Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Silly, Simple and not Funny

Dear Tata Docomo Brand Manager

You've done it again.


For a campaign that talks about 'Keep it Simple, Silly', you have made two wild decisions:

- You have picked Ranbir Kapoor to do stand up comedy. I don't know your intentions. But if you wanted someone absolutely unconvincing as a stand up comedian - you should have chosen Sunny Deol: A raw, underutilized, stone-faced celebrity attempting to make the audience laugh. Your tagline could have been 'Sunny keeps it Simple, Silly.' I appreciate the Jerry Seinfeld inspired look-tone and humour...but why?

- You have fake laughter in the background in all the ads. Bad jokes and Fake Laughter. A series of Bad jokes and fake laughter. A series of Ads with a series of bad jokes and fake laughter. I can't remember the last time when a humourous commercial used such subtle prompts for the audience.

Vodafone (Hutch back then) did an ad series a while ago with Irfan Khan (watch them here). A peculiar man in a normal environment explaining somewhat complicated but extremely relevant Telecom features with Hutch/Vodafone. That was simple. This is not. It made us smile, occasionally giggle. You've mildly annoyed us.

Like the previous Docomo post, I'll add some Internet Marketing blurb for your brand. I am sure you have a new intern in office to re-do a presentation on 'Web 2.0 strategy for TATA Docomo'. Since Social Media is the new buzzword, I'll use Facebook status updates this time. I read this website is growing and might become a phenomenon in the future. I hear they are planning to make a movie about it too (insert fake laughter).
I'll leave it to your intern to finish up rest of the analysis on this. I guess he is on facebook the whole day, trying to improve your brand's digital presence.

Good luck with your campaign. I am sure your message will reach millions and you'll grow your user base. And when an odd Docomo user calls up your customer service to complain, I am sure you'll have a stale joke or two up your sleeve to calm them down. And of course, fake laughter.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Observations on World Cup 2011 - on Everything but Cricket



Continuing with my previous stereotype, which annoyed a lot of people (read it here), there are curious dissimilarities between the way Men and Women approach cricket. Previously, I had branded cricket as the enemy, as the distraction that denies girlfriends and wives their rightful time with their partners. World Cup 2011 however had a different flavour.

This time cricket was not the enemy, but rather the tool to socialize - specifically from Quarter Finals stage. Last week, I gently invited myself twice to a P&G colleague's place and hence had the privilege of spying on 6 couples as they enjoyed the cricket joyride together. Being impassive about cricket and single helped me focus on the inanities. While I almost succeeded in being subtle (before the hostess caught me making notes) I managed to scoop out some observations:

- Men believe that their actions have a minor, but significant impact on the game's outcome . This is explained by a curious 'Why take the risk' theory. Explaining their butterfly-effect insignificance on the world does little to shake their faith.

- The more comfortable the couch, the greater the belief that one should keep sitting on it to help India score or take wickets. Though at some level, that does make sense. Women have little faith in the hold-your-position superstition, but they love the excitement it generates.

- Nobody likes Sreesanth. Nobody likes his cricket skills, his attitude, his hair, his gold chains, his aggression or him on camera cheering the team. For all these important reasons, he should just give up.

- It's ok to comment on a Pakistani spectator, her green outfit, green nail-polish, green sparklers - but you will be quickly called an ass if you somehow make an honest statement that Pakistani women are hotter than Sri Lankans.

- Both men and women are equally interested in commenting on celebrities and the players. But there are fuzzy boundaries which shouldn't be crossed. A small sample from the IND-PAK match:

- Thanks to twitter, facebook other people's creativity can now be passed on quite loosely as one's own. Using some intelligent phrases like 'Have you heard? This one is funny! Wow..., The World Cup Final is watching Rajni'. The immediate step is to retweet or republish it on facebook, before the insignificance of the action dawns on you.

- Wives will get attention and bonus points for showing any form of interest in the game - questions may be fully related to the match ('Why isn't Harbhajan bowling now?'), vaguely related ('Who is Kamran? Never heard of him!'), unrelated to the match ('Why is Dhoni wearing a sweater? Is it cold in Mohali?')

- Husbands will get bonus points for feigning interest in non-cricket matters. A certain husband (name kept anonymous for my protection) successfully feigned concern about cutlery cleanliness when the wife screamed 'Oh no! Ye spoon to jootha hai!'

- Across sexes, Diet Coke seemingly absolves all guilt of consuming horrendous unhealthy food, snack or drink. The word 'Diet' was a masterstroke, and I bow to the evil genius at Coke who managed to convince us - and by us I mean a room full of people with a median of 5 years of marketing experience.

The moment Dhoni whacked the ball out for a six to finish off the match in style, all couples immediately paired up in joy, and for those few seconds, I felt that I shouldn't be in a room full of couples hugging each other. But then moments later someone popped champagne, the celebrations begun, and it all made sense again.

Thank you Team India for making us happy, tipsy, a lot more proud and a little wiser.

For other lessons in life, you can also read:
When Life Offers you Balloons

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Iron Maiden in Singapore Feb'11: Expectations


Iron Maiden is performing in Singapore on 15th February.
I have tickets. But I am not sure if I'll enjoy the show.

There'll be too much peer pressure in the squeaky-clean Singapore Indoor Stadium to head-bang. My friends and I will look lost while a much younger demographic will chant lyrics to songs I don't know. I shall make full use of my knowledge about the songs 'Hallowed by thy name' and 'Fear of the Dark' and sing the title phrase melodiously when it comes up. For the rest I've decided to google the songs at the venue as the band starts singing them, for such ignorance must be perished.

My flatmate Rohan and I made a collection of 'must listen to and practice head-banging' Iron Maiden songs. Sadly it lay unused all these weeks. Instead of Iron Maiden, I chose to listen to GLEE cover versions. Is this an slippery downslide from earthy heavy metal that'll end with Justin Bieber?

This identity crisis must end! The head-banging on 15th Feb shall mean more than just a pain in the neck. And I hope to live up to the challenge.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Negi & Iyer's REAL African Adventures

This is the video which captures some of the adventures we had on the African adventure - Dec 2010-Jan2011.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

I fell in love with a Spanish angel


Dear Patricia

I don't know your full name.
I don't where you live in Spain, except that it is up somewhere in the mountains.
You cheerfully sat on the couch across the table with those mesmerizing eyes, that spirited nose ring and an adorable conspicuous white cap.
We spent the whole evening at the hostel bar, with interruptions from over a dozen people who I wish had disappeared for those few hours - including your sister, your dad, Akhilesh and the other random folks at Victoria Falls.

Patricia - how can anyone not fall for you?

You might not remember, but our conversation was sparked by a contrast of interests - your love for dogs and my absolute apathy towards them. You fell in love with all the pet dogs at the backpackers hostel, and they all of course loved you. As I shirked away from those giant beasts, you chose to prove to me that dogs are adorable and started showing me pictures from your camera.

Our hands touched.

I chose the pictures on the camera and you would explain a little story for each of them - from your curious world in Spain up in the mountains - where you have chosen deliberately to live in a world without television; where baking bread with actual firewood is a passionate activity; where you teach kids in a beautiful school; where you take mesmerizing pictures of the sun, leaves and flowers; where you smile so well at the lens when it snows and when the sun shines on the green hills.

Patricia - how can anyone not fall for you?

You carry a musical pipe in your bag and break into a blues tune that could have BB King's own creation.
You picked up the local African instrument and with childlike enthusiasm fiddled around with it for a long time. In that time, you were blissfully unaware of the louder conversations in the background and the clinks of glasses. I squished closer and tried to listen to your music.
Later in the night, as I sang 'Tu hi re' to you and the rest of the audience, you did those little hums and baselines spontaneously which made the song unforgettable. Hindi to you was like Spanish to me, but you understood the song better than anyone else.

Earlier in the evening when I bubbled up with enough courage, I took your hand and tacitly asked you to dance with me. You smiled and just came along. Unapologetically, you moved your slender arms and hips and just grooved to the music. You had that twinkle in your eyes, which brought a twinkle to mine.

Patricia - how can anyone not fall for you?

You looked graceful even when you made your own cigarettes, as you licked that tobacco paper in place.
You gurgled when you laughed.
You gave the stupid hobo Rastafarian your own bottle of water, when he was rambling about no free drinks. Any one else would have just ignored him.
Sometime in the middle of our conversation, you said 'I have to go pee pee' to me with no guilt and just skipped across the table. I smiled and just waited for you.

At the end of the night, when I could not look more hopelessly smitten, you patted me on the cheek and said, "You are such a clown."
I had not felt this mushy and silly in a long time. I had not been called a clown by a girl I adored in a long time.

I woke up today at 6 a.m today just so I could see you off. You were surprised that I actually turned up, since promises made at 1am after quite a few beers can be hollow. You gave me a tight hug, held on for a lovely few seconds and ended the embrace with a peck on the cheek. I just stood there at the gate, and you left.

I should have asked for your full name
I should have asked where you live in Spain up in the mountains.

Patricia - I fell for you. And I will cherish our evening at Victoria Falls for a long time.

Love
Arvind