Ageism 2


Here we go. The article in this morning Times of India talks about it.

With only 7% workforce in over 50 age band, clearly most organisations are focusing on the young ones. After all why waste time on those who won’t be productive!

The talk about retirement age. A lot of countries don’t have a retirement age. But that stands to reason at one level. Unlike India, they have an ageing population. In India, the old had to make way for the new. Repurposing the old (some handful of organisations are doing that) as a concept will take time coming.

It’s what the larger population wants is what drives everything in this country. Witness the politics, vote bank focus is what drives economic policies.

We always tend to focus on the larger number because it makes sense.

I have no problem with that. After all, political parties exist to stay in power, the business of organisations is to increase profits and share value.

But this 7% is going to change in the future. It is changing already but just because the change is happening at an urban level, and when you take in to account the entire population of the country, it does look small so no one is paying attention to it.

But when the larger shift happens, as always happens in this country, we will be totally unprepared and won’t know what to do.

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Ageism


This post is sparked by the controversy around Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Also read in the paper today how Virat Kohli is standing by him.

Why is age so important? Why do we believe that just because a person is old, he is not capable. In the context of Dhoni, is it really because he has supposedly become old so his reflexes are dimmed? Is it not possible that he was having a bad day that day? Of course the conversation about his age has been on for a while. Every time he fails with the bat, knives are out. But the moment he scores big, people start talking about how his experience pulled the team through. His reflexes behind the stumps are as sharp as ever. I don’t know how many of you watch the matches regularly, but next time when he is keeping wickets, watch him carefully. You will see it on his face. The brain is constantly ticking. His match awareness shows through. Now is it age or experience? Yes sports is a very physical and fitness is paramount but as you grow older, you learn to balance the two. Experience and fitness. He is lucky that he had Virat supporting him.

But look beyond sports. Ageism has become a concept. Except for India and few other countries, age has become a big factor. The population is old and therefore ageism has become a burning issue.

Traditionally, One has always believed that up to a certain age, a person is considered productive. After that he or she becomes a liability and has to be looked at in a patronising way. To be suffered till he retires. Retire by itself is a concept. Who decided that 58 or 65 or whatever is the age to retire? Of course one argument would be that place needs to be made for new people joining the work force. Hmm shouldn’t you create more jobs for these new people?

Driven by this thinking, there was a time when people would mentally switch off from work and wait for their retirement. It was almost like giving up on life.

But that mindset has changed dramatically. People want to stay productive lot longer. They want to work longer. They keep themselves fit and agile. Physically and mentally. But the problem is, the traditional myopic view hasn’t changed. All employers still follow the rule of defining when the person will not be productive. Hiring is done accordingly.

There are many things that go against older people. “He will be too set in his ways”. “He won’t be in tune with the latest”. “He will be a technological challenged person”. “Health will be an issue”. “He will be slow and will get left behind in the fast moving world”

Start ups started by 20 somethings tend to hire a younger lot. With. Belief that it is the young who is hungry to make a mark and will fit in to the start up culture better.

If you ask me, it is a lot of bullshit.

Couple of decades back, people used to get married at a much younger age so everything used to happen much earlier. By 40-45, a person would have done everything he or she was meant to do in life. After that it was just a matter of time.

But that’s not the case anymore. People marry late, have a focus on what all they want to do in life. Kids happen late. So the responsibilities start late.

Back in the old days, by the time a person retires, his kids had kids. But now the kids are more often than not, still pursuing higher education.

This is the realisation that has made people look for ways to stay fit, stay connected with modern trends. They want to be productive lot longer.

But the world around them wants to scream in their ears that they are old! (Perhaps the world thinks that because of age the person might be going deaf). It is hell bent on putting them to pasture. To sideline. To tell their life is over.

Experience has stopped counting for much. You see, the pace has changed, the way of working has changed and the experience of 20+ years is not going to be relevant. What will this old person know about Digital?! How will he have insight into the millennials and Gen Z minds?!

No issues with that. Everyone takes time to change but Change does happen.

Experience does count. In a rush to do many things at the same time, things are faltering. Lack of experience is showing. A Hardik Pandya will take time to mature. He will need someone experienced to manage the maturing process. That is where experience counts. Managing the process to be successful.

We see 10 things this, 10 things that of people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or whoever. Notice these things have been tested over a period of time and have proven to be successful. Yes they all started young but if we talk about them now, we talk about what they learnt over a period of time.

In India, with its young population, ageism perhaps won’t be a big topic but over a period of time (after all the population will age too), ageism will become a topic of heated discussion.

Perhaps we should learn from the ‘experience’ of other ageing nations? 🙂

At this point of time, driven by a certain arrogance of youth, this post might sound like a venting of an old man but we all grow old and we all know what Karma is 🙂

Hail the 6 Seconds Ad


It was bound to happen. And already I have read enough articles on how 2018 is going to be year of 6 seconds ad.

There is enough research being done to drive home the point that this format works. “Format” is how we look at communication.

This post is like a continuation for my previous post about desire.

We are now ready to pander to instant gratification. One article called this format “snackable content”. Needless to say that someone who has spent years in communication and someone who is not a great lover of instant gratification, I am left aghast.

Long copy ads died when TV became the big thing. Have been in enough client meetings where “nobody reads copy. Cut it short” was a refrain.

Been in enough media discussions where the 30” film was questioned. Reach and OTS vs a story being told. 30” became 20” and then 15”. Even for a launch! Of course this process was driven by high cost of a spot and limited money to be spent.

And now 6”! Driven by Google and Facebook. Supposedly meant for Millennials and Gen Z. They have a very short attention span you see. So if you can’t get into their head in a short span, they will never consider your brand!

What happened to all the conversation about content being the king?? If you have a content worthy enough to watch, who will not watch it?? After all these same millennials and Gen Z spend hours and hours on binge watching. See that is where the difference is. People don’t want to wait anymore from one week to the next to watch the next episode. They want it all. And if you have a story to tell that they can relate to, why 30”, they will spend hours.

Driven by market pressures, research, unique claims, we stopped telling a story. And people stopped watching the ads and looked for ways to skip.

Yes long format worked for a while in Digital space but we got too caught up in trying to be interesting. It became the story and a extremely stretched brand connect.

If the attention span of viewers and consumers has gone down, we are responsible for it. It has become a vicious cycle. We put out crap that people don’t want to watch. People are not watching so we call it attention deficit and therefore shorter and shorter formats. Shorter the format, less story to tell. At some point it will go back to one slide that says the brand name and that’s it! A cinema slide.

Process of evolution is what most will call. Getting into consumer’s head any which we can will be the support. There will be a mad rush to make 6” videos till some new format comes along.

But 2018 is round the corner so lets hail the birth of the new format and get excited about it. Orgasmic even at our expertise to create videos in that format. 🙂

Desire


Let me start with a quote from Mad Men.

“What you call Love was invented by guys like me… to sell nylons”

Desire. That’s what the quote is about. Creating a desire. Addressing the deep seated emotions. Within us. For us. For everything that makes us happy.

“Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay”

Happiness and desire have gone missing in the Advertising today. Having been in this profession for over 20 years, I have seen the change. I have been part of the change.

Somewhere in last 20 years, we have let go of the art of seduction. I know a lot of you will say that Advertising is not supposed to be that. It is supposed to inform the consumer about the product and benefits. It is supposed to work for the brand and therefore we need to understand the consumer and create that perfect communication.

Somewhere in our effort to create perfect communication, we lost out. We started believing everything the consumer says in a focus group or when she fills a questionnaire. We started “fine tuning” our advertising to address what she wanted us to say. Something that will sound very relevant and rational. Question – when were we ever rational?

I will go out on a limb and make a huge statement here. No buying is ever rational. The only time rational part kicks in is when it comes to price. That’s when the consumer shops around for a better price. The irrational part of the consumer has already decided on the product she wants to buy.

But coming back to the post, we have become too numbers driven. We have stopped looking deeper into the consumer psyche. We have stopped looking at what makes them happy, what makes them crave for something.

When did the consumer tell us that we have to do extensive need gap analysis to reach out to her. When did she tell us that there has to be a list of benefits in the advertising? When did she say that unless certain criteria in terms of features are not met, she won’t buy?

It is us who put these people into conference rooms and made them think, analyse and overanalyse. Once we started doing that, there was no turning back. After all, the Agency and the client could always use the 169 slides research deck to prove they have taken the right creative path.

We have become formula and code driven. Humour is a formula. Showing an automobile in a certain way is a code. Tapping into the various boxes we have put the consumer in (gen x, gen y, millennials, gen z) and then creating communication that taps into the popular culture of the specific box, is how we look at communication now.

The art of subtle persuasion is long lost. No one has the time to build a deeper consumer connect. Building a brand is now about market share. Not an emotional bond with the consumer.

To quote Vance Packard – “The difference between a top-flight creative man and the hack is his ability to express powerful meanings indirectly”

We are all now a bunch of hacks. Power is now all about shouting the loudest. Or now with digital medium, creating something that will go viral and have a million likes on social media. Whether it is taking up a social cause, creating controversy or just get people talking. We forget though that digital medium is in a constant state of flux. When we pander to the short attention span of the consumer in the digital space, we are never going to build a lifelong bond.

Getting attention and conversations going is not building a connect. Advertising has now become like a teenager or even an infant. They do stuff to seek attention.

Marketers are also going down the same path. Link test score is what matters. Nothing else. Films get crafted to ensure a good score. All brands are getting uniliverised (couldn’t coin a word with P&G).

Desire is not a rational emotion. Craving is also not a rational emotion. If you don’t want something desperately enough, you won’t buy it. iPhone can sell without advertising (ok maybe not for long). Why? Because it has created an intense craving in the consumer which must be satisfied at all cost.

How many brands are doing that? How many brands are looking to build a deeper emotional connect. Connect that is not built on discounts, after sales, fake lifestyle, some obscure technobabble but a strong emotion.

I have been lucky to have worked on brands that addressed deeper emotions. I have worked on brands that were ingrained in the consumer’s mind. But it has been a long while now.

Will I get to work on something similar again? I doubt that. Our minds are fragmented by mediums and driven by numbers. We are now communicating with a mind that is way too cluttered and the way we look at it, the safest possible way to get the sales number and continue to retain the business.

Tommy Walker wrote on shopify.com that the divide between marketing and sales will disappear. Well it has. And hence the death of advertising as we knew it.

Long back there used to be theme communication and scheme communication. Now it is all scheme. There is no theme anymore.

And why is that? It is because we are no more addressing the mind of the consumer (and they have a very sharp mind) but her wallet. We want a share of every rupee that she spends on buying a long list of products (yes the list has become way longer than it used to be two decades back). We want to grab that rupee before it is spent on something else! But pause. Pause for a moment. Think about it. The list has become longer. Which means that the desire and craving for more stuff has increased. Is it possible to address these emotions? Be relevant in the context of making her happy. And not be relevant as she tells you across different focus groups?

(Disclaimer – she is not meant to address only females. It just addresses consumers)

Era of evil?


Been thinking about this for a while now. News for whats it worth has been all about killing, intolerance and nothing good at all. Sure there are bits and pieces of good but mostly it’s all bad.

It made me wonder. Why there is so much of this all around. In India and everywhere else. For this post I will stick to India.

Over the weekend I was watching a TV SERIES called Mindhunter on Netflix. It is creepy as hell. Messed up with your mind. And partly responsible for this post.

We seem to have totally given in to our darker side. Positivity and a healthy attitude towards a fellow human being is just not there.

I don’t think it has happened all of a sudden. It has been happening for a while. We have become utterly selfish and self absorbed. The so called seven deadly sins have perhaps stopped being sins.

Why has it happened? Is it just us venting out? Is it technology? Is it us being part of a larger world with access to all things good and evil. Is it just a phase or it’s here to stay?

I believe that freedom and openness that did not exist earlier, is causing all the problems. Think back to perhaps maybe 25 years back or even earlier when we were a rather closed society. Maybe society is the wrong word but we lived in an era where there wasn’t much for us. Everything around us was just enough for basic existence. We were not flooded with images from around the world about what is possible. We lived comfortably in our closed world. We didn’t have great demands from the world around us and in our relationships. Yes, it wasn’t an easy life but we had learnt to accept it.

And then it all changed. Liberalisation, beaming of images on satellite channels, and the biggest disruption called the internet.

All of a sudden it made us realise what we have been missing out on. We looked at the imagery with wide eyes disbelief and perhaps excitement. It became a frenzy. To catch up with the world.

Nothing wrong in that. We all want a better life and means to achieve a better life. It all would have been fine if we focused on a “better life”. But we did not. Better life became acquiring symbols of a better life. And in order to get those symbols, we gave up on our biggest strength – to be a good human being. Materialism and hunger to be better than our neighbours and relatives corrupted us. Corrupted our mind. Once the rot sets in, it is hard to pull things back. It becomes all pervasive and corrupts everything we do and our mind.

We kept demanding for more. And more. Whether in terms of money or relationships, being satisfied with what we have took a beating. That’s when sin stopped being a sin.

Look around you. Stress, hypertension, obesity, depression, couples struggling to have babies, relationships falling apart as soon as they start. Terminology like ONS, FWB, no strings attached, depravation of every possible kind, it’s all around us.

We were pretty healthy and fit in the past. Marriages (or let’s say relationships) lasted a life time. Respect for elders and unconditional love for children were the bulwark of our existence. There was a larger societal connect. All of that is gone.

Technology wasn’t supposed to lead to all of this. It was supposed to make life better. Sure it has on many fronts. We are able to perform better, be more productive, more connected (?) but…

We have stopped being humans. Animals we were and animals we have become. Even animals tend to take care of their own in a herd. We don’t do that. We are totally self centred. Yes we do mouth all the right things but we don’t mean them. Talking social cause is just a step towards building a better brand out of us.

Human mind, it always had a dark side but in the past, we never focused on that dark side. But all that has changed.

We are quick to hate and even quicker on the keyboard to vent out that hate. We might get up in the morning, do pooja and have all the love for our kids but we reach work and layoff a few hundred people. We drive fanciest of cars that block out the misery that exists beyond the tinted glasses and almost sound proof cars. People in South Bombay don’t know anything about the world that exists in suburbs. Same goes for all the posh addresses in all the other cities.

We all believe in Gecko’s philosophy of “Greed is good”

Murder, rape and doing unspeakable things to another human being has become a norm. It is not just at a physical level but even at a mental level. Our minds are taken over by lust – for power, money, fame, satisfaction…

Given how our country moves at different levels of evolution and progress (I laughed when I typed these words), all the evil will continue to exist. The ones who got on the ground floor of evolution will have a more polished approach to evil. The ones who are getting in, will look at everything from a very crass perspective.

Dante wrote inferno in 14th century but we see it all around us now – “realm… of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against fellow men”

Is there a redemption for us? I don’t think there is for the generations that are currently walking this earth. Future generations perhaps. If only the ones who are really young, grow up to despise what we have become and lead the Change. On their own. Not driven by so called social causes promoted by brands.

I would like to believe that eventually we will use technology for what it is supposed to do. I hope we get over all that WE think technology is for.

But till then… like pigs in the muck we will be happy in the this self created muck of our sins.

13 super hacks to be successful!


Got your attention? Made you open the post?

We all are so gullible and seeking stuff like this.

Tips to be a great leader, great marketing person, great Digital expert etc.

Learn from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Nadella… endless list.

You are not going to make it if you are looking for tips from any of this.

Some people have the X factor. Most don’t.

Just be good at what you do. And let things happen.

Nobody became great by reading any of these tips.

I haven’t come across anyone who has become big and credited the success to everything he learnt from infinite posts that are put up about tips, habit and such other stuff.

Best companion


DISCLAIMER – This post does not promote smoking. Also for the non smokers, you can stop at the disclaimer and not read beyond. And yes, smoking is injurious to physical health.

The title of the post and the disclaimer will be enough to let people know what this post will be about.

A while back, I had written about caffeine and nicotine. This one is all about nicotine. Well not nicotine really but cigarette. Only the smokers will understand the sentiments.

We all think that we light up a smoke because, having become used to it, body needs regular dose of nicotine at frequent intervals.

I think it is not about the physical need but smoking operates at an emotional level. Sit back and analyse the number of times or more like occasions when you have reached out for a cigarette or craved for one. It is never just like that. There is always a trigger. An emotional trigger.

Stress, depression, loneliness, good times, happy times, excitement, when you want to spend time with yourself, when the brain is working very hard on solving a problem… the first instinct is to reach for a smoke rather than somebody to talk to.

Why does that happen? A cigarette does not judge you. It doesn’t give you profound insights if you are stressed or depressed or lonely. It doesn’t give a word of caution if you are feeling very happy or having a good time. It is also not the voice of conscience. It just lets you be.

In a world where everything is a function of relationships and having to conform to those relationships, a cigarette is your silent partner. It probably knows what’s on your mind but doesn’t say a word.

The act of lighting up a cigarette, the first long drag, it is kind of cathartic. Meditation at its best. Letting the thoughts flow rather than telling you to let them flow right out of your head.

Yes, we all know the ill effects of smoking and yes we all need to cut down or stop completely. There are enough voices around you telling you to stop. But a question for them. Can you be what a cigarette is? Will you listen without judging or giving your opinion or advise? Will you be there in good times and bad times? No you won’t.

Those 7-10 mins spent with the cigarette are satisfying. You are with yourself, running all the things through in your head. Even when you are in a social setting (well not anymore because you will be away from everyone. Not allowed). Which I think is a good thing. For the non smokers and also for the smokers.

Smoking does not give you solutions to all your problems every time you light up, but the time that you spend, it helps you perhaps organise things in your head and eventually something might set you off in the right direction.

It’s the solitude that is provided. When the world around is cluttered and clambering with advise, orders, deadlines, responsibilities, duties, commitments… those few minutes away from it all, silencing all the external voices is an emotional oasis. At peace.

I am not promoting smoking in any way but it’s just about how I view smoking.