Doing the new: Docomo

Doing the new: Docomo

Every time a new player enters the cellular market, there is invariably a whole lot of activity. We saw it when some years back Airtel was launched. And now we are re-witnessing it with TATA Docomo.

The entry of Docomo into the Indian cellular market caused a flurry like never before. With everyone slashing rates like there was no tomorrow, with per second pulse calling becoming a benchmark. What’s more, it has the big 3 scrambling to catch up! The product “per-second-billing” was blessing for the Indian consumer as most calls in India are of very small durations. And as expected, it caught the fancy of all Indians.

Docomo has re-emphasized the importance of product feature. It just shows that when you have a great product feature, marketing becomes so simple. And so powerful. The simple Docomo marketing was so effective that the stock prices of the other telecom companies crashed over 40%!!

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The Power of 7

A lot of ‘not so nice things’ had been said about Microsoft ever since they launched Windows Vista! Not only was the operating system very slow, but it also had a lot of bugs. And even after Microsoft fixed a lot of its issues via patches, critics continued to lampoon it.

What went un-noticed was the fact that Microsoft did not say much in public. They instead went back to the drawing board and rebuilt the operating system to iron out all its flaws and lined up the new Operating System, Windows Seven, within 3 years of the release of Vista.

What really impresses is the confidence Microsoft has in its new operating system, Windows Seven. So much so that they are offering current Windows Vista powered PC buyers a free upgrade to Windows Seven when it releases!

Quite predictably, the sales of PCs have shot up again! Now whether Windows Seven lives up to the hype is what remains to be seen. But meanwhile, we can admire the smart strategy applied by Microsoft to boost sales of its PCs even before the release of Windows Seven.

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What’s in a name!

What's in a name!

Picture this. The client is awaiting a certain mail from us. We, as usual, are on-the-dot and send him the mail well within the deadline. After a while, a frantic call greets us, “Hey, have you sent the email?” Puzzled, I check my sent mails. It shows that the mail was sent a couple of hours back. More puzzled, the client checks his inbox. Nothing. We mail him again. And again, nothing in his inbox.

We check with our respective IT guys. “No problem,” says ours. The client tells his, “Hey, I’m not receiving any mails from Eggfirst. Could you please check?” And then a strange thing happens. Quite unexpectedly, the IT guy quips, “Our servers are all non-vegetarians and we believe the chicken came first!” And they burst out laughing. A Gem. Pure gem. Especially coming from somebody with a technology background!

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare had once proclaimed. A lot, we say. The way our brand name – Eggfirst – connects with audiences across. Through and through. It communicates independently. Creates perceptions. And establishes a connect with people – one of golden rules of advertising. And equally importantly, at the core of it, the name conveys what we believe in: conviction pays. Don’t sit on the fence. Take a stance. Take a decision. Move on. Make things happen. Just do it! Fun isn’t it?

P.S.: I am sure the mail will reach them. I know it is Eggfirst.

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Bark bark: Slumdog is here!

Cry. Laugh. Pity. Sympathize. Anticipate. Cheer. Cry again. This time out of overwhelming emotions. If a movie can make you do all this… take you on a roller-coaster ride… get you involved thoroughly… it’s destined to be a masterpiece. And there’s no two ways about it. Slumdog Millionaire is one. Cinema par excellence. Brilliant concept, deft execution and of course, world class production values. Bring on the laurels. And some more. But I hold my horses here. And throw myself in the ring of debate. (It’s hard not to. It comes with being an Indian.)

Ever since Slumdog created the hype it did in the US, we Indians have been waiting with bated breath. Come on, it’s a movie about India, having a 100% Indian cast. So what if the funds are pumped in by firangs? So what if a Brit has helmed the movie? And so what if it releases in India itself months later!? It is still an Indian movie. Because we Indians are eager to embrace anything as Indian at the slightest connection. And this is big. It puts India on the global map. Wow! Some more applause please.

Really? Should we as Indians indeed applaud? Mind you, every word of praise the movie is receiving is deserved. But wait. There’s a raging debate now about whether it portrays India ‘correctly’? Unfortunately, all the poverty, dirt, hypocrisy, inhumanness, even the shit shown in the movie, is for real. We see most of it everyday. And some of it, we don’t. But it exists. Right in our neighborhood. There’s no denying. The movie, unashamedly, rips apart the dark, concealed underbelly of India.

But then why is there such a hue and cry about the portrayal of this dark side?

Here’s why: The West has always been fascinated with this land of “elephants, cow worshippers and snake charmers” (for the uninitiated, that’s India). The first thought (and unfortunately the only ones) that come to a firang’s mind when they hear the word India: poverty, dirt, illiteracy, crowds and more poverty. Now here’s the sad thing – to most westerners, it seems that only this dark side is acceptable as real. Any other portrayal is unreal and therefore unacceptable. They believe in the poor India. The dirty India. The ‘real’ India.

It isn’t surprising therefore, to see that most of the Indian movies that have struck a chord with the west are the ones that are dark. Haven’t filmmakers like Satayjit Ray and Mira Nair (without a doubt, amazing filmmakers) made a name in these so called developed societies by showing the dark side of India?

Without a question, we all know there’s a lot more to our motherland. But the West is clearly overwhelmed with what has been shown to them all these years and the perception that it has created in their minds. In a loose sense, this is what we in the advertising parlance call ‘the brand image’.

And essentially that is what needs to change. We need to change perceptions. Image. It definitely is not easy to change a brand image (ask the marketing gurus and they’ll shout their approval in unison). Can’t be done overnight. It’s a herculean task. Campaigns like India Shining and those about tourism need to go beyond words. We need to walk on talk. With a clear vision guiding us. We need something tangible to portray. We need to justify that it’s not a fantasy. And in addition to that, we need quality. How many movies of Slumdog’s stature can we recall? If we can make a movie as brilliant as this, with the backdrop of a shining India, recognition shall follow. We need to lift ourselves up. Wipe off the artificial gloss that adorns most of our movies and talk real. Sounds challenging? Of course. It is. Are we up for it? Ah-a. Now that remains to be seen.

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Enough! Kab tak chipke rahoge?

Enough! Kab tak chipke rahoge?

Really, it’s enough. It’s been over a decade now. For how long will we be bombarded with the now stretched-and-abused Fevicol ad campaign? Before I’m hunt and shot down for blasphemy, let me add that the Fevicol ad campaign is a masterpiece! It’s what Sholay is to Bollywood and Citizen Kane is to Hollywood. Nothing short. A benchmark. Easily one of the most creative worldwide and perhaps, the best ad campaign to come out of the shores of India. Period.

But it’s high time the campaign takes a new direction. It’s getting painful by the day. The campaign is struggling even to limp, surviving purely on the solid support of its legacy. The campaign hit a new low with the alien ad. Come on guys, give us a break.

There were certain elements that made the Fevicol ads so lovable and epical. What worked the charm? The surprise element. The first time we saw the truck ad, I bet no one could guess what the product was. “Ah! What an ad! Simply brilliant!” We exclaimed in unison. The repeat viewings were just in awe and admiration. Then of course, the performances. The fishing ad. The egg ad. The carpenter ad. Great entertainment.

Cut to the present: A guy wanting to commit suicide but can’t because his roof falls off? A baby who can’t sit still and the irritated mother makes him sit on a can of Fevicol? And of course, the ‘cream-de-la-cream’ ad – aliens trying to capture Earth, but one smart Alec pulls the humans and creatures back by pouring Fevicol in the well? Aaargh!! Maybe there’s a deeper meaning to the ads. Maybe there’s still some hidden brilliance that’s beyond me. But I speak as a layman. As a target audience. Who has adored the ad and hence the brand. In fact, a hidden sense of brilliance (if any) in the current crop of ads, beats my logic. The beauty of the previous ads lay in their simplicity. In their silence. The current ads are shouting too much. And so are the viewers. “Give us something new! Challenge our senses once again!”

We had Sholay. And then we had Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag.

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