Hell yeah! We all want everything cheap! Everything discounted. We want the best but CHEAP. We don’t see the price, we see the discount %. We delay our purchase till we get it cheap. We hunt through the websites, we wait for the announcements, we have things put in the wish list or shopping cart… waiting for the SALE. This cuts across all demographics, psychographics and income groups.

We carry this CHEAP into everything we do, not just in shopping for products. We want to hire the best talent at lowest price. We make compromises, cut corners to reduce or investment for more profitability.

Strangely enough, we carry this mentality even into our everyday relationships. Here it is not really about money but the give and take of emotions. We want more but we want to give less.

We are reaching a point where we are going to question even paying anything at all.

The concept of VALUE has changed. Value no more is associated with what it means but at what price it is available. Will I get more for less… that’s my value.

But then it happens, what we get for less or for free, it never holds the same place for us as something that we invested a lot in.

The whole idea of cheap is to use and throw away. What we retain in our cupboards, whether physical space mind space are those things and relationships that have come at a cost.

We crib about our clients not paying enough money for services rendered or goods sold. All the while beating down prices downstream. We moan about our partner not investing enough in the relationship yet at the same time, we are not investing enough.

And when we believe that we are not getting enough, we look at means that will give us that enough. And we all know, those means are rarely if ever, the right means.

It is a vicious circle. And the fact that it is a circle, it will continue.

Be interesting

That’s the objective of every communication.

Being interesting is not about what you think is interesting but knowing the other person’s point of view to know what is interesting for that person.

Holds true in our business too. If what we create is not interesting enough, consumers will blindspot you.

It is also important to constantly keep track to know if you have stopped being interesting. Requires a lot of introspection.

Never take it at face value if someone tells you that you are not interesting or rather not interesting anymore. Is it you who has stopped being interesting or has the entity found something or someone more interesting.

Be interesting is when the association starts. Continuing to be interesting is to hold on to that position long term.

People are flirtatious today. As people and as consumers. Holding there attention for long required us to be on the ball… all the time. Requires a very dispassionate view of yourself. Also requires insight into the other entity.

Most relationships fail… whether it is between two individuals or the brand and consumer when we take the eye of the ball and it rattles the cage of your helmet.

In cricket, you can stand up again and face the next ball with renewed focus but not in life.

So be interesting… all the time!

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. 🙂

Living in our Matrix

large-matrix-blu-ray7The basic premise of the Movie matrix was this world which for the population is a real world but in reality it is a simulated world.

The movie was released in 1999. 17 years down the line, I think we are living the matrix life. Our lives have been taken over… Taken over by what we perceive is the reality. The reality that is being defined every single moment by technology.

The lines have got blurred between reality and virtual reality or augmented reality. We have been enslaved by the digital world. Zeros and Ones define our lives. Control our lives.

How did this happen? Or rather how did we allow this to happen?

It happened because we were seduced. Seduced by the world that opened up because of technology. Access is the oft used term. Liberated is another term. We were led to believe that technology is the best thing to have happened to our lives. This seduction… the temptation perhaps matched the temptation in the Garden of Eden…

It started off slow… initially there was cynicism but then the charm… it worked its magic. Social media became the driving force… and the various forms in which we could connect with the world, slowly and surely pulled us away from what reality was… Virtual space took over our lives.

Today we rationalise our presence on social media and various tools of connectivity. We justify our reasons to be present constantly in the virtual world.

We have more faith today in what we read in the digital space. What we read on twitter. We are so ready to get ourselves worked up… only to realise it was for a wrong cause.

We have reached a stage or reaching a stage that we will be perfectly happy in the world that we have created in the virtual space. Why? Because the virtual space is with us all the time… at work…at home.. away from home… it allows us to connect and do things at work… it allows us to stay connected with family, friends, relationships, work, our dreams (created by the virtual reality)… So we see no reason to disconnect. We see no reason to make the choice of a blue pill vs red pill. Though if we were to make the choice, nobody is going to be a Neo. We will all prefer the virtual vs real.

My generation and perhaps couple of generations behind me still have the grasp of real world. But the teens and the ones in their early 20s, they have grown up to believe in the virtual world as the real world.

And that is what technology wants. Because the more you believe in virtual, the more you will buy into the newer technology that makes the experience even more fulfilling. And soon enough, Matrix will become real.

(image courtesy



So how aware are you about what is happening around you?

And am not talking about politics or economy. These two, it is best to be blissfully unaware of. You wont miss much. Anyone who is going to mention this kind of awareness, one kick in the pants. So no JNU, no sedition, no one year of Kejriwal or whatever…

I am talking about you… you who is totally occupied by your own self. Do you know what is happening around you? How aware are you?

Can you feel the subtle shifts in the tectonic plates? Can your senses (dulled by the feeling that you are the centre of the universe) sense the disaster that is on its way?

Dulled by the sense of complacency and a feeling that we have got what we want and there is an almost invincible feeling about us that we close our mind to changes that are happening around us.

The shifts and the undercurrents at work…or in a relationship… they are very subtle… very easy to miss out..

At work we are too focused on what is to be achieved for ourselves and ignore the toes we might be treading on… we like to believe that we are being the best of colleague… best of boss… Always our perspective… In a relationship, we like to believe that we are doing the best we can and tend to ignore that best is a very relative word…

We carry on with our lives.. oblivious to the ripples you have caused… and you are not reading the signals and then BAM! It all falls apart.

And when that happens, our first question always is.. how the hell did it happen?! Why was I not aware of it! strange eh? Were you sleeping? or were you too caught up in your own self?

Being aware requires a certain dispassionate approach… requires you to be caught up in your own self… and that is tough to do since at the very core, we all are rather selfish.

(image courtesy



Pluggin our work again

Our International Fleet Review campaign for Indian Navy is on air. Proud to have been part of the team that worked on the campaign and made it happen in less than two weeks.

I was there only in spirit 🙂 but wish was on that deck or inside the submarine.

Take a look if you would like. Everything has been shot in less than a week. I have pasted here two of the four films.





The toothpaste war

Asked  50 people if they were impacted in any way by the war between Colgate and Pepsodent. And if it will change their decision in any way the next time they were buying a toothpaste.

No one gives a damn. :))

Most actually had to pause and remember which toothpaste they use.

So much for percentages and guarantee!

Anything is possible

Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue
Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Two quotes from Don Draper of Mad Men to start this post and to make a point:


“People want to be told what to do so badly that they will listen to anyone”


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


The more I see of the advertising today, am increasingly getting convinced that agencies (and the client) and still living their lives in the Madison Avenue of the 60’s. You can sell anything as long as you play on the fear or insecurity of the people. Or play on their lack of self belief…


When growing up, there are brands that tell you how you can be more intelligent than the rest… taller than the rest… sharper than the rest.. (wonder what happens if theoretically everyone was to consume these brands! how will the comparison happen??)


As you grow older, there are writing instruments that tell you how you can write the perfect paper in double-quick time etc.


And then the fun starts… If you had not consumed the stuff that would make you intelligent and taller and sharper while growing up.. do not lose hope… There is a chewing gum I think which will make the big idea pop up in your head… there is a carbonated drink… gulp it down and you are ready to conquer all your fears… A cola which makes you do crazy stunts… And now the latest Josh Cola – Pepsi Atom! Seriously… if one were to consume all of this… why worry if at birth your IQ was bordering around stupid!


And not to forget.. all the deos (my pet peeve) who can get the girls fawning over you… or if only you can learn the art of picking up a fallen book (remember to wear Raymonds)… attracting the girls is a breeze…


And things don’t end there.. If for some reason you did not take care of your skin while you were young… there are miracles waiting for you beyond the 30… Forever young they will keep you…


Of course I have been part of this profession for more than 20 years but some of the stuff I see now.. makes me question what we do… A decade and half back… Pepsi used to be fun.. as my advertising guru used to say… the communication was a surrogate for actual consumption of the drink… there was a an irreverence about it because after all.. cola or any carbonated drink is completely irreverent.. don’t get philosophical…


Same thing with alcohol advertising – Johnny Walker keep walking or Teacher’s achievement awards or many such initiatives… seriously? And yeah.. that reminds me.. this weekend Bacardi Breezer had a fun-filled evening for the families in our complex… The problem with that… Kids were taking part in all the fun… and 12/13 year olds talking about how they wish they could have a breezer! Way to go Bacardi… catch them young


But enough… advertising will not change because consumers and their insecurities wont and as long as there are enough insecure people on this planet…




Men matter

So there are these two commercial messages that have caught my eyes n ears.

First one is iciciprulife’s new campaign ‘bande achche hain’. Ok so it’s an insurance ad and all about responsibilities that men are supposed to have. But beautifully done. And in current times when men are getting battered for the ills in the society, it focuses on many things men do and they dont look for acknowledgment. Things they do but are never seen or noticed. One situation in thr commercial – wife shaking her head and picking up stuff that husband has dropped.. Expression is like how many times I have told you! She bends and gets up.. Without realising that their was a drawer open n it would have hit her head but the husband had shut it. Or the situation where instinctively the man always walks on the side of traffic while walking on the road.. I guess for our gender these things come instinctively. Also our manufacturing defects like lack of emotions or doing our own things. But somehow.. Because the defects are visible, they tend to get noticed and we as men dont go ahead and try to show things we do.

The next is the radio spot for Sikka realtor in greater noida.. Ok ok so we all take realty ads with a pinch of salt. But the radio spot is about a guy talking about the sacrifices his dad made so that he could grow and prosper. Poignant and full of emotions that we all can connect with about our dads or we as dads. And sorry Archies and hallmark and all the commercial establishments.. We dont need a father’s day to acknowledge the sacrifices our dads made.. As a dad, it comes naturally…

If you live in Delhi and drive, do catch the radio spot and of course the iciciprulife’s commercial.

Full Frontal

The title of the post is courtesy – One of their top trends for 2013.

Read that day before yesterday and interestingly there was discussion on NDTV last night. Point of discussion… the Indian Food Regulatory authority has sent notice to 38 brands for making various claims in their communication. Claims about helping lose weight, making the kid smarter, taller and intelligent. So Horlicks, Complan, Kellog’s are under scanner.

Now there could be truth in the claims made by the brands but again there maybe lot of obscure studies backing the claims. Unfortunately, in our country there is no independent body for authenticating these claims. And truth be told, I have not yet heard anyone saying that these products have worked. Health, losing weight, kids becoming smarter or taller is a function of many things and brands bank on these to deliver result. Typically as a parent, I know that when my kids pays attention their studies, religiously practice and work hard, they will be smarter and intelligent. Similarly, active life (every evening intense physical activity in the park) will make them healthy and taller (by the way, my kids don’t have Horlicks or Complan… they have Bournvita and they are doing just fine). And of course as a parent, if I have subliminally or overtly bought into the claims made by the brands, I am ensuring that they have two glasses of milk a day with the additives so the result is that these brands become part of the process of growing up ( a process that is a natural process. All they do is play on the guilt of the parents to enter the house. Long back when I was at JWT, I had heard often enough that South India was a very large market for Horlicks because culturally there is a lot of pressure on kids over there to be Einsteins and Horlicks on a regular basis tapped into that pressure.

Take a look at all the junk foods that have got into the habit of saying how they are healthy. Chips are now baked so they are healthy. Butter is fat-free etc. Or Kellog’s has a variant which tells women that they can become slimmer (helps them charge a premium for that particular variant). Would love to know if any woman has actually become slimmer by consuming Kellog’s.

Full frontal is about brands coming clean on all their claims. Opening themselves to scrutiny. And they are being driven in the West to do so by the consumers. Consumers, tough regulators and the fear of billion dollar law suits.

Will it ever happen in India? Will Complan share every finding (not studies commissioned by them but independent studies over a long period) that proves their claims? I guess not. Because there is no pressure on them to do so. Even this notice that has been sent by the regulator will amount to a fine of some INR 10L (about US$ 20,000) if the claim is doubtful.

Consumerism in India needs to become extremely powerful and active for these brands to feel the pressure.

And it is not just this category. But many other categories. Skin care, health care.. As Nidhi so rightly mentioned in the program yesterday. Does the fairness cream really work?

Even in automobiles. How long are we going to believe the mileage claims *under standard test conditions. Given the roads we drive on, we will never ever be driving in the standard test condition.   So how about.. an automobile brand tells me that we will put a litre of petrol in the car and go with me on my normal day drive and see how much mileage I get. Any negative deviance from their claimed mileage.. for every one km deviance they will knock of an amount off their price. Don’t think they will do that.

So till we get active about our rights as consumers, lets give our children all the health drinks, pamper our skins and hair and believe that the car does give 21kms/litre…