Monday, December 26, 2011

Logo Change? Think again!

Your company may need a change of image, but it pays to keep some of the past.


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Friday, December 23, 2011

BPL's second innings

The erstwhile leader in colour television is looking to diversify in a host of areas to stay afloat.

Recently, when it was reported that BPL had failed to salvage part of its 350-acre land bank pledged with Deutsche Bank, it was a setback for a company that used to be among the leaders in many consumer durable segments in the late nineties.

Sample this: In its heyday, the brand value of BPL was valued at Rs 1,400 crore – a trend-setting parameter which many Indian companies followed later. But within the next decade, they have almost lost it all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The arrogance of market leaders

Fall of the mighty: BPL realised the value of investing in technology, but more significantly invested in the brand. So what went wrong? (Above) A file photo of the launch of a BPL TV _ G. R. N. SOMASHEKAR

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” - William Pollard

It is 5.30 a.m. on the first day of the Australian Test cricketing season and I am sitting in front of my TV set as I have done for several years now to watch a lightweight contest between two ordinary teams, one of which has three youngsters making their test debut. As both teams strive for success on a cloudy day at The Gabba, my mind wanders to other examples of success and failure from the world of business. While success is rare and difficult to achieve, we need to remember that history is full of successful people who have lost their way due to arrogance and leading brands which have led their popularity to blind them to the pitfalls on the road to sustaining success. Let's take a look at some of the brands that have been consumed by arrogance or short-sightedness and see if there is any learning for our own future conduct.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Brands get older, consumers younger

The human race is a wonderful species. It must be the only species that can actually exult at someone else's misery. Children specialise in this. However, I must quickly add that some older people are similarly gifted. Have you ever noticed (gleefully) the anguish a middle-aged woman experiences when she sees her first grey hair, or her horror when the mirror shows up her first wrinkle? Her pain, I am sure, is greater than that of the entire Australian nation that watched in disbelief as its cricket team was shot out for the mammoth score of 47 last week! Yes, wrinkles or greying are all tell-tale signs of ageing and no self-respecting woman would like that. And yet, I admire their dread of ageing, even though it is part of evolution.

Ageing is as relentless as forty-year-olds needing spectacles to read the newspaper. However, it is a completely different story when it comes to people like me who have needed spectacles for the last forty years to see anything. But I am rambling and will not try to stay with the process of ageing. I wish people in brand management were as paranoid about the ageing of their brands as their spouses are about their own looks. Yes, we have lots to learn from our spouses (and every other woman) if only we stop to observe them. (And one has also heard that watching women is a pleasurable occupation though one always wishes that one had done more of it.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brand Kingfisher in the red

The King of Good Times is battling bad times, and all eyes are waiting to see how much the whole bailout issue will cost Brand Kingfisher. Right now, the airline business of Kingfisher is under deep scrutiny and the media focus has only heightened the negative atmosphere. Public memory, of course, is short and all ‘bailout’, ‘bleeding’ and ‘those who die must die’ phrases will be forgotten once Vijay Mallya is able to arrange the corpus to manage the airline’s functioning. Remember, Jet Airways employees’ protests against job cuts some years ago didn’t do much harm to the brand in the long run.

Kingfisher, known primarily for its beer, is unlikely to be affected. The brand has been there for a long time and people vouch for it. Even in this scenario, it’s the airline business that is under the scanner. The airline business is diversification of the core business, hence the impact on Kingfisher the brand would not be much. But when it comes to Kingfisher Airlines, people – especially frequent flyers and privileged guests wooed with the airline’s promise of an extraordinary experience – would stay away, considering flight cancellations and the consequent inconvenience.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Momentous days for the communications industry

Stellar outing: The F1 event showcased India’s event handling capabilities much more favourably than the Commonwealth Games could. - Photo : Rajeev Bhatt

On October 31, I was at Lucknow to celebrate a landmark birthday of my classmate from IIM Bangalore. It was a unique experience to be in Mayawati's kingdom, but I shall resist the urge to talk about statues and parks with huge, forbidding walls and stay with the events that India and the world witnessed around that time.

The media in Lucknow was showering praise on Mayawati for helping organise the F1 event, taking place in Noida at that time. Although it was largely a private sector initiative, the papers, in Lucknow at least, spoke in glowing terms about the support that behenji had provided to make the event a great success.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brand Bangalore in need of a makeover

"Bangalore as a Brand has registered its mark world wide as the Software hub, thanks to companies like Infosys and Wipro. However the image of Bangalore as a brand is getting tarnished because of poor Infrastructure and governance, the city is in need of a "Brand Champion".


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Monday, October 24, 2011

The things brands do…

Brand positioning should be directed by strategy, and not left to a lucky streak of publicity.

I have been married for a small matter of 29 years and I guess one of the expressions that I have heard most often is “I told you so!” I know that some of you at least may share some similarity in experiences, right? But the purpose of this piece is not so much to compare the relative states of our marital bliss (?) but to take a look at brands with a similar lofty philosophy. Often I have felt that it is wonderful to be a critic, sitting on judgement on brands and their foibles, but here I am more interested in the learnings for other brands from some of these acts of omission or commission that brand owners and marketers have done at different points in time.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mid-Day to diversify into cafe chains

Mid-Day being so popular with the youth will help scale up this business in a space where there are very few organized players, a person with direct knowledge of the development said Jagran Prakashan Ltd (JPL), the publisher of Hindi daily Dainik Jagran and owner of the print business of Mid-Day Infomedia Ltd, is planning to open a chain of Mid-Day cafés, two people with direct knowledge of the development said.

“Mid-Day being so popular with the youth will help scale up this business in a space where there are very few organized players,” one of the persons said.

According to him, the group plans to launch cafés under the Mid-Day brand across India, starting with the metros. “Cities from where Mid-Day is published will be targeted first.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

India: a face for phones

Will Chetan Bhagat be a good brand ambassador?

Please see my comments on the above subject in article below (Appeared in today's Financial Times).

In a country where most adverts feature celebrities such as cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar or Bollywood stars, an overseas phonemaker and an author seem like an unlikely, if interesting, pairing.

India’s best-selling author, Chetan Bhagat (left), has been signed up by Chinese telecoms company Huawei to launch its latest tablets and smartphones on the subcontinent, the Economic Times reports.

India is Huawei’s second largest market after China, contributing between $840m and $1.4bn per year (3 to 5 per cent) – of overall revenues, which totaled $28bn last year. But the company isn’t widely recognised in the country, and also must combat prejudice against Chinese products.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The customer is king. But where's his kingdom?

How companies can create true customer delight and offer service that really counts.

As I sit in the Custommerce National Convention listening to exotic concepts such as customer-centricity, engagement, experience frameworks and multi-channel customer interactions, my mind started wandering. I can almost hear you saying “tell me another” but in my defence I must tell you that I was still staying in the customer experience realm but in my own selfish way, I was thinking about myself as a customer and my own experiences over the years. Was there anything truly outstanding that I have experienced as a customer that I could remember, relish and share with you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flying Machine's new advertisement draws controversy

It was meant to transport the brand into the consciousness of India's youth, but a new advertisement by Flying Machine has flown into a storm of controversy instead. A welcome controversy! One of India's early home-grown jeans brands, Flying Machine, over the weekend, released a print advertisement that shows the picture of a female model wearing tight fit jeans around her buttocks, with the catchline in big, bold font screaming: 'What an Ass!' It was probably meant to highlight the oomph and cool quotient in an old brand, perhaps even mimic the edginess of the 'All asses were not created equal' tagline in an advertisement last year by larger rival Levi Strauss & Co. While the jury is out on whether Flying Machine's latest campaign has found resonance with the cool set, the advertisement is generating heat in some quarters.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tata DoCoMo may not get away with cheeky ads as ASCI receives complaints

It has been 'keeping it simple' for so long, but now there is 'no getting away' for Tata DoCoMo. Or so it seems, going by the severe flak its latest television campaign has drawn from doctors, NGOs working with domestic servants, and even viewers.

The Advertising Standards Council of India has already received eight complaints against the mobile operator's cheeky commercials that portray doctors and domestic helps in a negative light. And a Delhi-based social organisation working for the rights of domestic workers threatens to take up the matter with the parliamentary standing committee on labour.

The new series of 13 television advertisements promoting Tata DoCoMo's network connectivity with a tagline 'no getting away'-released across national channels last week-is being criticised for "showing class bias", "cozying up to harmful social prejudices" and being indecent.

Understanding fast-changing Gen Y is a challenge

Gen Y no longer lives in an idyllic, insulated environment, chilled out and being itself. Hence, how marketers communicate to them is extremely important.


Ramanujam Sridhar CEO of brand-comm. and a Director of Custommerce.
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Annual Reports Get a Brand - New Makeover

Annual reports to reasserting brand's value in the minds of shareholders. Some companies have started to use social networking icons and other icons to connect with the each other! Read more in the snippet below.

Ramanujam Sridhar CEO of brand-comm. and a Director of Custommerce.
Read my blog @

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A century with a difference

Bill Bernbach, who, in a land of supersized products, urged people to ‘think small’ when it came to the “ugly German car that made waves in post-War America”. _ V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

Remembering ad man Bill Bernbach, whose 100th birthday it was earlier this month

For some time now, a billion-plus Indians have been waiting for a century, actually a century of centuries from the little master Sachin Tendulkar, with bated breath initially and later with increasing restlessness, that now lies frustrated.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Micromax latest to join likes of HUL, Dabur and UB to opt to tease rival products with potshot advertising.

After helping end Finnish firm Nokia's complete domination in the Indian market, mobile handset maker Micromax has turned its attention to another multinational Goliath, Apple, through a cheeky advertisement that takes a jab at iPhone.

The latest print advertisement for Micromax's Android handset reads, "i (can afford this) Phone". While the overriding message is a play on the world's most popular smart phone's steep price tag in India, the ad talks about features offered by the new phone.

Googly: Branding on Indian Turf

Below is an extract from my interview coverage with MBARendezvous on "Googly: Branding on Indian Turf"!

“Mind it, Customers are not moron, they will react to your faulty deliveries on commitments so ensure that smart execution is done “

Mr Ramanujam Sridhar is a communication consultant, author, columnist, teacher, trainer, cricket enthusiast and a passionate social activist.

A postgraduate in Management from IIM Bangalore and an MA in Economics from Loyola College, Chennai, Sridhar had spent over six years in the banking industry, and in his own words “counted other people’s money and wrote other people’s Fixed Deposit receipts” before entering the fascinating and often frustrating world of advertising.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Humble person, great brand

Mr N. R. Narayana Murthy is retiring from Infosys, the company that he founded (with a few of his friends), a company that he led to pre-eminence even as everyone is asking “Why” and not “Why not?”.

To a perpetual student of branding like me, Mr Narayana Murthy is the ultimate personal brand — demonstrating in no uncertain terms that people from the corporate world can as much be brands as people from sports or entertainment.

For five years, brand-comm, the company I founded did a business leadership survey amongst management students in India and every year, Mr Narayana Murthy with predictable and monotonous regularity was the most admired business leader as chosen by India's future managers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Service? What service?

What's the problem with customer service — money or the lack of empowerment?

All of us are consumers and some of us are service providers and every consumer is different in her own way. Some of them are constantly teaching us a thing or two while most of us obstinately refuse to learn or change. Having made some dramatic statements that run the risk of sounding pompous, let me cut to the chase and to my own story and see if there is any learning. It started on a Sunday afternoon, which, incidentally, happened to be the third day of the Nottingham Test which was at an interesting stage. At least, it was, when I was watching it at the airport waiting for my flight to be called. England and Bell were just turning it around.

An insider's view

I share my views on "The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a new generation" by Jay Elliot with William L Simon.


Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, brand – comm.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Brandware - A Comprehensive 8 Weekend Brand Management Course

I am glad to share with you that I will be leading brandware4, a 8 weekend certificate program on brand management in Bangalore at our training facility. The last 3 editions were extremely well received with participants from companies like Titan, Nokia, Manipal Education, Booster Juice, Indus League, United Spirits and a whole host of others. I have also been fortunate enough to get some of the biggest names in Bangalore in marketing and advertising to be guest faculty for the program.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

United by team, divided by “spirits”

The Harbhajan-UB row about a spoof ad is a storm in a whisky peg.

Even as England and India were getting ready for the clash of the Titans and a historic test match at Lords, the Mecca of cricket, another clash was in motion. This was between two of India's current greats, M. S. Dhoni, arguably India's most successful captain, and his premier off spinner Harbhajan Singh whose claim to fame was the subjugation of Ricky Ponting in his prime. The feisty off spinner promptly earned the nickname of “Turbanator”. An aggressive competitor if there ever was one, who came out unscathed after “monkey gate” even if he could not manage to escape censure for slapping Sreesanth, another team-mate of his who did not know what hit him and promptly burst into tears. But how is it that two of India's victorious cricketers who have been part of the No. 1 test team in the world and members of the World Cup-winning T20 and one-day teams in the world, are made to look as though they cannot stand the sight of each other and Harbhajan's family and the entire Sikh community is up in arms and breathing fire and brimstone. So what's upsetting the apple cart on the eve of what is arguably the most important test series in recent times?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Branding your way up!

I share my experience and views on getting your start company up to good position in the market. The most important thing being "branding".


Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, brand – comm.
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Playing it Safe!

My review on Anita Bhogle & Harsha Bhogle's " The winning Way: Learning from sport for Managers"!


Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, brand – comm.
Read my blog @

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where are the iconic Indian brands?

The sight of a Harley Davidson has our columnist reflecting on legendary brands and which Indian ones can one day fit the bill.

It is 3 o' clock in the afternoon outside the garden café in Leh, Ladakh and I stand transfixed, watching with undisguised lust a Harley Davidson motorbike which presumably one of the international visitors to the tourist destination must have driven in on. My expression is akin to that of a 5-year-old wistfully looking at another kid sucking a lollypop with great relish. What is this emotion that a 58-year-old who is extremely sober (mostly anyway) and who would be probably described as boring and who grew up in Madras not Minnesota is experiencing? Strange, when you consider that during my formative years my main means of transport was the Pallavan Transport Corporation and the No 10 buses which took me from T. Nagar to Casa Major Road in Egmore. How do I explain this unreasonable yearning to have my hair, or whatever is left of it, to fly in the wind as I visualised myself zipping around in a Harley? Why am I thinking of going to the Harley Davidson showroom in Lavelle Road as soon as I return to Bangalore to check out the bike that I may never buy? Is it aspiration? Is it the stuff that dreams are made of? Is it what makes Harley Davidson the iconic brand that it has been for as long as I can remember?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In an ideal world...

Banish the myopia: Committed relationships can benefit a brand and its advertising/PR managers — Titan Industries has been associated with O&M and Lowe since its inception and Iodex with HTA (now JWT) for 86 years.

A few years ago I saw a very interesting commercial for the iconic brand Absolut vodka. I daresay not the ideal product category to talk about early in the morning even if the commercial was about an Absolut world. The interesting thing, however, was that the commercial had been created by a consumer for the brand and posted on YouTube. It featured different situations - a policeman leaving a lollypop instead of a parking ticket on the car's windshield; a huge hulk of a man whom you would dread meeting in a dark alley contentedly sitting and knitting a sock; the wife giving the husband a huge pastry full of cream and chocolate with the comment “Doctor's orders”; a young couple saying fairly intimate and yet uncomfortable things to each other with a pleasant smile and so on. This got me thinking, what if we had an ideal world in marketing and communications instead of the stress-filled and tension-ridden one that we currently inhabit?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Much nostalgia, some regret

It is a little over three decades since I left Madras (as it was called then) and my mind goes back to the great times I had in that wonderful city. Madras was a great place to grow up even if it was 108 degrees in May. Who cared about the heat if one was chasing balls at the Marina cricket ground? A wonderful place to watch a cricket match and hear the Triplicane mamas waxing eloquent on which side of the wicket Derek Underwood should bowl from and the raucous chants of budding club cricketers whose wit far exceeded their cricketing ability. A phenomenal place to absorb culture even if you were only marginally inclined, and an easy city to live in, if only you knew the language.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

People are not brand loyal

Pallavi Gupta, COO of Mast Kalandar & I, discuss about the food business, importance of advertising and branding.

Sridhar Ramanujam: I learn that you come from an IT background and later, shifted to the food business. What made you start the restaurant?
Pallavi Gupta: When I was working, we wanted a place for casual dining. As individuals, we craved for healthier versions of food. Since not much was happening in the Indian scene for speed and value for money with regards to the restaurant business, this further prompted us to start Mast Kalandar. We identified the gap and served healthy food.

Monday, June 6, 2011

AgTalk: Digital is where FM radio was ten years ago

I strongly believe today’s industry lacks good visionary leaders and laments on the paucity of talent. Read on to discover as I unwind in an exclusive interview with Adgully.

Adgully: Can you share with us two key functional areas of Brand Comm?

Ramanujam Sridhar: We are a communication consultancy firm. The company is called integrated brand communications. We are a brand consultancy which deals with identity, positioning, re-positioning and brand architecture. We do advertising with a difference. We do a lot of our work which is in the area of talent. Third area which is the most visible part for us is Public Relations. We do a lot of training programmes and workshops.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Change is the name of the political game

The recent elections have demonstrated how people can become brands and capture the public imagination.

Advertising agencies have, over the years, perfected the art of being wise after the event. Let me explain. Usually, a creative director comes up with a brilliant ad for a brand, a thought based on an idea which translates into an outstanding TV commercial or an award-winning press advertisement. The agency swings into action and lo and behold a fantastic presentation has been created to sell the ad after it has been created. It is what is jocularly referred to as a strategic retrofit in the agency circuit!

Similarly, after two outstandingly dissimilar women swept the polls last fortnight, analysts and consultants are ready to make a case study of these victories and do political postmortems ad nauseum after the ladies have done the hard work.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

KISS and then, tell

Doesn’t celebrity come with responsibility? How many star endorsers really use the things they promote?

Two decades ago the BPL brand was king. As someone who was involved with the brand's advertising for several years, I feel a great sense of sadness that the brand has virtually disappeared. But the purpose of this piece is not to indulge in nostalgia, however enticing that prospect is, but to remind you of something that the brand experienced and which has relevance to what is happening today. At this time, probably in the late Eighties, the BPL brand was on top of the heap even as Amitabh Bachchan was picking up the shreds of his career that had been shot to bits and his much touted company ABCL was on the verge of closure. (This was pre-Kaun Banega Crorepati). It was then that BPL in a stroke of absolute madness (or so I thought) signed on the Big B to be its brand ambassador. Why, oh why was my reaction then and even now. Why would the brand, which was on top, sign on a sagging brand and an aging star?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Keep it simple, if you can!

On the heels of a crowded, elongated, often boring cricket World Cup that still managed to end brilliantly was another one-day series. You could brand it as the (former) titans versus (the perennial) minnows. Okay, let me try to be simple as that is what I am advocating here – it was Australia vs Bangladesh. And so brilliantly was the itinerary planned by the ICC that if Australia had won the World Cup as they had done on the last three occasions, then they would have flown straight to Dhaka from Mumbai with the World Cup (even if it would not be the real one) in their bag, gloriously hungover, to boot. Of course, Dhoni ensured that Australia was not inconvenienced and remained coldly sober as they quietly flew in to Bangladesh after a rare quarter-final defeat. The low-key series happened even as the diehard Bangladeshi cricket fan (what a glutton for punishment) faithfully turned up thrice in a week at the stadia only to watch his team get trounced (again).

Friday, April 29, 2011

TV ratings remain flat for IPL

Through IPL 2011, ESPNcricinfo will be tracking TV ratings using the TAM People Meter, India's leading TV ratings system. This is the second installment in the weekly series

The 2011 IPL continues to struggle to attract viewers compared to last season, with ratings down 21.99% on average for the first 26 games across six key markets. The drop was even steeper over the last ten games, with ratings falling by 27.08%. The likely culprits are cricket fatigue and a lack of familiarity with the teams, say media experts.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Leaders as brands

When we talk about a leader as a brand, the only Indian example that used to come readily to mind was that of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was an undisputed, undeniable brand in every sense of the term. This is not to undervalue the contribution of other political leaders like the simple but effective Lal Bahadur Shastri or the charismatic Jawaharlal Nehru, both of whom had their followers. Suddenly the Indian leadership stakes has a new entrant in Anna Hazare. What a leader! If someone can actually move our government and even the normally sluggish Manmohan Singh to action, he deserves nothing but the highest praise and the eligibility to enter the top brand management stakes. While it is understandable if I were to break into eulogistic rapture about his actual achievements I shall carefully desist and attempt to stay with the leadership brand, its characteristics and the learning therefrom for young aspirants. What can we learn from the Annas of the world - about leadership and branding?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Champions on the field!

Intrigued by the headline? The different faces of India are fodder for our columnist this week.

If the sponsors and organisers of the Cricket World Cup 2011 had drawn up a wish list before the impressive opening ceremony at Dhaka, the list might well have included:

Teams from the subcontinent in the last four (well, three of the last four were from the subcontinent)

India beating Australia in the knock-out (ideally it could have been the semi-final but I am not complaining).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fill it, shut it and forget the advertising

In the mid eighties I used to be the account executive on the Ind-Suzuki brand as it used to be called those days and used to watch the work of our competitor Hero Honda with fascination and ill concealed admiration. Hero Honda launched a four stroke bike (to the disapproval of my erudite friends in TVS) clearly positioning the new product on fuel economy. The ad campaign which I can still recall had the tag line “Fill it, shut it, forget it”. To put it mildly the consumer forgot all the other brands (well almost) as the new campaign and the new brand took the market by storm and continues to rule the two wheeler roost two decades later. The Hero Honda Splendor has been an enduring brand success, built on a product which works brilliantly in Indian conditions and on the Indian psyche (fed and nurtured as it is on fuel economy) and is an excellent example of clear, single minded communication that has been consistent over the years. Hero Honda, the company did many things right and as a former executive of TVS Suzuki confessed privately to me “the best thing I did was invest in Hero Honda”. Competitors know the value of the company they are competing with right? Just as any team that played Australia in the early 2000s would tell you what it meant to beat them and the collective ambition of the entire cricketing world was to beat them and when they did it rarely it was a cause for wild celebrations. Let’s return reluctantly to our brand story. Suddenly (though it has been brewing for some time now) the two companies have split and Honda will soon launch two entry level bikes even as the Japanese giant is building a new factory in Andhra Pradesh and looks to beefing its distribution presence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Viewer’s delight, sponsor’s nightmare

I must talk about the World Cup (habits don’t die) which is getting into the business end and India has managed to make every match interesting. How did they do that? They did that by playing way below their potential, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, turning certain victory into a pulsating tie and lo and behold Indians have to watch West Indies vs. England and South Africa vs. Bangladesh as our progress depends on theirs. What a coup for TRPs!!! And yet amidst all the Indian madness there is a bigger madness and that is the advertising. Even if I owe most of everything I have in my life to advertising, I am getting increasingly miffed with advertising for the World Cup which cuts into my viewing pleasure and makes me feel like throwing something heavy at the TV screen and blasting it into smithereens, but yet can’t as it is my hard earned money which paid for the TV in the first place. How many magic moments have been deprived thanks to the greed of the channels? Why can I not see the first ball and the sixth ball over of the over? Why should I see a half commercial when Shaun Tait ties his shoe laces? How many times do I have to suffer the same boring commercial? Why or why?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Helicopter shot or switch hit? Take your pick!!

Pepsi is one brand that has swigged cricket to the last drop and some of their best TV commercials have been around the game that often captivates and yet frustrates. In 1996 when Coke was the official sponsor of the World Cup, Pepsi who had lost the bid (if my memory is to be believed) did a guerilla marketing campaign and came up with the campaign “nothing official about it” featuring the likes of a (then) baby faced Sachin Tendulkar, the dashing Vinod Kambli (where on earth is he), the West Indian fast bowler and captain Courtney Walsh, the English speedster Dominic Cork and the legendary umpire Dickie Bird. This was a landmark campaign and people still remember it. See advertising actually works!! In ‘99 when the World Cup was held in England, Pepsi was the official sponsor despite all their previous cracks at the status! But then all is fair in sponsorships and cricket right? Let’s move on to the present World Cup and the current lot of Pepsi commercials. Incidentally do you like them?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is the celebrity a brand or a product?

Why do brands seek celebrities? They do that because celebrities stand for something; they are different from the herd and create instant awareness for their products. And that is not all. This is cricket World Cup time and each time your celebrity scores a four, snatches a wicket or pulls off a sensational catch, you are preening yourself on your choice. Unfortunately in the Indian context there is another imponderable reality for sponsors. They have absolutely no control over what the celebrity does. Of course while they may not have to worry too much about their celebrity getting into a controversy (unless of course they have signed on the spin king) they have a larger headache and let me try to address this. The biggest problem is that celebrities do not have control over their own destinies and lives but belong to sports management companies to whom they are mere ‘products’ to be managed, packaged and sold aggressively for a profit- brand and celebrity fit be damned. With Dhoni endorsing no less than 25 brands that I can recall and Sachin (or his sports management company) trying hard not to be left behind we have the current captain and the former captain featuring as brand ambassadors of more brands than they really should be doing. Of course the celebrity management companies are probably laughing all the way to the bank, but are the sponsors really happy or looking over their shoulders at every new brand endorsement that their own celebrity is so cheerfully signing.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In praise of cute kids

People have an unreasonable liking for children and dogs and nowhere else does that liking make itself apparent more than in television commercials. Remember the McDonalds “swing’ commercial where the child smiles and cries with every movement of the swing as the signage keeps appearing and disappearing?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let the games begin!

Thankfully all the pre-World Cup hype, hoopla and spin are over and it is time for the actual cricket to take centre-stage. All the former World Cup-winning captains have done their promotional bit and will give way (reluctantly perhaps) to the winners of the 2011 World Cup. Since I believe in the wisdom of the statement “Forecasting is difficult, particularly of the future” I will not stick my neck out (as I did before the Ashes) and stop with merely saying that both my heart and head say that this is perhaps India's best chance to win the cup.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Software frowns while the rest of India smiles

Brands makes waves, headlines and more often than not profits. Not so long back software was king and it took Bangalore along with it. Bangalore preened itself, without really doing too much, on the spawning of words like “Bangalored”. When Infosys was listed on Nasdaq it certainly and deservedly made it to the front pages. When Narayana Murthy's driver was declared a crorepathi the news made waves as did a host of other bits of news which in hindsight are no more than trivia like the Murthys not using domestic help. Then hipper sectors like retail, infrastructure and venture capital pushed software from the front pages and often even the business sections of the newspaper. They were no longer “breaking news” after all there were not too many scams there! NR Narayana Murthy whom media loves, moved out of an active role in Infosys and Nandan Nilekani moved on to handle the prestigious UID project. Suddenly the brand did not seem to have high profile spokespersons. Students of engineering colleges held appointment orders which had everything except a precise date of joining. The detractors and the cynics kept reminding us about the inability of Indian software to move up the value chain and the recession saw a number of people being laid off though PR companies working like beavers kept the bad news out of the media.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Heroes, zeroes and wannabes!

The IPL auction, hits and misses may be a media event but the quality of the game is what will determine its success..

Serious advertisers and those who have an interest in the game should go by the shorter version of the game and by that I mean T20.

The quality of the game,and not the players' prices, will ultimately have an impact on the success of IPL. As for the World Cup, that's another piece of entertainment better approached (or not) with great deliberation. Seen here are Mumbai Indians team owner Nita Ambani at this month's IPL auction (right) and the glittering trophy for the upcoming Cricket World Cup.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Brand Positioning & Advertising Of Tata Tea, Thumps UP & Raymond

Tata Tea's Jaago Re campaign was launched in 2007, the brand has positioned itself as a young vibrant one with the message "being the change that we want to see". Sushant Dash of Tata Tea talks about the campaign's success and I have shared my opinion on how the campagin has worked for the brand image.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Times That We Live In

While advertisers are trying to get Young India right, will they please think of the other, especially, younger India watching their commercials?.

Is it a reflection of the times we live in or a young creative person's ability to get our attention?

It is 6.30 a.m. on a wintry morning in Bangalore and England has just retained the Ashes in style, beating an Australian side which used to be “awesome” and is now pretty much “awful”, to raucous chants of the Barmy Army - “Australia, are you England in disguise” they cheer and Australia have nowhere to hide for it is all happening at the Sydney Cricket Ground and not at some remote place like Nagpur or Ahmedabad. Earlier I had proudly watched the Indian resistance on a quagmire of a wicket and India demonstrated to a disbelieving Western world that it deserved to be the No.1 test team in the world as they stood up to everything that the Proteas threw at them, including a bottle on our own home-grown brat Shantakumaran Sreesanth.