train and a modern campus, 40Kms off the city of Nagpur. It was a B-School playing host to corporate honchos and students for its annual B-School Festival.

The trip was an outcome of randomness of the past few weeks. With no classes scheduled for a major part of the week, my MBA-ilk had gone through this state of randomness in the past. When a friend suggested we quiz in the hinterlands, a past-time I have dabbled in at times and bet my intellectual identity in, it was a perfect excuse for a getaway from Mumbai Madness.

As a student and as a marketer, the choice of mode of transport was clear— Sleeper-class in Indian Railways. The minister in charge of this State enterprise has impressed me lately with his socio-politico-business acumen and the jugaadu system he has brought in with his constant cheeky innovation. Second Class, once the great leveler, is now a compulsion or a punishment to the educated civilization I belong to. The 3rd AC has now become the standard while Deccan tried to poach on the clientele of the 3rd AC without much success. Yet I travelled, for the sake of childhood memories  of annual vacations to God’s own country. It was a time 3rd AC and low-cost airlines had not been envisioned.

My Rail-olfactory memory is filled with stenches of different levels, from urgh! to ssssshhhhit! .I call my present abode, the great Indian city, an infinitesimally large railway platform for these reasons for it reminds me of the Platform Stench. Living here for the past one and a half-years, has given me ample opportunities to add to the variety and nuances of distinguishing smells. Having reached to a point, where I completely ignore the sea and any sea-related odour including the rotten dry sewers which fill up the liver, my olfactory senses have managed to survive thanks to the family gene.

The one stench I rediscovered was that of the iron and wood coaches. The best part about the sleeper coaches is that they are natural, rather life in motion. They do not cover up the blemishes, the imperfections which lie in society. While the ongoing train was headed to the land of Singur( and this may a bad taste in the mouths of all Nano fans), the coach was as stuffy as the sick head of a politician deciding to position himself on the basis of race, caste or creed.

Yet there was change awaiting this archaic design which has existed for as long as I can remember. As per the new plan, the Sleepers will be 81-seaters, that’s 9 seats in a compartment( which is by adding one to the side-berth). The Minister’s strategy of increasing seats and decreasing the amount of air available to his brethren in a sleeper coach is deplorable ut cheeky. To think of, that a decade back the quality of life in transit, the same coaches was better than now is proof of what would have happened in the heartlands of India’s worst maintained states.

Yet Bihari Balatant commercialism is what has made the Railways a saleable and profitable proposition today, at least they are clear to a large extent whom are they selling to and what should they sell. They face similar impediments as the Telecom sector. Too little infrastructure to service the high demand. 

Yet every change needs to be greeted with applause. So, finally railways woke up to the demand for charging points(as mobile users swelled and today you see a larger queue near the charging points than for the seats.) In-fact, what amazed me was country folk with iPods and their A.C Chargers charging them up for the journey ahead. I really missed taking that pic.

Indian Railways does throw up surprises at you. Moving on, I was and I am still quite impressed by Nagpur Railway station. I find the entire setting picturesque. However low on battery it wasn’t possible to take pics in daylight.

As I had mentioned, The trip was born out of randomness but it was always looking for a purpose. We went for a quiz in the hinterlands thinking corporates won’t turn up for an event like this on Friday, but they did. The best was a HUL manager (and a pretty good quizzer in Bangalore and Mumbai Circles turning up from the tribal aras of Madhya Pradesh for the event)

We didn’t do well, we were not expected to for the teams which qualified were all corporates. The trip, as I can now summarize was taken to understand reality and bring in hope and vigor to a pretty boring routine. The Indian Consumers as most marketing manuals tend to think and most B-School practitioners tend to imagine does not frequent M-Block Market in GK-II or a resident of Colaba. What brings in the volume, profit and at times growth are these towns which we would neglect.

For e.g it was startling to see Jetking hardware training institute having set up shop in Nagpur. It was even more shocking as a marketer to see that the train next morning was filled up with scores of students heading to the Nagpur centre from the hinterland for their classes. While the conversations had that rustic touch, but the aspirations could make any B-School student sit up and take notice. They discussed class-room affairs, places where the couples could go, criticized teachers who weren’t up to the mark( and we for long have thought that the rural folk are happy attending schools where none exist). The female sitting next to me brought back memories of how Naipaul had incessantly criticized the Marathi community for everything from lack of facial features to hygiene, lack of logic, religious Zingoism.

This was the Indian Awakening. Here was the community’s retort, the female, from the hinterlands of India, struggling yet giving her best shot at speech in English. 

Mr. Naipaul, we were a strange country even then and we continue to be. To us, it was a nagging conversation, because as so-called sophisticated, jargon-ridden idiots who pride on our education which comes for free, it is not easy to understand the struggles one goes through to acquire in a nation bereft of opportunities.

IMT Nagpur, as the wikipedia entry says was instituted as a centre for corporate excellence. Their campus seems to reinforce the concept. I also liked how the entire city is plastered by signs indicating the route to the place (just like Symbiosis has managed to plaster Pune). Service excellence was best displayed in an IMT volunteer standing at the manual toll check-post and greeting us with welcome and apologies for any inconveniences caused to us. The students’ co-operative store though a necessity in any remote campus was again news to us, as we heard that it was operated by students only who took time off to operate it in turns.

Not that Nagpur is not the place for innovation and thought leadership! For good or bad, a city which has been the epicentre for Hindu Nationalism, Dalit-Movement and Free Press which I love in the form of The Hitavada, which has been part of my travails whenever I crossed Nagpur. I do hope some good comes out of the place. Its just a normal paper, bu then a great local brand in a country where rare Print Brands exist.

The randomness did reorganize into a structure. For once, it was a reality check leading up to placements. While a lot of industry sectors look gloomy, you go to these places and realise that demand exists and a lot of it. Indian economy will grow provided you believe it can.. For me the belief was reinstated. Some of the pics accompanying this post will bring in the optimism. It reinforced some of the ideas Rama Bijapurkar stressed about the multitude of social fabrics and structure in the Indian Market.

A tier-II station had a Comesum outlet. Mind you the same chaps who serve at Hazrat Nizamuddin Station and Bangalore City (two of the busiest in the country). Its been there for five years. The crowd at 11 at night when the whole city goes to sleep was again astounding. 

Then I saw the mechanized floor mop which normally graces its presence I swanky IT offices. It was being used to clean the platform (that too not No.1, the main platform). One of the cleanest Railway Station considering the multitude of the Junta it serves.

An hour away at the B-School campus, I saw a student’s co-operative store. It managed to keep the best of the brands for students, it was a co-operative. The telecom connectivity in the Hostel as expected was good. Ministers, at times, do end up doing a good job.

While coming back few enduring images gave back the hopes one finds fading away as he  checks the stock-market ticker and the corporate brouhaha about a recession setting in. Hope can always make you find a way. 

First an elderly gentleman showcasing the Jugaad Concept Indian Population survives on(See pic). Sifting through the pulp fiction of Surendra Mohan Pathak, he tried making most of his ancient walkman whose front flap was now gone. In the very same coach now being increasingly dominated by iPods and Nokia Express, he had managed to keep his musical spirit alive with his antique yet near-perfect solution of a tape recorder and the tape. On request he let me photograph him, often putting in the benevolence the Country Elder is expected to show. He took care of my belongings which I did keep in his custody for an hour while i went to see a friend in the AC Coaches. I listened to a track I could not recognize and heard the memorable voice of the Nightingale of India-Lata Mangeshkar which refuses to fade in the era of Fly By Night Model Turned Singers. We are like this only! The cassette cover however read Awara, Aag and Chori Chori all stacked up in a re-recorded 90 minute tape, emphasizing that India had woken up to piracy long before MP3s came to this country.

Second the enterprising spirit which comes in the wake of adversity. Two kids, lets stop considering this to be a child-labour instance were enterprising in picking up a basket twice their size and using the Demand-Supply economics to offer a great deal, Pomegranates(half-rotten at 3 for 10 bucks and 4 guavas for rs. 10). Considering it was the same target market they were positioning the one Mr. Thackeray sold their story on Saturday evening and Sunday(most were appearing for Railway Recruitment Board), it was evident what two sets of Marathi Manush( The opportunity deprived and the power corrupted) were up to.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dabbling with structures and dribbling with a Congress victory

A random thought came to my mind while revisiting incidents of the past. Often, as history has shown, external factors influence the branding and positioning as they happen and it can work in favor or against you. Consider Singh is King! The film.  As far as we know till today, the film is a declared hit. A great film campaign aimed at the Sikh community. It began about two months before the film was to be launched. Then Dr Singh won the confidence vote. A brilliant opposition, interjection with the display of tightwads of money whose origins are still to be proved. Imagine how the film got a new wave of marketing when all channels were shouting, how Singh is King, with a positive vibe about the entire episode. It must have helped the film reinforce itself, even though it was not at all connected. Who won’t want to have the amount of media attention and constant rambling? Call it a product placement where a film and its title became cult even before its launch. And have a look of what all the film branding got into!



Coming back to the proceedings of this session, by far this was a very academic one. One thing which I thought I would not like to do in an IMC class is get bogged down by theory. Though RM does a great job, somehow IMC in the Indian context is keeping theory aside and inventing and improvising keeping in mind the Indian Consumer. Yet we must got through some theoretical concepts. Here are some!


The types of campaigns


Continuous campaign— Olympics which occur every four years. Amul if you can think of! Titan to a large extent


Fleeting campaign( My dictionary says there’s no word as flighting)— Pepsi blue, Amul Corporate one- The taste of India, Ultratech – change of name…, Century of Trust, Kiosks typically uses single media. I am very confused between a standalone and a fleeting though we all know it should not matter much when we get down to designing one.

Standalone campaignUses Multiple Media

Pulsing campaign: Message pulse is decided by the marketer-that is the frequency of the ad is decided by the marketer in advance. E.g. display outside malls: Hafte ka sabse sasta din

Focused campaign: Where the message is spread across multiple mediums, a similar message is promoted for a prolonged period. The older Maharaja campaign can be considered to be a focused campaign.

Brand Classification according to the Profit-Premium 

Profitability on Y axis, Premium on X axis



If you ask me this is turning out to be the biggest and the most crucial factor in most campaigns. Innovative media and their growing acceptance or disfavor among the audiences is becoming the biggest impediment for a brand manager.


The current media available to us are




1.      Hoardings

    • LCD Screens
    • Bus, Trade, lamppost
    • Behind Railway Tickets
    • Sampling/ Triadvertising
    • In-Store Advertising
    • Merchandising
    • Discount Coupons



2.      MICE(Meetings/Incwentives/Conferences/ Meetings)

3.      Television

o   Target market based with the GEC(General Entertainment and Special Interest Channels)

o   Property development is a niche area with specific content developed keeping in mind


4.      Radio

o   More a local medium

o   Retention based advertising



5.      Print

a.      Lifestyle Press

b.      Public Relations

c.       Pamphlets

d.      Advertorials

e.      Pullouts


Unconventional Media


6.      Web and

a.      Social Networking Groups

b.      Search Engine Optimized

c.       Blogs

d.      Video Upload Sites


7.      Mobile

a.      MBlogs

b.      SMS

c.       Blue Casting



Why this list. For the Media Planner’s work and in the context of the Incredible India-II campaign which we are planning to do, it would form the basis of any campaign. We did a workshop after this on non-Traditional Methods of Branding. We were asked to present on some of the branding techniques. I chose an interesting Economist and Absolut Campaign. The limitation of choosing certain media was overcome in these campaigns. The Economist Campaign used the rooftop of the public bus to communicate to its target audience- Those who occupy the higher echelons of the companies sitting on the top floors of skyscrapers. Absolut has used a unique product form as the central theme in communicating the fact, whatever the activity in life Absolut goes well with it.


When Madonna spilled the beans.... a.k.a losing out on a century of trust

The framework defined in the previous blog was reinforced with a couple of brilliant campaigns in this IMC class. I missed the first ad, though I managed to jot down points related to the campaign. I have always felt it to be part of the Tata Family and do believe that the ad to promote TATA values, whichever it may be, has to be good( Instant Brand recall to me because it showcases the spirit of community and fair-play through its association with football, to the unknown it may not appear so! The only link I could find on the net was


Interesting commentary on the website: “What the Tata Group plans to showcase through the ad is that it has a long-standing history of upholding its deeply ingrained value system even in trying times. In today's competitive times also, the Group has shown that goals can still be achieved by believing in core values and principles.”


The BMW 5 series ad


To be frank, it is not an advertisement. An innovative campaign is in the form of media-short films BMW was brilliant in execution of the concept. Part of six, it was released on the net and sent to TG via a CD. One of the video short films was directed by Guy Ritchie. A typical Ritchie film filled with embarrassing surprises. Full of attitude, what disturbs me is the coherence of the message and the length of the campaign (video-tisement). Perhaps the coherence is established with the other ads in the series.


Madonna and her attitude dominate the film, the driver is intermittently the hero, and the vehicle is emphasized, what about the logo…no need to showcase it. It’s the final shot which provides some relief. But many consider it classic. Considered, a pioneering campaign which tries to target a new set of audience for BMW, I am not sure if it deserves all the kudos. But then the numbers speak for themselves. The positioning has changed to cater to a younger crowd. According to Wikipedia, after the series began, BMW saw their 2001 sales numbers go up 12% from last year and the movies were viewed over 11 million times in four months. 2 million people registered with the website and a large majority of users, registered to the site, sent film links to their friends and family causing the site to go viral and sales to skyrocket.


The Brand Values: Positioning versus Perception debate


We were asked to put in adjectives for the company where we worked. What we felt about the place. The result, our opinions while now were what the company actually stands for as communicated to us. For people who have been working long in the company, it tends to get distorted by the values they think they would associate with the company.


We also did a sensory branding exercise which illustrated how a product can be marketed by appealing to the senses! I’d like to have a watermelon green candy now.


Hand Sanitizers


Finally a hand sanitizer assignment, how will you sell a range of products called hand sanitizers to the hinterlands where there is a huge latent demand for such a product but an almost nil awareness.


While others came up with interesting strategies to market the product, I was wondering how this can become a unique proposition by changing the format. How about a ‘Haath saaf karo, Chutki mein!’ campaign, where a mandatory 2 minute exercise on using hand sanitizers at school is done. The after-effects can be used to generate institutional sales. How about hygiene being then marketed as part of CSR to companies? A product cannot be sold as bigger than that. Think of how ITC’s initiatives to buy waste paper from corporate houses will revolutionize the industry. Others in the class did some crazy stuff as well, and interesting names emerged: hawa-hawaaii! Now that’s a desi exotic brand name.

 The Habits Pyramid

Any product has to be looked through the perspective of this pyramid. If it is a habit, then you would have to spend resources on changing them for the better. Demographics will help you realize how difficult it is to broker in change. Often targeting a new idea to a younger generation is removing resistance to the change.


As far as the launch campaign assignment, it has moved to a new territory. Crazy ideas from marketing cells, events, films, art to creating a campaign on the same activity at a grandiose level- Marketing India to investors. That rings a bell. Incredible India! here I come.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

When the entire batch gets placed or ACCOUNT OF DAY 1

Every discussion in management has to begin with strategy. This one as well! Except for the fact, that RM chose a very appropriate moment to enter into our lives introducing Dr. C.K. Prahlad to uninformed campus denizens, including me. I won’t harp on this issue but yes he has been very active in this regard and ample proof was made visible in his first tête-à-tête.


As RM mentioned, every Integrated Marketing Communication (or Campaign) has to have a strategy in place. Simply put its stated objectives and stated methods of measurement are the only way of judging its success of failure.


Further he introduced us to the 3C and 6Ms of an IMC Campaign. Let me try and illustrate this with a launch of Colurs, the recently launched General Entertainment Channel(GEC) from the house of Viacom.




The reasons why you are putting the elements (6Ms) of the IMC in the first place. A campaign cannot be drafted keeping these three’s out of the entire perspective. A simple example would be the recent campaign by taking the example of Colors, a channel being launched by Viacom 18.


Corporation: Viacom 18, a joint venture between two of the most prolific media groups, Viacom 18, known for MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon and Network 18. Both groups are known to be innovators in Indian Broadcast Media business.


Customer: The Indian General Entertainment Channel (GEC) viewer is a demanding chappie. He is quick on the remote, doesn’t give you an inch and completely unpredictable. Yet he has just one thing to admire, any idea which breaks away from the clutter.


Competitor: This is possibly the most brilliant time (from an IMC student’s perspective) to enter the market. A market saturated with STAR, Zee and Sony was thought to have no room, but 9X and NDTV Imagine have threatened to challenge the hegemony. Colors broke into the top three categories edging out these two (see the Race for No.3)


RM mentioned about campaigns being essentially of three types. My interpretation through the eyes of a glamorous lady


  • Pioneering (Launch) --- I came. E.g. Announcing your arrival
  • Retentive – I Exist e.g. frequent wardrobe change
  • Competitive – Drastic Change often with reference to the competition



The 6M framework for IMC Dissection


One assignment during the course is to dissect a campaign and RM suggests the following framework. A campaign dissection on the launch of DNA newspaper has been submitted to him.



As mentioned earlier sets out the tone, is the campaign, is it a pioneering campaign, a retentive or a competitive one. The other elements will get influenced based on this choice.




An understanding of the market will be very crucial to determine the other elements. In case of DNA, as mentioned, I would call it a David Meeting its Goliath. ToI, the undisputed leader got stirred, shaken for the period of launch. Critically, they came back well showcasing why a longer tease-phase might just be adverse to your mission.





A war chest depending on the saturation of the market.




The message was beautifully crafted, breaking the monotony, identifying itself with the changing face of Mumbai and connecting with issues close to his heart and asking him to convey those.




I have noticed how the choice of media vehicle can make/break a campaign. One key learning while marketing an alien concept in India( was how message and media should be coherent. The response to the film when two different channels were used was pretty obvious. A high coherence resulted in a better communication in Bangalore where the film was promoted on Indigo than other places.




Critical to any IMC, a stated objective and a method of measurement determine the success or failure as mentioned earlier.





Innovative way to break the monotony of academic rigor defined by NMIMS, a real IMC launch on campus by breaking the class in two halves. Chaos Theory at work! And what a marketing student really craves for, no attendance- as all marketers should believe, you have to listen to what the consumer is saying and RM has heard us well.


P.S. My ex-copy editors would be proud of me prologue and chapter one in 900 words.