Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Contra entry - Part I

Contra entry: -
In the journal entries, some of the entries are reflected in more than 2 related ledgers are called the contra entry. That means it is the entry that will decrease the amount in one account and increase the amount in the other account …..

This article is written by an ex student of mine and a successful advertising professional of today. He will reveal his name and details later as he has some other plans in mind.....It comes to you as a parting read from me as we bid adieu to 2009.
Here is a story of deception of a studious business school student who aspired to make it big one day (of course in business and nothing else) and the deceiver is your favourite author/blogger of Ad formula.

To put the story in to perspective and to obtain clarity you need some character portrayal, here are the characters .....

Victim aka vee
Deceiver aka dee

The victim:
A studious guy with middle class values, partially open minded, confused as any youth, good at numbers but overall a down to earth and a simple human being!

The Deceiver:
Tall and well built, Charming, Humorous, witty and of course intelligent, students would love and long for his classes (at least that is what the girls say)

Things are in perspective I guess and now let’s hear the story ...

Once there was a conference in my college and I was in my first year (as of now I have not met the deceiver or Dee) hence it is made compulsory for all the first years to attend the same. I did not get seats in the first row so i had to compromise sitting in the last row, you know it is very difficult for a studious student to sit in a last row with a bunch of jerks..Well I had no choice that day , it was a fabulous talk on retail banking and corporate banking which I was trying to listen amidst the disturbances by the jerks .

The speaker was talking about an article in business line, having missed the article on that particular day ,it made me curious to read the same and hence opened the paper…bang …Dee was staring at me and called me outside the conference room and embarrassed me for nothing in front of others. When I tried to explain the situation he did not listen to the same … he decided to report the same to the director of the college for misbehavior and sheer indiscipline… this college punished me for the same …this college has a weird way of punishing students

Instant and short term punishment
Long term punishment

I was asked to read the paper loud in front of the students who welcome the guests at reception (they are usually good looking) and I am too a human, young. with all biological senses active …felt embarrassed but had to read in front of them loud ..really loud other go … that was instant punishment ...

I had to even write business line, Hindu paper headline and my opinions on the same daily and submit it to de and that is short term punishment. I wrote it for a year!!!

Days passed by when ever I pass by he would give me dirty looks…I always felt he did not like me..and Dee came to my class one day as I said to myself (Now what!!). he was our professor for advertising .. I got a shock of my life and thought that my life is doomed and I am gonna fail. But as I have mentioned earlier I am a studious student so I had no problem in classes . within few days he liked me as I had brilliant answers and I even excelled in his paper..

He would inspire the whole class talking about bernbach, fallon, Ogilvy and crispin porter bogusky .. this subject fascinated me and I even specialized in advertising..

He was charming and with his sense of humour he can even make a stone laugh , hence he was always surrounded by girls (even the one who I was hitting on ) It sucks when professor becomes your competition…damn!! I sacrificed it all because he inspired me to get in to a fascinating profession Advertising.. it went to an extent where I even threw my campus placements to get in to advertising..

When I called him up one day to tell him that I got a job in an ad agency he smirked…I wondered why he did that… the meaning of his smirk came in to light after a few months in an agency “It was my long term punishment”!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ad Speak - Big Idea !!!

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.- Victor Hugo

Much is being talked about the BIG IDEA.. every ad man says this… every ad lecture touts it… what is it in actual?

The big idea is one which makes the BRAND or product PROPOSITION relevant, clear, distinct and memorable. Agencies strive to merge their strategic analysis, their MEDIA choices and gut feelings into an elusive big idea, combining the place a product occupies in a Consumer’s mind, the appearance of the advertisement and the SLOGAN that encapsulates it............ the crux is that the big idea should be big and stand much above the rest in cluttered markets.. The Vodafone Zoo Zoo is an example in the last year of Indian Advertising was relevant, clear, simple, distinct , memorable and hence BIG…. They didn’t take it to where they should have but that is an entirely different thing ….

One classical example from UK is from a 1980s ad for the Volkswagen Golf. They could have relied on the usual checklist of performance criteria, quoting magazines or touting boring fuel economy statistics. Instead, it featured an charming Paula Hamilton storm out of a house after a lovers’ quarrel, throwing away her fur coat and pearls and then, after a masterfully measured pause, holding on to her keys to sweep off in her beloved Golf. The message was that all other pleasures are transient, momentary, superfluous and dispensable, but a VW is a lasting pleasure; if only every-thing in life was as reliable.

An American example of the big idea is Snapple, a non-carbonated soft drink that began life as a niche brand. Its strategy was expressed as “100% natural marketing” which originated from the company appreciating that consumers loved their product. Consumers were encouraged to write in, send photos of them, and tell the company how much they loved Snapple. The agency, Kirshenbaum Bond in New York, answered these letters via TV, magazine and outdoor advertising. One campaign became known as the “love letters” campaign and drew acres of free PR in the national media. It launched Snapple into competition with leading brands such as Coca-Cola. The ads always featured real employees and consumers…..

Now the BIG IDEA need not be an out of the world IDEA… it could be simple and existing.. it could be the daily seen dogs and boys.. it is how the ad man gets to connect them to the brand and its problems in the market place…

There are many examples where such big ideas have been discarded by brand managers and advertising agencies some times without realising that in many ways they are actually tearing out the heart of the advertising communication and some times for availability of better choices and some times due to extraneous factors like fashion and generation changes,,,Some Big ideas start great and get funny later making the viewer feel like why don’t they stop it..? Surf “Daag Ache Hai” and its recent ads are an example…,,

Some Big Idea’s made strong come back after testing other waters, like the Mint with a hole and the Onida Devil.. but gone forever are the Liril Girl, Wah Ustad! Wah Taj !, and the definitely male ……The list is long but I am sure the enlightened reader is aware.. The fact is that our agencies are brilliant in that they come up with wonderful ideas that are big, but they don’t sustain them… the sad fact is that agencies and brand owners fall into boredom with their Big Ideas even before the Target audience does…

Any rejoinders?

Dead End :-
It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Xmas..

Adformula wishes a heart felt merry Xams to all its readers !!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

As only an Ad guy can do it !

THis is not a piece of fiction.. this happened in real !!!!!!!!!

Date: 2006 06 21

I was drunk and I regret it. Imagine yourself waking up the morning after you buried your employer’s Cannes Lion on some beach in Cannes. Sounds like a lot of fun until you realize you don’t remember where it was. Anyhow, that’s me, stretched out in bed with hangover-angst pumping through my veins. (groan) To make things worse, I’ve only been with the company for three months. A company that was generous enough to send me on a 3-day vacation to claim the prize and bring it home. Now it’s buried somewhere on the beach of the Palm Beach Casino in Cannes. Please help me get it back. The cost of replacing the lion is what a fast food employee earns in two months. Okay, I earn more but still, it’s a lot of money. I tell you what: If you help me find the lion I’ll give you $1000. No questions asked. Just return something resembling a golden Cyber Lion and I’ll happily hand you a thick wad of cash. The most regretful employee on earth, Tom Eriksen P.S. This is not a prank. This is not a game. This is not a clever campaign (like This is just me, wanting to put things right. Help me. The Awarded Campaign

AD Guys - they are of a special breed ! trust me....

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

When will the ad guys get to more sensical and relevant???? Not in a week end in any case...

Blast the week end guys... !!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Polo- What is your HOLE story? - Part II

Another one from the new Polo- What is your HOLE story? ...Enjoy!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger Woods-The worst a man can get !!!

Every time I decide that I will not again write on celebrities and their role as brand ambassadors, some one comes out of the woods and drag me into this.. Well there is a pun there and I must confess that it just came in a flow.. The topic is Woods and all the brouhaha that surrounds him as more and more women appear from the woods ( ohh the pun again) proving that the ace golfer had a huge fascination for holes, on the green turf and otherwise..

It’s a classic case of brands failing… Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods or simply Tiger woods was a brand by himself – a great performer and a real consistent one at that and no matter what now his play boy like image is, till last month he was the most revered icon for the sports world… … High performance delivered every time and for years now.. and that is the profit that his brands (the ones he endorsed) reaped from his aura.. Accenture for years bet on him and him only, portraying his ability to key putt or chip out of the rough and said “High performance delivered” ….Accenture has successfully used Woods to personify its claimed attributes of integrity and high performance.… Now Accenture was the first to forsake the star whose one flaw ( integrity was his other name !) seemingly has become the single most rallying point for the whole world…

It is not woods alone.. History of endorsements is laden with examples of erring celebrities putting brands that depend on them (some cases entirely on them) into disarray… Michael Jackson, and Mike Tyson , to Ben Johnson and Hanse cronje , Britney spears to as recently Micheal Phelps ( for smoking bong -a variant of marijuana, Kellogs dropped him from its endorser list) .. Phelps was dropped not withstanding the fact that the packets of Kellogs with his pics were an instant hit and became a collectors item..

For Accenture the golfer is "no longer the right representative" after the "circumstances of the last two weeks." Said the embarrassed Accenture…The move ends a six-year relationship during which the firm credited its "Go on, be a Tiger" campaign with boosting its image significantly…. Woods was an exception to the serious brand dilution that celebrities were going through.. Not that he was very choosy.. he came for Nike ,American Express, Gillette,General Motors' Buick, Electronic Arts and Tag Heuer watches but for Accenture he stood tall and almost the axis of its entire advertising and when in bad times, this sole dependence has landed the brand and its agency Young and Rubicam, in a tight soup.. they now want to replace all the Woods ads- Tvc’s , hoardings etc… but with what? No alternate strategy was ever in place, with Woods in ….

Woods was so special for his brand owners.. so much so that he appeared with the Nike Swoosh on Accenture ads, his golf bag features a Buick logo even while he endorses Nike and so on… whether this was a proof of brilliance of Nike's Tiger Woods arrangement that other advertisers didn’t mind the presence of the swoosh in their ads or was it simply because they had no option and if they want to use Tiger, they had to turn blind, is still debatable but in the new and changed Wood world it all seems irrelevant..

Gillette and its ads said “the best a man can get” and again Woods was the right match… Now that he has reached a point which certainly is not the best a man can get and where no man ever will want to be, brands one by one are dropping him like hot potato… this is the peril of celebrity endorsements ….

Forbes just a month back described tiger woods as “it's no secret that Tiger Woods is a marketer's dream. The appeal of the good looking, clean-cut, articulate, scandal-free golf whiz is just amazing”…. Now with this fall, which is more personal than professional, (Remember Woods haven’t cheated in his game of golf like a Hanse cronje or Ben Johnson) ads and brands that bet their entire purse on one person, simply because he/ she is a celebrity will think twice .. at least more and serious thoughts of clubbing such endorsement deals with moral clauses attached would be seriously talked about..

Not that a moral clause would have made a Woods to think twice every time he went for an escapade, but that the brands will have lesser losses , financially ,when the enodorses errs… (For the uninitiated, Morals clauses are standard contract terms that allow advertisers to renege on their deals with celebrities if the stars behave badly and ruin their ad plans — as Tiger has done.)…

Wishing Woods a recovery from this personal calamity and hoping to see him again in his turf, playing Golf and endorsing brands.. after all coming back can be more sweeter… and as per his own statement “You can always become better.”

Wishing all the brands that he was with, a smooth transition period …

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hamara Bajaj - Good Bye & RIP !!!

It was last week , when I was talking at a forum where Ad guys in Kochi had assembled and the topic turned out to be nostalgia and the images of the past in advertising…. The organisers showed the Hamara Bajaj ad… No one clapped for a long second but when it broke it broke as if it was the first time they were seeing it.. most of them for sure were young chaps but some of them belonged to the generation which had an unquenchable liking for Bajaj scooters (for want of choice for many but a genuine liking for at least some)…

The product couldn’t be bought as ,from where and when one desired ( a shocking fact for the new Gen who gets everything everywhere) ,waiting lists were ridiculously long, people got MLA’ s and MP’s to recommend, Bribes and premiums to supercede seniority were quite common and Bajaj Scooter was there in any wannabe bride grooms wish list…

Well ! As all good things, now this one too is coming to an end.. the rear view mirror image of the past is to be forgotten, the ghost of the past is shed and to be the “the largest motorcycle maker in the world” Bajaj auto is stopping its Scooter division… Hamara Bajaj nevertheless was a symbol.. of an India that was emerging… of a people that are traditional and yet modern, of a social idea called India that was un paralleled … A benchmark campaign, if there ever was one! It created lots of heartburn for other agencies as well, as every second client kept asking his agency `why can't we do a Hamara Bajaj?'

While in Lintas I have heard long and short stories of how the whole thing was born.. for any one in Lowe Lintas this was a prized posession in the showcase... before the campaign, a lot of factors which has strong India-association, such as, Independence Day, sports and cricket in particular,cinema and heritage were listed down... a press campaign with the theme ‘the great Indian spirit’ as a precursor of sorts to the TVC which followed which had to (and it did) connect the emotions and moments of the viewers to the brand.

Lyrics for the commercials were first written in English and later translated in Hindi. The birth of ‘Hamara Bajaj’ took place with the Hindi translation. Bajaj, promptly replaced ‘the great Indian spirit’, identifying the potential of ‘Hamara’. The term ‘Hamara’ encompassed the entire target audience - consumer or not; it led to a strong association with India.... ( I was told that American and German examples became inspiration for the whole exercise..) Indians are proud to say ‘Hamara India’. Thus, ‘Hamara Bajaj’......

While I refuse to buy “the scooter is dead” school of thought ( there are scooters still made ,sold and doing huge business here) , Let us say a good bye to the good old Bajaj Scooter and hope that later they don’t wake up and say ..hey ! that was a mistake

RIP Bajaj !!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Volkswagen Beetle - launch of a legend !

The Volkswagen Beetle is a legend and the ad world have always stood in reverence to the wonderful advertising that Doyle, Dane and Bernbach (DDB) created over so many years for the beetle.. Stormy pitches and messy client agency relationships should learn a lesson or two from the long lasting relation here between the client and his agency… decades now and it still is strong… When others were busy in lionizing size, power, and stature, 1960s Volkswagen Beetle advertising was the tranquil voice for a host of unusual values and selling points. Plus, it made one smile.

How can one see and read the “Think small” ad, after so many years and still not start instantly admiring the great man by the name Bernbach?
How can one after reading the “Live below Your Means” ad, stop wondering why writers aren't like him, simple and yet shooting ideas in the form of words?
How can one not be an ardent fan of advertising after seeing the “No point in showing you the 1962 Volkswagen, it still looks the same." ad…?

Now the iconic beetle is here, In India ….As far as I remember it is the third most awaited car after the First Maruthi and Tata Nano.. and why not ? A Beetle is a Beetle and not any other car could be as successful as the beetle ever was…. The original Bug was the first people’s car and over the years, its popularity has grown heaps and bundles… The new iteration of the Beetle was launched in 1998, drawing inspiration from the original Beetle. Unlike the rear-engined original Beetle, the new Beetle is a front-engined, front wheel drive car.

It is a good looking car. Cute and stylish, it has turned and still turns heads on the street like very few others can. Its price and its place in the C segment is a bit amusing for me but yeah, when a Beetle does it there may be a reason… Its engine, airbags, ABS, electronic stability programme are all wonderful (!!!) but not part of our review here…

Having said so much and having expected the arrival of the Beetle for long, I should say about this ad that you see here made by DDB Mudra ( that is the combine of the One and only DDB and Mudra the Indian partner) for the launch ...

It is nothing but just plain … No great out of the box stuff.. no great creative stand outs, no great punches on clichés and also ran formulae’s.. just simple ads whose sadly ideas sadly are not original..… “Beetle is here- admire it” stuff, which in any case people are doing, with or without the ads… “Recreate a legend” is the brief that was given to the agency, and it simply hasn’t been able to create an inch more of it than the Beetle already had….

I don’t want to accuse of a rip-off and neither do I want to draw similarity to some ads of the past (particularly a print ad by BMW some years ago which showed a valet enjoying the parking business because he gets BMW’s occasionally).. For those who saw the show room ad from Volkswagen and now this ,I am sure the first one looked definitely better in spite of a choking vaccum of an original idea there too.. at least there was a parade of brands there and people got to hear the names..

This print ad looks like a 2009 copy of the "Think small" ad , except that it stand much below in the WOW factor !! The TVC’s where Kid washes car, kid pays owner. Valet parks car, valet pays owner is the theme, is just bland, if my readers can feel what bland really means, that is !

This is from the net …..Lutz Kothe, chief general manager - Marketing and PR, Volkswagen India said, “I have been here since June and at every party that I would go to, everybody would ask ‘When are you launching the Beetle in India?”

Well!!! He has been here from June and what did he learn?
Was this what all and how Beetle and its ad agency in India could have had said?

Is not this the case of an agency taking a client for granted? VW we know is with DDB world wide as a global arrangement, but it need not be for ever and not every where…!!!

Hope the agency is listening !!!

NB:-See more of VW Beetle ads here...
For those who want to read the legend of Beetle read this book by the title..
Small Wonder: The Amazing Story of the Volkswagen Beetle by Walter Henry Nielson...
And some less serious stuff about the beetle here....
The who is who behind Beetle ads in India..
Credit Details (TVC)
Title: Valet
Agency: DDB Mudra
National creative director: Rajeev Raja
Copywriter and chief creative officer: Bobby Pawar
Art Director: Timsy Gupta
Director: Ramamurthy S
Production House: Nirvana Films
Post production: Prime Focus
Music: Clint Fernandes

Credit Details (Print)
Art Director: Timsy Gupta
Copywriter: Anshumani Khanna, Bobby Pawar

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Few Good Creative Men !!!

A Few Good Men…..Tom cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi moore made this 1992 film an epic of sorts with some Oscar nominations and many a wins…

This video here is the same in visuals but the V/O is different.. it really represents what an ad agency is all about !!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

Worried because they hadn't heard anything for days from the widow in the neighboring apartment, Mrs. Sharma said to her son, "Viky, would you go next door and see how old Mrs. Agarwal is ?"

A few minutes later, Viky returned.

"Well," asked Mrs.Sharma, "is she all right?"

"She's fine, except that she's angry at you."

"At me?" the woman exclaimed. "Whatever for?"

"She said 'It's none of your business how old she is,'' snickered Viky.

I know some guys in Ad agencies who do the same, neither do they understand what the client wants and speaks about, nor do they come back and brief the people back in the agency about the whole thing !!!

Happy week end folks !!!

POLO- What is your HOLE story? (part II)

As promised here I go with the POLO -HOLE story ads... one for today and another one later... Read the review here...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gillette Mach 3- Shave India Movement !!!

A survey conducted by Gillette across 8 Indian metros told guys that they might stand a better chance at landing a job, and even a babe, if they are clean-shaven. Men definitely seem to take a cue, with 72% of them preferring a clean-shave to a beard. And they have women's approval, with 90% women across metros admitting to being turned off by a guy's unshaven look. The study didn’t end there for sure and have moved into a movement which they called as Shave India movement which as the name suggests is to make sure that Indians Shave !

Competition and downslide makes people innovative..... The rule is applicable to Brands as well !!! Shaving is a huge industry in India ( no exact size in crores is available because of the uncertainty in terms of Rural vs Urban and organized vs unorganized) but a major chunk of it is left for the crude and unbranded stuff.. Even among the urban dwellers not all of them think of a shave as a priority and even if they do stuff like Gillette mach 3 would stay a bit far from their grocery list for obvious reasons… Now that is tough for a brand in its maturity stage in its existing market space… go back to basics where ,Kotler famously have suggested various options for brands that move up and down in their PLC.. while in their maturity stage do a market modification, product modification or go for a marketing mix modification

Gillette Mach 3 seemed to have began the modification process quite in right time…some time back they walked into the Cannes festival and came with a gold for the To shave or Not campaign…. Now in an attempt to make more men shave (more users) and more shave per man ( more use per user) it has come out with a bit shocking( positive or negative is the way one sees it) way to reach and communicate to the audience,,, The Shave India Movement ,an off shoot of Women Against Lazy Stubble (W.A.L.S),which is supposedly a serious activity that has research back ups, celebrity parades (Minissha Lamba, Neha Dhupia and Mugdha Godse), and tabular columns to support …and a huge price cut too …..Now, Gillette is offering the Gillette Mach3 at Rs 125 only, so men don't have an excuse any longer for not shaving.
Three things are told to men by this campaign….

1.) Till men don't shave, they will not co-operate with them.
2.) Now that the comfort of Gillette Mach 3 is affordable, there are no more excuses to not be shaving.
3.) If men don't shave, they shouldn't expect women to groom themselves either.

Personally speaking, I for sure wouldn’t buy the 3 rd one… it is nothing but impossible.. I mean women and not grooming...HUH…

There are people who will laugh and smirk at the thought of a shave India movement but from a Marketing communication point of view this is a blitzkrieg of sorts and has reached the people but the impact part is yet to be seen………...

Have they all started shaving?

For that matter have they reached women, whom they want first to be convinced that they in turn can convince/conspire/cajole their men- husbands/brothers/BF’s/ colleagues etc etc to shave or loose whatever in stake…

The idea is simple- the execution is with a big bang, the ads did not look like ads, media influx was ensured , people sat and watched, some with gusto, some with a shriek , some with apathy and many with a disbelief … for a major part of India for whom saving their day to day lives is in question, a shave is the last thing in their priority… The ads but were not talking to them I suppose… not that the campaign hasn’t left a few doubts in my mind… the celebrities ,to be frank and with all due respects to them didn’t evoke any feelings in me.. may be because I am from the south and I DON’T SHAVE ( that seems to be the assumption) but when I talked to my friends and students who are from the North they also seem to be similarly unmoved by the ladies( the celebrities who they feel are unappealing) who says they get turned off by the sight of a lazy stubble…

One guy said who cares?
Another one asked me Minissha who?

But for me off late this “India” thing is enamoring … to look different is the objective and the Lowe directed Walk and Talk campaign and the Small B acted Talk for India (on the 26/11) anniversary did touch me as a TV viewer and I really feel that now Idea is doing a good job but I don’t plan to leave my Vodafone and Airtel for Idea and even if I will do I will move to a Docomo for reasons that every one seem to be moving for……

Gillette and Mach 3 is what I use and may be I am biased but I have to go on record saying that it did impressed me- I mean the idea but the execution could have been better.. it could have covered more areas geographically ( people in the south also shave) trust me!, it could have taken in better and appealing endorsers who when say we hate men who don’t shave, Men really felt depressed, it could have used BTL as well like getting hold of unshaved LAZY guys in malls and supermarkets, multiplexes and beer parlors preferably when they are with their girlfriends and try the trick (I am told that W.A.L.S will be launching a number of interactive forums, film festivals and workshops to spread the core message of the movement - The clean-shaven, confident look over the lazy and scruffy stubbled look)… It is easy to say it could have done this and said that but for what they have done as of now ..three cheers to Gillette and Bates, the agency behind this different campaign !!!!

Tail piece : I hear that Moods condoms is also joining the India bandwagon following Idea and Gillette.. Any guess what would they call their campaign?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Adfunda --- Adcept!

Adcept is the halfway house in the CREATIVE process of producing an advertisement. As the name suggests, it is half advertisement, half CONCEPT BOARD. (it is another fact that most of the so called finished ads are the same as well) … An adcept is to show the possible, but stripped down and miniature version of the proposed ad theme. This stage could be used for audience research to test its likeability and hence the “saleability” . It could also be used to get the Client to be in the loop and reassure him of the idea.

However a high acceptance of the Adcept does not mean that the finished ad also would be successful (as it depends on various other factors) but an Adcept is a good way of checking that the agency thinking is going in the right direction and there is no dramatic changes in mind in the clients side and agency side after having agreed the strategy and idea in the first place.

In short, Adcepts can bring territories to life, better than verbal concepts can.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

A man walks into the dentist's office and after the dentist examines him ,says, "that tooth has to come out. I'm going to give you a shot of Novocain and I'll be back in a few minutes."

The man grabs the dentist's arm, "no way. I hate needles I'm not having any shot!"

So the dentist says, "okay, we'll have to go with gas then."

The man replies, "absolutely not. It makes me sick for a couple of days. I'm not having gas."

So the dentist steps out and comes back with a glass of water, "here," he says. "Take this pill."

The man asks "What is it?"

The doc replies, "Viagra."

The man looks surprised, "will that kill the pain?" he asks.

"No," replies the dentist, "but it will give you something to hang on to while I pull your tooth!"

Ad agencies are like Dentists, most of the time.. Clients get something to hold on from them !!!!
Have fun guys... And come bak soon !!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

POLO - What is your HOLE story?

How important is a hole?

I know it is a question with a hell lot of meaning and ramification...... so lemme narrow down the scope of that horrifying question to the domain of Marketing…. HOW important is a hole in Marketing?

The answer would be a stare for those who do not know the Indian market scene and the 1000 odd crore mint category … the Mint with the HOLE lead the market for years with its HOLE positioning… millions of Indians were enamored by the HOLE POSITIONING that no one ever noticed that a w(HOLE) generation is getting into the mint habit and buying a mint because it had a HOLE… OOPS… would we have bought anything for the absence of it.. ? say a burger because it had a hole..? or say a bottle of juice because it was only half full,,? Polo did that and that was /is smart marketing.. the mint that sold for the absence of IT in it and keeping a hole in its place… Marketing world should at this juncture remember Freddy Birdy and Mudra (the first agency of POLO) for the genuis with which the simple HOLE was made into a working proposition !

ITC and Perfetti jumped into the plat form with all vigor and that is history now… category seriously. ITC's – Mint O with its positioning “all mint no HOLE” was a direct attack on the HOLE that polo sold till that date… not that polo lost its market sudden after but it soon made people think.. why the hell should I BUY a HOLE? Then came the Chlormint’s and the others who made it all fussy… Polo but could and would have remained the first in the customers mind – first in the ladder that the human mind is- provided they had kept their HOLE intact… the agency that made the wHOLE business of HOLE possible was chucked out to be replaced by LOWE who as every new agency will do mercilessly killed the HOLE in a flip of an eyelash …

Nestle is a huge marketer and they would know the tricks of the trade. When they and their then agency (LOWE that is) decided to fill the HOLE they would have had huge designs of other SHAPES in their minds but the ads which showed the virtues of whistling while eating Polo with the baseline "Polo ghao seethi bajao" did fail to reach the TG , the ones who loved the HOLE, the ones who thought that a HOLE is a HOLE is a HOLE….the new slogan and the new positioning did what all the ALL MINT NO HOLE’s couldn’t do to Polo… a lot of damage…How one at that point hoped that Nestle insisted on the basics being retained inspite of the agency change.(I am reminded of the VISA story when in the fag end of 2008, BBDO was dumped and TBWA was taken in as part of global realignment and consolidation and still the client told the new agency to retain and continue with its existing creative platform)

Then the HOLE came back (as did the MALE in Pulsar and the DEVIL in Onida ) the same game… the agency out and the old position in… the new ads again had the protagonists “searching for the hole”…and finally they got it… they could have searched at the agency that dumped the HOLE… they would have got a lots of them- HOLES … now anyways and in any case it seems the return of the HOLE was inevitable.. it has come back and back with a bang… the new "WHAT is your HOLE story? " ads if is any indication, it is going to rock…the premise is simple, extendable and hence has the chance of less wearout and more longevity !
( I am still to get the TVC and will upload it as and when I get it)

The category is so very uncomplex and even habitual and hence fun, larger than life and exaggeration works in abundance… brands can sway but around one strong pole , if they do not want to be caught unawares…. Examples galore but marketing is not hard science and no rules apply for everyone, everywhere… So let them make mistakes and learn from them to make more of mistakes.. and in the mean while let us have some mint, with the HOLE of course… !

Tail piece:- " A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

When George first noticed that his manhood was growing larger and staying up longer, he was delighted, as was his wife.

But after several weeks, it had grown to nearly twenty inches.

George became quite concerned.
He was having problems dressing,
and even walking. So he and his wife went to see a prominent urologist.

After an initial examination, the doctor explained to the couple that, though rare, George's condition could be fixed through corrective surgery.

'How long will George be on crutches?' the wife asked anxiously.


Why would he need crutches? responded the surprised doctor

'Well,' said the wife coldly, 'you ARE going to lengthen his legs AREN'T you?

Everytime you think that your agency is perpetually greedy think of this story folks...

Have fun this week end but come back... And thanks to SK Deepak of IIM K for sharing this joke with me... !

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coca Cola -Open happiness !

Coca cola and its open happiness theme strikes again this time in an ad where a fancy world of insects steer a lot of imagination and in a team work opens a coke bottle and the viewers imagination… the ad is simple, fanciful to the core and keeping people sticky with its tackiness that the concept has generated.. Need less to say that it is brilliant ideation, buts cannot resist from saying that the fairy tale like touch made me look for a bottle of coke, after a long time …

I don’t bother about the other aspects of the ad but am just bothered about how striking it is… the “Peter and the wolf” music added to the charm and when finally the can opens , I could see an entire class opening their mouth and making the “aah” sound….

Three cheers to the team at Wieden+Kennedy ,the agency behind the work and the production house Psyop….


Wieden+Kennedy team

Creative directors- Hal Curtis and Sheena Brady,
Art director -James Moslander and Lee Jenings,
Copywriter Marc- D’Avignon,
Senior agency producer- Matt Hunnicutt.

Psyop team

Creative directors- Todd Mueller and Kylie Matulick,
Director of photography-Stephen Blackman,
Executive producer- Neysa Horsburgh,
Live action producer- Michael Schlenker,
VFX Supervisor/CG lead artist- Andrew Romatz,
VFX supervisor/lead Flame artist -Thibault Debaveye,
2D supervisor -Lane Jolly,
Animation lead -John Velazquez,
Editor- Brett Nicoletti,
VFX producer -Tina Chiang

Tail piece:-

TEACHER: Ram, how do you spell ‘crocodile?’


TEACHER: No, that’s wrong

RAM: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

American tourister - survival of the toughest !

A lion met a tiger as they drank beside the pool.
Said the tiger, "Tell me why you're roaring like a fool?"
"That's not foolish" said the lion, with a twinkle in his eyes.
"They call me the king of beasts because I advertise."

A rabbit heard them talking and ran
to his home like a streak.
He thought he'd try the lion's plan,
but his roar was just a squeak.

A fox came to investigate and
had great lunch when he got there.
So, when you advertise, my friend,
be sure you've got the goods to deliver!"

Samsonite tourister amused me with this ad, not because it is the best of creatives I have seen, not also because it would be voted hands down as one piece of an ad that is brilliant but because it does what it is intended to do.. Communicate the virtue of the product to the right people… virtue –durability and reliability as a rugged product and hence usable in long and tedious journeys and the audience- Mass with some class (the price is not that affordable to the mass in total)…

The ad positions the brand American tourister as one great survivor with the super 'Survive Mumbai, Survive the World' … Any one who has ever traveled in a Mumbai local would have experienced the melee and have felt how tough it is to survive (not for Mumbaikars though, because for him this is a regular stuff -commuters playing cards, urchin’s singing, eunuch’s who hang around and hang on to you and hangers in the compartment, commuters shoving and pushing each other with no sense of remorse and the regulars who hang by the door as if it is their birth right….I agree that it most locals wouldn’t go in a Mumbai local train with that kind of a luggage but a tourist could …..

The company's high-end Samsonite range, which is priced in the range of Rs 5,000-25,000, is quite expensive for the middle-class, (which essentially drives the volumes) which instead depends on the fake products which sell cheaper . It is this gap that the company wanted to fill with the American Tourister line, which is priced in the range of Rs 1,000-5,000… I guess the Gap Of Thought is clear and there is a vaccum… the Ad does its job fairly well now we have to wait and watch how the product does in the actual market place…. Together with such decent communication ( decent because it has developed a different positioning , a fairly appreciable, long livable property/idea which is quite extendable to other cities and places as well), and a performing product ( hoping that it would)the goal of lashing brand salience and steadfastly establishing the brand as a maker of reliable luggage will not be impossible .

As of now its a good job folks !!!!


Client: American Tourister
Agency: Contract Advertising
Chief creative officer: Ravi Deshpande
Copywriter: Ravi Deshpande and Malobi Dasgupta
Art Director: Ravi Deshpande
Director:Jeff Balsmeyer
Production House:Far Productions (Jeet Surendranath)
Post Production: Prime Focus

Thursday, November 12, 2009

From me !!!

IBS is hosting an annual seminar on "Industry expectations from B schools and its graduates" and I am in the midst of that bedlam ... Hope to return to blogging from Monday next !!!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

On their 40th wedding anniversary and during the banquet celebrating it, Tom was asked to give his friends a brief account of the benefits of a marriage of such long duration.

"Tell us Tom, just what is it you have learned from all those wonderful years with your wife?"

Tom responds, "Well, I've learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, forbearance, meekness, self-restraint, forgiveness --and a great many other qualities you wouldn't have needed if you'd stayed single."

Agencies and clients would agree to this point I guess !!!

Happy week end folks !!! God bless ...!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Surf -- Daag Ache hain ???

Surf "Daag Ache Hai” is remembered (should be remembered rather) in the history of advertising to have broken a cliché. A boring stereotype where countless detergent commercials through years of unabashed creative barrenness showcased unhappy housewives toil tough with stain on clothes. And then would appear the detergent brand bringing happiness along with it by removing all the dirt in a flash! Voila.. so predictive so very formulaic and so very boring…

Surf with its Daag Ache Hain (stain is good) campaign changed it and for the better… I loved the ads from 2005 and have felt and shared wherever I talk and write, the path breaking success that Balki and his team at Lowe have got for themselves and for the age old Brand surf which has really stood all the marketing tests that times have posed on it....…

A brother and sister duo returning home from school dressed in their maroon and white uniforms. The girl is, 4 or 5 while the boy around 7. The girl accidentally falling into a puddle of rain water and gets soiled with stain. Her sob making her brother to take ‘revenge’ on the puddle. The big brother soaring in exact filmi style and starting to punch the BAD GUY…. And finally leaving the scene with a warning ‘’Phir mat karna!’’

I know for sure that anyone who have seen this ad would have loved it for its newness, its simplicity and its clutter breaking ability… then the idea went on….. in a striking campaign the country was told in length and breadth that actually Stains are Good…a good case of 360 degree communication…. Its all fine, were fine rather, till recently when a Surf Excel commercial featuring a teacher and her student and a dead dog, stared at us from the TV scenes, trying to be a worthy successor of its predecessors and trying to tow the same line that one need not stop living life to the fullest fearing dirt and grime on clothes; in short –”Daag Ache Hain“.

I feel that all the trying shows, I mean only the trying shows, trying to drag on the idea, the good idea dragged on to such a disastrous point that anyone who have seen the first ads would feel that this one is a mock ad done by some rival agency… one shudders to think that Lowe (who made the first ads) can ever think of such an Ill conceived ,depraved ad….It shows that a lot of trying is done to stand on par with the first ads but the connect is missing, even the insight is getting ridiculed in the process.. I am sure no teacher ( I am one and a dog lover at that) would want his/her student to come and dance/howl, hop and urinate like a dog to make him or her happy unless he/she is a pervert.. Miss Rossy is sad at her dog’s death but she isn’t sad that her innocent student is at her door doing the Doggy things..

Come one guys !!! Take a walk and get back but next time give us some thing worth the name… and a prayer from my side( to Lowe and HUL)…’’Phir mat karna!’’ ........Puhleesss.. !!!!!!!!

Tail piece: - "Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next". ~Franklin P. Jones

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Fun Gun!!!

Once there was a millionaire, who collected live alligators. He kept them in the pool in back of his mansion. The millionaire also had a beautiful daughter who was single. One day he decides to throw a huge party, and during the party he announces,

"My dear guests . . . I have a proposition to every man here. I will give one million dollars or my daughter to the man who can swim across this pool full of alligators and emerge alive!"

As soon as he finished his last word, there was the sound of a large splash!! There was one guy in the pool swimming with all he could and screaming out of fear. The crowd cheered him on as he kept stroking as though he was running for his life. Finally, he made it to the other side with only a torn shirt and some minor injuries. The millionaire was impressed.

He said, "My boy that was incredible! Fantastic! I didn't think it could be done! Well I must keep my end of the bargain. Do you want my daughter or the one million dollars?"

The guy says, "Listen, I don't want your money, nor do I want your daughter! I want the person who pushed me in that water!"

For years ,trust me I searched for the guy who first told me that advertising is a great profession... ! just Kidding people... Have fun this week end but be safe ,,,,,,

Cheers !

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adspeak- Above/Below the line ..!!!

A term that originated (probably) in the book keeping departments of advertising agencies and sued TO DESCRIBE advertising aimed at the genral public that is hard to escape, especially TV and Radio commercials ,print ads and postes and out door even. LINE is a term that initially used to distingush between advertising mass media that pay COMMISSION to agencies( above the Line) and others who do not fall under the line...

The definitions for sure owe a lot to the historical development of advertising agencies and how they charged for their services... (today the scene has changes in many areas, drastically but the ghost of the past remains). In a nutshell, 'above-the-line' is any work done involving media where a commission is taken by an advertising agency, and 'below-the-line' is work done for a client where a standard charge(fees) replaces commission.

An advertising agency’s clients did not pay directly for its services;( the agency made its money as sales agent for the media). Hope the past tense is noted....Press, TV, outdoor, radio and cinema were above the line; direct mail, PR, sales promotions of various sorts, events and sponsorships were generally below.

Originally, advertising agencies would offer all these services and could subsidise the below-the-line activities with the commissions from the others. Over time, below-the-line activities became more specialized and separate agencies grew up to deal with them,( Thanks to the money makers who changed the communications industry horizons) and as advertisers negotiated to have rebates on commissions or to switch to fee payment, the economics of the old-style full service became unsustainable.

Two factors have largely contributed to the rise of the BTL on par with ATL...

one, With increasing consumer fragmentation and rising pressure on marketing communication to create brands and sustain branding pressures, BTL activities started substituting ATL activities and thus, there has been a steady growth in BTL expenditure.

two, a major impact of the economic slowdown was on marketing and advertising spends which started looking for accountability for every rupee spend and ROI in the short term became important and coupled with the consumption expenditure which fell BTL had to grow....

Today a wide range of communications agencies offer specialized services, so that a brand’s communications are normally fragmented among a number of different suppliers(I contract, ray and Keshavan, Mudra Max, Ogilvy Action, 141 Sercon, JWT Encompass, and RMG Connect are just a few examples).....

The expressions above and below the line linger on, but there is now much talk about the importance of “integrated marketing”, or “through the line” which is about how best to bring back together the fragmented pattern of activities in the better interests of the client. The Incredible India campaign,Commonwealth Youth Games 2008, Pepsi Blue Billion campaign,Pepsodent Bhoot Police campaign, Grand Kerala shopping campaign etc are amongst a few which have used these integrated route and was seen "on the line" .

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

A man really loved a woman, but he was just too shy to propose to her. Now he was up in his years and neither of them had ever been married. Of course, they dated about once a week for the past six years, but he was so timid he just never got around to suggesting marriage much less living together.But one day, he became determined to ask her the question. So he calls her on the phone,


"Yes, this is June."

"Will you marry me?"

"Of course I will! But who's this?"

Dont you think most of our agencies for whatever reasons are ready to be married so .. with any one?

Have fun guys... its a week end again !!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Expect the unexpected- Part I (the best of Adformula series)

If you can't write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don't have a clear idea. ~David Belasco

The client sold chocolates and candies...and was good in that...We ( My second agency which took me to Europe) handled the creatives and the going was smooth..they werent a trouble making client ..No IKE 's.. no shocking surprises... no tantrums.. a dream client....

They came up with a new type of candy which would cause a "revolution" as per their brand manager ..It was as normal as any other candy form out side and when one starts eating but as you go in.. voilaaaaaaaaa it turns sour...funny...shocking.. and then slowly you start liking it...that unconventional taste of this new candy starts slowly tickling you, and by the time you finish it you fall in love with it......oooppppssss..... you even feel that all those sweet candies which you had been having all these years were bland and insipid.The agency went celebrating...the product as described by the client ( for every crow and for even a crow, its baby would be the most charming, the most attractive thing in the world).. and before we guys could troop to the nearest bar for the success that was going to be ours ( the ad guys are bad guys---we celebrate the success that may come, will come , most likely come, shall come ,is coming, come, ohhhhh it didnt come...anything is a reason to celebrate..), the client gave the One liner that was what was going to be the brief....

'Expect the unexpected'...It said simply...

The brains cluttered together, confused, confessed and confined, astray and astute, wild and vivid, varied and voracious, vocal and vociferous....everyone thought thought and thought..but nothing evolved except crap and holy crap......Finally the one evolved, did so from a junior client service guy who had just joined, who had an Egyptian father and a Danish mother ( he looked like Menses 2 the Pharoah of Egypt..and we called him MUMMY...) it was some story which some one somewhere had told him which had this climax.....

It was simply stunning....

To be continued...

As originally published on July 31, 2006 and republished under best of Adformula series...!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SBI- Every Indian's Banker !!!

What will happen if banks do not advertise?

Nothing ! would be the answer for most of us but when in the midst of competition, most of them are forced to full scale venture into Marketing Communication, albeit half heartedly. SBI ads in the past (Surprisingly SBI for example) was quite a misnomer for this notion and for a PSU (a public sector unit) bank it was indeed surprising for the people to see SBI rolling out ads which for the first time smelt class and appeal ….

That ,but was the spring .. a lot of trees bloomed,… it was fragrance all over…banks across the country went for an image revamp … logos got redesigned, now colors , new brand elements, new communication, celebrity endorsers and a lot of soft music… a whole new banking scene so much so that an NRI who came home after a gap of three years simply refused to step in to an Union bank of India branch seeing its new aura, little knowing that inside its all the same- the same old people, processes and procedures that reeked incapacity and incompetence and over everything a disgusting apathy to the customer( kasht se Mar..)…

But the Ads were good .. but then came the autumn season… recession and its vampire effect spilled blood… the main stream private banks which gave the public sector banks a run for their money ( and eventually forced them to look, talk and smell good in branding and communication) started falling like palaces made of cards.. branches closed down .. The 8 to 8 customer friendliness and plastic smiles vanished and notable enough, advertising virtually stopped… none of the new and improved banks thought of continuing communication with the market place during tough times…

SBI but is and was an exception… they went on in what any neutral observer could easily see as a huge communication vacuum and probably was the only big bank to be keeping talking to the people during the din and dust of a recession battle… The emptiness which others left and SBI still talked in was the best opportunity in the recent times but the ads that came out was more or less an also ran or at the max one can call it as a good idea married to poor execution( every Indian’s banker!)… Initially when the concept was fresh, it was attention-grabbing but then the drag and too much of overdoing the dish spoiled it..... Then they took the same idea from the ordinary Indian ( teacher, police man, boat driver ,street vendor and the like ) to great men like Tagore and Jagadish Chandra Bose and keeping on saying Every Indian’s Banker…

I am not saying that the ad’s are a total disillusionment but it could have been better… Agreed that Interpub (the ad agency behind this creative) is no O&M (who left SBI for Bank of India after having got accolades for its 'Surprisingly SBI' campaign) .. but Interpub in the past have shown better creatives for SBI- the 'Pure Banking-Nothing else' campaign for instance, which said ‘We could make all our offices look really plush. Instead we choose to establish 9,500 branches to serve you’. If that was a bench mark this one is making me a bit unconvinced- day after day !

Every Indian's Banker... !

My primary question is IS IT? because it is not my bank and so is my friends , colleagues, acquaintances and students.. I talked to about 25 people in a sample survey just to avoid being biased against India’s biggest bank, and no one had an SBI account…

Surprisingly? Not really !!!

My second question is even if it is SO WHAT? Should a bank of the stature and size of SBI resort to such awareness type of ads,,,? Or is it smelling of a reminder appeal that comes when brands fall into a decline stage in their life cycle?

My third question is about the kind of money that is being spend to reach across the length and breadth of India with this ad and that too continuously and that too when we are hearing cost cutting and optimization of spends….I guess of all the spenders, a bank should know the value of money than anyone else..

SBI and Interpub should rethink of "what it wants to say" before the ads become every Indian's worry !!

Tell us a story, but something new... please !

Tail piece :- 'One of life's disappointments is discovering that the man who writes the bank's ads is not the one who makes the loans.'

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Diwali !!!

Adformula wishes everyone a happy Diwali!
May sense prevail from this festival of lights .....

Quaker oats-Good morning to u'r heart !!!

My heart is healthy and seems to be of similar age to my age, certifies Quaker oats online heart test that I took just now in their portal…(Quaker Oats in association with The Times of India and Apollo Hospitals announced the launch of ‘Mission to Make India Heart Healthy’…….Quaker Oats has also developed a portal, which helps assess risks associated with the heart and provides a range of solutions and information on how to stay Heart Healthy. )

Frankly for me this category was quite out of my radar as it was underdeveloped and /or elitist if I may say so. (I am not forgetting Kellogg’s who for years have been now fighting the Idli’s ,Sambar’s and Parathas creating, investing and making the category look like one category worth its name…I have also in mind the Mohun’s ,Murginn’s and the good old Bagrry’s who is a kind of a first mover but it required the marketing muscle and might of Kellogg’s to make the category)

Quaker was a late entrant into the oats segment( in spite of its international hi repute) into the not so clear market place as there are no official figures on the size of the market. But, industry players say it’s the fastest growing segment of the breakfast cereals category with growth in “high double digits.” Oats constitute 30 per cent of the breakfast cereals in volumes and 18 per cent in value terms of the category while the top four brands constitute 90 per cent of the oats market….branded convenience breakfast cereals market ( Markets segmenting and resegmenting happens over night ) is growing at a healthy 23% but even today almost 80% of the branded breakfast cereal market is been dominated by cornflakes…
Quaker oats but was not to be seen glaring us from TV screen and newspaper sheets…..Now suddenly its there everywhere in what I thought was a best clutter breaker among the clutter of multiple media messages on health and healthy foods/snacks/drinks/eatables and the like ….Linking it with your heart and that too passively…. It has broken the clutter in two ways than one…

One of course by suddenly owning the health positioning by being its most responsible player, (if not the only responsible player)

And two by being a late mover its role in developing and nourishing the category was less, but it has redefined it, it has also made sure that it takes steps so that it virtually IS the category in the process…..

Though the traditional Indian breakfast is still predominant, the market is changing – especially in the metros and many other cities where there is high literacy and a young working population –at least that is what this guys (the new breakfast types) seems to believe… their muscle and deep pockets but haven’t made much of changes and their varying positioning across the years ( From health, nutrition, anytime nutrition and what not,,,) haven’t cut much ice into the heavy eaters that Indians are ( remember the Indian saying "have break fast like a King, lunch like a Lord and supper like a beggar") and above all the huge price tags that Kellogg’s and the like came with was an inhibition for the average Indian.. Good that Kellogg’s is now an anytime snack, particularly and evening snack for tired kids (games marketers play!)….And now extremely good that Quaker has moved this way ….It is for sure -New and fresh!!!!

With India said as the world’s coronary ailment and diabetic capital, oats was a category anticipated to trace speedy growth rates as more consumers get increasingly health-conscious. Quaker oats saw it and threw the batten before others. The more I spend time in the website, the more I read ads like the one above and the more I see it on TV I can but only appreciate the wizards behind this striking move. Smart case of a Marketing long sight and even smarter case of Marketing Communication that is serious and yet clutter breaking, simple and yet competitive, path breaking and redefining a whole new category!!!

NB : The above article is compiled with information and statistics from various sources ……The author would appreciate errors and mistakes if pointed out and would be happy to stand corrected .

Tail piece:-
A judge was interviewing a woman regarding her pending divorce, and asked, "What are the grounds for your divorce?"
She replied, "About four acres and a nice little home in the middle of the property with a stream running by."

"No," he said, "I mean what is the foundation of this case?"

"It is made of concrete, brick and mortar," she responded.

"I mean," he continued, "What are your relations like?"

"I have an aunt and uncle living here in town, and so do my husband's parents."

He said, "Do you have a real grudge?"

"No," she replied, "We have a two-cars and have never really needed one."

"Please," he tried again, "Is there any infidelity in your marriage?"

"Yes, both my son and daughter have stereo sets. We don't necessarily like the music, but the answer to your questions is yes."

"Ma'am, does your husband ever beat you up?"

"Yes," she responded, "about twice a week he gets up earlier than I do."

Finally, in frustration, the judge asked, "Lady, why do you want a divorce?"
"Oh, I don't want a divorce," she replied. "I've never wanted a divorce. My husband does. He said he can't communicate with me."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CelebTrack- the game of endorser ranking!!!

Percept talent management and Hansa research has done it again – their second leg of the survey tracking India's most powerful celebrities which they call as Celeb Track….

CelebTrack first phase in April 2009, happened with inputs from 6,000 people, rated celebrities on attributes like media presence,physique, popularity, power of persuasion and exposure had put Amitabh Bachan as the most powerful celebrity in India scoring high in most of the attributes that was studied…

Now Celeb Track second phase has come out with the results and MS Dhoni has taken over others as the most liked celebrity in India ,thanks partly due to the survey which happened soon after IPL and partly due to the lackluster show by his other team mates and the over exposure of celebs like SRK ….Dhoni has pushed Shah Rukh Khan to the second place and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to the third. Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar have moved down many places compared to the last round of survey….

Ahem !

Well ….for the uninitiated, the research measured more than 400 celebrities across the country to generate a celebrity power score (CPS) by ranking them on the above said parameters .

The main facets of the latest study goes like this …

“Among the male actors, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan feature in that order in the power list. Among the female actors, it is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Hema Malini and Kareena Kapoor. Among cricketers, the list includes MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

According to the wave 2 (phase 2)of the study, Salman Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Sania Mirza top their respective genres as the most recognised stars. In terms of likeability, Amitabh Bachchan replaces Salman Khan. The latter scores low on persuasion, exposure and image parameters. In terms of popularity, cricketers score among the classes while actors score higher among the masses.

The top five most persuasive stars are Amitabh Bachchan among male actors, Yuvraj Singh among cricketers, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan among female actors and Sania Mirza among other sports personalities. Higher classes and men get more influenced by the top ten stars, while the masses get more influenced by women, the study suggests.

While Sachin Tendulkar falls below Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh in terms of power of persuasion, he still holds on for products needing maturity and stature, such as financial products.

The respondents did not wish to read more about Rakhi Sawant, Mallika Sherawat and Sreesanth, while they wished to read more about celebrities such as Aishwarya Rai, Akshay Kumar and Sachin Tendulkar”

I wouldn’t agree with the rakhi thing here ( lol) but for sure sree santh I know more and enough.. Please stop glorifying the lil lad media folks!!!!..

Now brands can make informed and learned decisions, as per the percept team who is behind this work, and no longer the big brands who bet huge money on stars have to rely on gut feeling and anecdotal learning. Also, celebrities can yardstick themselves in comparison with their viewers and for that reason price their participation with brands.

Males and the ones of the higher SEC’s seems to be liking the cricketers more than the cinema stars but then cricket in India seems to be revolving around Dhoni, Tendulkar and Yuvaraj . And for me one shocker is the study fact which says that most people have heard most of the cricketers names but wouldn’t connect their faces with names.. if that is the case, what would happen to an Abhinav Bindra?

I mean people would have for sure heard the name but if they don’t know that he is HE when they se him on screen, will the brands that he endorse benefit?

It's all a game.. I mean the whole game of a celebrity choice…. Marketers, their agencies (like Percept) often ignore the key factors in the choice of the celebrity whom they select with fanfare and with all the logic of "his persona matching with our brands" et al….

Is the audience traits vis-à-vis persuasibility of the endorser taken care off?

Is there a study on the Monopoly of Communication source and its influence, Messages that is conveyed and its compatibility with the the belief /opinions/values of the receiver and the extent to which the Source is believed to have, expertise status/objectivity in the area of endorsement done?

Remember Rahul Dravid was a failure when he came for Bank of Baroda, so was Sania Mirza when she came for HP.. Dhoni and Mysore sandal is a classic case…

And in any case the risk of the celebrity becoming a scoundrel overnight threatens brands,,, not that it happens often but when it happens as percept would know it would be Horrible Mess…. Hansie Cronje was the key celebrity endorsers for Siyaram's J.Hampstead brand of clothing when he got caught in the max fixing scandal…..The campaign featuring Cronje had been running on the print, electronic and outdoor media and Siyaram and its advertising agency, Percept, watched in consternation and utter sadness as their celebrity endorser turned into an internationally detested sportsman during the night. Now that is quite an extreme case and let God forbid.. But the point is .. is it a safe bet to hang a brands future (entirely)to another brand whose brand value is quite volatile?

Having said that let me also add (quickly) that some study and some statistics is good... as the good old saying goes ,'something is better than nothing'!!!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

A 7 year old kid walking home from the park sees some teens at the basketball course, he hears one say, "aww you f**kin id*ot!".

When he gets home he asks his mom, "Mom, what does f**kin mean?"

Mom says, "Well honey, f**king means roasting".

So the kid goes about his business until dinner time. The doorbell rings, and since mom and dad are too busy with the chicken, he answers the door.

"Grandma!! Grandpa!!" says the kid.

Grandma asks, "Oh how are you deary, where's mommy and daddy?"

The little boy responds, "Mom and dad are in the kitchen f**kin the turkey!!!"

Now have fun people..Until we meet again !!!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ad Funda --- Account review

Account review is by definition ,the process undertaken by an organisation to review the quality of service that it is getting from its ADVERTISING AGENCY ,with a view to determine whether it can get better or more profesisonal service from that agency OR A NEW ONE .The phrase often in practise disguises an ardous, tedious and tiresome (and costly too) process that is emotionally disturbing and draining , the end of which a winning agency is selected...

There is no standard set of rules and do's and dont's as to how to conduct an account review. Accounts( clients) generally compile a list of outside agencies ( the ones with which they are not already doing business) and scan their work to know their expertise, experience and reputation. They can also include other agencies that are handling their other brands( one client like LEVER has many brands and each brand is dealt with a different agency in a system called 'Roster') and ask them to pitch for the brand whose advertising is in review. the incumbent agency is required to fight against all these new ones...Questionnaires are sent out, a lot of discussions with peers of the marketing world happens and some 4-5 agencies get shortlisted for the final game called as 'pitching'. The end of which in theory clears the air, but in practise again more vagueness remains...

Dissatisfaction with a client
or turnover in the chief-marketers/brand manager's post at the clients side may cause a review but in some cases it happens as a routine also.. yet other cases as I have seen the Marketing team would be glad at its agency but the others will have a problem that will lead to a review !... In the first scenario, the decision to participate in the review is one heck of a pain for the incumbent agency because the chances according to some studies, to hold back the account is just 10%...

As some one said..
"if you have a shitty relationship, and the business goes up for review, it’s going to be difficult to suddenly become something great for them from that starting point.....If the relationship is good, then, of course, you defend it with everything you’ve got.”

And shitty it will be unless the relation has been total, permanent, and equal.....

The famous case of Crispin ,Porter & Bogusky getting back with 'thanks but no thanks' when Volkswagen invited its agency of four years to repitch its $200-million-plus ad account last month, raised many an eyebrow........ the agency logic :-“As a rule, we do not participate in reviews for our current accounts, and this will not be an exception.” The outsider may be a little perplexed at this refusal to DEFEND its creativity but for the agency it is a question of pride ,made to look like practicality. The raised eyebrows because, declining to defend when the consequence is waving goodbye to a fat and prestigious ad budget in a poor economic environment is simply and audacious statement that an agency makes... critics apart, when the pitch and review is unjustified from the agency point of view, then why the farce of a pitch and presentation again....?

And when the fact is that nine out of 10 times, defending is a waste of time and money the incumbent agency either says a 'thanks but let me go', or participates 'for the heck of it'... If the agency has failed to demonstrate its value in a way the client appreciates during their normal relations,then when a review happens, you’re staring from a much deeper hole than the bright shiny new objects of desire that a pitch offers....

Some times ( or is it too often ?) the clients go over board to review and review ,again and again in vain attempts to shift the blame and balls for its own failures or simply to proove 'who is the boss'..... the recent case of 'Reckitt Benckiser forcing Euro RSCG (my former agency), its incumbent global agency, to defend a chunk (the Nurofen account) of its £800 million advertising business twice in last four months.....!!!

As they say..."What counts in making a happy relation is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."


For a related article click here .......................

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mont Blanc-The new !

What does a brand stand to get when they associate with icons?

Instant fame and image transition?

Easy recognition and differentiation, particularly in cluttered categories?

Aura diffusion from the icon to the brand that gets associated?

And what if the answer to the question is "all of the above "?

Can they go ahead… ?....theoretically it seems YES is the answer but in practice though a yes may not suffice, always,,,….
Mont blanc limited-edition commemorative fountain pen in honor of Mohandas Gandhi, is the brand in question (and for the uninitiated,) German luxury pen maker Mont blanc launched the $24,763(12 Lakhs in Indian rupees) pen just in time for the 140th anniversary of the birth of the Mahatma, the man who shunned foreign-made products, and stood for simple living and austerity … Just 241 commemorative fountain pens will be sold — a nod to the number of miles Gandhi walked in his famous 1930 "salt march," a mass protest against salt taxes levied by the British that dealt an early blow to their control over the subcontinent.

The pens are handmade, adorned with Gandhi's signature and a saffron-colored opal. Made in18 K gold, rhodium-plated nibs display an intricate hand-engraved depiction of the 60-year old Gandhi (quite a work one must admit…) They come with an 26-foot golden thread that can be wound around the pen to invoke the spindle Gandhi used to weave plain cotton cloth each day.(What an Idea sirji!!) The pens also come with a commemorative booklet of inspiring Gandhi quotes. And of course to ward off allegation of sumptuousness and opulence, the company launched a cheaper line of 3,000 roller ball and fountain pens which retails for 167,000( $3,205 ) to147,000 ($3,642).

Even that is stratospherically so out of contact for the vast majority of Indians, many of whom don’t know how to write, leave alone a Mont blanc… Over 450 million Indians struggle by on less than $1.25 a day…. Remember India is 134 th in Human development index in a recent world wide ranking…Gandhi successors and their Trusts have been taken care of in terms of big donations and hence they don’t find any fault in the product idea… but needless to say, debates, discussions, controversy and litigation is already on air…

Ok ! Now the ethics in the product idea, design and the positioning apart, does this match really makes any sense…?

Purely from Marketing and Marketing Communication angle isn’t it an imperfect alliance?

For me it looks like a bad marriage as it don’t gel… Gandhi and opulence is as stupid a combination as Elizabeth Taylor and parsimony … !!! Why it is that, two distinct brands with two different and diametrically opposite brand values have to be super imposed? Gandhi is a powerful icon, a brand that has its value that stems from the basic DNA of the brand –austerity and self rule…. Mont blanc Gandhi edition is just a misnomer, king of all the mismatches,,,,,….

No I am no Gandhian who opposes the use of Gandhi in Advertising,, why should I when Tushar Gandhi thinks it is ok? Why should I when I have seen and felt good with such ads like the one that you can see here...

I am just against the mismatch but who cares..?

Now I am waiting , for Johnie Walker( keep walking!!!) to come up with Gandhi special edition of their stuff.. after all he walked all the way to Dandi for the salt march…

Tail piece :-

At a local coffee bar, a young woman was expounding on her idea of the perfect mate to some of her friends."The man I marry must be a shining light amongst company. He must be musical. Tell jokes. Sing. And stay home at night!"

An old granny overheard and spoke up, "Honey, if that's all you want, get a TV!"

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

Two guys are moving about in a supermarket when their carts collide.

One says to the other, "I'm sorry - I was looking for my wife."

"What a coincidence, so am I, and I'm getting a little desperate."

"Well, maybe I can help you. What does your wife look like?"

"She's tall, with long hair, long legs, firm boobs and a tight ass.What's your wife look like?"

"Never mind, let's look for yours!"

Reminds me of agencies who run behind what others have ,no matter how old and ugly is the one in hand, it is better than two in the bush !!!

Have a funfilled week end folks !!!

Friday, October 02, 2009

My Pepsi... My way !!!

Dhoni, Sehwag, Uthappa, Robin Sharma and another cricketer together doing what they are the best in no.... not playing cricket but acting in an ad film… Dhoni after being voted as the richest celebrity from endorsements has become a better actor, no matter what and how his talent in the cricket field goes… The setting is rural Kerala and the young (?) Icons (?) of Indian cricket plays cricket with a group of local kiddos on top of a kettuvallam ( a boat which is big and has large flat surface)…. The plot is simple.. the kiddos get to see the holidaying Indian cricketers and challenge them to play a game of cricket on the boat ,much to the arrogance of they masters of cricket , but much to their disappointment later as the kids win by getting all the Pepsi in a cheap but smart trick !!!!

Ahem !!! From the Pepsi 'Youngistan campaign that featured Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor( and also and ageing SRK as Deepika’s Brother ) in an attempt to create a nation called Youngistan on the lines of the classic Marlboro country. Marlboro made it for sure while the Youngistan is still a doubt… Remember that Sachin Tendulkar was dropped by Pepsi as its brand ambassador after fifteen years. On the reason that “Sachin does not fit into our brand value and our Youngistaan campaign anymore.”….The younger the better, and there came in the Kapoor boy with his sexy looks, shape age and what not… the Saavariya dance made him a national icon (?) and yet the youngistan campaign wouldn’t take off from that butt show…

It was but (not butt) fun, not the Ranbir, SRK, deepika show but the spoofs, thanks to the Pepsi/JWT idea bankruptcy India had a laugh courtesy Sprite… see it here

Well getting back to this new piece…which is called as My Pepsi My way which I assume is a passing out of the youngistan more expensive ( all the stars, their trip to Kerala, stay in 5 star resorts, shooting in a lake, the boats, the security the blabla, the crowd.. ) unimaginable and one should say seeing all the efforts and the brouhaha this one is not better than the first one… J ust W asting T ime is a passion for certain agencies and with clients who are never cash stripped, why not… eat drink and enjoy.... tomorrow you may die.. !

The team who made it :-

Agency: JWT

Creative team:

Team JWT - Soumitra Karnik Executive Creative Director;Amit Wadhwa, Client Services Director

Production House- Corcoise Films

Director - Prasoon Pandey

Producer - Cyrus Pagdiwallah

Just to copy an old slogan of Pepsi with a slight variation….

This ad is nothing .. Nothing overwhelming about it …. Just another ship that will pass, in the night silent and unnoticed….

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Amul- being topical !!!

Amul undoubtedly gets the first in being topical, always !!!
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