Wednesday, March 07, 2007

ArdhKumbh Mela 2007 l Marketing opportunities, more lost than found.

The ArdhKumbh Mela witnesses millions of devotees converge at the Sangam, Allahabad (UP), to take a holy dip at the confluence of the holy rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati. People flow into the city of Allahabad from all corners of India (not to mention the global travellers and yoga revellers), and most of them come from the lower echelons for whom, this pilgrimage is a once in a lifetime experience. Stories of kin lost at the mela are folklore by now (validated by the non-stop announcements on the lost and found PA system, and inumerable mentions in Bollywood flicks), and are indicative of the size of the gathering of humans that takes place at Prayag. After all, it’s the largest gathering of humans on the planet. Not surprisingly these 40 days, spell a whole lot of business as well. Melas have, traditionally spelt business ‘beyond the usual’ for most (with everything from cigarettes and bidis to tea, selling at a premium). While this might be the case with the smaller traders; big brands are not far behind either. They look at the event as a means to garner visibility and build brand connect along with revenues. What is suspect however, is the extent to which these brands succeed in accomplishing what they set out to do in the first place. Consider a Ghadi Detergent Powder branding the thousands odd make-shift public utilities and garbage dumps. Or branding by almost all the telecom players at the Fair Price Shop's Rate List in a complete ‘me too’ fashion. One did hear the occasional guy quip at the garbage bin branding for instance – ‘Kuda Ghadi!’ While some brands did manage to make thoughtful connects with the millions converging through initiatives like, SBI Bank’s Changing Rooms at the banks for women, the identification badges issued to children and women by Allahabad Bank or the directional signages put by Star News (in a bid to keep viewers aage). For many others, it’s was mere matter of hygiene to mark their presence at this mega event. As a result of which, the exhibition area (as it is referred to), gets the regular rural brands to take up ‘stalls’ and try to engage the TG (Target Group). From an Airtel having an empty stall through the day to be brought alive only by a brilliant street skit on ‘Mobiles and the Mela’, twice a day (to be followed by no brand queries or any conversion attempts, whatsoever); to the indiscriminately blaring sound system of the many odd Thanda Tel (Cool Hairoil) stalls luring consumers for a free trial and bogo (buy one get one free) deals; it does make one wonder whether any of the brands do manage to leverage the event in the best way. Is there any captivation (lasting impact) delivered by these brands? Why is it that the Bharat Seva Dal, that runs and manages the world’s biggest public address, lost and found service; does not have any support from the brand world apart from mere sponsorship branding with banners and boards? The volunteers of the Bharat Seva Dal at times wait to write down the next announcement script for the want of a Pen/ Pencil. On inquiring whether any brands had approached the camp for any sponsorships or voluntary support, this is what. Pandit Raja Ram Tiwadi (Fondly called Bhoole Bichde Tiwari, running the camp for the last 55 Years) had to say.

‘Indian Overseas Bank wale aaye they, computer bhi laaye they, lekin doosre din hi chale gaaye. Yeh banner laga gaye hain.’ (The indian Overseas Bank guys had come over with some computers but eventually left just these abnners etc ...) Indian Overseas Bank, incidentally, was the chief sponsor here and was attempting to get the announcement service computerized. The service operates with a male and a female announcer incessantly making announcements reading from paper chits written by the other volunteers carrying detail of the lost and found camp visitors. An ArdhKumbh takes place in the 6th year of the interlude between two Maha Kumbhs; guess this should be enough lead time for corporate India to develop a better strategy for leveraging the event. Here’s hoping the participating brands would have much more to carry back home, than just Ganga Jal at the next Kumbh.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bareily ka Bandook Bazaar

I remember, as a kid on 13 th of Jan (a day prior to Makar Shakranti) I would visit Haldiyon ka Rasta (Turmeric Lane) in Jaipur to shop for Kites to be flown the next day. It use to be such an awesome visual feast to just see so many kite shops at one place. But recently, on a trip to Bareily in West UP, I came across yet another incredible market where every second shop was selling the same stuff. No, not kites, but Guns. Indeed an incredible sight. Reflective of the violent nature of life in Uttar Pradesh, the bahubali heartland. Made this Video while on a rickshaw ride back to my hotel from Butler Bazaar. Enjoy! Click on the image to view video.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Freedom of Speech? Shhhhhhhss!

This is absolutely insane. Worse than the terrist attacks I'd say. As the blogging community seeks answers on the blog of one of the members of Mumbai Help, I wonder if the government is free to put such curbs on our freedom? Are they going to be successful in shusshing us? An emphatic no I say!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Indian Advertising Ki AC Ki Taise!

Does a mere depiction of a rural setting in a TVC equip brands to reach out to the rural markets? Well, for a Coke an Amir Khan from the Hills as a Kancha to the Jat in the Punjab fields, it perhaps does. It also works brilliantly with a Hutch talking about everybody in the family tree and saying ‘Ab Rishton Ko Milon Mein Mat Naapo!’ Perhaps not, if you one’s selling an AC. With a setting and storyline that is nothing short of mocking the plight of the poor. Indeed a very juvenile act in Indian Advertising. From the brilliant positioning of Acs with IQ to the current India Ka AC, things have gone a little awry for the brand. A simmering debate on agencyFAQS would has just three odd who think it’s really an ill fit with TG while the rest purport that this is the beat thing to happen to reaching out to the Rural India. A few quick facts on the purchasing power of the Small town and Rural India and the general awakening to this goldmine of market must have made the brand guys agree to be bottled by this TVC. But hey, remember, power-cuts and increase in power tariffs still remains a major barrier in the first time purchase. So perhaps, the AC with IQ idea where the brand explained how it consumed, less electricity was a better positioning to explore even while going rural. The ad might work on the swadeshi plank but let’s not forget, BJP is out of power right now and anyways, buying an AC is not a matter of national pride in any case. There’s a lot that is at work when you expect someone to buy it in this newfound target market. The purchase is a matter of pride before anything else. Thus, primarily driven by aspiration. Having an AC in the house makes a housewife scale up the ladder in peer perception. Gifting one to the daughter does the same. So, while an Onida says, ‘at 48 Degrees if your AC doesn’t cool, its just a cooler’, and other claim other things, Voltas is happy with Indai Ka AC. India ka Dil. Don’t forget India is also concerned about its bill. So pricing would be crucial.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Being Cyrus

Hail Homi! For it was fun 'Being Cyrus'! On the murkier side of humour. For, "once the game is over the king and the pawn, both go in the same box". Brilliance is this!

An awesome tale, well told indeed. Nothing like the stuff we've seen out of Bollywood in a long while now!

Wonder what makes the general junta resent reality though? Saw the film last night with fairly young seatmates, who took three oevrlaps on dialogue to realise the lines, to a shell shocked audience walking down the stairs as the credit roll climbed the cieling. May be because they seek relief (a rather comic one) from the rigmarole of life as it is. A dark comedey of errors that doth not have their solutions, but an uncanny way of finding answers to rhetorics.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

BPCL Energisies Auto Expo - Mobylog Makes it Possible!

One of the leading energy major's in India, rated by Fortune and a pioneer in redifining the fuel retailing scenario in India with Branded Fuels, Bharat petrolium Corporation Limited (BPCl) makes its presence felt through a highly innovative comunication design at the 2006 Auto Expo (Asia's biggest auto show). Here's how. An exposition stall that devives it's theme from the most commonly associated icon with the comapny - the all new Blue & Yellow canopied Fuel Stations that don't just offer the most advanced branded fuels, but also a host of innovative value adds like a mechanised car wash, vehicl care cetres and even In&Out convenience shopping marts. So the Stall looks like a fuel station replica with the trappings of corp com and exposition excitement and glamour. Add to that, the first ever use of a photo blogging resource for an event of this kind powered by India's first real-time multimedia blogging solution - Mobylog. Brand communications and community building has finally found the meeting ground.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Citizen Journalism CNN-IBN has finally done it!

Umesh Gupta sent a Video from a Mobile Phone and CNN-IBN used it as a lead in to expose the crumbling AAAI Infrastructure at Indian Airports. Sahara Airlines felt the Impact of this Citizen's report. Kudos IBN! What's been talked for long is finally here. Citizen journalism dawns finally. Here's how! CNN-IBN's Citizen Journalists Initiative invites you to be a part of their news gathering exercise by asking you to send original pictures, videos or news articles, to them: to So is that it? Well, yes! What's more, IBN is also the first channel to have Blogs. Rajdeep Sardeshai's blog has the max comments so far (164 at last count). And why not! This is the way people can connect with their fav jurno folks! And feel one with the Indian Cricket Team and Raghavendra Rathore in dishing out best wishes to Rajdeep & IBN. Some find the blogs inconvenient and some welcome the very beginning. All said and done, it's yet another first by a Brand News channel. NDTV 24X7 has an unofficial watch though it carries Rajdeep’s Picture on the template. Headline Today has no such sharp ideas to sharpen their news. Internationally BBC has been toying with Blogs on and off with Six apart. CNN has long been finding a lot of weight in Blogs and their power from US Elections to the War reportage. But hang on bloggers, you can only post comments on IBN Blogs and there would be no links allowed. 'Comments with links in them won't be published other than in cases of rare exceptions', reads the fine print. Wow! How very interesting, it just makes it a glorified forum or better still, a feedback form. Here’s hoping the Citizen journalist does wield more power in the times to come. So get up, speak out!.