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Showing posts from November, 2010

Someone's telling, Someone's listening

The Wikileaks story in a way is about 'secrets'. That is, if there's one, someone will tell, and someone else will listen. Sure, along the way it'll take someone down, but that won't stop secrets from spilling.

Marketers, beware too. Someone's talking about you. Your products and services. And someone else is listening. Can it make or break you? Maybe not, but it sure will dent you. What can you do? Pretty much nothing, if its the talking and listening. But everything, if its your products and services. Marketers in a world where everyone's turning a message propagator and recipient, must strive to better their consumer offerings. That way, if someone's talking and someone's listening, it'll be good for you.

For they'll be singing praises, and building your brand for you. At zero cost to you.

‘The media are the message’

'How can TV anchor-journalists pretend the Radia tapes aren’t viral on the net and then repair to their nightly orgies of Twitterlicking and Facebukkake? How do you go from the indignant maven of We the People to “Okie. Gnite tweeple”? Why does Rajdeep Sardesai describe his own monogrammed opinions on CNN IBN as “our editor’s take”? Why does he shout so much? Why wasn’t it bigger news when the son of a famous newsmagazine editor was apprehended for passing a Rs 10 lakh bribe from a newspaper to the Company Law Board? Why is plagiarism not a firing offence for newspaper film reviewers? How can the editor-in-chief of a newsmagazine explain his plagiarised editorial by telling us it was ghostwritten? How can an editor describe her own prose as ‘searing’ on the cover of The Halka? Is the copy desk just the workstation where you concoct the ‘Letter for the Editor’? What is wrong with Arnab Goswami? Why is every story an ‘exclusive’, even if it’s not? Are TV anchors journalists, or ente…


'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'

- Aeschylus

Why Bieber can & Bhansali can't

They say Bhansali's made another 'sensitive' dud. His latest offering Guzaarish is sinking at the box office. But across the Atlantic, there's a kid who's not just raking in the moolah but the applause too. Bieber fever has infected one and all. Justin Beiber's just swept the American Music awards. Plus he's always been neck and neck with the Gaga lady on YouTube hits.

What a contrast. What similarity too. The latter first. Bhansali and Bieber both represent talent. And that's where the similarity ends. The contrast's how either talent has been honed and commercialised. One's sunk it, the other's used it. Bhansali makes movies no one wants to watch, though critics sing paeans. Bieber belts songs and millions want a listen-in. Bhansali's got talent that can't be commercialised. Bieber's talent on the other hand rakes in the moolah.

Why? The reason's simple. Bhansali's too pig-headed to have commercial interests 'corrupt&…

The 'familiar' inhibitor

There's something about the way our living room looks, these days. Its never looked this way before. And the reason's a li'l boy at work. Jaden.One of Jaden's mission in his li'l boy life is to ensure there's a different pattern to our living room everyday. And I get to see it every time I return from work. Tell you what, the first few days, it almost drove me crazy. Now, I look forward to it (read, have adapted to it). My former reluctance to come to terms with the changed pattern can be attributed to my desire for a certain living room 'order'. It had to be the way I liked it. And the way I liked it was different from the way Jaden saw it, and did it. Hence the initial angst. For me to come to terms with the new order, it required that I step out of my 'familiar order' and align to a new one. And that's exactly what I did, albeit after a while. Order is what we seek. And we seek it the way we are comfortable with it. Stepping out of that d…

The Nexus is complete. Welcome to the Nexus

Lest anyone think the 2G spectrum scam is a byproduct of capitalistic greed, I must add what you're witnessing isn't capitalism for what it is, instead its crony capitalism in full bloom. And this is why free markets must be allowed to do what government can't. Ensure fairness.

Its mindboggling to think the nexus is near perfect for fixes and scams in India. Its has the usual neta-babu-baniya triad at play. Who's joined in recently is the baatein-guy, the journalist. The fixing-foursome is complete and can't get better.

The result? The tax-paying public being taken for a ride. Their taxes supposedly collected for collective good goes down the drain, and the money they're left with then has to buy products and services at prices that are fixed. I am not too sure if the lesson is ever going to be learnt. That government can't do much for citizenry because its natural their greed overruns social considerations. The best chance any society has at fairness is to a…

The kitchen table & our lives

There's no goofing around on Master Chef Australia. There's a lot of camaraderie that co-exists with a spirit of healthy competition. Then there's stories of triumph and heartbreak. Everyday people trying to cook gourmet, and in the process letting us see on screen glimpses of what we experience in our everyday lives. Of course, I mean our lives in general, not just at a kitchen table. The kitchen setting in the show's symbolic to what we experience in everyday lives.

What takes the cake on the show is the gentle yet firm mentoring the experts chefs do. Its unbelievable how nurturing they are. So much a contrast to Hell's Kitchen. So much a contrast to the way it was in our formative learning years where we progressed with no mentors and plenty of stumbling. And that's why the show tugs big-time at our heartstrings.

Our lives played out 'better' and 'sweeter' on screen is why Master Chef Australia is grabbing eyeballs. Its why millions connect and…

Is North India more violent?

The latest tragic event of worker anger resulting in the death of an HR manager at Allied Nippon comes close to the heels of another similar incident of loss of life at RICO at Guragaon. Having lived in Delhi for a couple of years and having seen violence at close quarters, I was tempted to ask if North India is more violent as a society in comparison with other states and if there's a reason to it. I must add that management-worker disputes resulting in a tragedy was also witnessed at Coimbatore in South India.

Does increased 'masculinisation' of a society have anything to do with violence that's witnessed there? This paper titled, 'Is North India violent because it has a surplus of men?' concludes thus.

'The striking predictions by presented Hudson and den Boer in Bare Branches that highly masculine sex ratios tend to have violent consequences find, at best, mixed confirmation in the available Indian data which we have examined. Many of the predicted relati…

Seeing is believing

The new safety upgrade promised to Tata Nano owners is a good thing. But it will still leave gnawing doubt in the minds of potential buyers. If as claimed by company the safety upgrades aren't for generic faults and only to enhance safety systems, why now? Why wasn't this part of the car when it was rolled out?I am not so sure if the Nano's woes will vanish soon. But what can soothe anxious potential buyers is if they can see more Nanos on the road, and of course no more media reports on further problems. Now that's a Catch-22. How does the Nano get more buyers when there's a perceptual problem? My recommendation is a non-price franchise building promo that's irresistible. Though its early late on the day for the Nano, I see a well thought out promo as a bait. Again, its touch and go. Get the promo wrong, and people will think they are desperate to sell. One thing's for sure, more Nanos on the road is only way to assuage anxious buyers. For nothing does mor…

What is isn't what's perceived

'Who would have thought that the man hailed as a great American orator and whose stage at the 2008 Democratic convention was a faux Greek temple would be shown up in terms of the theatricality and articulation of the presidency by the man derided as a tongue-tied bumblerand global village idiot?'

Yeah Toby, who would've thought? But then that's what happens at some time or the other to us as consumers too. The lure of the package, the colours, the promos, the damn name, that's what yanks our 'buy-in'. And then we discover the product's such a let-down. The person's such a bore. The President's actually a teleprompter prompted orator. And only that.

The power of perceptions is potent enough to get the first buy-in. Beyond, and especially if there's functional value delivery required, the brand can't sustain. It will only if there's superior value delivered. For brands to score, they've got to move from 'perceptual' to deligh…

Undermining Fed Policy

A new pricing survey of products sold at Wal-Mart stores there's been a 0.6 percent price increase in just the last two months. That means rices would close at four percent higher than last year. The products tracked by the researcher, MKM Partnersincluded everyday items like food and detergent form national brands.

So much for Fed Policy. So much for trying to keep interest rates low.

Don't say, do!

To those judging President Obama on his masterful, teleprompter aided speech, I'd say think again. Sure, its similar speeches that got him elected to the post of President back home. But currently in America they want no more of such high on promises, zilch on action speeches. Because by now they know he can't, and wont deliver. And so the Americans exhibited their displeasure by booting the Democrats from the House through their latest elections, so much so they now see his India trip as 'fleeing' the domestic shellacking he took. Lets wait and see what president Obama delivers on. For 'saying' is one thing, 'doing' quite another.

God in comeback

'In academic, scientific and media circles it has become the fashion to fly the flag of militant atheism. It seems to be de rigueur for scientists who launch books aimed at a mass audience to make some sort of assertion that religious belief is incompatible with scientific progress and technological advance. The assumption is that attacking religion is popular and belief is backward. Yet there are a number of indications that active atheism, by stirring up debate, actually strengthens belief in God or implants it in the minds of those who had never thought much about the matter before.

And when people begin to think about nonmaterial issues--about the spiritual significance of death, the possibility of a future life, the notion of eternity and the meaning of personal morals--they tend to lean toward the view that a life totally without God is not enough.

It's a curious fact that when an atheist debates with a believer today, his own deeply cherished beliefs are just as much at r…

What if the Tea Partiers are hypocrites?

'So, let nobody think that the Tea Party will lead US politics into new territory. Its hypocrisy will become apparent over the next two years, and its supposed radicalism will disappear in an ooze of compromises and fudges. That will help lay the ground for an Obama victory in the next presidential election in 2012.'

Really Swami, you think so? And you base this on? Oh yes, Shikha Dalmia's expose' on Tea Party hypocrisy. So you think America will soon see through the fact that the Tea Partiers want less government, less taxes and a lesser probability of their country's bankruptcy. And then America will soon want back for the next term a bankrupting socialist like Barack Obama so he can continue with his disastrous policies. Like the ones we had not too long ago here in India.

And you and Shikha think all this will happen because the Tea partiers have been hypocrites? Well I got a question for you. Who in their sane senses wants bigger government, greater taxes and a…

Our hope for a future & what it fuels

The complexity that India is, is characterised by its abounding 'opposites'. Take language for example.

In Karnataka, noted Kannada writer Devanuru Mahadeva refused to accept the prestigious Nrupatunga Literary Award protesting against the apathy of successive governments in making Kannada the medium of instruction up to higher education. Contrast this with what's happening in the village of Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. An eager bunch of devotees await the 'English Devi' so they can worship her much like other requests that are pouring in at the doors of those behind a unique temple being set up here to popularize English. The 'English Devi' deity planned for the temple is as unique as the concept of the temple. The "Dalit Goddess English", as the deity is referred to, is cast more on the lines of the Statue of Liberty.

The funny thing is, the reason behind these contrasting acts is the same. Both parties, in doing what they do, are hoping to …

Why Nano's worries aren't nano sized

The dipping Nano sales should be worrisome to Tata Motors. No one can doubt the business marvel that Nano is. Targeting lower income consumers so they can buy a product they never dreamt they could, is not just a great business idea, its noble too. But then there's something else. What are the considerations consumers have, when they buy a car?

Sure, price and value for money is important. But I believe a car buy is partly an esteem buy, even for low-income consumers. That is, there's an aspirational value that the car must fulfill. And on that count, the Nano doesn't score too well. I mean, a current bike rider who's family man may want to graduate to a car, but will he prefer the Nano. Or will he wait that bit longer and save that bit more, so he can go higher to a car like the Alto? It would be interesting to see if the current Nano owners are first time car owners or are have they bought the Nano as a second car?

Something tells me the first time buyer who associates…

Callous California

'Now — and here is the nub of my piece — whatever you do when this happens, do not allow anyone to bail us out. Not one penny. Not the federal government, the Heart Fund, the Community Chest, the World Bank, UNICEF, or even George Soros. Do not take up a collection in your places of worship or set up a food bank. And above all, do not make California into some giant state version of General Motors. It didn’t work for the auto company and it will not work for us.

The only solution is for California to suffer — and to suffer badly. The citizens of this state need a serious beat down. This was the place where Jane Fonda popularized “No gain without pain.” Well, time for the pain. Remember the “Summer of Love”? Time for the “Summer of Tough Love.” And the Winter, Fall and Spring as well.

Otherwise there is no chance we will wake up. And if we don’t wake up even then, feel free to call in the Air Force and drop some bunker busters on the San Andreas Fault. Set us adrift.

And don’t worry, …

Happy Diwali, folks!

If Jon's funny, I must be Chaplin

I don't get. Americans, some of them or maybe many, find Jon Stewart funny. Watch this piece where he talks to Fox's Chris Wallace. The guy doesn't have the gags unless its copy-written before the show. Impromptu doesn't work for him. Just like his dude-friend Obama, who needs his teleprompter. In fact now we know the Indian Parliament too will witness the gadget, for the very first time in its history. So much for someone who was supposed to be the visionary saviour.To imagine millions of Americans find Jon Stewart funny says something about who they are. Of course, they have to be liberals. The kind that laugh even if it isn't funny, because its a liberal they worship mouthing it. You just have to listen to Jon Stewart to know how much he has to ham to get a gag when its not pre-written. And so what he does that's convenient is go on a giggling spree, fisted hands on mouth. His minions cackle along. Maybe it ain't just the liberals. Its with all of us. We…

When 'Push' comes to 'Shove'

Learning's also a psychological engagement. You take to those teachers you connect with, psychologically. And so when it comes to 'pushing', the way Seth Godin stated it, and which I agree to, you're walking a thin line. Turn push into shove, and you may have the learner raising his defenses, and maybe even shutting off from what you have to offer.

I guess its happened to me too. Though I'd like to believe that its been rare. I am delighted at times to know the 'push' worked. Like with Vamshi. He's even had an added reason to disconnect. 'Cos when he came to me broaching the option to 'teach', I told him Marketing's out there. It would be best for him to hit the market, learn, and be back. Of course, our experience of the market won't teach us everything, but it sure will turn us wiser and even humble. And guess what, he did just that.

Vamshi took it well, and I am proud he did that. I guess he's working the market and lovin' …

What America is about

Santosh Desai with his 'Just another country' piece betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the greatest idea that now is the United States of America.

Note the questions he poses. In fact I'll answer (with a lot of help from the great Thomas Sowell) each of them to illustrate Santosh's cluelessness about the miracle that changed the world, the nation that is the United States of America . Furthermore unlike what he sees, the grassroots movement in America today is more about reclaiming the real America, not drifting further away.

First the questions, 'There are larger questions that the world wants to ask of America. Why would any country willingly put automatic weaponry in the hands of its citizens in spite of the body of evidence that establishes the insanity of such a policy? Why would it fight a healthcare bill that is inclusive and lowers the cost of good medical care for all? How can a country that has lectured to the world about the benefits of free markets…