Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2009

Know what happened last Wednesday?

Did you know that in Spain, strict privacy laws prohibit you from taking the President's daughters' pictures and publishing them, in print or online? Did you also know that last Wednesday, the Obamas hosted a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, during which they stood for 130 photographs with visiting foreign dignitaries in town for the UN meeting, and it included a photo with the Spanish president's family, that had his daughters allegedly dressed as Goths (in baggy black dresses and chunky boots)?

If you didn't and want to know more about what happened, read the Telegraph's report on the incident and its aftermath here.

OK, so what's the point? Read on.

The typical consumer's reaction to claims (conveyed through an Ad) by a brand? 'Oh, so you're the best thing that could happen to me? Tell me something I don't know'.

That's where brands miserably fail. Because they can't articulate what the consumer doesn't kno…

Soon, Fake 's in, Real 's out

What's incredible about being with Jaden is the experience of everything that's real. Not a hint of the 'made up'. His laugh, the sparkle in his eyes, the way he beams in pleasure when complimented, is all too real. Even when he expresses anger, screams in frustration, or cries when hurt, is brilliantly real.

As he grows, I guess we and the world will get to him. He will know how to fake and when. Its almost a must for survival. What a pity. I hope, I'd have the guts to exhort him to live real.

The fake 's everywhere. When I walk up the gate of the airline to fly, I am greeted. I appreciate that. But most times, the fake enthusiasm shown at seeing me and the likes of me (read fliers) is apparent. At least to me. Oh, I've had genuine greets. Though rare, they warm you up.

Service brands that want to make it big with customers must get this 'warmth' right. And the only way they can do it, is by putting their people before their customers. It may sound ri…

Reasoning by Analogy, Obama-Tortoise story

NY Times Op-Ed columnist, Charles M. Blow thinks Obama's the tortoise who's gonna outsmart us all, with his socialist healthcare plan. Pray, why does he feel so?

Because it seems, 'According to Gallup poll results released on Wednesday, the president’s approval rating has stopped falling and has leveled out in the low-50 percents, about the same as Ronald Reagan’s and Bill Clinton’s at this point in their presidencies (both two-termers, lest we forget).'

What's really happening? Rasmussen reports today, 'Just 41% of voters nationwide now favor the health care reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s down two points from a week ago and the lowest level of support yet measured.'

About Charles' 'Obama's Tortoise Tactics' piece, its what's termed 'Reasoning by Analogy', a cognitive bias

Weak glues a must at discount sales

I was back at the Landmark book sale. Bought a lot of books, again. One thing that's a constant at these discount sales is the big square labels stuck on all book covers, screaming what the original price, new price and saving is. Making these labels big and bold 's a good idea. It screams the bargain the consumer's getting, big time.

But what's bothersome is the fact that these labels don't come off easily. In fact pull 'em off, and you take the book jacket along. I don't know how many customers like to have these labels on, when they sport the books on their home shelves.

Bet not many. How many times would one want to tell the world they got something on sale?

To the Landmark people, I recommend a weak glue. Good enough for the label to stay on the cover while at the shop table, and weak enough to peel off, when the buyer wants to ease it off the cover.

Nostalgia is marketable

After quite some time we had one of the fluorescent lights at home, fuse. Getting to a store and looking at shelves with bulbs, I was prompted to try an incandescent light bulb, priced at Rs. 13 over the fluorescent one priced at over a hundred and fifty bucks. I know fluorescent bulbs consume less energy, emit white light, are less warmer, and remain lit for a far longer time than incandescent ones. Yet, I buy the incandescent bulb.

Screwing it into the socket and turning it on brings back memories. Of a childhood spent under these lights. I can almost live that cozy feeling, of time past. Something warms up inside. I guess that's what's called nostalgia. A feeling that's more relevant to ones advanced in years. I notice brands can evoke the past. This morning listening to Crystal Gayle sing at a show (drastically different from the kind we have now) evoked similar memories. Note, I grew up listening to her. Even the hosts of the show at which she sang, were so polite and …

Silence that idiot box!

'TV isn’t called the idiot box for nothing. Even at its best it replaces engaged and active thought with passive and sedentary spectating, while at its worst it destroys children’s innocence, inuring them to violence, mockery, and crude sexualization. Television is by definition a visual medium; it appeals not to the brain but to the eye. You don’t have to study hypnosis to understand how easily the eye can be exploited to undermine alertness, focus, and good judgment. Just look at the dazed and vacant expression on the face of a youngster watching TV. Most parents would be calling 911 if their child drank something that caused such a reaction. Why doesn’t the zoned-out oblivion induced by TV cause parents to panic? Is it because they’re hooked on it too?'
- Jeff Jacoby,

When did that happen?

'It is difficult to exaggerate how much has changed in terms of consumers' relationship with brands in the last few years. Everything is different now: from how brands are viewed, to the mechanisms through which we find out about them. When did the change really start? Let us ponder.

Was it the day in 1993 when Marlboro dropped its prices by 40 percent to compete with the cut-price cigarettes that were eating away at its market share, thus sending investors into a panic that lopped nearly $50 billion off the value of twenty-five top brand makers?

Was it when a nascent World Wide Web became a tool for instant swapping of info, enabling each of us to instantly see the truth about all available choices of product?

...When the TV market fragmented into hundreds of smaller channels, each wanting a piece of the viewer's time?

...When technologies like TiVo made it possible for viewers to avoid watching commercials altogether?

...When Enron and others collapsed in a stinking mass of d…

The Roach emotion

'One of our first visits was to a sixtyish woman named Lillie, who lived in a mobile home park near Tampa, Florida. She welcomed us in and we perched ourselves on folding chairs while Lillie dropped into a La-Z-Boy recliner. I asked Lillie to tell us a little bit about herself and she launched into the story of her childhood in Mississippi, her first marriage, the birth of her two kids, her hardworking life, her divorce and remarriage.Just as Lillie was telling us about the sudden death of her second husband, an enormous cockroach emerged from the kitchenette and ambled into the living room. My client and I noticed it exactly at the same moment. We looked at each other, wondering whether we should mention it or pretend we hadn't noticed.But Lillie spotted the cockroach too. "Damn!" she growled. She leapt out of her La-Z-Boy, tore open a kitchen cabinet, and pulled out a can of my client's very own brand of bug spray. She closed in for the attack, bent over, aimed…

What's rotten in the Kirana?

The last two emergency grocery purchases we made, saw us at what is called the Kirana store, in India. These purchases were made at two different Kirana stores. What was common about our purchases was the fact that, on returning home and inspecting the wares, we found a few not so fresh, close to rotten, vegetables that had been slipped in with the rest. This happened because we didn't pick the vegetables ourselves. And that's because these stores don't have enough of space for you to get in and pick your own stuff.

Now the romanticised Kirana stores around India have been heralded as the last bastion that's standing tall against the might of organised retail formats. And the reason given for their survival is the personal relationship that the store owners have with their customers, their extending credit and the delivery of stuff home.

Tell you what, that's a whole lot of hogwash. Kirana stores survive for one reason, and one reason only. Their convenience in terms…

Why I drive a Santro

'From what I have learnt in life, including the brief spell in college, true elite are not obnoxious and certainly don’t make a virtue of elitism. Good breeding also means not making others feel inferior.'

Saba's moralising misses out on a point that's fair extension to what she's stated. My point.

'Good breeding should also mean not feeling inferior, when it isn't intended, and even when it is. Because your self worth isn't dictated by tweets, but by your own unbiased assessment of you'.

Tell you what, Saba's petty moralising is fertile ground for marketers. Most people live with a depleted sense of self-worth. Its either because they push themselves into that state or some one else does it to them. Perceived social class differences provoke comparisons. Upward class comparisons result in an assessment of lower self worth. For the consumer, this is self assessment. Its also possible that your neighbour waves her latest brand of jewellery to your f…

Reason & Wisdom

'That animal which we call human, endowed with foresight and quick intelligence, complex, keen, possessing memory, full of reason and prudence, has been given a certain distinguished status by the supreme god who created him; for he is the only one among so many different kinds and varieties of living beings who has a share in reason and thought, while all the rest are deprived of it. But what is more divine, I will not say in the human being only, but in all heaven and earth, than reason? And reason, when it is full grown and perfected, is rightly called wisdom. Therefore, since there is nothing better than reason, and since it exists both in human beings and gods, the first common possession of humans and gods is reason. But those who have reason in common must also have right reason in common. And since right reason is Law, we must believe that humans have Law also in common with the gods. Further, those who share Law must also share Justice; and those who share these are to be…

Liberty, In God We Trust!

The United States of America is the gutsiest nation in the world. No other nation's done more for freedom around the world, at the cost of sacrificing its own citizens. Both Afghanistan and Iraq have proved costly. Yet America strives on. Contrast this with Italian troops in Afghanistan. Loss of its soldiers has seen Italian sentiment turn hostile. Now, in no way am I saying that any loss of life is to be condoned. But freedom calls for sacrifices and America has given much to the cause of freedom around the world.

Why I mention America and its commitment to freedom is because its that very same character that transgresses into their world of consumption. The United States of America is one of the only countries that believes in liberty even in the world of business. Most Americans (read Libertarians and Conservatives) don't like government interference in business. In fact Americans don't look to the government for their own personal prosperity. They believe in themselves …

The ugly truth about 'The Ugly Truth'

To take the movie story to conclusion, I have to report that the one we saw reinforces what I stated. That most movies are a monumental waste of time.

The ugly truth about 'The Ugly Truth' is that its one of the crassest movies I've seen. Yet I hear, its been a top grosser around the world. The response of most of the audience in the theater tells me why. They even applauded towards the end. I lost my appetite. It was lunch time when the movie got over.

The 'Ugly Truth' is perfect for younger audiences. Filled with profanities and anatomy descriptions, the movie teaches us a lesson about what connects with college going youth. I know I am guilty of generalisation. Despite the fact that most college going airheads voted Obama, I guess conservatism isn't dead in colleges. Anyway, the lesson of the movie is, if the youth is the audience, dumbing down the subject is a good idea. Throw in a slew of profanities and slap stick humour of the worst kind, and you have a wi…

Books for me, Movies for the kid

I ain't a Movie buff. Most movies, I believe, are a monumental waste of time. Yet I line up to buy tickets for a show tomorrow. Alphy's the reason. Plus I don't mind.

Queuing up at the theatre to book for the show tomorrow has me stand behind a kid who buys four tickets for a show in the evening today. I hear the counter man ask him to pay nine hundred bucks for four tickets. I am aghast. That much for stuff that's worthless? I buy my tickets for tomorrow, They cost me a hundred and eighty bucks for two. I think that's all right. Right after my purchase I proceed to a bookstore that's having a sale and buy books for twice the amount the kids' paid for movies.

Tell you what, If I were to ask the kid about his judgement of my purchase, I guess, he'd be aghast. That much money for books? In fact, at home, there's so much books, Alphy's going crazy.

The lesson in all of this? Value perceptions vary depending on who's buying. Smart marketers build b…

Every Little Kiss

Brands that speak for us are brands we buy

Time Warner's got good reason to hate Glenn Beck. He's a Libertarian and his TV ratings are skyrocketing. The last I heard, CNN viewership was tumbling.So how does Time Warner's Time magazine react to Beck's rising popularity. They 'carefully' trash him using their latest cover story. (Quote) 'Extreme talk, especially as practiced by a genuine talent like Beck, squeezes maximum profit from a relatively small, deeply invested audience, selling essentially the same product in multiple forms. The more the host is criticized, the more committed the original audience becomes. And the more committed the audience, the bigger target it presents to the rant industry on the other side of the spectrum. A liberal group called Color of Change has organized an advertiser boycott of Beck's TV show — great publicity for the group and a boon to Beck's ratings.' Glenn Beck scores with conservative viewers because he articulates what they desperately want to say. …

Top 10 Brands of 2009

1. Coca-Cola - 68,734 ($m)
2. IBM - 60,211 ($m)
3. Microsoft - 56,647 ($m)
4. GE - 47,777 ($m)
5. Nokia - 34,864 ($m)
6. McDonald's - 32,275 ($m)
7. Google - 31,980 ($m)
8. Toyota - 31,330 ($m)
9. Intel - 30,636 ($m)
10. Disney - 28,447 ($m)

Read the complete Interbrand Report here.

'Downscale Chic' works with younger customers

Pabst Blue Ribbon beer's success in a recession proves two important points. One, Consumers are willing to pay more. Two, they pay more because of enhanced value perceptions driven by factors that aren't functional. PBR costs $1.50 more than MillerCoors' Keystone, $1 more than Anheuser-Busch's Busch and Natural brands, and 50 cents more than Miller High Life. Yet its had the highest growth recorded in its category. This despite lower media spends.Pabst through its word of mouth campaign was able to position the brand as 'downscale chic'. That is, lower priced than premium, higher priced than budget, with a hip non-conformist image. Worked will the younger drinkers trying to wear the 'anti-establishment' badge. Never mind the higher prices.

Free costs too much

'Most consumers get it. There's already a free operating system for computers: Linux. Yet netbooks running Windows outsell their Linux counterparts by a margin of nine to one. In other words, free is getting trounced.

Why? Because free costs too much, weighed down with hassles that you'll happily pay a little to do without. That's why people buy bottled water and cable TV. That's also the model that The Wall Street Journal uses to goad people into paying for news online. Anyone can read its stories for free through Google or a news-aggregation site like Digg, but people who want the full newspaper experience pay $103 a year for the privilege. More than a million subscribers consider that a good deal. This isn't an anomaly, either. According to a recent study by the private-equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, consumers now spend more time reading or watching media they've paid for than free media.'

- Farhad Manjoo, 'Why Charging Just a Little Can Be …

Video Consumption, Multitasking continue to rise

Other findings:
There are more TVs than inhabitants in an average American home: 2.86 TVs vs. 2.5 people per household in 2009. Moreover, 54% of people have 3+ TV sets in their home.
Adults 18-24 watch five times more video online than adults 65+: 5+ hrs. vs. a little over 1 hr. per month. The number of children (2-11) online has increased 18% year over year, compared with 10% growth for the number of those 2+. More than 15 million Americans said they watched online content on a mobile device in Q209, an increase of 70% compared with the previous year—the largest annual growth to date. Americans are more likely to watch short-form video on their computers and TV network content on their mobile phones. Source: MarketingProfs; About the data: All cited data comes from Nielsen's latest A2/M2 Three Screen Report (vol. 5, 2Q09). Nielsen's A2/M2 Three Screens Reports provide the results from quarterly analyses from Nielsen's Anywhere Anytime Media Measurement Initiative (A2/M2).

World Peace, YES; Info. to the world, NO!

The funny thing about 'news' is, that something doesn't make the 'news' is 'news'. And if its what liberals try not to report on that becomes 'news', I call it 'good news'.

Like Mark Levin's book, 'Liberty and Tyranny'. I've read the book thanks to my brother getting it for me from the US, and I say its a must read. At least for those who think government's the solution. Just so you may change your mind. Though I doubt your newspaper's told you about the book. That's if you read the NY Times or Washington Post, both of which, by the way haven't run any reviews on the book.

But note the facts. 'Liberty and Tyranny' has been riding high on non-fiction bestseller lists ever since it was released in late March. It debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best seller list and has remained in the Top Ten on that list for 24 straight weeks. It is currently No. 7. (Levin's previous two books, Men in Black: How…

Marketing Queries

Soumya: How does a brand increase its price and yet manage to retain its customers in the market when it really would not be able to add more value for the price it charges? Like for example, what I am asking is since the prices of all commodities are on a rise, how does the company increase the product price and yet manage to maintain its consumer? Also I just wanted to also get it clarified, isn’t a price sensitive customers value perceptions driven primarily by price? Isn’t the definition of value also based on price? Like good quality at affordable prices?

Ray: If a brand is forced to raise prices due to increases in input (read, commodity) prices, surely the customer wouldn’t be too happy about the same. But remember, this price rise, one, may be seen as a justified act by the customer, and two, there would be an all round price rise amongst all brands that category.

But I have another recommendation based on the concept of ‘Just Noticeable Difference’. I would recommend brands alt…

Is the successful way the right way?

The explosive growth of the church, 'Reborn in Christ' in Brazil begs a question, or maybe two. Is there one 'right' way to achieving a goal, or is the way that achieves the goal the 'right' way?

Proselytising is inherent to Christianity. Its what Jesus said, 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation' (Mark 16:15). 'Reborn in Christ' preaches using tools the Roman Catholic church or even traditional Evangelical churches frown at. But the fact is, Reborn in Christ is among a growing number of evangelical churches in Brazil that are finding ways to connect with younger people to swell their ranks. From fight nights to reggae music to video games and on-site tattoo parlors, the churches have helped make evangelicalism the fastest-growing spiritual movement in Brazil.

So the goal seems to be in grasp, of moving the youth into accepting Christ as their saviour. Also contrast this with waning Catholicism and you know, at least from th…

Bill Maher proves Stimuli Interpretation, not Racism

The subject of subliminal persuasion in Advertising is a controversial one. Over years the Advertising Industry has to tried to tell everyone that the charges are unfounded.The latest airhead who's conjured up the subject of subliminal messages is Bill Maher. According to him the Drudge Report headline, “POLL HELL: OBAMA NEGS RISE,” is somehow an example of the ways in which “some of the right-wingers always drop subliminally racist messages.”Bill Maher's charge shouldn't be seen for its contribution to proving anything on subliminal messages and their power to influence consumers (read, readers). Instead it must be seen as proving another concept in Consumer Behaviour, namely, 'Interpretation of Stimuli'. The factors contributing to how consumers interpret stimuli include 'expectations'. That is, prior expectations dictate the way we interpret stimuli. Take the case of spiritual gurus in India. A 'believer' who attends a session by his guru, is mov…

Why Loyalty matters

'To be considered loyal, it shouldn’t be enough for a customer to feel a bond to a company, or to simply stick with the relationship. It should also require certain actions, or shopping behaviors, on the part of the customer.

Most corporate measures of customer loyalty focus only on feelings. But our research shows that knowing how customers feel about a company is a poor predictor of how they will behave toward the company. If data about buying behaviors are added to the mix, it can help a company identify not just who its truly loyal customers are, but which ones are profitable.'

- Tim Keininghametal., 'Why a Loyal Customer Isn’t Always a Profitable One'.

Note: Timothy Keiningham and LerzanAksoy have a book out on 'Why Loyalty Matters'. Know about it here and here.

The Myths on Consumer Loyalty

Due to the flurry of comments that my 'Jet Pilot strike' post received, I thought I should post on it just one more time.

Let me address the issue of Customer loyalty. There are too many myths out there on this (Timothy L. Keiningham, Terry G. Vavra & Lerzan Aksoy's book, 'Loyalty myths: Hyped strategies that will put you out of business' is a must read). For example, its isn't exactly true that loyal customers aren't price sensitive. Turns out they are. It isn't again true that loyal customers are necessarily always profitable to the business firm. They aren't. Not always. Note, the key term is 'always'.

Coming to whether price sensitive customers can turn loyals, the answer again is, yes. But note the caveats. Loyalty doesn't mean that the customer isn't price sensitive. He still is. Which means that a competitor airline's helping hand may provoke loyalty. But that doesn't ensure the competitor can get away with higher pr…

Surviving for now is dying to tomorrow

Let me address the valid points Krishnasagar's raised. He talks of 'survival' being important, of formation of cartels, of public memory being short, and about how airlines need to communicate.

Sure, survival's important, but I wonder how much money rival airlines may have raised because they overcharged customers. Sure, demand-supply scenarios justifiy price hikes. But what it doesn't take into consideration is future revenues that could accrue due to loyalties built. Loyalty as result of showing you care enough not to raise prices at a time when you can.

A generic question. When has someone cared? And if someone did, do you remember the act for life? My bet is you do. We live in a cynical, opportunism driven world. Acts of kindnes are rare and far in between. And so when it happens, it stands out starkly against the backdrop of an unkind world. Again, when have you felt genuine care on the part of a business concern? Rarely. So when it happens, are you pleasently s…

Who's Lying?

'To tell us, with a straight face, that he can insure millions more people without adding to the already skyrocketing deficit, is world-class chutzpa and an insult to anyone's intelligence. To do so after an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has already showed this to be impossible reveals the depths of moral bankruptcy behind the glittering words.

Did we really need CBO experts to tell us that there is no free lunch? Some people probably did and the true believers in the Obama cult may still believe the President, instead of believing either common sense or budget experts. Even those who can believe that Obama can conjure up the money through eliminating "waste, fraud and abuse" should ask themselves where he is going to conjure up the additional doctors, nurses, and hospitals needed to take care of millions more patients...

Obama can deny it in words but what matters are deeds-- and no one's words have been more repeatedly the direct opposite of his dee…

Sweet goodbyes are comeback goodbyes

'Goodbye from our Newsletter, sorry to see you go. You have been unsubscribed from our newsletters. This is the last email you will receive from us. We have added you to our "blacklist", which means that our newsletter system will refuse to send you any other email, without manual intervention by our administrator.'

I am not too sure if this is the nicest of goodbyes I've ever received. The one above is a response to my decision to unsubscribe from a newsletter. In fact I think this goodbye's a bit scary. I have been 'blacklisted'. The system 'will refuse to send me any other email without manual inetrvention'. Woah, its almost as if I am guilty of a crime!

Tell you what, I don't think the firm in question intended this goodbye message to sound the way it does. Its just that whoever came up with the copy may be challenged when it comes to the language, English. But then again, there's a lesson in there. When you let someone go, especial…

Myopics make hay while the sun shines

Its appalling how myopic business firms turn, when faced with an opportunity to 'make hay'. The Jet pilot strike that left passengers stranded should have been an opportunity for rival aviation brands to start a relationship with flyers by helping them in their time of need. The help they could extend was by assisting these stranded flyers get to their destinations by issuing tickets if they had vacant seats on their flights or even by guiding them to other airlines that may. Instead, passengers allege rival airlines doubled their fares arbitrarily knowing fully well that flyers would be forced to buy tickets at those exorbitant prices.

What the airline's done is make hay while the sun shone. But the larger fallout is a lifelong impression they may have created about themselves in the minds of flyers who bought their tickets at exorbitant rates. An impression of being sneaky opportunists. Remember, in all probability, this will be an impression for a lifetime. And that virt…

Pray, what's Indian?

'Those who are getting worked up - due to nationalistic reasons – at Giancarlo’s “betrayal” would do well to find more about Force India. Apart from the money, there’s little that’s Indian in the team. Of the 28 key team personnel listed on their website, only one is from India – Mallya. Mercedes Benz supplies the engine, McLaren the gearbox. The drivers are European.Force India is the only team on the Formula One circuit that uses a country’s name.'

I guess Rohit Mahajan's helped us not make a mistake in turning 'patriotic' when it comes to 'Force India'. The politics of business part, I wonder what should have us patriotic? The knowledge that something's purely Indian? And pray, what's that? What's without influences from the outside?

I wish Rohit knew that nothing's for real. Its perceptions that rule. Perceptions that dictate judgements. Vijay Mallya's the smart businessman. But why single him out? Business at the end of the day is abo…

Bailouts for unreliable brands?

Consumers assess Quality on two generic parameters. Reliability and Attributes. The higher the two of these are, the greater the quality. But what needs to be noted is that on the former parameter, brands don't have a choice. I mean reliability levels can only be high. If they were to fall, it wouldn't matter that the product's got a lot of features, it would still be perceived as poor quality. On the second parameter, namely attributes, brands depending on who their target segments are, can either keep it low or pack themselves with features. If the Mass consumer is the target, attributes have to be kept low, so costs can be kept low, so prices can be rock bottom. Its the mass low-cost model. Remember, on reliabilty, there ain't a choice, even if its the Mass consumer on your radar.

Imagine if a brand were low on attributes and low on reliabilty. Only a miracle can keep such a brand in business. Or socialism, the way Obama's keeping Government Motors in the running…

The Mass Act for the Masses

As India mourns the loss of YSR, its pertinent to remember him as one of a rare kind, among politicains. YSR was among the last of a rare breed of leaders. Leaders with Mass following.

YSR burst on to the political scene with an act that was an iconic mass act. The Padayatra. That was the scorching summer of 2003. What's remarkable about what he did was the fact that he used a tool that may not have found takers in a world of technology to his advantage, to reach out to people to whom technology means nothing. People sans technology. People who are called the masses. The only people in India who can pilot you to political victories.

In India the mases are where there's nothing else. To have them on your marketing radar means abandoning tools that are urban and irrelevant to such masses. It means rethinking almost everything that's otherwise a taken for urban consumers. It means rewriting the classic Four Ps. The product has to drive and demonstrate functional value. Aspirati…

Why I love Stupid Sarah

'Sarah Palin simply does not understand. No nuance. She did not go to Harvard, nor is she a board member of Princeton University's Center for Human Values, where Zeke provides support for philosopher Peter Singer. Singer is best known for the view that fetuses and many disabled have less of a right to live than, say, fully functioning humans and "adult gorillas and chimpanzees." No, Zeke believes that those who know better, who understand morality, should make decisions for those less able to do so...

So when Sarah Palin says she doesn't want her "baby with Down Syndrome" to stand in front of his medical panels... that shows just how unsophisticated her thinking really is. She has already made the anti-social choice of giving birth to a child with a severe disability, who will never be able to live the "complete life" outlined by Zeke on behalf of the government.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of a health care system that operates in the pu…

You CAN'T go, when you gotta go!

'But what the French call urine sauvage, which translates to "wild urine," is the hardest to crack. While France's capital has campaigned with some success to have Parisians pick up after their pets, the city is still struggling with the presence of pipi. Urine is hard to escape in certain parts of the city, be it on the street, in the Metro or in parks.

Members of the Brigade say there is no high season for urinary offenses, but summertime heat heightens the stench.'

France is now cracking down on public Pipiers with a vengeance, handing out fines. In India, if that were done, guess, Government finances can be saved and enriched with collections they can make off Indian public Pipiers.

Its just pathetic to see Pipiers in India zip down without any consideration for where they are and where they do it. Of course, the defense is, when they gotta go, they gotta go. My take is, it isn't about 'going'. Its more Habitual behaviour that's reached those pro…

Beware, Women consumers ahoy!

Performics' 2009 Online Buyer Economic Trend Study reports that 53% of women said their situation is worse than a year ago. By contrast, only 38% of men said they are worse off than a year ago. In April, when Performics posed those same questions, 53% of both genders said they were worse off.

The pessimism that women sport may be due to their roles as Purchasers-in-Chief when it comes to household goods. The survey also found that 73% of women said the recession had fundamentally changed the way they think about saving and spending money vs. 57% of men.

Should the implications from the way women now think be worrisome to marketers? According to me, its a Yes and No. It should be worrisome to those who pitch their wares using messages that try and connect with emotions. These are trying times where women turn ruthless rationalists. No more 'Be More' kind of campaigns for them. They don't want to be any 'more' than what they already are. Instead what they are looki…

The Great Escape

'Education is usually discussed in terms of the money spent on it, the teaching methods used, class sizes or the way the whole system is organized. Students are discussed largely as passive recipients of good or bad education.

But education is not something that can be given to anybody. It is something that students either acquire or fail to acquire. Personal responsibility may be ignored or downplayed in this "non-judgmental" age, but it remains a major factor nevertheless...

The great escape of our times is escape from personal responsibility for the consequences of one's own behavior. Differences in infant mortality rates provoke pious editorials on a need for more prenatal care to be provided by the government for those unable to afford it. In other words, the explanation is automatically assumed to be external to the mothers involved and the solution is assumed to be something that "we" can do for "them."...

It is not just the "non-judgment…