Friday, December 28, 2012


It is said that John F. Kennedy was America’s first television President. Barack Obama has shown that he is the nation’s first ‘Social Media’ President!

The super fast advancements in technology and the growth of the internet have changed the marketing landscape totally. Its impact was seen the most in the Presidential campaigns of Obama and Romney. This time, Obama’s campaign strategies were totally different from the ones he used in 2008. Yes, he once again used social media, but he used it more scientifically. This time, he had a huge team of ‘boffins’ (data analysts) headed by a new ‘Chief Scientist’ Rayid Ghani, whose job was to scientifically analyze all the data and use it to plan Obama’s various marketing strategies. For example, the team found out that in 2008, it had used the “Sign up now” button to gather followers on Facebook; but changing it to “Learn more” was far more effective in getting people to register in 2012. Each plan was tested, retested, analyzed and then implemented. A huge team of data analysts holed up in what was nicknamed ‘The Cave’ sat day in and day out crunching numbers and planning each move. That was the secret to Obama’s success.

The social media landscape is, after all, more cluttered and much different now than it was four years ago; so this time, it needed to be handled differently too. Obama showed us the most effective way of handling it.


The consumer talks to you in many different ways, and the most successful marketer is one who listens most intently. Today, most marketers do listen to their consumers, but the ones who can respond the fastest will win in the future. This is the new rule of the game. This is also called ‘adaptive marketing’, and both Obama and Romney showed the corporate world how to adapt real fast.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The term ‘bootstrapping’ is an interesting term. It has a lot of challenge, a lot of drama built into it.

The term is attributed to a story written by Rudolf Erich. The story titled The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen is based on a series of tales narrated by the Baron about his travels, with some impossible feats and daring escapes. One such tale is about him pulling himself out of a swamp with the help of his bootstraps as there was no one to help him and there was no other way he could have survived. Today, this 18th century tale has acquired a new meaning; especially for entrepreneurs. The idiom “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is the secret behind the success of many people today. When all else failed, they looked at the end of their own arm and found a helping hand! Just the way when the Baron fell in the swamp and nothing seemed to work and it looked like all was lost, he thought of picking himself up by his own bootstraps.

Rajita Chaudhuri
This little boy used to walk barefoot to school. He used to sit on the floor in the classroom, as he was not allowed to sit on the desk; neither could he enter the temple of his village, for he was considered ‘unclean’ because he belonged to a lower caste. Ashok Khade is today a multi-millionaire who has Arabs as his business partners. A poor cobbler’s son, he had no money. He could barely finish his college and in spite of being a good student, he had to drop out and take up a job as an apprentice draftsman at the Mazagon Dock. His dreams of becoming a doctor were shattered, but he continued to work hard and became the best draftsman in the company. One day, his boss sent him to Germany for work. There, he chanced to see the paychecks of the Germans and was shocked to find how much they made in a month. This motivated him to work harder.

When everyone refused to help him, he decided to pull himself up by his own bootstraps and do something different. He worked hard; and at the right time, he started his own small company… something that was unthinkable at that time, when no one thought of leaving a steady job and taking this huge risk. It paid off and he soon got his first contract and then his second; and today, he has his own business empire, and his own voice. He organizes seminars where businessmen of his community (Dalit) give advice to companies like Tata Motors. He even persuades the government to give contracting preferences to Dalits, and the private companies to create job opportunities for people of his community.

Monday, October 1, 2012


She was a young girl when she first came to Mumbai from a small village. She was born into a dalit family and had faced discrimination all her life. After marriage at a tender age of 12, it got even worse as she was beaten up by her husband's family and tortured daily. She could not take it and ran away to her father's house. But the Indian society always looks down at a woman who leaves her husband. The pressure was too much for her to take and she tried to commit suicide at the age of 16. Her aunt saved her and inspired her to live her life on her own terms. That day, this 16 year old Kalpana made a promise to herself to live her way. She went back to Mumbai and started working at Rs.2 per day. She worked 16 hours a day. Soon, she started her own business. Subsequently, as luck would have it, she got a chance to run a metal engineering company - Kamani Tubes - which was in massive debt. She could understand the plight of the people best as she had already been in that situation once. She soon turned the company around and is today the CEO of this multi-million dollar company. Her commitment to herself, to never give up, finally paid off.

Rajita Chaudhuri
Rajita Chaudhuri
Success comes when you are ready to be bonded, when you are ready to be committed. With commitment, comes the ability to give your best without looking for returns. A mother's love is the best description of commitment. She loves her child without thinking or calculating what she will get in return. It's pure, it's unconditional, and it comes from a deep commitment towards her baby. All people who have achieved greatness have been able to do so because of their steely determination and their commitment to the cause. Michelangelo was one such person. He was a great artist, but his greatness lay in his ability to stick to his commitments. He sculpted his first masterpiece at the age of 21. He was so good that he was soon asked to paint the ceiling of a small chapel in the Vatican. He was initially asked to paint only 12 figures on the ceiling, a figure that over time increased to 400. Since he had committed to the task, he did not refuse to paint any of the 400 figures. The whole task took him four years, and that too while working mostly lying on his back, as he had to paint the ceiling. This caused permanent damage to his eyesight; and at the age of 37 itself, he started looking quite old. One day, while Michelangelo was immersed at work, someone saw him intently painting a figure that was quite concealed in a dark corner, a corner that most people would not notice. The person asked Michelangelo why he was working so hard on something that not many would see? His answer was, "God would see!" That is commitment. when you work with passion and give your best without calculating how much benefit you would get. As expected, the ceiling that Michelangelo painted set a new standard in art, which is being copied for generations now.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


The Olympics are over and forgotten and so is India’s performance. Yes, we did win a few medals, but we did not win a gold. If we had to look at the Olympics from a marketer’s point of view, then once again, there is this one company, which deserves to get the ‘Gold’ for its marketing strategy.


If you watched the Olympics, you would not have missed the neon green shoes on the feet of some 400 athletes. Well it’s not the first time that athletes have worn Nike shoes during the Olympics, but it is definitely the first time that they have worn this color. Earlier, Nike used to make shoes that matched the uniforms of the athletes. The shoes ‘matched’, which means that they blended with the uniforms. Nike did not like that for nobody really noticed them. Martin Lotti, the designer at Nike, was not happy just designing shoes; he wanted to be noticed. So he chose a color that was bound to stand out – be it the racing track, the boxing ring, or any other event. He colored his shoes neon green and made every athlete wear them. There was no chance that anyone could miss them. So while Adidas was the official sponsor of the game, it’s once again Nike’s shoes that got noticed.

Rajita Chaudhuri
Prof. Rajita Chaudhuri
If you stick by certain basic rules, chances of going wrong are reduced remarkably. Like in the above mentioned case, when people go to watch the Olympics, they go to watch the athletes. So if any brand wants to get noticed, the most logical thing would be to be as near to the athletes as possible. Nike did just that. It thought ‘athletes’ and all marketing and branding efforts were concentrated around the athlete. So while Coca Cola is rumored to have paid $100 million and Adidas has apparently shelled out around $63 million, it is Nike who did not spend any money on sponsorships that got the maximum attention. Branding is all about creating the right impact and Nike was bang on target this time. Branding is also about creating customer satisfaction, but surprisingly, many companies lose this focus and finally lose out in the race.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The way to your dreams, your goals lies not just in charting a good action-plan, but also equally in decluttering your life, the way all great men have done


“Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature...” – Thomas Kempis

In today’s world, where we live in an environment of clutter, chaos and confusion, the person who is able to de-clutter and simplify his life is the one who can achieve the maximum. Most of us are doing too much – speaking too much, connecting too much (thanks to Facebook and other networking sites), multitasking too much, aiming for too many goals, filling our workday with too many commitments, and the list goes on. It’s time to hold back, think, and simplify things. It’s time to focus on the essential and de-clutter, and de-stress our life. All successful people have done it.

However, simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve. The ones who can achieve it have been the most successful. Charlie Chaplin was one such legend. He simplified films. All his films were immaculately constructed. He understood human psychology perfectly and depicted it in the simplest manner in his films, which is why even today, they are as enjoyable to watch. Come to think of it, simplicity can be pretty complex. Only if you have a deep understanding of the problem can you think of a simple explanation or a simple solution. As Lao Tzu once said “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” The one who can master these three virtues is sure to succeed.

Monday, August 20, 2012



She was born into a family of jhum cultivators of Manipur. She helped her parents till the fields and looked after her siblings. Brought up in such a modest background, she never imagined that she would one day win a medal for her country at the Olympics. The woman I am talking about is Mary Kom, a true winner who, without any formal training and money, has won six gold medals at World Championships. This year, she made India proud by winning a bronze for the country. While better and more popular athletes crashed out, this woman put up a tough fight and achieved victory. Her story is the story of a woman who never gave up.

Rajita Chaudhuri
Prof. Rajita Chaudhuri
Every cartoon this boy submitted was rejected by his high school yearbook staff. Later on, even Walt Disney refused to hire him. Yet, he never gave up. Finally, in 1950, his dream of becoming a professional cartoonist was fulfilled as his comic strip Peanuts was published. It soon became a big hit and Charles Schulz was soon earning $30,000 a year by 1953. The characters of his cartoon strip became virtual heroes and soon they were adorning cards, books, clothes, lunchboxes, et al. Snoopy, one of Schulz’s creations, was such a big hit that he soon became the mascot of NASA in 1969. NASA’s lunar excursion on the Apollo 11 mission was called Snoopy! Ford used the characters from the cartoon strip Peanuts to sell the Falcon. The characters of Peanuts were also used for 15 years to sell the products of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. A man who faced a lot of rejections and misery, but all the time kept his focus on what he loved, Schulz finally showed the world that ‘quitters never win and winners never quit’.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Humans are the most social of all animals. We love to talk and interact with others. It is one activity we crave for and if are deprived of it, we could sometimes lose our sanity too. Well, advertisers are realizing this fact too; i.e., if they do not interact with their consumers, they could lose their market share to those who do so! The latest development in TV ads is helping advertisers do just this. Technology is being used to change ads from being a one-way communication process to two-way. It’s time that companies realized that not many are watching their ads. Think about it. Every time there is an ‘ad break’, we use it for a ‘loo-break’ or a ‘mobile checking break’ or a ‘what’s-on-in-other-channels- break’!!! This is making many big advertisers turn away from TV.

Take a test… try to remember the last few Nike commercials you saw on TV. Chances are that you will not be able to clearly remember them, for the simple reason that Nike is no more big on TV. Nike’s spending on TV and print has dropped by 40% in the last three years, though its total marketing budget has increased and is today at a record high of $2.4 billion. Nike has shifted its focus from expensive celebrity endorsements and has started making more interactive online marketing plans that encourage the user to communicate directly with the company. So those are the products like Nike+ running sensor and the Nike ‘FuelBand’ that are its key areas of focus today. The one division that has doubled its size in the company (from 100 employees to 200 in just 6 months) is Nike Digital Sport. The company spent $800 million on ‘non-traditional’ media in 2010. Rather than spending on the Super Bowl as it had traditionally always done, Nike feels that it makes better sense to focus on its online communities. It is here that most of its consumers spend their time (and not in front of the TV). It is here that it can get 200 million visits everyday, as compared to that one Super Bowl Sunday when 200 million Americans watch the game. It is here that Nike encourages millions of its users to post their workout details and in return gives them fitness tips, helps them share their workouts with friends, et al. This ‘conversation’ helps the company know more about its customers and helps it plan better marketing strategies.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


She is a heroine of a different generation and yet this month, so many celebrated her birthday as if she were still with us. She may have gone long ago; yet, she lives on, for her images just don’t seem to fade. In fact, every time an  unseen or unpublished image of hers is discovered, it makes it to the front page of almost all newspapers. The lady is Marilyn Monroe. Images are very powerful, they just live on and some even become iconic. The face of the Cuban revolutionary, Che Guevera, also being one such image. It’s not just a face. It symbolizes rebellion and freedom,  feelings that the youth just love. Put this face on any merchandise and it becomes a bestseller. The number of T-shirts  emblazoned with Che’s face that have been sold is incredible. It’s ironic that a revolutionary, who rebelled against the  capitalists, has today become the biggest bestseller of the capitalist world.   

That’s the power of these images. They  generate strong feelings. Another image that brings out strong reactions is the Swastika symbol of the Nazis. Recently,  Madonna used it during her tour in Israel. On a giant screen was shown an image of Marine Le Pen, who is the leader of  france’s National Front Party, with a Swastika on her forehead. The party was enraged and threatened to sue her.  Considering the fact that Madonna would be performing in France soon, this was a nice gimmick to get the nation talking  before she arrived! She is one of the few people who understand the power of images, of visual branding, and has used it  consistently over the years to keep her in the news and always ahead of competitors. Be it the cross of Jesus or the  Swastika of the Nazis, she knows how to use symbols to get people to notice her. 

It’s also the oldest trick of brand  building.   It’s also the oldest trick of brand building. Brands have used symbols (logos) to distinguish themselves from  competitors and build a unique identity around them. Associating oneself with a unique symbol makes it easy for  consumers to remember you. So on Marilyn Monroe’s birthday, Lady Gaga tweeted a picture of hers dressed as Monroe,  and more than one lakh of her followers (all in the age group of 14-19 years) liked it. The interesting part is neither Gaga  or her fans belong to Monroe’s generation and the only reason they are her fans is because of the ‘images’ they see of  her. These stunning images are the reasons for having ensured that ‘brand Marilyn Monroe’ will never die. And images  re the reasons that will ensure that your brand lives on in the future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Brad Pitt has bagged a new modeling contract, and this time, it’s not for any fancy gadget or any car brand or even a men’s clothing brand, but for a ladies’ perfume – Chanel Nº 5.

As expected, this news has got everyone talking about him and the perfume brand. It’s also got the cash registers ringing for him, and if all goes well, the cash registers would also be ringing for Chanel. The biggest boost in sales that a brand gets is when people start talking about it, when there is a certain buzz, an excitement around the brand. Ask any marketing expert and he would be ready to give his right arm to find the secret of creating the ‘right buzz’ around his brand. In fact, the job of advertisements is not necessarily to sell the product, but to get people to notice it; and in the most successful cases, to start talking about it. Chanel Nº 5 surely has learnt its lessons well. Decades ago, it had achieved notorious fame, when Marilyn Monroe – on being asked what she wears to bed – had said, “Why, Chanel Nº 5 of course!” That, and now this, i.e., getting Brad Pitt as their brand ambassador, has ensured that a lot of people would be talking about the fragrance for a very long time. The brand has managed to beat the clutter and has been able to stand out and get noticed from among the thousands of perfume brands available in the marketplace.

A few years ago, Lux soap decided to do something different to celebrate its 75 years. Known for its advertising strategy of taking Bollywood beauties to endorse its brand, the company decided to stick to the same formula; except that this time, the beauty in the bath tub was not the latest Bollywood heroine, but the latest heartthrob of all the females of the country – Shah Rukh Khan! The strategy worked. People noticed it. Some liked it and some laughed at it, but everybody was talking about it. That is the aim of advertising. As long as I have got you to notice me so that you talk about me, a large part of my work as an advertising man is done.

Monday, April 16, 2012


This Sunday (April 8), a small company changed its fortunes forever. Instagram was started two years ago, but this Sunday, it became more valuable than even The New York Times. The reason being Facebook acquired it for $1 billion few days back; causing quite a flutter among industry watchers. Why did it invest so much in a company, which hardly made any profits, is a fresh start up, and to top it all, is just an ‘app developer’ and its claim to fame is a ‘photo-sharing’ application that it developed for the iPhone? Add to this the fact that it does not even have a website to call its own, for all its features are designed for the mobile phone.

Well, there is more to it than these obvious facts. Instagram may just be an application for the mobile phone, but it has been downloaded by 50 million users, and that is something worth noticing. Though still much smaller than Facebook, the power of this company lay in its idea. Instagram is about photo sharing, but so is Facebook. However, Instagram is only mobile phone-based and Facebook’s revenues through its mobile application are zilch. Mark Zuckerberg saw this as a huge opportunity to make Facebook’s presence stronger in the mobile sector. When Zuckerberg started, it was all about the web. Today, who cares about the web? It all happens on the mobile phone, and Mark knows it best. So for a company that was valued at $500 million a few weeks back, Zuckerberg did not hesitate to double his offer and as expected, the young founders of Instagram – Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom – found it irresistible and sold it. A simple idea of sharing your sometimes grainy mobile photos and making them works of art by using an application is today worth $1 billion. That’s what a good idea can do, and that’s exactly what it did for Instagram; a 551-day-old profitless tech startup!

Friday, March 9, 2012


The one quality that is most essential for success is ‘courage’. As Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” On the 8th of every March, we celebrate the ‘International Women’s Day’ and the one thought that comes to my mind about women leaders is – would we as women have achieved more if we were more courageous? The answer is a resounding ‘YES’! My favorite leader Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook since 2008, while speaking at the graduation ceremony of an all-girls college, asked the young girls to answer one question, “What would I do if I were not afraid?” If they answered this question honestly and did all the things they wanted to without being scared of consequences, scared of what others would think, scared to tread the untrodden path; the results would be dramatic, for they could do much more, take more responsibilities and in the process, be better leaders. The reason a lot of women aren’t seen in top leadership positions is because they are afraid… afraid of making their own rules in a “man’s world”. It is not that they are less talented, or that they have less experience and less opportunities; it’s mostly because they are not bold enough to take that extra step. If you want to change the world, if you want to stand out and make a place for yourself, then you must also have the courage to make your own rules and live by them. Women who did that not only achieved personal success but also made the world a better place.


“Attacking is the only secret. Dare and the world always yields; or if it beats you sometimes, dare again , and it will succumb.” --William Thackeray

Do not be afraid to do different things; things, which had never been done before by any woman; for if a whole lot of women had not dared, the world would not have been the way we see it today.

Friday, February 24, 2012


There is a new guy in the world of ‘brand ambassadors’ in advertising. He is a quirky little character named Mel, who suffers from an identity crisis, for he does not know whether he is milk or granola. To put it in short, Kraft has launched a new product ‘MilkBites’, which is actually granola bites baked in milk. It’s supposed to be for people who don’t have time for breakfast. But this MilkBite needs to be stored in a refrigerator, so it’s a ‘pre-made, refrigerated cereal’. It’s a complicated product, which required a different positioning; for here is a cereal, which has to be picked up from a refrigerator in a departmental store! So Kraft decided to use this strange positioning to its advantage and came up with the character Mel, who battles with low self-esteem and deals with identity issues (something we too battle with often!). The character Mel is turning out to be an interesting fellow as you get to know him better through various advertisements; where he tells the story of his confused life, and in the process, also tells us how he is to be consumed.

MilkBites is going to be Kraft’s biggest launch this year and it’s using an underdog to win market share. No great stars, no super achievers. We have a little confused fellow as the brand mascot of Kraft. He is a misfit who has a sad story to tell.

Why would Kraft choose such a character? Think about it. On a TV channel full of happy mascots, here is a sad character, a misfit. As a result, Mel is instantly noticed. More importantly, he is instantly sympathized with, for we all love the underdogs. This is human psychology and it remains the same, whichever part of the world you go to. Everybody sides with the underdogs. Kraft probably is placing its bet on a winning strategy. Look around you and you will find that quite surprisingly, the underdog always wins!

Friday, February 10, 2012


Sunday, February 5, was a big day for advertisers in America. The Super Bowl, the most watched show on TV, was aired that day. For the third year in a row, Super Bowl has set the record as the most watched television show in US history. Not just the game, the Super Bowl has become a showcase of some of the most remarkable advertisements, and people wait to see the commercials aired during this time as much as the game. After all, some of the most iconic ads have made their debut here. This year also witnessed some of the best ads and taught us a thing or two about what good ads are made of.

An estimated 111.3 million people watched the Super Bowl this year. The only other program that beat this record was Madonna’s show during halftime of the game. It was viewed by 114 million people . There seems to be something about ‘halftime’, for the most acclaimed commercial during the Super Bowl was Chrysler’s ‘It’s Halftime in America’. Aired during the game’s halftime, the commercial started by equating the game’s halftime with America’s halftime. Just as during halftimes, teams are discussing strategies to win the game; America also needs to find a way out of this mess that the country is in right now. The one city that is showing the way is Detroit. It lost everything with nearly all car companies going bust, but it did not give up and today, it is slowly but surely making a comeback. The Americans should do the same. After all, as the advertisement says, “This country cannot be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do, the world is going to hear the roar of our engines”. The commercial was so inspiring that in many places, people gave it a standing ovation.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Oprah’s visit to India has created quiet a stir with everybody wanting to meet her, and why not? She is, after all, the most powerful woman in America. What’s commendable about her is that she was not born this way; but worked her way up the ladder, and the success and fame she has got is very well deserved. She is a true ‘rock star’. She was poor and she had no parents to pamper her and take care of her (she was born to two teenagers who ended their relationship once she was born). She however had one quality – she learned to read before the age of three. That was the only possession she had and she used it to develop herself and her career. She was a great student and was able to impress everybody with her knowledge (because she read more than others). Today, any book that Oprah picks up is guaranteed to become an international best-seller. A strong will and a steely determination are what made her a success.

Another child born to unwed parents not just rocked his career but also the world. Steve Jobs had the passion to follow his dreams and face all the ups and downs in his career without ever giving up. He was the biggest ‘rock star’ of business.


The ‘V’ sign made using the index finger and the middle finger used to be considered a rude English hand sign in the Middle Ages. The French would cut off the middle and index fingers of any English bowman so that they could never shoot again. The English would taunt the French by raising their fingers to say, “I can still shoot you…” However, this ‘V’ sign changed its complete meaning when Winston Churchill raised his fingers to depict ‘victory’. He was the man who was the ‘rock star’ of World War II, for he never gave up and told his people to do the same. He prepared the nation for battle with the Nazi army and after five years of fighting and a near defeat, victory was finally theirs. It was this attitude that brought them success and ‘victory’. He was one of the finest leaders of Britain and his leadership capabilities were best displayed during the Second World War. Consider the fact that this was the same boy who stuttered as a child, did poorly in school and was rejected by both Oxford and Cambridge. Churchill never gave up till he succeeded.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Another year, another chance to accomplish all that we could not in the last year, another hope, another new beginning! Yes, every new year brings about a sense of freshness with it and lots of hope and high spirits. It’s the time to think afresh, plan new things, change your outlook and approach your problems with a more positive mindset.

Every year promises something new and every year witnesses a new change. This year too, we as marketers should be ready to face new challenges and plan new strategies. The rules of doing business are going to change and if we want to stay ahead, we better be prepared.


The traditional way of marketing has changed. Marketers will focus more on the new media and the traditional will take a back seat. This change is for good and will intensify even more as marketers discover more and more innovative ways to reach out to the consumer online.

Last year (in June, 2011) the marketing genius Nike premiered its new ad campaign titled “The Chosen” not on TV, but on Facebook. The campaign was used to launch a video contest, which asked people to submit their videos of extreme action sports (like snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding et al) and create the maximum buzz around their entries. The finalists were then judged by a group of professionals within Nike and the winner was selected; the winner was titled the ‘chosen one’, for he got the chance to live like a Nike Pro athlete for a year. Apart from the very interesting and engaging campaign, the point to be noted is that Nike decided to launch its campaign on Facebook nearly three days before it featured the same on TV during the NBA finals.
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