Monday, April 28, 2008

Shoppers Stop - Analysis

Delhities were greeted with a fake front page ad last week (the kind of advertisements only the mighty ones can afford) - Shoppers Stop advocating a message of 'Start Something New' in an a classy b-w ad. It drew corollaries from Manmohan Singh's and the Indian Cricket team's success.

I was curious because it looked silly. So I did a bit of research on this to figure it out.

Business Objective

Being in the retailing business, Shoppers Stop has been a pioneer - and that's not just a juicy compliment. They were the the first in India (since 1991), they have a fruitful IT setup, and they have constantly expanded their product line, encouraging even unconventional tie-ups like Om Shanti Om movie clothing line. They have also pioneered in developing their B2B sourcing technique. Some online interviews revealed that they intend to rapidly expand to over 50 stores in 2 years, from the current strength of 22 in eleven cities.

The original logo now functions as the Raheja group's logo for retail stores. I was surprised to know about their diverse investments. Apart from Crosswords, they own other speciality store brands including HomeStop, mothercare, Brio and desicafe'.

Old logo

New logo

The Ad Campaign

The current campaign speaks of a logo change and a untenable 'Start Something New' tagline. Such rebranding campaigns communicate an underlying reason for the change, benefits (if any) to the consumer. This campaign seems to starkly lack that. Here's the comment from Ravi Deshpande, the man who suggested the idea:

"Shopping is a treat. It makes you feel like a new person. I felt that this could be made into an idea like “start something new”, so that life is looked at completely differently, something as different as responding to the environment and its issues, saving trees, recycling, being a child again, or just doing nothing. All of this with a fashionable twist to it."

Here's one of the Print Ads (source Agencyfaq)

In the formal rebranding ceremony held on April 24th, Shahrukh Khan tries to dispel the same cynicism evoked within viewers - "Its not just a logo change. Its much more". They have also plonked a CSR angle - "Think Green - Awareness for the environment". Don't see anything useful happening here (source video)

As a contrast, the AXIS Bank rebranding campaign focussed on a single message - we are still the same, using twins and other analogies. Or my favourite Vodafone campaign, used the pug and colours to simply imply change - Hutch is now Vodafone.

I am sure the management of Shoppers Stop have got strong business acumen. I just feel they have been a little confused about the utility/objective of the ad campaign and hence the poor output. Lets wait for the consumer response now.


Detailed information on the Ad campaign (agencyfaq)
Shoppers Stop business investments in IT (DNA)
Interview with the CEO, Shoppers Stop (pdf)
Shoppers Stop homepage

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kyonki Impression ek din mein nahi banta

Brand Managers spend quite a lot of time deliberating over usage of brand ambassadors, debating the pros and cons. The Parachute team had decided to put together a stunning combination of Yuvraj and angry-boy SreeSanth for their Parachute Shower products. Here's a recent one being aired on television.

The Team must have spent quite a lot of time coming up with synergy analysis like:

1. Yuvraj and SreeSanth possess an on-the-field chemistry which will definitely lend some bonus equity to our campaign.

2. Given an existing imagery for SreeSanth, a personality transformation from an angry cricketer to a more composed individual will lend credibility to our proposition.

3. The campaign can be propogated to further line extensions using the same theme, thus effectively leveraging the current brand imagery.

But what do you do when your brand ambassodor gets slapped in front of 8.6 million viewers ? In fact, if newspapers publish the photograph of him whining and shedding big fat Kings-of-Punjab tears, can you do anything about it ?

Yes you can.

Since news channels would anyway be busy with unrelenting coverage of this faux pas, all Parachute needs to do is buy product-placement or ad spaces in all these programs. As SreeSanth whines and Bhajji abuses and the world gapes waiting for some more drama, you can milk all the advertisement benefits including brand recall, comprehension, empathy, sympathy and all that stuff.

Still, a weak, angry, displeasing and (recently discovered) sniveling brat is not the best deal for any brand manager. I can just imagine the team at Parachute silently cursing Bhajji - "Teri Maa Ki...."

Thursday, April 24, 2008


1. It rarely digs up the right message when I try to search through my old mails.

2. I receive atleast 3-4 spam messages every day, in contrast to gmail, where I barely encounter one spam message in a month.

3. They have started inviting these roll-over ads, which accidentally assumes that a flicker of my mouse over the ad space is an indication of my interest. The ad balloons up to 4 times its size, with no recourse to close or skip it. It is quite painful.

4. And this was the Yahoo News snippet I received on my mailbox on April 25th, 2007. (Notice the date of the Holi news).

Most of my online news inputs are currently through Google News. The News widget on iGoogle is quick, updated and customizable.

I have never clicked a single item on this box of yahoo news to explore it further. But the absurd backdated news prompted me to document this blunder by Yahoo.

I know my mailbox isn't Yahoo's direct source of money. But contextual advertising and sponsored links will be fruitful iff there are loyal users. Online users should continue to receive and send mails, check news, view games etc on Yahoo services for the advertisements to utilize Yahoo's online spaces. Users are rapidly getting smitten by gmail; And Yahoo of course is losing the battle.

Althought Microsoft is no saint when it comes to useful updates and innovation (Int.Explorer v.s Firefox), the current status of Yahoo is clearly depressing. But I hope that if the Microhoo! deal comes through, then the change will bump Yahoo to do something worthwhile.

Note: In case you aren't sure about Yahoo's business model, find more information here and here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

RACE (Movie Review)

A red SUV growls at Bipasha atop a tall parking lot. As it proceeds towards her, a belligerent Saif Ali Khan flies in from the top. At this point of time, you are supposed to be surprised at his reappearance - after all, wasn't he dead? But you cease to care a damn. Being the intelligent bimbo, she decides to run round and round, descending one floor after another. Meanwhile, the killer is supposedly manouvering through the parking lot's pathway, complimenting her intelligent strategy. Saif jumps onto the seat next to the killer, manages to save himself from getting whacked, stabs a knife on the killer, slams the brake in time to prevent Bipasha from getting squished and thrown off the building. She exudes no surprise or relief - like things went smoothly. He moves up close to her, smiles crookedly and says, "Don't worry. Everything is under control." squirm and wait for the next twist.

As other reviewers have repeatedly complained (check GreatBong), the movie is full of senseless twists. Collusion is ubiquitous and is driven by no apparent advantage.
"Mere XYZ plan hai."
"Mujhe pehle se hi pata tha tumhara XYZ plan hai. Isliye maine ABC kiya."
"Mujhe pehle se hi pata tha tumhe mera XYZ plan pata hai. Isliye maine PQR kiya.."

And after months of planning, deception, and untimely revelry, the final showdown happens sans strategy with a senseless car chase...hmm..Your brother has made two clear and obvious attempts to kill you, and rather them have him die a gruesome death, you want to hear out his lovely reasons for doing so. Lord knows we have imbeciles amongst us, but who the hell asked this duo to concoct such bullshit.

Most of the energy and brains(if any) has been applied to shooting songs independently, which were brashly splattered in the movie, interrupting the storyline. Otherwise time was spent in making the actors look good on screen - not the character, but the actor himself; With pronounced actions (removing sunglasses, adjusting the hair, swiveling) and jittery fast-paced and intermittent slow motion sequences. A strut towards the loo looked like it had grandeur and some ulterior purpose.

This movie suffers from a typical Bollywood phenomenon. A direct translation from Story Outline --> Character Sketches --> Screenplay --> Dialogues/Narration
Hence Akshay Khanna's would have been conceived as a guy who is addicted to alcohol. The narration thus developed for the movie opening is crude and discouraging -"Ye Ranvir Singh hai. Inko Daaru ki aadat hai. Roz subah shaam ye daaru peete rehte hain..."
Just in case the stereotype wasn't rammed in, they have shown Ranvir with a bottle, swigging a peg or two between dialogues. To further insult our intelligence, Saif also stares at the bottle and says, "Kya...tum subah shaam peete rehte ho.."

Every chunk of scene which accidently contributed to the storyline is also followed by a short synopsis, ineptly woven into a scene.
"Maine ye kiya kyonki ha ha ha..."
"Tujhe laga hoga ki mein nahi samajhta...par maine to pehli hi socha tha ki..."

Maybe the movie should have had subtitles with candid arrows on screen - HE IS GOOD. SHE IS SECRETARY. SHE IS IN LOVE. DON'T WORRY. WE'LL EXPLAIN THIS A DOZEN TIMES. In case you weren't aware Abbas-Mustan, the average moviegoer has crossed the breastfeeding stage two decades ago. Can you afford to treat us a bit more regard!

The Directors have developed a clear business model - rip and rape. Here's what a bit of googling revealed:

Race (2008) - Copy of Goodbye Lover (HIT)
36 China Town (2006) (as Abbas-Mustan) (FLOPPED)
Aitraaz (2004) (as Mustan) - Copy of Disclosure (FLOPPED)
Taarzan: The Wonder Car (2004) - Copy of Christine (FLOPPED)
Humraaz (2002) (as Mustan) - Copy of A Perfect Murder (HIT)
Ajnabee (2001) - Copy of Consenting Adults (AVERAGE)
Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (2001) -(FLOPPED)
Baadshah (1999) - Copy of multiple movies (AVERAGE)
Soldier (1998/II) (as Mustan) - (HIT)
Daraar (1996) (as Mustan) - Copy of Sleeping with the enemy (AVERAGE)
Baazigar (1993) (as Abbas-Mustan) - SUPERHIT

They have been regurgitating indianised Hollywood plots for over 15 years now. And they have the nerve to call themselves as the thriller duo, or suspense kings. This is narcissistic and disgusting.

Screw you.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Comeback

I received a call this morning. As I grunted lying on my bed, my mobile was promptly brought and dumped next to me. As it lay ringing and whining, I resigned and unwillingly stared at an unknown number. I picked the call and politely grunted. The voice at the other end said, 'Arre...Sonu hai kya?'

I shouted back, 'Subah subah wrong number lagate ho. Sharam nahi aati hai kya!'

The man was audibly dumbstruck. Expecting no intelligent response, I cut the call and went back to sleep.

In the ensuing hours of the day, there were two seperate observations made at home.
First - Does 8.30am count as subah-subah?
Second - Despite being a Dilliwaala, how come the guy didn't scream back at me? Is there no appropriate comeback for the line ? [in bold above]

There was a weak suggestion - "Wrong number lagaane ka koi time nahi hota hai.", but its not acidic enough!

What is your opinion :) ?

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Derriere of Politics

Derriere: The fleshy part of the human body that you sit on

The full news coverage is available here. I am pasting the article available in today's Times of India. This hardly requires any editorial insights. The content is incredible!

She had no desire to be just another smiling face in Italian politics. So when porn star Milly D'Abbraccio designed her campaign posters, it was obvious she was going to show off her bottom.

Targeting her male fan base, the veteran of Italy's adult entertainment industry has plastered images of her derriere all around the Eternal City in a bid to win a seat in Rome's city hall.

If elected, D'Abbraccio wants to create a red light area with strip clubs, erotic discos and sex shops called "Love City" just kilometres away from the Vatican.

D'Abbraccio, in her 40s, isn't the first adult entertainer to dip her painted toenails into Italian politics. Ilona Staller, known as "Cicciolina", sat in parliament in the 1980s and was famous for her impromptu stripteases.

D'Abbraccio hopes to capitalise on increasing disenchantment with Italian politics. "People don't want to see these politicians' faces anymore," she said in an interview from her Rome apartment.
"I am the derriere of the Socialist party," she concluded.

As for experience, D'Abbraccio acknowledges she is a political novice but she did play a powerful lawmaker in an adult film called "L'Onorevole".

"I played the part of the speaker of the lower house of parliament, who got very hot and then let herself go," she said.

[emphasis mine]

Some publications have tried to come up with creative headings for this piece. The best ones are:

  • Milly D'Abbraccio makes Magic Mark
  • Porn star unveils political weapon - her bottom
  • Some cheek as Milly starts campaign from behind
  • Bottoms Up: Italian Porn Star Uses Assets To Get Votes
The world is a lot crazier than what it seems.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kilobytes of Crime

I've done it again.

The first crime happened around 3 years ago. In anticipation of my 2 month long stay at home, my dad had installed a fresh broadband connection, a new venture by XYZ. The bill from XYZ arrived after a month of my stay. My buoyant father had told me - "Download what you want. Superb bandwidth. This is all for you."

With the bill in his hand, he didn't seem that buoyant at all. It turns out, the bill was over Rs17,000.

My repertoire of downloads included 3 movies, a complete collection of Tina Turner songs, a couple of documentaries and miscellaneous items. It seems you should not take instructions like 'Do what you want' literally. We thought a while about possible actions. I was obviously stupefied and of no use. There was only one way to tackle this situation.

He left for the local XYZ office the next day. There were a couple of people strewn across a sparsly furnished office. He shouted at the nearest legarthic employee, "Who issues such ridiculous bills in this office? I need to speak with him now."

The employee was startled at the accusation. He took the bill and stared at the amount. He quickly escorted my dad to the appropriate person and skipped.

The new officer was questioned curtly - "Look, I want to know whether you are measuring the bytes at router or server level. Because this is obviously flawed. Kaisa business chala rahe ho aap log?"

My father was visibly irascible. His forehead creases boasted years of IT experience. The employee meanwhile frowned with concern. He was inept and insecure. He stuttered, "I am sorry Sir. I am not sure about this..."

"If you are not sure aapko dukaan band kar dena chahiye!"

The new officer scampered with the bill to the senior manager's office. After a minute, my dad was surreptitiously called into the cabin. The manager admitted that this must be a serious error on their part. He couldn't obviously write off the bill ... But there was a way out...

He said, "Is it ok with you if we close the phone connection? That'll end all problems."
He added, "Aap aaram se ghar jaa kar soyiye. We will take care of this. You will cease to have this phone. Of course won't have to pay the bill."
My dad sighed, "Ok. Do what you have to do." and got up.
The manager shook hands and uttered, "Again, I am very sorry Sir."
My father smiled and said, "Its ok. Everyone makes mistakes."

Thus our XYZ phone connection died a happy death along with the 17k bill.

Today, we received our first Airtel Broadband bill. They have slapped us with a bill running in thousands, post discounts and free phone calls. Further mining of the bill revealed I'd made 50min phone calls to a certain IDEA Phone number in Pune.

In this era of mashups, web2.0 and streaming content, I can't even find the scapegoat. Each innocent youtube video must have piled up to make up this enormous stinking pile of megabytes.

I am urging my dad to do a repeat performance. But sadly, you can't fool all people all the time.