Thursday, August 31, 2006

Next time, don’t even dare to ask someone: “Log Chlor-mint kyon khaate hain?”


“Log Chlor-mint kyon khaate hain?” is the innocuous query posed in general to the entire world and the results are earth-shattering, mildly speaking that is... That’s the concept behind the entire Chlor-mint series from McCann-Erickson. “You see, it is a continuing idea” remarks Prasoon Joshi, the creative m astermind behind the ads.

The latest commercial focuses on the same zany logic, wit h the victim this time being Ms. Pappi. The commercial begins with Miss Pappi who is preoccupied with her looks, engrossed in getting her make-up right and busy admiring her beauty in the mirror while her family calls for her repeatedly. Irritated, she proclaims that her posters will one day be put up in every household.

While preening to herself no end, Pappi is seen humming as she enters the lift where she finds a Chlor-mint wrapper and grumbles, “Log Chlor-mint kyon khaate hain?” It is mayhem unleashed next, as the doors of the elevator pound her into a poster when she tumbles out of the lift!

“We had to suspend the logic as to why someone is having Chlormint, and if you didn’t know the answer you would be punished for it! It is the absurd logic that worked and became the language and grammar of the brand,” offers Prasoon.

Interestingly, the commercial has a background ‘thumri’ score sung by acclaimed thumri singer Shubha Joshi, with hilarious lyrics, “Roop ki dhani hoon main, Prem kali bani hoon main.” Prasoon recalls the initial effect that the combination had on Shubha Joshi. “She went blank when I told her to sing this particular song and gave her the lyrics. She was very uncomfortable in the beginning and I had to convince her to sing it in her inimitable ‘thumri’ style!” he says.

Talking about the truly funny moments during the filming of the commercial, he chuckles, “When we were shooting, some relatives of the actors would come and ask us as to what we were doing? I said that the girl in the commercial would be turned into a poster inside the lift and they would be bewildered, having a ‘What do you mean?!’ look on their faces!”

Prasoon says that from the outset, the image he had in mind for Pappi was someone hopelessly in love with her own self and overstuffed to the core.

“The idea might surely sound absurd, but if we turn around, we witness bizarre incidents. If we see Hindi films, we show people dancing around trees as soon as they fall in love. Now, is there a logic to it?! But it has worked well for film-makers for years now,” he says, adding that products are bought solely on recall value and impulse.”

Yet another master commercial from Chlor-mint! With the incomparable Prasoon Joshi the brains behind it, this one’s turned out to be one of the most recalled ads of this year.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Of Marketing, Relationships and Relationship Marketing!

Bollywood embraces the 4th P, as films transcend conventional space…

Star power is no longer confined to the realm of Aishwarya Raithe cinema reel. Bollywood’s increasingly aggressive efforts to market its offerings with media blitzkriegs and nifty merchandising, is fast turning these tactics into auxiliary elements of the movie marketing mix.

In the new millennium, it began with the Hrithik-Esha starrer Na Tum Jaano Na Hum and the eminently huggable tote stuffed toy ‘Tutu’, and while the film washed out before you could say ‘Tutu!’, Tutu did not; more than 80,000 units were lapped up by moony-eyed teenagers! Preity ZintaGood-spirited affection rose to the fore again, with bands of friendship cementing bonds of love with the Yash Raj production Mujhse Dosti Karoge; whose fresh division Yash Raj Films Merchandise is solely meant to focus on this aspect. From Hum Tum cartoon strips in newspapers preceding the film’s release, as also in popular Esha DeolTV soap Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, to bags and caps, their strategy proved as humungous a hit as the film itself! Salaam Namaste promoted the trendy coffee mugs from which Preity and Saif slugged, and later slugged it out, in the film. And as this year’s most anticipated flick hits theatres, pre-launch for Kabhi Alvida Rani MukherjeeNaa Kehna, or KANK as the watchword has spread, has invaded news channels to youth music channels, to key-chains, pens and mugs, as the producers left no stone unturned in doing as much as they KANK!

Savoury or not, could leveraging relationships to arouse interest lie far behind in the marketing match? Neither novel nor outmoded, clubbing couples speared by Cupid’s arrow in real life on screen has met with success and failure in equal measure. While real-life twosomes like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in Hollywood, and closer home Raj Kapoor and Nargis, Amitabh and Rekha, John and Bipasha have figured in box office wonders, there Aish & Vivekhave been disasters aplenty too – J. Lo and Ben Affleck (Gigli), Aishwarya Rai and Viveik Oberoi (Kyon! Ho Gaya Na), and to an extent Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur (Fida, Chup Chup Ke) – to name a few.

It’s not amour alone though, that can captivate crowds. Take for instance the grapevine hinting of the subtle rivalry between Big B and King Khan. Throw in rumours of disagreements in footage time given to Junior B in KANK, and the launch of its music once for vacationing SRK in London and later for Bachchan at the IIFA weekend in Dubai, these folks sure catered to our appetite for juicy gossips!

So there lie the three golden caveats… one, any publicity is good publicity, two, as far as relationships go, it’s the prospect of thrill rather than the actual story, and finally the universal truth – relationships and marketing may forge the emotional connect but sensible content’s the definitive ingredient for business at the box office!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Colas are being left in the cold... literally. In the latest round of the Cola controversy, the government of Kerala has banned the production and sale of soft drinks marketed by Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the State. The state of Karnataka too has decided to ban the sale of 11 brands of soft drinks (including Pepsi and Coca-Cola), in educational institutions and hospitals from August 14. Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have already banned the sale of Pepsi and Coca Cola in educational institutions and government offices. This comes days after the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) claim that aerated drinks contain higher levels of pesticide residues than ever before. The Kerala government’s decision came in the wake of a recommendation made by the ruling Left Democratic Front’s state committee, and now the fate of the Coca- Cola plant at Plachimada and the Pepsi unit at Puthussery hangs by a slender thread. Meanwhile, Karnataka has announced that the sale of Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Mirinda, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, Fanta, Limca, Sprite, Thums Up, and 7UP will be banned within 100 metres of all schools, colleges and hospitals across the state. The state has also sought the Centre’s opinion on slapping a total ban on the sale of soft drinks. However, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has said that banning colas indiscriminately like this is likely to hurt India’s credibility and investment climate.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Smell the smoke, catch the fire...Environment Calendar... now you’d know what to do next summer!
Dec 26, 2004: Tsunami hits Northern Sumatra killing more than 120,000 people. Aug 29, 2005: New Orleans devastated by hurricane Katrina, washing off almost half the population. Jan 26, 2001: Gujarat earthquake leaves thousands dead and over 1 lac injured. In its World Disasters Report, the International Federation of Red Cross estimated a total of 6342 disasters that killed over 1,009,470 people.

Have you ever wished that there were a mechanism with which you could’ve known of all the retribution that mother nature has in store for us? Fantasy not for long, thanks to the science ministry of Japan which is due to commence a project (making use of the “fastest machine” – the Earth Simulator Supercomputer) next year that would be able to forecast weather severities for a span of thirty years and predict every climatic adversity aeons before it actually happened. So then it won’t come as a surprise if, after a few years, you’d know enough to reschedule your year 2015 trip to Switzerland for fear of an avalanche! But take it easy... by the way predictions have failed miserably in the past, you know better than to take them at face value. Yet, no harm in precaution! Of course, for “... tomorrow belongs to people who prepare for it today,” doesn’t it?

Friday, August 25, 2006


One major feature of Polish roads is that they showcase an array of cars. And why not? Automobile manufacturing is the star sector of Poland. The low cost high quality characteristic of the Polish auto sector provides enough cars not only for internal consumption, but also for exports. Automobiles and related parts accounted for about 13% of the total Polish exports for the first nine months of 2005. Almost all global auto majors including Toyota, Isuzu, Volkswagen, MAN, Volvo, General Motors, Fiat and Opel are having their manufacturing setups in the country. According to the latest figures by the Department of Analysis & Forecasting, Warsaw, the motor vehicle manufacturing industry saw a pretty healthy 20.5% growth for the quarter ending March 2006.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Call to Honour...

But his recent ‘A Call to Honour...’ is what perhaps India would remember him by. For records, the book refers to an official in P. V. Narasimha Rao’s Prime Ministerial Office who leaked secret information about India’s nuclear plans to USA. It’s a serious charge & amounts to treason. PM Manmohan Singh struck back, asking for the name of the mole and evidence to substantiate the allegation. Jaswant had none, neither the name nor the evidence. The meek evidence – a letter also met a similar fate. Both its alleged author Thomas Graham (then a programme officer at Rockfeller Foundation) and recipient Harry Barnes (former US envoy), denied the existence of such a letter, leaving Jaswant red-faced. The development has been a major embarrassment to the BJP with many party leaders demanding his head. “It was an avoidable controversy,” said his Rajya Sabha colleague, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Congress leader Jayanti Natrajan went a step further accusing Singh of kicking off the row to sell his book.

So does this controversy portend the demise of this soldier’s future? If such controversies had the power to do that, then perhaps half of India’s parliamentarians might not have existed as on date, eh! The soldier surely continues to plod, and rise with the power of the pen!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Though Raju might be quite content with the current state of affairs, the most urgent fact is that Satyam suffers an issue, that can cripple it in no time at all. Manpower costs of Satyam for the year ending March 2006 were a mammoth 58.27% of net sales, which is higher than the Big Three. A report by Enkay Research cautions that with salary hikes effective in July 2006, “operating margins are expected to decline further during the second quarter.” Srinivas Vadlamani, CFO, Satyam, counter-claims, “Given that manpower related costs form a major expense portion, our endeavour has been to constantly improve productivity & search for innovative ways to trim overheads to sustain margins.”

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Google enchanted by MTV’s sweet music!

If Shakespeare was to describe the meaning of his statement, ‘If music be the food of love, play on,’ he would perhaps cite Google’s attraction to MTV’s music as an illustration, albeit in the corporate sense. The two giants have entered into an advertisement revenue sharing deal that allows MTV to share its videos with Google and in return share the revenues that come from advertisements. Also, the website owners and bloggers would be allowed to post the MTV videos and will get a share of the revenue every time a person clicks to watch the videos. Through this deal, MTV would be able to expand its online audience and Google, on the other hand would benefit through increase in flow of traffic to its website.

This move is largely appropriate as this would provide a clear edge to the search engine giant as its competition with many other search engines (like Yahoo, MSN and AOL) gets more intense by the day, and will position it better to fight competition in the online video market. But Google still withholds the information regarding the number of websites that will be allowed to host the MTV videos. Taking a broader perspective, the revenue sharing model between Google and MTV is poised to become popular because apart from benefiting the two entities, the new model also provides revenues to small website owners who will post the MTV videos. So if you are a Google maniac, its time to check out some video compilations as well. And if the doctor has prescribed a strict adherence to MTV music, and if you cannot carry your TV set around, don’t you worry – just walk into an internet cafe and watch the videos on Google!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A...Hutchooooo! Essar stays away...

The wedding season seems long over with the bells ringing for none – and this strictly includes Hutchison Telecom International Ltd. (the Hong-Kong based parent of Hutchison) and Essar Group, both of whom have finalised their divorce agreement. The Essar Group has terminated the BPL Mobile Mumbai circle share purchase agreement and the subsequent merger of BPL Mobile with Hutchison Essar. Hurt by the behaviour shown by its partner Essar, Hutch has knocked the doors of the Bombay High Court seeking for justice. According to Hutchison, the BPL Mumbai vendors are certainly under a legal obligation to complete the share purchase contract and can in no way mull over terminating the contract, legally speaking.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fed’s relentless printing of paper money sans asset-backing has landed the dollar in a precarious situation

How about a sneak peak from Pirates of the Caribbean part III? It features Federal Reserve officials as the protagonist pirates, sailing on a battered ship, led by a one-eyed captain, who embark on a serious treasure hunt... a hunt for gold! It may sound like a bad gag, but this could well be what the Feds might be forced to undertake very soon in the near future.

Times, if not changing, are definitely going against the dollar. An increasing number of countries are now cleaning up the greenback from their forex vaults and stuffing it with alternative currencies and assets. Syria recently ended its dollar peg and shift ed its reserves to euro. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates also decided to reallocate its reserves from dollar to euro by as much as 10% of its total reserves. In fact, a summary B&E survey ending July 27th, 2006, considering the share of dollar in the total allocated foreign exchange reserves of all countries, shows that the greenback is now being hastily replaced predominantly by the euro. Since the first quarter of 1999, the total share of dollar has de-escalated from 71.09% to 66.32% by the end of the first quarter of 2006 (preliminary figures). During the same time, the share of euro has increased from 18.13% to 24.79%. Even a comparison of exchange rates (2000 to 2006) shows that the euro has appreciated by a staggering 24% against the dollar.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Crisis leadership – not for the chicken-hearted

Succession plans would be crucial during a pandemic. Some organizations may want to name co-CEOs or co-presidents. And every CEO will want to build a team of top-notch people to share responsibility for solving the novel, complex problems that will inevitably arise. This team will be better equipped to solve problems, and will provide bench strength, in case the leader becomes ill.

Abraham Lincoln is the great American model for this collaborative approach to crisis leadership. As Doris Kearns Goodwin describes in her biography “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” (October 2005), Lincoln draft ed a wartime brain trust of former political rivals. He knew that Edwin M. Stanton had dismissed him as a country bumpkin, but he also believed that Stanton was the secretary of war the nation needed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rape/Kill @ $1600!

For the US administration, it has always made a politico-economic sense to bomb nations, but ironically, it has never made sense to them when it comes to duly compensate them. Image by IIPM PublicationTheir rationality, emanating from geo-politics & neo-con economics, has reduced them to a gang of charlatans, thoroughly obsessed to seek a rent out of every bomb bombed under the guise of restoring peace. And this has had far reaching effects not only on the innocent victims of US war crimes, but also on their own soldiers (those yet not killed in the war).

To measure the magnitude of US administration’s rent seeking appetite, one just needs to view the compensation paid by them to civilians killed in Iraq; and the figures are crying. While the death benefit granted to the family of American soldiers killed in any combat zone is $500,000, the amount paid to innocent civilian war-victims are chicken feed in comparison. In Iraq, the Associated Press, after surveying Iraqi hospitals, contended that in one month of their survey period, the total Iraqi-confirmed civilian deaths were 3,420, which even to them was an extremely conservative estimate. Comparable figures of around 43,000 are reported by the alternate media; but even these figures were not enough to make a blip on the screen of the US administration, as the maximum compensation that has ever been assigned to any Iraqi has been a measly $11,000 (given to an eight month pregnant woman whose husband and three children were gunned down in Baghdad).