Shashi Tharoor's about aspiration, not naivete

Various adjectives have been used to describe Shashi Tharoor. From naive, to dubious, to corrupt, to many others. But I think I spy envy despite these characterisations. After all, how many of these commentators would have known the word 'interlocutor'? That's ample reason for envy.

Commentators on TV seem to think Shashi overplayed his hand. They feel his suave personality wasn't fit for India politics. Of course, it wasn't, but then is that reason enough to morph personality? Because you see, it isn't about appearing the country bumpkin that gets you your place in Indian politics, its your ability to connect with your voter. Shashi's target voter is the urbanite. And he is teeming with aspirations. For a better life and a better being. Who epitomises it better than Shashi?

For the urban populace, Shashi is the aspirational brand. They want to be like him. They want to have the kind of pedigree he has, the kind of job he had, the kind of vocabulary he sports, and of course, the looks and charm he brings. Should it therefore be surprising that Shashi's got a fan outpouring on the Internet, post his exit? The likes of Pranab, Antony, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Rudy may be perfect for Indian politics, but who wants to be like them? The likes of Shobhaa De, Suhel Seth and Vinod Mehta are fine for loudmouth TV, but who aspires to be them?

Shashi is what they want to be.

And therein lies a Marketing lesson. Of segmenting, targeting and positioning. It isn't about being a status quo bore and appealing to your peers. It isn't about, as Ashis Nandy said, appearing dumber than you are, in Indian politics. Instead, its about knowing who you target as voters/consumers and then turning aspirational for them.

Shashi Tharoor is the aspiration for the moment. That's smart, and may I say, far from naive!


yogesh patel said…
True sir,Its sad that Mr tharoor had to resign due to murky politics
Its surprising to see that no one dares to debate if mayawati wears a garland worth lakhs and still goes public.
The reason why politicians like mayawati, gadkari, lalu saurvive is because of the target market, the followers of these people are uneducated and innocent people, ready to burn buses and fight for them given biryani and beer where as the target audience of tharoor are urbanites who are busy in their own life and all that they can do is crib and post a few tweets, blog and forget this matter after few days..

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