Monday, October 21, 2013


Change is the only constant (Yes, ax+by+c wala!), they say. And lot of things have changed in my life since the last post, 1357 days ago. From being a student to consultant; from being single to engaged; from Jamshedpur to Kalyan (and from Kalyan to Currey Road!); Aah se aaha tak, a lot has changed. But one thing remains the same - what I plan to do with this blog. Learn, share, spread some smiles, and give away some free food-for-thought. Thanks to my fiance and some of my really kind friends from school, who reminded me of my blog, here I am, hopefully for good :).

PS: An auto-driver reminded me today, the meaning of the word 'change' itself is not constant "Sahab, change lao".. Hatt kahe ka proverb !

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Iim B-ack!

All those who feel that this post has something to do with the Imperial College of Engg (that's the 3-Idiots pseudonym for the Aayee Aai Yembee), I'm sorry to disappoint you. It is just an attention gathering trick learnt from the recent credit 'bhagat' crisis and the likes. Finally, I get to respond to which has been waiting for me for the past 9 months (shhh...dont look at the no. of months with suspicion, its just coincidental!) with hopeful eyes. A lot has been 'happening' in my life since I last posted - the second year of my MBA life bringing in many more experiences to remember. (Sole Reader: "Bata bata, kya?" Blogger: "Kabhi detail mein bataunga, when I actually cook up something interesting" :P).

What is this post about intended to be about, then? - Everything...Anything...actually, Nothing! This is just to increase the feel-good factor (finger licking good!) among the dear reader(s) so that he can smile for the 2 minutes that he'll spend on this blog (I said smile, not laugh!...please, please stop laughing at me). It is also to let him know that I'm still alive in this part of the country, and not RIP-ed due to the life threatening attacks by Maoists-doing-net-practice/ Autowallahs-losing-fare-bargains/ Esteemed-faculty/ Peers-just-below-me-in-CGPA/ stray-dogs-looking-for-bones/ readers-who-hate-such-jokes (listed in the order of danger). I know that the flights have been withdrawn from Jamshedpur, our Mao brethren attack vehicles on road, trains get derailed every alternate day (and the other alternate days, they aren't scheduled anyways), but don't worry, 'travelling' has never been listed in the 'Hobbies & Interests' section of my CV. As long as main-aur-meri-tanhai confine ourselves to the safe h(e)aven of my room and the campus, I'm safe (much safer than the fielder at silly point facing an Ajit Agarkar shot coming towards him at a 2mph speed). If I ever feel like venturing out, I rather take the "How well do you know Nalanda ?"(or Sunderbans or Calcutta or Jhumritalaiya) quiz on Facebook, score a 99% there and decide not to leave the campus. (Non-Sticky note: Past performance in the FB quiz is no indicator of future results at MBA quizzes).

Jokes apart, this post is also a means to reduce the guilt that I feel everytime I remove the blog link from my signature only because there are no posts for the receiver to read. The post is also an answer to my fear that will send me the following mail shortly:

Please note that we have deleted your blog account due to any or all of the following reasons: 1)inactivity by the owner for a long period 2)insane activity by the owner for a longer period 3) Winner of highest 'Flag grossly inappropriate' votes from readers 4)Mismatch between the blog URL and the owner (and better claimants to the URL) 5) No appropriate response for the question sent to you last week: "Why the [press Shift button] 1235623 [release Shift] did you start a blog?".

PS: Those who are offended by the use of the pronoun 'he' for a reader in this post, I apologize. Because I know that you wont be. Because I know that there isn't any. Because I know from advanced analytics data that the demographics of my reader base is completely skewed (screwed?) AWAY from the fairer sex. *sob, sob*
PPS: Dear XLer, don't search for a smiley [:)] in the post. This is not that cheap a publicity stunt.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Google OS is on its way!

Last year, I had spoken about how Google Chrome is not just-another-browser and its a strategic move by Google. I thought it was a logical conclusion that Chrome grows into an OS, given the kind of functionalities and independence that they have brought into it. Google has finally broken the news its Chrome OS to be launched in 2010. An open source OS, it is supposed to be focussing on speed, simplicity and security with 'most of the user experience over the web'. Let's wait and watch!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A 'Clear'er name

A short one this time. Harish from Marketing practice had commented long back on how HUL had changed the typology on its Clinic All clear shampoo packs making the word 'Clear' as the most visible element. This, he rightly pointed out was keeping in mind a future rebranding with only the word Clear, as the shampoo is known internationally from the Unilever family. And now we see teasers on TV showing Bipasha, Shilpa Shetty, Asin for a new anti-dandruff shampoo called - Clear (what else). I checked out the new website (the earlier one was called and Harish's prediction is bang on! The new packs have only one change - removal of 'Clinic All' from the logo. Everything else looks the same. So anyone who looks at the pack would not be confused about the new brand. A smart move by HUL for a smooth makeover. Here are the pack shots for ready reference :)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

OOH, what an ad !

Out Of Home (OOH) advertising caught my attention always, and with companies using it innovatively these days its even more fun to watch ! A description to start off - OOH is marketing in forms that you see can out-of-your-home (!), e.g. hoardings in the simplest form. But then, the best part lies in either capturing attention with a clutter-breaking hoarding (like the red Economist's Interpret the world hoardings that you see these days) or by the use of the media beyond the billboards. I have uploaded some of those from the latter category that I really feel deserve an applause for their creativity. (Click on images to enlarge)

Starting with some international ones. AXE, as usual, starts the pack. Here you see the ad being placed over a women's dorm in the form of a calendar, with each window being a day of the month. The concept being obvious - a girl for each day. I am sure it would have caught attention of every guy who had walked past this one in Seoul.

Scotch Brite had another brilliant concept to go with their USP of 'absorbs everything'. They had simply replaced the basins below taps in public places (I think in Australia) with a sponge. And just the brand name and tagline on the sides. Caught the attention & conveyed the message - clear and concise !

Coming to some Indian examples of conveying the USP- recently read about this Pantene's OOH campaign. Had a sticker on doors of common places like salons, etc with hair being stuck to it. They actually replaced the door handles, and whenever anyone pulls them to open the door, he/she was actually experiencing the brand message. And the text - Pantene:Strong Hair. It needn't say anything more, does it?

Closer home, before the elections, UTV Bindass had these hand signs over public places with the inked index finger pointing out (Ungli utha bindass campaign). The messages differed, urging them to vote if they needed development to happen. Have a look at this one - 'Desh khadde mein hain? Vote kar' with the finger pointing to a dug road. Other messages included 'Desh ki batti jala' on a lamp post; 'Batvara nahi, divider chahiye' pointing to a divider on the road.

Though I said that companies should look beyond hoardings, Orient Fans proved that even hoardings can be used innovatively. This ad simply had a large image of the fan and the brand message 'More air everywhere'. Just beside the hoarding on both sides were two hoardings which were almost torn down and looks as if it is due to the fan(I believe they had bought these spaces :) ) depicting exactly what the tagline says.

Pidilite industries - known for their TV ads for Fevicol - also had some excellent concepts for their starch Ranipal. Human-like figures at high footfall areas, but with no heads, legs, hands. There's no message written, but isn't it clear enough that the clothes are standing on their own? And their pose is also natural so that they won't mistaken for mannequins (the one here is climbing the stairs, others include a woman shopping at a store and a guy on a bike in the parking lot). Excellent, though the brand name would be visible when seen closely, which I doubt how many people would have done.

(Thanks afaqs for the pics!)

Talking of OOH, one thumb rule I read somewhere that people have an average 3-4 seconds to interpret the message on a hoarding. Still I saw these four hoardings stacked side-by-side at Bandra (wanted to get the sealink in the background, which I couldn't unfortunately). Why would anyone buy space here, if the audience can spare 4 seconds for the entire spot i.e. 1 second per hoarding. Surely atleast 2 of the hoardings would always be missed out by the viewer. (Unless everything is for the same brand, e.g. Sony TV has recently bought 2 of them and have a big ad for Dus Ka Dum)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Big brands, bigger mistakes

As I type this post from somewhere in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, I wonder - "Can I call these measures by companies as mistakes?" Nevertheless, I continue my rantings..

Start with ICICI Bank, with its signature tune being one of those with a good recall & association with the brand - changed its tagline from 'Hum hain na' to 'Vishwas hain to sab kuch hain'. Why on earth?? We all know that brand elements do not necessarily have an expiry date, as long as people don't get bored of it. And the first thing that this new tagline reminded me of is the advertisements of TMT Sariya or XYZ Cement frequently seen on Aaj Tak. The words are so generic/cliched/old-fashioned that it depicts nothing specific to the bank. The other big change that I saw in the TV adverts, the fast-paced music. Again, a shift from its earlier ads. More importantly, any company from the services industry - banks, insurance, hotels, etc- has a typical soft touch to it, be it in the music or the way it delivers its message. But having a remixed signature tune, the bank is making the message devoid of the 'warmth' that such companies are always known for.

Talking of TV ads and soft music, another campaign run by Godrej Aerospace lab during the IPL telecasts is really intriguing. Why would anyone advertise its rocket building capabilities? We understand from the subsequent revealers that it wants to show how it puts its aerospace learnings to use in consumer durables and other Godrej products. e.g. It applies its high-precision learnings from rockets to make high-precision super-secure Godrej locks. eh!! While buying a RS.100-200 lock, why would I care whether the company manufactures a rocket worth crores of rupees with the same technology. Couldn't they boast of their technology even without the rocket association? Wouldn't gizmos and steel machines have done the job? The company doesn't believe so. It plans to come up with follow-up ads of how its consumer durables too utilise the space technology. Doubt how many would buy such an argument!

Coming to FMCG, I visited a grocery shop today to get a pack of biscuits for lunch, as I do everyday (yeah, the pains of field work!). Generally Good-Day is a good bet for lunch. But the shopkeeper says "Good Day nahi hain. Parle 20-20 lijiye". I thought, I don't want a snack-time (50-50, Monaco types) biscuit- but something that would be filling for the stomach. Shopkeeper says, "Ye bhi waisa hi hain" and hands over the pack. And lo! I realise that this is also a cashew cookie of the same category as Good Day. BIG mistakes! Naming it 20-20, it has confused consumers (like me) who would liken it to Britannia's 50-50 (More still, WHAT has 20-20 got to do with the biscuit, I still wonder!). So, the entire efforts of entering the category with a new product are wasted. Secondly, with such a name and tagline "Short mein niptao", I feel it has degraded the category as a whole and likened it to cheaper biscuits. Cashew cookies always had that premium (if not indulgence) in the consumer's mind, but Parle doesn't wish to project it that way.

The opinions maybe too strong for a newbie like me to speak of, but still, I can't believe that these companies can leave consumers (& marketing enthusiasts) like me, confused. I will return with interesting observations of the OOH media (by far, my favourite media these days) and tibits (jargon:"consumer insights") about the Bihari consumer shortly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The latest Warchips

While I munch Lays and sip Pepsi (brand loyalty not intended), I wonder how a week of market visit and working on a marketing summer project changes your perspective in life (literally!). As you walk on the roads of Patna, you look at the sachets & brands stocked in front rather than the name of the shop. You look at hoardings (thinking - what a visibility!) instead of the car waiting to dash you. While watching an IPL match, you wonder about the visibility of the stickers all over the batsman's shirt (and the umpire's!). An instance - was watching the Kurkure's new Desi beats ad during a commercial break. And thought of how the snacks (specifically chips) industry has changed in recent years. Originally a near-monopoly, the market changed with the aggressive entry of ITC - intentionally advertising the non-conventional variants, thus avoiding a head-on. With its distribution and muscle power, it placed Bingo racks in every other shop. Now we see Pepsico coming up with the triangular chips (against Bingo's Mad Angles) under Kurkure. There are 2 things to learn from this. First, Bingo has created a category of its own, causing the market leader to react. Its not far that we'll see Pepsico replicating all its variants. Secondly, look at Pepsico's strategy. Intentionally, it has launched it under Kurkure and not Lays - to ward off direct competition with a newbie like Bingo. This ensures that Bingo now fights 2 brands - both Lays and Kurkure - and Lays would like to retain its position as the most preferred chips. Even if people prefer Bingo, it can afford to forego Kurkure's market share, not the Lays brand. A masterstroke, I would say. To continue with the wars, Bingo now introduces 'International cream & onion' against the 'American cream & onion' (incidentally the variant that I am munching while writing this!). It has gained the strength to do that now. Take on Lays in its own forte, with people knowing the Bingo brand by now. It would be interesting how this war progresses over time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

From Inbox to inbox

I know its a wrong time to post on the blog, given that I have 2 end term tests today. But a small thing that I noted yesterday morning is running through my mind for a long time. If you have checked your Gmail Inbox carefully, the label is now inbox (with a small 'i'). And they have changed it everywhere today, starting from label, to page title, to all references in the interface, and even the references in the description of the Labs settings. (though they couldn't change pictorial references :) ). Scoured the blogs to find no official/unofficial explanation to it. Do you see it as an April Fool's hoax released a day earlier, so that people start talking about it? If it was something so carefully changed, Google has always broken the news on its official blogs, including changes in its favicon colours. Do let me know if you are aware of the reason.
Update: It seems the change isn't visible on all accounts. Some of my friends still see the capital I. I have tried changing location, theme, switching over to the old version of email, but found a small i welcoming me everywhere :(. Finally, I checked the Gmail gadget on my iGoogle page, and it still shows a capital I (inspite of similar settings)

Update 2: This April Fool's Day is a big letdown from Google. It has posted an obviously hoax feature called CADIE (Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity), an Artificial Intelligence research and blah blah, with images of a Panda cartoon shown its mascot. As if the name wasn't a giveaway by itself, the press release is date 31/3/09 11:59:59pm,it generally doesn't 'time' its releases, though it gives the date), its technical description uses too many scientific/psychology/physics/computer/jargonology jargons, the official post (dated 1/4/09 12:01am) doesn't mention clearly what the 'CADIE' does, and its CADIE's blog is designed like a 5th grader's 'My first Web page - Hello World!'. They couldn't even use the Youtube channel effectively. Google had been improving on its hoaxes in the past, with atleast some amount of beleivable stuff and simple English (with typical Google terms). I am disappointed that this year's prank is not at all planned and seems to have been executed by a 5th grader! I still wish the "inbox" change is a prank so that they can live up to their fans' expectations :)

Update 3: Finally, Andrew Girdwood came to the rescue! The small i is visible only if the language settings are English(UK). I changed it to English(US) and voila!, I see my Inbox intact! And people thought I was playing an April Fool's prank on them :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

B-ing in the train

I am back on campus! Sitting on the same old bed, and with my noise-cancellation earphones bombarding me with 'Socha hain', I say to myself "Write On!" (and also mumble, 'Socha hain..XL mumbai se itna door kyun, grading relative hain kyun, competitions hain itne kyun, zindagi mein aaram kyun nahi, Socha hain ...). Just minutes ago, my friend - a mallu chetta (brother) - asked me to minimise the use of Hindi, for the benefit of my mathrubhoomi TN and states around, but how could I sing a Hindi song with translation?

Cut to the scene on 20 Sep 9pm, when I wait for Howrah mail scheduled to arrive at 9.35pm at Kalyan station. A train called LTT-Howrah Dnyaneshwari express arrives at 9.15 and I start cribbing about Indian railways which schedules 2 trains to the same destination spaced 15 mins apart to my dad. The IR bashing continues with discussions about new trains to Amravati, open air platforms, mismanaged routes, and so on. The standard female voice (Mumbai suburban ki Ms.Ameen Sayani) announces on the speaker - "2809 down Howrah mail, platform kramaank 4 par thodi der mein aa rahi hain". i.e...arriving shortly on platform no 4.. (translating to save those few I-yam-southie-I-don't-know-Hindi-jee readers from running away). I enter the train, keep my bags with a BIG group of friends, (smiling to welcome me, as if I bought them goodies from California), wave goodbye to my parents and to aamchi (our) Mumbai and now the journey begins.

XLRI, 22 Sep : [for all those wondering why am I switching scenes, it is just to give it that Mani Ratnam's filmi-ishtyle & also to justify the randomness in the posts :)]. I see so many contest posters, PDFs and timelines being bombarded into my inbox - b-plan, papers, quizzes, case studies, and all other contests on earth (except for the likes of Indian Idle - where I would have undisputedly won). I drop my jaws looking at the prizes and the process for the final rounds - the chance to present in front of all the big names, that you have only read in pink papers (Hum rahe comic strips ke charrekters aur woh bijness page ke stars - Kaise ho payega inka milan?).

Howrah Mail, 21 Sep 10AM: I try my level best to wake up (or to be honest -not to wake up), and the pantry guy comes in with 'Khaana, order?'. After giving him the order, I wake up to find that there's no one selling coffee from the pantry. Everyone's going chai-chaiyye. We stop one guy to ask 'Coffee kab aayega?'. He replies 'System bandh ho gaya'. We look at each other wondering "Is he a laid-off IT engineer talking about systems getting de-commissioned?". We get some coffee finally, with water and some drops of milk added to coffee powder, which satisfies me as much as the movie Ashoka would have satisfied a SRK fan. Some long discussions among us, over the newspaper headlines and coverage (and including those channels which broadcast 'Breaking-news: Great Khali ke baalon mein 167 dandruff mili') follow. After lunch, we watch 3 great movies from completely different genres - 21, Golmaal, and Duck Tales (we had occasional visitors forgetting their garma-garam-samose jobs and catching up with some entertainment - we were expecting some refund for this 'service' that we provided)

XLRI, 22 Sep 11PM: We have serious looks on our faces and discuss our likes, dislikes and don't cares for the summer internship process that is due soon on campus. 7 of us then get together to have a long discussion on a group assignment-cum-plan that we need to submit by tomorrow night, and disperse with not much progress, but atleast some headway. (Poora India bhi toh aisi hi chalta hain, thoda hi sahi, progress toh kar raha hain na?). We get back to our rooms and think of working on another b-plan too. 3 of us get together in my room, and announce 'we will finish off some part of some contest now' (Wow, how planned our meeting was). One of them dozes off in the middle, with an occasional 'Hmm..' to ensure that he is not physically assaulted by the two of us. We jala-ofy our dimaag-ki-batti and come up with a few ideas, none of them 'exciting'. Then we think of ..

Howrah Mail, 22 Sep 1AM: "Plz get down. Berths 25 and 26 are ours", an old-aged guy shouts at me, waking me up from my tight sleep (happens to me everytime Rourkela arrives in the train that I am travelling). We somehow send him back to the other coach, that he had mistaken this for and then wonder why haven't we yet neared Jamshedpur (scheduled at 1.40). After a little 'research', we find out that we are 1 hour behind schedule. We sleep for some more time, wake up at 2.30, just to find that we are still running 2 hours late. Sleeping for some more time, we find out at 3.30 that it is still 20 minutes away. We keep ourselves awake for some time and realise that it is actually 1 more hour away. We give up, and get back to what we have mastered for 23 yrs of our life - sleep ! After an hour, seemingly, we were closer to Jamshedpur and get ready to reach the place that we all wanted to get into, 3 months back, but probably not that eager as of now :)

Disclaimer : The following idea is entirely fictional (actually, too stupid to be true) and bears no resemblance to the ideas that we discussed :)
XLRI, 23 Sep 2AM: "Imagine such a situation. Why can't we have an electronic chip implanted in your brain, with which you can control the time that you want to wake up. Think of all the pains that we have taken just to ensure that we do not miss the station. We could even diversify into selling the chips to all those b-school grads who crib for not being able to wake up for an 8.30AM class", I quip. An obvious reaction follows and all of us laugh at the extent of damage lack of sleep can do to you. We move from B-plan to the plan-B - close for the day . I plan to narrate the entire experience as today's post on my blog and start typing...

As an afterthought, I realise that I have to search a lot of things on the net for the assignments, but I am still writing this, and I put a screeching halt to the post.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Google's strategy - connecting the dots - II

Continuing from my previous post, here I would delve upon, how these products/features impact Google and provide it an upper hand.
Given that, it would improve its search quality, an obvious result would be increased number of advertisers. But more importantly, it gives them more media to explore. They can now provide context-sensitive ads over video and audio. Think of it, if some of the channels on youtube have advertisements, related to any product which may be spoken about in the video, users may not be that bugged at all. Anyways a similar experiment of providing video ads, on text web search is running currently. Video ads surely mean, much higher revenues as compared to the text ads that it currently features. It has also started extending its Ad platform to TV, by partnering with NBC among others, extending the media that it can earn revenues from.

One of the highly awaited developments is in the desktop space, about Google's answer to Microsoft Office. It started off with an online version, and with Google Gears, it had made it available offline too. Now, there is a thin difference between keeping a document on my desktop and making it available over any other desktop. That too, without using any space over my disk. It will continuously be looking at exploiting the cloud computing space, with other products too. What does Chrome bring in? I believe, that it is more of a desktop environment or the first step towards an office suite or even an OS rather than a browser. Bold statement?Yes, I too feel so. But, then what it is trying to do, is letting the users get used to the environment where there is nothing called online or offline. When it asks you to make an application shortcut, it makes you feel that Google Docs is an application. With Google Gears visible in the settings, the next obvious feature is to allow you, to edit it on your local machine, if you are offline. If online, publish it onto the cloud (though this feature is still available with Gears, I believe, it would extend it across products and applications over the web, in some form). The absense of all the toolbars and menubars from those windows, is exactly to make you feel so. You should never feel that you are in a browser. And with its own V8 scripting, it is giving itself that flexibility to use this prototype for future moves. There was a time when analysts were speculating a network OS from Google. With its focus on cloud computing, and all its products inching towards that, I don't feel it is an impossibility. (And, do not believe when Google says, we don't want to do it. They said the same for a browser)

Disclaimer : Though many of you may be aware of these features and its consequences, it was meant to give a small insight into the bigger picture - "connecting the dots" as I call it. Also, many of these are personal inferences, and may not be an 'expert' view of the days to come :). Do let me know of any other products/service that you feel perfectly fits into its strategy and I missed it here.

PS: As an aside, check out how Google is desperately trying to increase usage of its App platform, through this contest :)

PPS: Why did this no-nonsense post seriosly pop up? 2 reasons - a)To commemorate 10 years of Google b)To remain in-line with my description in 'about me' (look rightwards), which has been reminded by some of my readers (and who, I assume, would appreciate the same in the comments section ;) )