Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chak de (small town) India

I just did a Blog search for the phrase "Chak de India" and found there were 385 results in the last 24 hours. In other words, since India won the T20 World Cup. So here is the 386th, unless of course, others beat me to the post.

The big news is that India won. But what is interesting to me is how small town India is grabbing center stage. Opportunity is not knocking only on the doors of people in the metros, but also those in towns like Ranchi, Rae Bareilly and Rohtak. So the world is getting more flat.

Here is a list of home towns of the players in the Indian team. The conclusions are for you to draw.

MS Dhoni


Yuvraj Singh


Ajit Agarkar


Gautam Gambhir


Harbhajan Singh


Joginder Sharma


Dinesh Karthik


Irfan Pathan


Yusuf Pathan


Piyush Chawla


Virender Sehwag


Rohit Sharma


Rudra Pratap Singh

Rae Bareilly

S Sreesanth


Robin Uthappa


A question that has been asked of me is whether this small town person wants to be talked to in a different language. I think that is missing the point. I don't think it is about whether that person wants to be talked to differently. The point is that his world-view is very different and so you cannot connect with him unless you have the same view. Let me illustrate this.

The metro guy has more to lose and therefore plays safe. The small town guy has more to win and so is willing to take the bigger risk. I guess this is just one way in which Bunty's world is different.

At any rate, Bollywood and cricket continues to unite us and make us one country.

Chak de India.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rolling stones don't become CEO!

Just saw this interesting news item about the new CEO of Nestle (click here).

The board has chosen a guy who has been with the company for 28 years over the "front runner" who has been in the company for 2.

This confirms what I have long believed. That rolling stones finally reach a glass ceiling that they're unable to pierce.

I probably sound terribly old fashioned to my younger colleagues. But I couldn't resist the temptation to say "see I told you so"!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The World Is Really Getting Flat

Today's DNA has an article that says 50% of online shoppers in India are from small towns. A couple of months ago, the Times of India had an article about e-tickets in India which said that 73% of air tickets in India are booked through the internet. Which is amazing since the internet penetration in our country is 3.7%. Also in the same article is the story of farmers in a village near Tirupati buying e-tickets through an enterprising jeweler who had quickly become a travel agent.

So suddenly the big story all around us is about the various Buntys and Bablis of the world who no longer have the patience for the trickle down effect to work. They are keen to grab that new mobile phone, travel to that new destination, live the new dream, as quickly as the Sids, Akashs & Samirs (remember Dil Chahta Hai?).

This much is quite obvious. What is not obvious is how we are going to appeal to these people. What vocabulary will we use to talk to them?

It is clear that the Anglo-Saxon style of communication with the understated elegant humour does not appeal to this lot. Even when expressed in Indian languages. So advertising has gone to the other extreme and is using, so called, "small talk" language to talk to them.

I think this is insulting to them. It is like New Yorkers doing advertising to Indians and using a "Peter Sellers" type language and visual imagery full of Taj Mahals and snake charmers. We would be insulted and so, I believe, are todays Buntys and Bablis.

What we need to develop is a new remixed vocabulary to talk to them. A vocabulary of words & images but also a new vocabulary of dreams, aspirations, humour and relationships.

This flat world is quite challenging. But the rewards are so much greater.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fathers are parents too

Did you see the article by Madhukar Sabnavis in Agency FAQs titled "Of parenting and children"? If not, do read it. Very interesting and insightful.

I have a few related points to make.

There are a bunch of human relationships that exist all around us that we never reflect in advertising. One example that I have spoken of to my colleagues is the relationship between a married woman and her mother. Now Madhukar has raised the point about a father and his children.

All father-kid interactions are meant to be about playing. Presumably that is all he does, while the mother focuses on the kid's homework, discipline and other essentials. Hard to believe this. Especially since I am a teaching parent and I know a few others who are.
Conversely I know a few indulgent mothers too. So why do we propagate this myth?

And how many other types of relationships can we think of that are not reflected in advertising?

Talking of myths, I also like the way that Madhukar has spoken of the four types of mothers using characters from Indian mythology. Isn't it amazing that we can neatly capture the most modern and latest trends using characters from an epic written a few thousand years ago? Shows the importance of mythology in our lives. We learn it while we were babies and so never quite forget it.

So are there good stereotypes for fathers in our mythology? It seems difficult to think of any young fathers. It seems that men are too busy being heroes while they are in their youth or middle age. Only when they become old do they become proud fathers. Can any of you think of a good role model of younger fathers?