Sunday, December 23, 2007

Kingfisher Vs Air Deccan - Losing my plane !!

This is a story that can make branding history and... theories !!

Capt. Gopinath scripted a story and a dream for the common man to fly. He revolutionized the airline industry by innovatively finding ways to cut cost and offer flying experience to the society which had only dreamed to fly till then. I have seen happy families booking air tickets for their vacations, which was never a consideration before.

Those two hands, the blue and yellow uniform and the beautifully made TV advertisement capturing the emotions of a father-son
relationship - everything made Air Deccan a household name and a very dear one at that in the thousands of homes in the sub-tier II cities. Finally, flying was perceived (at least) to be affordable.

Then you have Mr. Vijay Mallya - magnificent in his attitude and high life - launching a super luxury airline company by the name of India biggest bear brand "Kingfisher". This airline is a complete contrast to Air Deccan. Video screens at the back of every seat, multiple cuisine option, fashion show on the flight and what say you - Kingfisher Airlines oozed frills, luxury and comfort. The brand philosophy behind launching such an airline company was so strong that Mr. Mallya had openly claimed in media that low cost airlines cannot survive.

As fate would have it or Mr. Mallya's vision, Kingfisher Airlines bought 46% of stake in Air Deccan and shortly after both these diverse entities merged into a single entity based on reports by management consulting firm Accenture that recommended their merger for greater operational and marketing synergies.

The merged entity (which would be Kingfisher) would offer low fare service under the Deccan brand and premium services under Kingfisher brand. By the meaning of the statement, it sounded good and logical strategy.

But the meaning was not to be implemented. I was shocked to my wits when I went to the airport last month. The Air Deccan counter no longer had the beautiful and very unique and very familiar blue and yellow uniform. It was replaced by 'RED'. I logged on to and I could not recognise the site. It had become all red. Air Deccan had already become Kingfisher. To me, it was quite sad and a hasty brand management decision.

My questions are simple.
  • Was there a need to tamper with the brand - Air Deccan? Was Mr. Gopinath so wrong in his positioning strategies that all his good branding/advertising work had to be mutilated to no recognition (that too in his presence as the Vice-Chairman of the merged company)? Especially when the intention is to have a low cost airline.
  • How do you associate the colour red - the colour of Kingfisher Airlines - to the proposition of low cost airline?
  • Would it not negatively rub-off the Kingfisher brand? Would it not make the Kingfisher loyalist feel hurt about lending its premium red colour to a low cost, poor service, poor man's airline? How can 'red' be low cost?
  • How would it benefit Kingfisher and Vijay Mallya? Of course, short term ego would be boosted. He always believed that low cost airlines cant survive and he proved to be right and could changed and redesign a low cost airline brand completely. Having said that, how would rebranding Air Deccan to look similar to Kingfisher help Kingfisher in the long run?
  • Would it not confuse both the Kingfisher 'king' and Air Deccan 'rural india' to no ends? Both these distinct target audiences would be lost in the bargain.

What I can understand is that there can never be two kings in a kingdom. How can the consumer be the king, when Mr. Vijay Mallya is the self-acclaimed king.

Ultimately, Kingfisher's strategy might work out successfully. Who knows !! But if it does, it will surely create new branding theories !!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mr. Bhansali, you fooled us !!

So what if Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali could fool me into watching his utter nonsense movie - Sawariyan, he even fooled the great Anil Kapoor, he even fooled the whole Randhir Kapoor khandan... !!

Last Saturday, I took another impulse decision and it was another bad decision. I bought 4 tickets for Sawariyan at IMAX Dome. About the movie, the lesser said is the better. There was no story that we could connect to. There was no thrill, no emotion, no intrigue, no excitement, no comedy.... the movie had absolutely nothing for the audience to connect with.

The worst part was the artificial setting of the movie. You dont get an idea about when the story took place, where the story took place... you just cant relate to the setting of the movie, the people, the culture, the society, the houses, the dress code... nothing... you cant relate to the movie.. period. The buildings and the roads were looking so artificial that you can make out that they are made of thick clothes. In one of the scenes, Ranbir Kapoor writes Sonam Kapoor's screen name - Shakina on one of the walls and I couldnot believe my eyes, the wall was shaking with his penstrokes - hence making it obvious that the wall was made out of canvas.

I am still okay... I had wasted just Rs. 800. I was thinking about all the hopes that Anil Kapoor had for his daughter Sonam Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor had for his son Ranbir Kapoor from Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Did Anil Kapoor or Randhir Kapoor read the script and screen play? I dont know. Let me assume, they may not have. But Sony Pictures must have read the script. They are the Hollywood biggies and have the experience to wean out the grass from the weeds. How could Mr. Bhansali even fool them.

This is not to Mr. Bhansali's credit. He deserves no credit. This is a sham called 'Play Safe; Take No Risk' mentality working. Sony Pictures, Anil Kapoor and Randhir Kapoor were all launching their products to the Indian market.

It was a high risk game. So why take risk? Go with a formula which has worked before. Who can be a better bet than the director of much aclaimed 'Black'? And then they became blind and black. They forgot their basics and experience. Couldnot see the disaster called Sawariyan coming their way to crash all their dreams and hopes.

Shit, ultimately I had to bear the brunt of their shortsightedness and the whims and ideosyncracies of a fool called Mr. Bhansali.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Enfield Bullet - Should it evolve and How?

With the Pulsar craze changing the mindset to strive for more powerful bikes and the booming economy improving purchasing power of the youth, I think we are very close to moving from 100/125 CC phenomenon to more powerful bikes (upwards of 300 CC) phenomenon.

Now with the shortly to be launched Pulsar 300 cc, the shift of mindset will be even faster. Bike makers are taking advantage of this new future demand forecast. Bikemakers are finally daring to come close to the till now untouchable 350 CC.

Where Royal Enfield rules the roost...

Is there finally an atttempt at encroachment towards the enfield fiefdom?

I own one. I vehemently used to deny that.

But with digital odometre/speedometer, digital fuel gauge, digital trip metre, indicators for air filter condition, engine temperature, battery voltage and Oil level (Pulsar has all these !!) combined with a 350 CC engine makes me think again....

Consumers are shifting to technologically more advanced bikes and now with this emerging trend towards 300 CC and above bikes, it is high time that Enfield builds its high walled fort with custom made canons !!!

Its the question of keeping alive or saving the pride that an enfield owner derives...

I am not worried as such but just being in a mood to forecast the worse... the worse is Enfield Bullet needs to evolve to save its skin.

But how do you evolve from an Enfield Bullet? So much heritage, so much ego, so much resistance to change (both from consumer & bike maker perspective)..... what do you do !!!

Let me start my campaign to arrive at ideas of how should the Enfield Bullet evolve to a new avatar keeping its integrity, lineage, and everything subjective and objective about bullet alive....

I invite comments from all of you to bring about a positive change to bullet, a positive commercially viable evolution for Enfield Bullet.... lets see what comes about....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Remember the first Pulsar 150 !!

I recently saw a Bajaj Pulsar that seemed for a second something not pulsar. Is that really a Pulsar, I thought?

It was a Pulsar. The Pulsar without the wiser and the meters jutting out. The first model which revolutionised the bike market and relaunched Bajaj as a new modern age bike maker.

Immediately the second thought was "when was the Pulsar launched in the market? I dont see these anymore already. Was it 2002? "

I kept my observation for the next week or so. And it is really a fact that in Mumbai roads, one does not get to see too many Pulsars without the wiser. It simply vanished.

It took only 5 years for one model to completely vanish from the roads. I see more Yamaha RX bikes than the revolutionary Pulsar without the wiser!!

What happened to all those bikers who bought Pulsar in plenty in 2002 and 2003? I am not sure when the wiser came into the Pulsar but it was surely not till 2003...

Did they graduate into four wheelers? Is Pulsar the stairway to a Maruti? Even if we agree to that, those pulsars must have been sold to second hand buyers. They cannot simply dissappear.

Is it that Pulsars are not durable? Do they become junk in five years???

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

UTI Bank is still UTI Bank in Goa

Just been to Goa on a workshop... had a lovely time... good weather... Goa is getting ready for the season.... most of the shacks and some of the bars were closed for renovation.... they were changing for the better..... lot of energy and newness was beginning to be seen........

However, UTI Bank was still UTI Bank in Goa...
All the UTI Bank ATMs that I saw in Goa are still UTI Banks.... the irony is that when I came back to my room... their ad snippet was playing on the TV... so much for a 360 degree campaign... look at the article attached....

Is it a wrong media reporting or irresponsible PR from the desk of AXIS Bank...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Axis Bank - What a lost opportunity !!

I started my life with advertising and from then I have been witnessing the fight for marketing budget that marketing teams always used to crib about. Marketing team wants to do so much for the brand through mass media but where is the budget ?

Today I am witnessing an ironic spectacle when marketing budgets have been showered on to the marketing team for a mega relaunch of a brand due to legal stipulations. And the marketing team wasting the opportunity - the once in a lifetime opportunity for a mega brand building exercise.

I am talking about the multi-crore mass media splash being done by Axis Bank - the erstwhile UTI Bank.

The message of the campaign - UTI Bank = AXIS Bank.

I wonder why Axis Bank cannot be better than UTI Bank?

It seems to me that UTI Bank is very disturbed by this development that they are forced to change their name from UTI Bank to AXIS Bank. As if it is a big loss for them. It is a lightning that struck them and they are fighting to say that they are not hurt.

I would have taken the situation to advantage. It would have been an opportunity to claim that we are changing for the better.

I would have understood if ICICI Bank or SBI had made such a claim that they have not changed. They have quite a sizeable share of market to worry about consumer dissonance. But UTI Bank has only to gain by changing for the better !!!!

What a loss of opportunity?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Did your see the ad for Amul Underwear?

First they started with a woman washing an underwear and fantasizing about a man wearing the same... then that was not enough. They added a jingle to it with a twang !!!

The new version says kitna bada twang hain... kitna bada twang....

I have no comments. It was banned soon after. Actually, let me just hope that it was a risk that was understood and then taken. From the looks of it, the screen play, cinematography and overall direction was good. So I have a fair chance that my hope is not unfair.

Else, just bad swear words for the creative team, for the advertising team and the marketing team of Amul.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Branding Yamaha in India

Sometimes, when I go back to my agency days I just cant get over the ways that we used to give names to upcoming brands. It used to be a combination of the

  • craziness/creativity of the copywriter (sometimes the art guy gets a call if he is a combination with the copy guy),
  • the creative brief (often shoddily written by the client/servicing guy with no eye-sight, hand-sight or hind-sight),
  • the planning guy's two-bits (literally) if he existed in the system (if he did, he was often too busy with a presentation that he had to finish two weeks back)
  • and the occassional evesdropping like comments by the big bosses.

These were the ingredients to a name given to a new product offer that is intended to exist for the next generation.

Branding as a subject is so huge that I am not experienced enough to write a philosophy; however it is my passion for a brand called YAMAHA that leads me to many questions. I would like to hint at one of them. Because that's what is eating me right now...

Do we really think 20 years of history and 20 years of future before arriving at a brand name?

Yamaha created a storm with its RX100 and RD350 superbikes. It was everything going good for Yamaha. Great Bikes, Good foresight from the house of Escorts and perhaps good branding!

RX100 and RD350 are still names that youngsters take with pride. Then suddenly things turned turtle. Out of all mess, some agency named one of the new models of Yamaha - CRUX.

What is the logic behind not sticking to the numerical format of branding? When Crux failed, Crux-R failed, some one should have had the sense of getting back to the the strong numerical format of branding that has worked for Yamaha in India.

Then a miracle happened. Someone rebranded the Libero (a good bike but failed in the market) as the G5. I thought now this brand will roll in India. And Yamaha was pumping big monies into media advertising.

But today, I saw Yamaha has launched a new 106 cc model named Alba. I can only get red with anger. What's wrong with Yamaha?

Worst is the launch TV advertisement. No sign of John Abraham. Cant believe the inconsistency. If John was promoted as the brand ambassador of Gladiator and not Yamaha as a whole, it would have been perhaps okay to not take him for one product... but now it is a complete hara kiri.

They were however consistent in copying the most ordinary bike advertising using a sexy female getting attracted to the biker.

How can a mere 106 cc bike be promoted as something that girls fall for. If they had launched a 250 cc version then this kind of advertising would have made some little sense. But now... the advertising agency deserves to be sacked.

Lets look at some of the comments in other blogs:

  • ...i wouldnt buy it even if i got that female model in a package deal!!
  • I am now entirely convinced that Yamaha India is being run by people who are seriously brain-damaged, and who are incapable of running a motorcycle manufacturing operation in India. Expect the company to go bust in the next 6 - 12 months.In the meanwhile, here's the most interesting Alba in the world: Jessica Alba. You can find her here:
  • Alba, eh? HA HA and HA! Yamaha has gone totally bonkers I suppose if they still insist on launching such utter crap. And this, after all the auto mags have been saying that Yamaha's next bike in India is going to be a 250! If you ask me, Yamaha is now by far the worst bike company in India, with by far the worst motorcycles in their lineup. Fuck you, Yamaha!

What do I say? For sure, Yamaha Motors should do three things which is theory and one thing which is emotional:

  1. Sack the marketing department - they cant do a single thing right. Even the name of the website was spelt wrong in the collaterals of Alba launch.
  2. Sack the advertising agency - they are not even worth the FAF!
  3. Hire a good qualitative research agency and do a India-wide research campaign to understand what Yamaha needs to do to survive in India.

Please hire people who are passionate about Yamaha - the brand. Hire people who have driven the RX100 or the RD350 at least once.

This is an absolute must.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Demi-Gods - Being God is addictive

Years back when I had asked my Dad - How much money do these politicians want, to stop corruption and start working for the country? - he said that there is no end. It is an addiction and they stop believing that they are corrupt. They take it as their way of life.

From the day I read in the papers about Tendulkar's knee-jerk reaction against Greg Chappel, I was puzzled and curious about what is happening to the great Sachin Tendulkar. He was so mature as a 17 year old and now he is a 34 year old kid!. My Dad's wisdom ultimately came to my rescue, gave me some relief and some food for thought.

Sachin Tendulkar is addicted to being considered a Demi-God. It is partly our fault that we Indians love Idol worship in every form. We made him the Demi-God and now he is suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

Otherwise he would have realised it by himself that he is not contributing to the game; that he is not contributing to the country's aspiration from cricket; that he might be considered a burden in the coming future. He would have understood the meaning of a graceful exit.

Otherwise he would not have the short-sightedness of ignoring what some of the best cricketing minds are expressing about him. He would not have acted a complete deaf to his long time friend and one time guide - Sanjay Manjrekar? Sanjay Manjrekar has very clearly expressed that Tendulkar is no longer the same Tendulkar. He has known the real Tendulkar from close quarters and being a sensitive cricketer he is observing a change, which he expressed.

Greg Chappel is known to be frank and straight-forward in his approach and thinking. It does not seem to me that he is an enemy of Sachin Tendulkar. He had also expressed his opinion about Sachin Tendulkar, that he should not open, that he does not have the right attitude. Even Ian Chappel has been very vocal about Sachin being a poor shadow of himself for the past two years.

Sachin Tendulkar instead of listening to these views, blew the top. He got emotional and reacted as if someone has desecrated the God.

It is really a sad predicament that Sachin Tendulkar is refusing to believe that he is losing his flare for the game. Like the politician who refuses to believe that he is corrupt; Sachin refuses to realise that he is not the best cricketer anymore.

Adding fuel to fire are those friends of his, who blindly keeps him blinded from reality. In fact, they are his real enemy. Vinod Kambli, in one of his statement says, "Tendulkar should play the next world cup also" I am sure he is acting a good friend.

Its high time that Sachin understands reality and either try to improve his cricket like our 'DADA' Saurav Ganguly or call it quits.

Sachin has been compared to Michael Schumacher. He needs to act like Michael Schumacher. He could resist the temptation of fame, money and endorsements. It was indeed a God-like deed to retire at the prime of his career.

Coming to Cricket, Lara also has managed an (almost) graceful exit.

We should all collectively think and advise Sachin that he can stay God-like if he wants to. But not by holding on to his cricket. But by behaving maturely, by keeping his feet on the ground and by moving with times. Everybody understands that age catches up with everyone and we all surrender to time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Honeymoon travels - How to not make a movie?

By the time, I write this. You must have seen this movie.

Every ardent movie follower has some good-will and respect for Farhan Akhtar and his association with this movie must have taken you to the movie. I also went with that excuse.

Damn, Why did I ?

Reema Kagti does not know how to make a good movie. She however knows how to make a movie under the shadow of a great banner like Farhan Akhtar.

Some things that irritated me ...
  • How does one take care of 6-7 couples in one movie of little over 2 hours? Perhaps a Maniratnam can
  • How does one have comic and real characters in the same film? Reema has tried to have one couple with serious shades of real life character and the other couple who are super-humans like Superman. Ya, superman and super-woman who can fly!!!!
  • A collage only looks good in a painting and is irritating when the medium is audio-visual

Some one told me, she is from Assam.. I am embarassed.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Salaam-E-Ishq in Traffic Signal

Watched Traffic Signal. A great movie. I recommend this movie to everyone who appreciates the art of making movies in difficult situation, who appreciates the difficulties that the director and his cast goes through in order to portray reality, who appreciates films with raw emotion and fallacies of modern day living...

It is a very similar narration like Madhur's first movie PAGE 3. PAGE 3 was a narration about the creamy layer of the society and Traffic Signal was a narration about the bottom layer of the society. It is collection of real life nuances that is brought out beautifully on the screen.

One of the nuances was about Rani falling in love with Silsila. It reminded me of what Nikhil Advani lacked in Salaam-E-Ishq. He should see this movie and understand how to salaam ishq, how to portray love and its tight emotions, its expectations, its manifestations.

The small things like Rani (played by Neetu Chandra) gifting kediyu (Gujarati shirt) to her boy silsila (played by Kunal Khemu) and Silsila wearing it the next day without really thinking if the kediyu would look good on him was an instance of Salaam-E-Ishq.

Overall an excellent movie for someone who does not go to movie halls only to see glamour.

Oh, one more thing.... dialogues are awesome... very nicely written and thought.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Guru's work of Art - Not Guru like.

YUVA was so much better. Dont ask me about box office. But all my friends with an aptitude for good movies loved the movie. Yuva was a big big hit at the box office of my friends. Guru failed.

Mr. Maniratnam is one of my favourite directors and I cant and wouldnt hear a bad word about him. So, I cant criticise Guru but I can say that I didnt like the movie.

I didnt like the movie as it didnt leave a taste or a feeling in my mind and heart. It was cold. Scenes after scenes, some very captivating (thanks to Abhisekh's acting talent), were rolled out, but with no effect. I can only think of some good scenes and shots when I think back about the movie; and not the movie in totality. I couldnt relate to the movie and grow with the movie as a thinker about movies.

I would like to just express two things that I have learnt from his movie.

  • One should never make a movie based on a well known personality narrating about his/her deeds that are known to the common man. If you make, those deeds should be awe-inspiring and secondly name the movie as such.

  • One should never try to cover the whole life of the well known personality. Capture a phase of his life and go in depth. Go into the finer details. Or make a serial of 100 episodes.
Let bygone be bygone...... cant wait for the next Maniratnam project.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A confused 'Salaam' to the confused concept of 'Ishq'

My Thoughts on SALAAM-E-ISHQ

All of us know what 'Ishq' is? Ya, of course. We know what love is all about. The 10 year old Tom in the neighbourhood knows what love is. His friend Tina knows about it too. The college going Prakash knows about it all. His crush Sonali also has a mushy idea about it. You know what Ishq is and I know about it as well.

Thats the thing about Ishq, about love. Everyone knows about it but everyone has a different idea about it, has different expectations and has different ways of expressing it. When I was watching Salaam-E-Ishq - the latest release by Nikhil Advani - I was thinking... perhaps thats the idea about the movie... showcasing love and its manifestations from 6 different angles. And it would be interesting... but as we all know you can't expect too many things from bollywood movies made for the masses. And it was a massacre of an experience.

I know its difficult to pull out a movie through 6 different narrations. So many movies in the recent past failed at the attempt. More famously, Naseeruddin Shah's movie on multiple stories all ending with the twin towers in US. What a mess of good sub plots within a plot! And I thought one would and should learn from other's mistakes and escapades. However, in Salaam-E-Ishq, none of the stories moved ahead and they all finished without a trace of developmental or moral logic. What is the director trying to convey; or did he have too many things to convey? He got so entangled that he fell flat on his own cobweb.

I still feel there is a lot of meat in the concept of expressing (salaam-ing) Ishq from six different angles. But Salaam-E-Ishq could not do justice to any of the six angles. It started well but lost it soon after. The follow-through and the string to pull all the six stories together were not strong enough.
The most poorly portrayed angle was the angle of lust. If I was Sohail Khan, I would have killed Nikhil Advani for giving such a mindless treatment to his character. Ishq and lust or Ishq with lust could have been such a great powerful story..... if only the director could see it. Instead he killed whatever he weaved in the beginning by giving a comic twist to such an extent that you wonder that the director could have taken Johny Lever if he wanted to give a comic fillip to the movie just for the fun of it. Sohail goes flying through a wall in one scene.... what was Nikhil thinking!!! Thus he gave such a tragic end to a great potential story and the sixth angle became an object of mere pun. I weep in distraught.

The other two potentially great angles handled slightly better were the Akshay Khanna-Ayesha Takia and the Anil Kapoor-Juhi Chawla angles. Who does not get cold feet and butterflies just before marriage? And who does not go through a phase of confusion after 5-7 years of marriage, when one sees other beautiful woman? These are such universal concepts of (confusion in) love for strong story telling. But our Nikhil Advani could not do much justice here either. I would however say they were the best two stories in the movie as far as the narration of the 'Ishq' angles is concerned. Akshay did a great job and carried the movie all through. Anil Kapoor anyways is a class apart and adds tremendously to the screen play of every movie he does.

And then there is this ambitious woman who forgets love for famedom. And her ashiq who is bent on winning her back. What do you think? completely bollywoodish in smell and taste, isn't it?... definitely not as strong as the other stories which had a base and foundation in true emotions. But the producer had to do a justified investment and need a Salman Khan to safe keep his investments in crores. So no points for this angle.... The producer can make an independent movie on this theme however... the mass may love it...

And please don't force, I just wont talk about Govinda's re-entry into Bollywood... completely a hogwash of a story among such strong stories. Completely took away the maturity of the other stories from the film. What crap? A taxi driver - some sort of a prem pujari - falling for a foreigner and ultimately the foreigner falls for him. Oh man, give me a break.... that foreigner was a cutie and only that kept me awake. And I can't figure out what angle of 'Ishq' is this? What is the foundation or rationale for including this story in the movie. You cannot mix real and unreal. Either you stay completely real or completely unreal. One doesn’t expect reality in unreal movies like Hera Pheri and therefore don’t curse such movies after watching them.

And then we have our sweet upcoming actress Vidya Balan and our hunk Mr. John Abraham... He was a media planner in Ambience once, can you believe it? Anyways, in the movie he loved his wife (she is not from his religion and caste) like no tomorrow. He has fought all odds and family to marry her. He can do anything for her and so forth. So is that a big deal? All heroes love their heroines and die for them.. Amir Khan died in his very first film - Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Here, too I cannot see the logic and morale of including this story with the other 5 stories. Perhaps the message was true love never dies whatever be the situation.

On the whole a not so good movie from the story telling point of view. Much below my expectations. I would like to think that people do not have much expectation from the movie. At least they wont come out of the cinema hall with the unsatisfied look. From the technical side, all movies these days are great from camera and choreography point of view. The money that a producer spends has to come out in the screen.

As I said earlier, love as an emotion has different interpretations for different people of different age, gender and background. And as such it is a confused emotion if you look at a summation of all the different interpretations. So I agree it must have been very difficult to bring six interpretations into a single movie. I can give it that much to the director as the subject taken was indeed difficult. But it would be a complete disappointment if the real reason for this disappointing movie is that Mr. Nikhil Advani could not understand the different interpretations of love in depth and therefore could not visualise the movie and made a complete mess of the movie.

I sincerely hope that is not the case.