Thursday, December 30, 2010


It’s time again to make New Year resolutions, make new promises, set new targets and make new plans. For most of us, it’s also a time to “wish-I-haddone-more”, wish I had planned better, worked harder, quit smoking, kept my new year resolution of 2010! This new year would also be the same as last year, if we do not start thinking differently. The last decade proved that in business, as in personal life, those brands and people who reinvented, stayed in business. You need to be alert and look out for new trends; but more than that, you need to be more aggressive in observing what’s not working and then changing it fast. Being in love with your old ways (however successful they were in the past) can be disastrous.

If you want to raise a happy child, the rule is, “Till he is five years old, treat him like a king. Till he is 13, treat him like a prince. From 13 to 18, treat him like a pauper. After 18, become his best friend.” The crux is that good parents change their ways as their children grow. Good marketers too change their strategies as markets and times change.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Yes, it’s too time consuming to wait to be let in. If you want to create an impact, you have to be quick. You have to be aggressive. You don’t knock. You just walk on in! In marketing too, a lot of brands have done it by catching our attention and our imaginations and walking right into our lives.

In fact, when you do so, it doesn’t matter whether you are big or small, old or new. What matters is how aggressive you are. If you put your energies in the right direction, even the mighty will crumble in front of you.


The person topping the list of “Dares” seems to be Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who is spilling the beans on the Pentagon, the Government, and even on corporations. He has shown what “being bold” can do. A single man who has dared to take on the Goliaths, much like some brands, the Davids, who took on themighty Goliaths and defeated them.

Friday, December 3, 2010


His business plans go a little beyond – well, infinity, if I may put it that way. The vision of his company is to make us a multiplanetary civilization. Yes, we needn’t fear being stuck on Earth forever when some unforeseen tragedy strikes. For that 39 year old Elon Musk and his company Space X, are inventing a reusable orbit-class rocket, which according to him, will be one of the most important inventions in history. He plans to take us to various planets and he may be successful, faster than we think he can. However far flung his vision may sound, for starters, the man has managed to win a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to help deliver cargo to the International Space Station located 200 miles above the Earth.

Wow! That’s what dreamers are made of, those who dare to think beyond – in this case, way beyond the ordinary. Elon is also one entrepreneur who has his eyes set on the future. He has a car company. It’s no ordinary car company but an electric car company named Tesla. He also has a power firm; no ordinary power firm, but a solar power firm named Solar City. In the distant future, probably those are the businesses that will thrive, and survive.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Your first kiss, your first love, listening to an old song, walking in the rain, receiving a mail from an old acquaintance, watching your child sleep, watching the sunset, waking up to find you still have an hour to sleep, getting a gift that you were planning to buy, seeing your parents smile, sipping coffee in the winter sun! Guess these are just some of the moments that are our ‘bestest’ ones. Life is full of challenges, heartbreaks, pressures and tensions, but true satisfaction and long lasting happiness comes from some of the simplest things that life has to offer.

As in life, so in business, the best things are the simplest. Let’s take a closer look.


The most famous scientist who ever lived, and the person responsible for giving the most famous equation of the world: E=mc2, was, yes we all know, Albert Einstein. What made this man so famous and made his theories create the maximum impact was not just his genius in analysing things, but in his ability to explain even the most complicated theories in the simplest manner possible. Even a layman, a non-scientific brain could understand them. One of the simplest explanations of Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ was given by a young fellow, and this is what he said: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems longer than an hour. That’s the crux of the Theory of Relativity.” Einstein too could simplify the various laws of physics and make everyone understand them.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Once again it’s that time of the year when the world gets into a festive mood. It’s going to be Christmas soon and marketers are already, ready with their plans and their campaigns. Back in India, Dussehra just got over, but festivities have only just begun, with the grand-dad of all festivals – “Diwali”, just around the corner. It’s that time of the year when everyone goes on a buying spree. Consumption reigns supreme this time.

However at the heart of all this frantic activity lies a simple thought – “the power of giving”. Yes gift giving is central to Diwali. It’s a way of paying homage to the deity of wealth – Goddess Lakshmi. No wonder Diwali is the largest gift giving and shopping festival of India. Gifts symbolise one’s prayers to the almighty for the prosperity and well being of the recipient. “Giving” is at the heart of all festivities, and “giving” should also be at the heart of all marketing activities.

Friday, October 8, 2010


There was something very interesting that happened at Christie’s (the auction house) in London on September 29, 2010. The auction was very unique. The room was packed and beyond – people had even formed queues outside Christie’s; the heightened interest made the authorities shift the auctioning to a bigger room. People were bidding not just inside the room, many were on telephone, many more were registered online, from countries all over the world. From New York to Dubai, nobody wanted to miss the action… It was the auction of 300 items from Lehman Brothers’ London headquarters – paintings, miniature battleships, et al. It’s interesting to note that while not many were interested in the sale of Lehman’s European business (which was bought by a Japanese company Nomura), this auction was evidently different – and the most interesting bid was for a large metal nameplate that used to adorn Lehman’s London headquarters. An anonymous bidder bought the sign over telephone at an exorbitant price of £42,050. It was symbolic, for these letters symbolised the beginning of something new. The collapse of Lehman Brothers had ignited the global financial crisis, which changed the world forever.

Incidentally, Lehman Brothers’ mission statement was another sign that fetched record prices! It read: “We are one firm defined by our unwavering commitment to our clients, our shareholders and each other”!

Friday, September 24, 2010


“I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. As a rock star I have a chance to do both,” were the words of Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2. The man is not just great at “rock-n-roll” but is also today one of the most influential global leaders. The man today symbolises ‘poverty alleviation’. Not surprising that when the famous author Jeffrey Sachs released his book “The End of Poverty”, it was Bono who was asked to write the Foreword. The man is not just a great singer but also a great and influential world leader. Apart from receiving multiple nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, he has featured on TIME magazine as the “Person of the Year”. His campaign “ONE” boasts of over 2.4 million supporters. From the time he sang his hit single in 1984, Do they know its Christmas, to raising money for Ethiopian famine relief, the man and his band have come a long way. The man is what rock star leadership is all about.


To the world, they would be remembered as great singers who loved to rock-n-roll. But look deep and you realise that each of them taught us some very important principles of leadership. They taught us that those people, no matter what their background, who remain true to themselves and fight for what they believe in, can change the world.

Friday, August 27, 2010


He doesn’t care about your claims of “good” quality. He doesn’t care if you are number one. He buys only that product which makes him feel happy and which he thinks is right. The “market” is a totally different place today, than it was earlier. There is a new generation of consumers that thrives on products that didn’t even exist as recently as five years back. Technology has created new markets (cell phones, smart phones, iPhones, Twitter, Facebook) and a new breed of consumers that is very difficult to please.

Today’s consumer is even more demanding. He wants greater value from products and services, greater transparency, greater corporate responsibility towards the environment & the less fortunate. According to a survey by Landor Associates, 50% of the 18-25 year olds said they are ready to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. Add to this, the global economic downturn which not just affected many people’s wallets but also their outlook, and the way they are making choices in their lives. As Sheena S. Iyengar in her book The Art of Choosing says “…we use choice as a powerful tool to define ourselves and mould our lives.” If you want your brand to be “valued”, you need to make sure it is the one that this demanding consumer chooses which helps him define his life. Just hoping your brand will sell because it is of good quality, is correctly priced et al, won’t work. The “Don’t Know, Don’t Care” (DKDC) generation wants more. Nissan is rolling out a new ad campaign (dubbed “Innovation for All”), which showcases not price, but innovative features of its cars like keyless entry, air purifiers and smartphone apps, to appeal to this new consumer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It’s everywhere. Look around – technology is changing, customers are changing, companies are changing, values are changing, so much so even the climate is changing. As John F. Kennedy said: “Change is law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”. Yes, change is everywhere.

General Motors (GM) is back. From bowing out in 2008 and moving towards a 2009 bankruptcy reorganisation, the company is planning to advertise in the Super Bowl, the most expensive event to advertise in, in February. GM is now ready with its new ad campaign and a new tagline for the Cadillac which says, “The new standard for the world”. From down-and-out to up-and-about! What a change!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Meet the “Man your man could smell like”. That’s the new viral-video that’s clearly broken all previous viral-video records. It features Isaiah Mustafa who has now achieved a pop-icon status. Since the time this man showed the ladies how their man could “smell” like him, even though they didn’t “look” like him, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been “smelling” money in every market. After the viral-video produced by Wieden & Kennedy hit the Internet, the P&G brand Old Spice has been constantly gaining market share. The viral showed in an interesting tongue-in-cheek manner how anything is possible when you smell right. It may sound a little over the top, but it’s a fact – when you smell right, dress right, you have higher chances of success!

Carmine Gallo, a popular communications expert once had the chance to interview Commander Matt Eversmann. He was the military hero who led his troops into battle in Somalia in 1993, and he also inspired the movie Black Hawk Down. Gallo asked him, “What’s the secret of leadership?” Eversmann answered: “It starts with how a leader wears his uniform.” That’s not a “mantra” or “gyan” many would give about leadership. However, as Eversmann said, his whites were whiter than his subordinates’, his clothes were better ironed, his shoes shinier! That’s where leadership starts.

Friday, July 16, 2010


The closing ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, brought a lot of things to an end, like checking scores, looking in disbelief as big teams like Italy, Argentina, Brazil etc fell, like a pack of cards, smiling & wondering whether to believe in the octopus Paul’s prophecy! As Shakira sang “Waka, Waka,” the perfect cheering song meaning “Do it” during the closing ceremony, the world held its breath in anticipation. Who would it be this time – Spain or Netherlands? However, for a few moments, everybody forgot about the finals when this person entered the stadium, as all 89,000 spectators rose to salute the great leader, who actually started it all. Nelson Mandela’s overpowering presence left many teary-eyed. South Africa became the first African nation to host the FIFA Would Cup. Years ago, it also was the same nation that was banned from FIFA due to the apartheid system.

If you have seen the heart touching film “Invictus” directed by Clint Eastwood, you would understand what a long & difficult journey Mandela tread to reach here. If there is one leader who understood the power of sports, it was this man – Nelson Mandela. In his first term as the newly elected president, in 1995, Mandela did the impossible. He united an apartheid-torn nation, brought them together using the universal language of sports, as he worked hard to make South Africa win the 1995 Rugby World Cup – where both blacks & whites of South Africa for the first time cheered together for their nation. From there to becoming a hosting nation of FIFA, all one can say – what a man!

Friday, July 2, 2010


The world over people are glued to their TV screens, taking in the excitement of FIFA. It’s pure delight, sheer happiness to see a goal being scored on football’s biggest stage. A goal brings with it instant fame, victory and of course celebrations for players and fans. However, what’s different is that for the first time in the history of FIFA, will someone be awarded for showing their passion.

This month (June) Coca-Cola revealed its plans to recognize the most entertaining “goal celebration” with its “Coca- Cola Celebration Award”. Coca-Cola believes that “Players are sure to release their African rhythm and create some iconic move that will rival the legendary celebrations…” After all what is FIFA without the jig, the jiggle, the jumps, the triumphs. You enjoy the way the players celebrate after each goal as much as the game. Now Coca-Cola has it all archived at, and it’s giving awards for the jiggle that gets the highest votes from viewers.

Friday, June 18, 2010


How long does it take to summarize two hundred years of a nation’s history? Ans: Exactly 181 seconds! This is the way Argentina is celebrating its bicentennial. The story of the nation is being told through a 181-second story of the county’s most loved and strongest brands. With the help of each brand, a tale is woven around the growth and development of the nation and the brand – for these brands are no ordinary brands; their makers didn’t just believe in earning profits but in earning pride for their nation. One 181-second story is on Quilmes beer. It traces the history of how the brewery was set up, which slowly changed the fortunes and lifestyles of the people of that area. As the nation prospered, so did Quilmes. When T.V. came to the country, Quilmes became the first advertiser. Then one day, Quilmes picked up its local soccer team, backed it with sponsorship, enthusiastically supported it through the years, while the team went ahead and started playing for the nation and one day got Argentinaits fi rst World Cup.

30 such local brands are being showcased to celebrate Argentina’s 200 years. This goes on to show that brands are today symbols of our society and brand builders are even society builders. Brands have a symbolic power and some of them have so deeply ingrained themselves into our culture, that they even give consumers a way to identify themselves – I am who I am partly because of the brands I use.

Friday, June 4, 2010


It started with a rivet. Born in Germany this man migrated to USA, settled in San Francisco and became a trader. Jacob Davis a tailor, started buying cloth from him to stitch pants. One of his customers kept ripping his pockets on his pants & Jacob had a tough time repairing it time & again, till he came upon the idea of putting copper rivets at the stress points on the pocket corner. His “riveted work pants” very quickly became a craze. Worried that someone would steal his idea, he called on his friend, the trader. Together they patented his invention. For twenty years Jacob and his friend Levi were the only company allowed to make riveted work pants. This is how the story of Levis “jeans” started – with a rivet.

In today’s world too, its “riveting” stories that bring success. Every time you look at a Levis jeans you remember the rivet story. Good stories stick on and make the brand name stick on too.

Friday, May 21, 2010


He is more popular than Jesus… well, at least on Twitter and he is just 16 years old. His mom posted a video of his on YouTube, which triggered a series of events and shot him to fame. Today every girl from the age group of 7-16 dreams of how it would be to be his girlfriend.

She did in 18 months what Madonna took nearly a decade to accomplish. She is 23. She features in the 2010 Time Magazine’s listing of the 100 most influential people in the world. Who are these people? How will they affect business?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


American Airlines spent tons of money reupholstering seats in their entire fleet and then of course spent more publicising this fact. They ran ads in all leading newspapers and magazines with the headline “Fly in leather”, for now they knew they had an edge over their competitors. Excited by their terrific ad campaign they decided to take it across borders and share it with their potential Spanish speaking customers. Of course, this time they translated it in Spanish, so that it would have a wider appeal. However what they got was rather unexpected. A lot of Spanish speaking people complained about these advertisements. Much to the horror of the airline, when they looked at the Spanish advertisement & translated them back again in English they realized, their snappy headline “Fly in leather” had changed to “Fly Naked”!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


There is more IPL action happening on the front pages of newspapers than the sports pages. The controversies, the money spent on buying “super players”, $2.75 million on Kieron Pollard, $1.3 million on Shane Bond, got me intrigued. Does stacking your team with the best players guarantee success?

The myth of the Lone ranger
Personal leadership is the most studied, researched topic in American life. However romantic the idea of a larger than life individual working alone and accomplishing great things may sound, the fact remains – seldom can success be attributed to one individual. Most of the times, it’s not great men or great women, but great groups that have been responsible for

Thursday, March 25, 2010


“Team sunegi, duniya dekhegi;” it’s your chance to tell Mumbai Indians how to play. And if that’s not enough, then for a cricket crazy nation there is more. You can help Kolkata Knight Riders by actually coaching them, for this time, Shahrukh is asking for your suggestions & making you a coach of his team. “Main bhi coach,” sums up the Indian mentality where everybody sitting in front of their TV sets knows the exact “winning mantra” for each match. This time, a lot of IPL teams are asking you, and rewarding you too for your suggestions. Why?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


It’s a special issue that we hold in our hands today and hence a time to celebrate, and celebrate we will. For as someone said, “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” It’s been an amazing journey for 4Ps B&M. It stared as a dream, an idea, and over the years was nurtured and made grandiose by A. Sandeep, the most witty, dynamic and intelligent Editor of the magazine. He was, is and will be the backbone of this magazine. It’s geniuses like him and Sutanu Guru, Steven and Aditi who have made this magazine so popular and revered! 100 is after all a very special number and our 100th issue very special too. It symbolises commitment, consistency and great quality and trust which our readers have put in the magazine.

“Trust” is the keyword and various instances in the recent past have once again proved that this is the most important factor. No one has realised this more than Toyota. In February 2010, Toyota recalled hundreds of thousands of its cars from America and Japan due to faulty brakes resulting in huge losses. According to a survey, Toyota previously had a flawless reputation, with nearly 92% respondents trusting the brand almost blindly. Post the recall issue, only 66% consumers consider it reliable. In fact, in USA, about 26% judged Toyota to be of a lower quality than domestic brands. In this world of cut-throat competition, this is not good as competitors don’t miss a chance to beat you down... which is exactly what Ford did. It’s the only American car company to have survived the steepest sales downturn in decades – that too without a government bailout. When it comes to winning new customers and their trust and admiration, Ford has taken the lead and its showing in their balance sheets too. In 2009, Ford actually made profits – for the first time after fi ve years and thanks to the once-in-a-lifetime “golden” opportunity provided by Toyota. Ford now says there’ll be no “brakes” on its profitability even in 2010.

It is trust that has made Apple top the charts, third year in a row as “the world’s most admired company.” Apple generates a hysteria around its products. This year, its sales are generating the same hysteria. Just three years old, in the smart phone category and the iPhone has already become the world’s third largest smart phone maker. Apple doubled its iPhone sales last year to 25 million. It is trust built over the years by Disney due to its obsessive focus on product quality that has seen it get ranked No.1 in world class quality by consumers.

Trust is that intangible factor that keeps companies afloat & enables them to beat competition; trust is something we value most. It’s the trust that our readers have put in us that we have been able to reach the “100th issue” milestone. “100” after all is an interesting number. There seems to be a magical ring to it. Ask any cricket lover and he will be able to recount the magical and fastest 100 scored by Shahid Afridi against Srilanka in Nairobi. A 102 runs out of just 37 balls. If one 100 can get people so excited, then think of two 100s and you could even get a Bharat Ratna, if not deliriously happy to say the least! Sachin Tendulkar became the first cricketer in the history of one-day cricket to score a double hundred in Gwalior. Every Indian’s heart swelled with pride.

It’s interesting to note that the most powerful man on Earth is judged by the work he does in the first 100 days of taking oath. An odd custom, some may say, but that’s how it’s been since the days of Franklin D Roosevelt, who also took office at a time of dire economic crisis. Roosevelt used the first 100 days to jumpstart the economy and put people back to work. FDR’s first 100 days were the greatest, and no President has been able to equal that time when Democrats & Republicans worked as one! Barack Obama too had the boldest 100 days and more or less everyone felt his first 100 days were impressive as a leader! Yes, 100 seems to influence a lot of things as Albert Einstein once said, “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right”. Be it 100 runs, 100 days, or 100 conclusions, it’s one number that seems to be an important milestone to judge many things.


‘Google’ was actually meant to be named “Googol” but due to a misspelling landed up as “Google”. ‘Googol’ means, one allowed by a 100 zeros. Dr. Kasner a prominent mathematician wanted a name for a very large number and Milton, his 9 year old nephew, came up with ‘Googol’!

Fascinating but true, sometimes what you think to be a hundred is not so. The famous “100 year war”, the longest war in history fought between England and France, actually went on for 116 years. The dictionary meaning of “centurion” would read as 100 soldiers, but typically a Roman centurion commands 80 soldiers. In Dhaka, a 100 mangoes equals 112 in the metric system, while in Dinjpur a 100 betel leaves is 64.

While on the number 100, here are some interesting quirky facts. Your daily cup of coffee contains more than 100 chemicals. When you sneeze, the sneeze it travels out of your mouth at over 100 miles per hour, and your heart beats over 100 thousand times a day. A “jiffy” is actually a unit of time for 1/100th of a second. The cat can produce over 100 vocal sounds and a shark can detect one part of blood in 100 million parts of water. Come to think of it, the Earth gets 100 tons heavier everyday due to falling space dust. The book by Gabriel Marquez listed as one of the best books of the twentieth century is called “100 years of solitude”.

If that’s not enough, then for all you people below 100 years of age, try this (13837) x (your age) x 73= a very interesting number. Check it out.

And as you mull over the impact of 100 in our lives, we hope you enjoy this 100th issue a hundred times more than any other. A 100 cheers to all as we celebrate this important milestone, for you all will surely agree there’s something special about 100.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


As the world became sure of the rumours that Apple would launch its “much talked- about-tablet” the iPad by January end, NASDAQ went into a tizzy. Apple’s share prices soared. The world was bursting with excitement of what would Steve Jobs do this time! Gawker Media even went to the extent of publicly offering up to $1,00,000 in cash for photos of the Apple tablet a week before the actual launch. Yes, Jobs knows his job very well. He knows how to excite the world and how to very intelligently market his inventions. Moses knew the power of the “tablet” when years ago he descended on Earth with the 10 commandments engraved on it. Steve Jobs did much the same when he demonstrated how the world would change its ways after the iPad!

Amazon’s e-reader ‘Kindle’ is definitely going to feel the heat for the iPad. Apart from being a beautiful device, the iPad is much cooler and more fun. It’s colorful, sleek and will come with zillions of applications for the user to download. Priced almost at par with the Kindle, the iPad would definitely be giving sleepless nights to Jeff Bezos (founder of & Kindle). The tablet is going to be the new form of browsing the web.

The iPad, with its new technology, makes browsing super fast, easy and most importantly an absolute delight. We might soon be saying goodbye to our laptops and desktops! The iPad brings along with it the “Tablet Age” and soon we could see a lot of people reaching out for a ‘Tablet’ to do a lot of things!

Yes, the iPad is changing the rules of the game yet again. However, there is someone who might give it sleepless nights too. It’s none other than our very own ex-student from IIPM, Sachin Ralhan, and his friends who have designed the Indian tablet PC, ‘ADAM’! It would be released in July in America and many feel it’s better than the iPad. It has everything that the iPad doesn’t have. It is slimmer than the iPad, it’s cheaper, it’s got a longer battery life, can run a 1080p HD video (which the iPad cannot), and uses NVIDIA’s new Tegra2 chipset (making its hardware sturdier than iPad’s), has USB ports and runs Flash, both of which the iPad cannot! Three cheers to Sachin, to IIPM and India! I’m surely waiting for the ‘Adam’! All the eves, the envious, the curious and various others, let’s together root for Adam!

Tablets are a new way of sharing content with the consumers. And you might have heard how they are going to save the newspaper business, the music companies, magazines and movie studios, television producers and just about everybody! I wonder how much they will save, but they sure will change the rules of many businesses and give them a new dimension to explore. Of course, the possibilities are endless. The iPad and its rich interface will make gaming more thrilling. A magazine will be brought to life with moving pictures, videos, graphics being embedded along with the text!

Condé Nast started working on its digital version for tablets of Wired magazine even before the iPad was launched. It’s a new format and publishers who will reinvent will stay in business. Dwindling advertising revenues could rise again with a whole world of possibilities emerging thanks to ‘tablets’. Digital magazines can have digital ads, which are more interactive than plain print ads.

The iPad, the Adam, are “media viewing machines” and very powerful ones too! Check out the Sports Illustrated – Tablet Demo 1.5 on YouTube to see how reading will never be the same again. An art book now could have videos of the museum; a cookery book on the tablet could show the chef giving his tips. The creative possibilities for publishers are endless.

Travis Boatman of the gaming company EA says that playing games like Scrabble and other board games on the iPad would be a delight. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger says Digi-books for children would come to life on the iPad. The Guardian, which can be downloaded on your iPhone for £2.39, claims it was downloaded 70,000 times in a month. The iPad, like the iPhone, too could open interesting revenue streams for newspapers and advertisers. The tablet gives advertisers a scope to be more creative. When people thought Billboards were dead, David Ogilvy proved the world wrong. He put up a billboard with a girl in a bikini and a tag line, “She takes off her top next week.” She did and people gawked. “She takes off her bottom next,” he wrote in the second week. The world waited and yes, she kept her promise and people agreed – creativity and not billboards were dead. Ogilvy showed how a creative idea always works. Kenzo pinned poppies on its billboards, which you could simply unpin and take home – a unique way of giving samples. Internet advertising has not been so effective; the iPad and a large dose of creativity could change this. Not surprising, many are calling it a “1.5 pound sack of potential.” One needs to ‘reinvent’ and ‘reimagine’ constantly; and for many businesses, iPad provides that rich canvas to showcase all their creativity.

It’s the game of ‘applications’. In spite of free content being made available, nearly 75 million iPhone and iTouch users download a paid application every month. The Apple store boasts of two billion applications. Even though most are free, the remainder generated sales of $200 million in a month. Not bad for a side business. Adam realizes this is going to be a war of applications – so it’s planning to announce a prize of $1m for developers of applications.

Go Adam...go and make us proud! Be it the Adam, iPad or any other tablet, this is for sure, every developer is now thinking of tablets, just the way the iPhone changed the business of mobiles. Would it be smarter than the smartphones? Would it be lapped up faster than laptops by the market? For those answers, we need to wait till March. However one thing’s sure – the tablet’s sure made technology more interesting and fun!

The future is going to be all about iPads and Adams!

Friday, January 29, 2010


‘When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.’ Though some marketers were not swayed by the logic then, they have now realised that the fastest way to set things right is with a powerful dose of a great advertisement

An interesting billboard went up in Manhattan in New York a few days back. The advertisement showed Oracle President Charles Phillips posing with a lady named YaVaughnie Wilkins with a quote below the picture that read, “You are my soul mate forever.” The only problem was, Charles was the only person who knew not that he would be featuring in this ad; for it was Ms. Wilkins – with whom he had had an eight-year long affair – who had decided to make things public after he dumped her! She even put a website address on the billboard: where, if you wanted, you could check out the couple’s snaps, letters and cards sent to each other! Be it an interesting advertisement, adultery or advertisement of adultery, if done well, they never ever fail to capture the attention of the world. Last year, a lot of companies lost faith in the power of a good advertisement; and due to very bad times, a lot were forced to cut down their advertising budgets. But the fact remains, even though advertising is the tip of the whole marketing iceberg, it’s a very important tip nevertheless. And everywhere, companies are once again putting back their faith in this medium of marketing. For like Ms. Wilkins, they realise – the fastest way to set things right is with a powerful dose of a great advertisement.

Recession or no recession, all gurus preach that marketing budgets should not be cut. They could be channelised from one stream to the other. Sure, tough times demand decrease in advertisement frequency and increase in use of other marketing efforts like direct marketing, which give more immediate sales impact.

However, nothing builds brands stronger and faster than ‘correctly themed’ advertisements; and this year, a lot of companies are doing just that. Not surprising then, that most researches this year are suggesting an increase in the advertising expenditure by 15-20% in India.

One of the first to join the bandwagon is Remember its Hari Sadu advertisement. He is back and Naukri says it’s OK to call your irritating bosses names, for jobs are back and you can now switch once again. So fear not and express yourself! The underlying message being bidding goodbye to recession. The ‘bad boss’ brings ‘good news’ this time.

‘Hope’ is the new mantra for attracting consumers this year. Federal Express has launched a new ad campaign this year for India, Brazil, Mexico, Japan and UK, showing the world the power of hope. Its new tagline for ads this year is ‘FedEx delivers to a changing world’. It shows how the economy is witnessing an upturn and FedEx, as always, is one they can depend on to stay in business and survive.

The world is a different place today. A whole lot has changed. New rules have been written, old ones rewritten, and to survive you need to change. After 125 years, Oscar Mayer (a division of Kraft Foods) has decided to come out with a new ad campaign, even if it meant pushing aside its most famous and till date highly popular ad jingles. It knows that what worked till last year probably won’t this year. The campaign this year has a new tagline, ‘It doesn’t get better than this’. The ads show cheerful scenes from suburban life… very warm, very comforting, suggesting that good times are just around the corner. This time around, the world needs a heavy dose of ‘hope’ and advertisers are working overtime to infuse some through their ‘happy, homely ads’.

‘Homely’, because when times are rough, you look back to your home and family for support. You need to be reassured that all are together. Each one counts. Not just at home, but in business too, and the one who understood it best was Microsoft. Business is personal is the theme of its new ads. The print ads looked like ‘fake memos’ complete with words crossed, insertions made with a pen, et al; and as you read through, you realise that it was an announcement of the launch of Microsoft’s new software, which “understood how people really worked.” Read the memo, “…now more than ever, it’s everybody’s business… to come together and form a great company even in a tough economy”. Microsoft seems to have got it absolutely right this year. Its earlier ads never really managed to strike a chord with the audience. And Apple always had had the last laugh – as it scored higher with its comparative ads – making fun of Microsoft’s fuddy-duddy image.

Chrysler too is hoping on ‘hope’ as it begins the New Year. It wanted its consumers to realise that it had emerged from bankruptcy and was a stronger, healthier company. As families came together for the New Year, Chrysler did not lose the opportunity to remind them that this was the very company and the very car that had been bringing home their loved ones and hoped to do so for many years to come. A dash of good cheer and nostalgia is what the new campaign, ‘Coming home’, is filled with. It hopes to once again get the cash registers jingling.

The spirit of survival is what the coming year will be about, and if it requires a new look, then nobody is asking why. Probably, recession needs to be thanked and not blamed, for it’s recession that forces one to think creatively, to think positively. One company that’s surely been thinking very differently is Idea Cellular. With every cellular company banking on celebrities, this one decided to introduce a new ‘idea’ too. Abhishek Bachchan not just charmed you with his wit, but also showed innovative ways of saving paper. It has truly created a huge improvement in brand recall Sir Ji!

Visualise this on your TV screens… teen girls dancing at a bus stop using an MP3 player – then comes a tag line, ‘Made in China with software from Silicon Valley.’ You got it right! Not just companies, countries too are working hard toward changing their images this time, for it makes good business sense. With ‘Made-in-China’ products taking a major image beating this year, be it toothpaste, toys or pet food, the China Advertising Association decided it was time for a makeover. ‘Made in China, made with the world’, is the theme of the new adcampaign to help overcome all negative prejudices of the western world.

If you thought this was all, think again, for there is somebody else who is out with a new advertising campaign to showcase the world its new image. Taliban is softening their stance in Afghanistan and are making full-on attempts to change their image. Believe it or not, but their new policy of cutting off ears, nose or tongues is finding its way in a new ad campaign. Do not try to access it on YouTube for this commercial is banned from being viewed in our country, but this is one smart organization that has learnt its marketing lessons well and understood the power of a good ad campaign.

This next one that I am going to talk about is still reeling under the hit it got last year – from a golf club I bet! Post Tiger Woods, Accenture is still struggling to get its act together. It’s also out with a new ad campaign. It would be spending between $40-50 million bucks on this one, which shows different animals doing things they normally wouldn’t do. An elephant surfing, a frog leapfrogging other frogs, et al, with the punch line ‘Who says you can’t be big and nimble?’ God knows how the ads would fare. But one thing is sure: this

one would have all animals except the tiger! Of course, the fastest way for Tiger Woods to rebuild his image would be to stay away from commercials this year. But for others, it’s time to put in a spring in your walk, a cherry smile and try to win back customers and lost market share with advertisements that sell ‘Hope’ and ‘Happiness.’

This time, creativity will count the most. Remember, you can’t out-spend the competitor every time, and more so not in today’s times with very tight budgets. However, you sure can outthink them.

Choose a theme that gels with the feelings of today’s consumer and you can bet that this time things will get better, and it’s sure going to be a Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


A good product or even a good advertising strategy alone cannot successfully sell a brand. In today’s cutthroat competition, strategic public relations holds the answer!

Amystery cream was pitted against some well known branded antiaging creams for seven days in a “blind product-trial” campaign in China. One hundred and fifty beauty bloggers in Shanghai participated in this “blind-trial”. The results showed an overwhelming 9 out of 10 women (bloggers) said they would recommend this mystery cream to a friend and a same number said it was better than the well-known, prestige brands that they had used in the past. The surprise result created a tremendous buzz online. After seven days the name of the mystery cream was revealed – Unilever’s Pond’s Age Miracle.

When David Beckham travelled to Australia to play for LA Galaxy FC the world leading style icon was seen using the V8 Lux, the new mobile phone that Motorola was planning to launch in Australia. The world saw Beckham using the phone, what they did not see was the weeks of hard work the agency Ogilvy put into developing media partnership with some of Australia’s top radio, print & TV media to help promote the idea that Beckham too uses the V8 Lux. In a country where its people use their mobile phone as a style statement, for the brand to be perceived as stylish you needed a stylish launch. For a phone that had ensured it was designed most stylishly with its gold plated accents, smooth snakeskin-like textures and subtle details, all it needed was a stylish roll-out (who better than Beckham) and an intelligent public relations (PR) agency to help influence people’s perception!

Pond’s Age Miracle cream’s launch in China through the “blind-trial” using beauty bloggers was also another case of how intelligent public relations can launch a new brand. For a country like China, which is home to over 340 million net users who are online for an average of 16 hours per week, this strategy of using the digital medium to promote a new brand worked wonders for Ponds. The cyber-charm, charmed the Chinese definitely.


Times are tough, and more so last year when everyone was worried about jobs, pay cuts and salaries. A survey done in America by Schneider Associates, IRI and Sentient Decision Science revealed an interesting result. Almost 93% of respondents – the highest level in eight years of the survey – could not name one new product launch from a list of 50 launches in 2009. Why these results were more shocking was because the number of people watching TV, surfing the web or doing both simultaneously had increased tremendously, yet brand recall had fallen. The brand that topped the list of most recalled launches was KFC’s grilled chicken, which proved to be Yum! Brand’s biggest launch ever. Surprisingly, it’s not advertising which was responsible for making it big and memorable but a small “PR gimmick”. Oprah was roped in to distribute free coupons to viewers of her show. Yes, agreed it was a great product (healthy + great taste) and a massive campaign using traditional and modern, digital media was planned meticulously, but it was Oprah who acted as a catalyst, which is what made the launch most memorable. KFC outlets were flooded with people wanting to taste the product and they could hardly keep up with the demand. Oprah made the product noticeable and the launch highly successful. From April to December some 65 million Americans had tried the product, raising KFC’s market share of “grilled chicken” category to 25%.

Deloitte was looked upon as just an accounting firm. When it wanted to change the perception of the consumers, it turned to Hill & Knowlton to develop a unique campaign. Hill & Knowlton launched several surveys that highlighted various trends in healthcare. These surveys were published in the front pages of leading newspapers like The New York Times. In addition, people from Deloitte’s team were offered as sources who could comment on trends like Obama’s election, healthcare reforms etc. in main stream media like CNN, Fox Business etc. In no time, people started associating Deloitte with healthcare. To crown all its efforts, ‘Modern Healthcare’ ranked Deloitte as the number one healthcare consultancy in 2008. A little strategic PR, a $500,000 budget – and Deloitte was transformed at least in the eyes the people. Plain advertising could never have helped USAID increase the use of condoms in India (the sure-shot method to stop the spread of AIDS). Condoms are a taboo subject here – people get uncomfortable. All this had to be changed. “Condom bindass bol,” the TV ad campaign was backed by high voltage PR where contests were held; stories about the campaign were aired. The PR was so effective that it increased the sale of condoms. IPRA 2007 Golden World Awards for excellence in public relations was won by Corporate Voice ½ Weber Shandwick the only Indian entry to get a prize.

It was Hill & Knowlton that campaigned across 27 countries to persuade International Olympic Committee members to choose London for the 2012 games. As the markets mature, consumers become more and more critical. Some old tricks just won’t work anymore. Marketers need to rethink their strategies. It’s time to think beyond TV ads, beyond the 30-second TV spots. With people talking to each other before talking with brands, it’s important to find a way to influence their opinions & perceptions and PR seems to be the perfect choice.


On August 2, 1990, when Iraqi troops led by dictator Saddam Hussain invaded the oil producing nation of Kuwait, Bush did not appreciate it – after all, “oil” was at stake. To push Iraqi’s invading army out of Kuwait would cost billions of dollars, and unprecedented US military mobilisation – and most importantly, the consent of American people. How would he justify what American soldiers were doing in the oil fiefdom of Kuwait, fighting against Saddam Hussain who was until recently an ally of the US. The answers to the public were supplied by none other than Hill & Knowlton, who masterminded the Kuwait campaign. A dummy group, ‘Citizens for a free Kuwait’, was set up by the Kuwaiti government; and as expected, this group employed Hill & Knowlton to give it consultancy. The Kuwait government gave funds to this group to the tune of $11.9 million – interestingly, $10.8 million of it went to Hill & Knowlton as consultancy fees :-). Amongst the various videos crafted under the expert guidance of Hill & Knowlton that were distributed to various TV stations & networks, one was an emotionally moving testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, Nayirah, who described how, when she was working as a volunteer in a hospital in Kuwait, she saw Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators and leaving them on the cold floor to die. It was the perfect PR peg – newsworthy, evoked a strong emotional response, stuck to the memory. It worked so well that everyone forget to verify one fact – Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal family. After seeing the video, the world was furious and everyone hated the Iraqis and began to support the US military in helping Kuwait fight the Iraqi soldiers.

A great PR campaign had successfully managed to sell a war.


Public opinion is very important. Just as it requires tremendous skill to garner their support, it requires tremendous skill to handle public opinion when things go wrong. And if one doesn’t move fast, it could spell disaster.

When passengers of Jet Blue were trapped inside the aircraft for 11 hours due to a delay, each of the 1,000 passengers was extremely irritated. They were not allowed to de-plane and found it very difficult. A quick apology by Jet Blue and the matter would have been forgotten; but it turned out to be a PR disaster when Jet Blue argued that they did so keeping passengers safety in mind. People were furious and it sparked a government debate about passenger’s rights. Jet Blue was forced to announce a “Passenger’s Bill of Rights” which promised to de-plane passengers after five hours delay in future.

Talking of PR disasters, a bigger one could not be made when CEOs of GM, Chrysler and Ford headed to Washington to beg for a $25 billion bailout in – guess what – an expensive private jet!!! After being ridiculed, they chose hybrid cars for the next hearing.

When the Czech government accused the tobacco giant Philip Morris – stating financial costs of smoking outweighed its benefits (if any) – Philip Morris did a survey which proved that the number of people who died due to smoking actually helped the government save $24-30 billion in health care, pension and housing costs. The public was livid and what the company thought was a positive PR move, turned into a big PR disaster.

These big corporations might actually turn to Aamir Khan to learn a lesson or two in PR. For each of his films after Lagaan, the man has a flawless marketing and PR plan worked out in his mind. So much so that when it came to marketing of the blockbuster 3 Idiots, both the director & producer felt Aamir could do it best. The man knows how to influence masses – he made people change their hairstyles and bulk up after Ghajini, become more empathetic towards children with learning disorders after Taare Zameen Par, and even rethink the Indian education system – and its flaws – after 3 Idiots. He did it for he knew what to do, to how to make this happen. He knew how giving hair cuts outside movie theatres before Ghajini’s release would work, or drawing sessions with children before Taare Zameen Par released would interest people, or how even participating in the Narmada Bachaoo Andolan campaign would excite people (before Fanaa’s release obviously!).

He always has a new trick up his sleeve before his film releases. His disguise as a 60 year old man was a trick to promote 3 Idiots. Totally in sync with the story where his two friends go finding him. Everybody was finding Aamir, while the actor found his way to the bank. His last four releases had collective box office revenue of over Rs.590 crores (Rang De Basanti, Fanaa, Tare Zameen Par, Ghajini). 3 Idiots has broken all historic box office records (Rs.315 crore in 18 days).

One point the man has definitely proved – a good product or even a good advertising strategy alone cannot successfully sell a brand. It’s cut-throat competition and every single detail matters. As Raju Hirani confesses, he and Vidhu Vinod Chopra would have done the mundane job of putting ads and promos, but Aamir showed them the importance of a good PR Campaign.

So be it corporations or individuals, while you watch 3 Idiots, remember the one man who at 44 convincingly played a 25-year-old, aroused your curiosity and got you talking about the movie long before its release. Study his past moves and wait for his future acts, for when it comes to crafting a flawless PR strategy, no one does it better than Aamir Khan!
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