Brand #RaGa Break-out

BrandRagaNobody seems to be sparing a thought for a man once touted to be the future Prime Minister of India. The past year (slightly more) have possibly formed a part of a nightmare that Indian National Congress Vice-President – Rahul Gandhi (and many around him) would be hoping ends soon.
If one were to put it simply the ABC’s of this trauma are his recent ABSENCE from the political scene, what is widely seen as his strategic BLUNDERhis interview with Arnab Goswami in the lead up to the General elections last year and getting caught CATNAPPING on camera a debate in the parliament.
Ever since Mr. Rahul Gandhi has become butt of all ridicule with fresh jokes viralling on social media almost on a daily basis. Come to think of it, haven’t been passed on the good old Santa-Banta jokes for some time now!
On a serious note, who hasn’t made mistakes in life? At a time when most articles, reports and posts across media are taking the poor man to the cleaners – here’s a post that says “Give the man a break!”
A Brand View Story proposes the following 9P’s for Brand #RaGa

  • Presence
    If their previous Prime Minister was hounded for being silent then #RaGa has been hounded for being absent! It’s not just his recent sabbatical that is in question. The opposition has often used terms like “tourist” to imply his part-time interest in politics.
    Therefore PRESENCE is an imperative if Brand #RaGa has to make a comeback. By this we don’t just mean physical presence but we mean skin in the game! His personal commitment shouldn’t ever be a matter of discussion.
  • Purge
    The Indian National Congress has often been found guilty of inaction against deadwood. It’s high time the congress eliminates in one fair swoop a host of people who are known liabilities and loose cannons. Yes, it will not go down well for a short while but the Congress will be better for it. If #RaGa wants to be seen as the boss he needs to act like one!
  • Promote
    This one needs to be viewed in conjunction with the previous P. The organisation definitely does not lack talent. What it perhaps has been missing is an open acknowledgement! The extreme focus on one ‘family’ has been the signature of the congress. Even today the replacement for #RaGa is his sister Priyanka. This needs to change. #RaGa needs to build and openly announce a ‘guiding coalition’. Yes democracy is needed in the long run and the congress needs to put up a transparent system in place for talent to bubble up.
  • Professionals and Professionalism
    Why should politics be the last refuge for scoundrels? Why can it not be a career choice for professionals? Why not corporatize? These are questions that have often been asked but seldom answered. Shouldn’t potential law makers and administrators themselves be aware of the laws or adept at management?
    This is an opportunity for #RaGa. If he needs to appeal to the aspiring youth of the nation he needs to operate like a corporate and it cannot be just limited to hiring agencies anymore. #RaGa office needs to be work on the lines of that of Bollywood stars; teams of salaried professionals. Gone are the days of the zarda chewing, diary jotting secretary! It’s time to get the economists, the market researchers, the marketing and finance guys etc. to manage different aspects of your brand.
    Sycophants and people with entitlement need to make way for people with qualifications and performance.
  • Positivity
    This is a tough P given the circumstances and needs to flow from #RaGa himself. As they say in Sanskrit “Manasa, vaacha, karamana” i.e. in thought, word and deed. Brand #RaGa needs a copious dose of positivity. Quick wins need to identified and they coupled with some of the other P’s should get things moving.
  • Preparation
    Malcom Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers. #RaGa himself and his team need to prepare like mad if they are to be seen as true contenders. Yes he has been around in the political arena for over 10 years. He should by now have mastered the ropes of politicking but the perception is still that of someone who is a novice. He comes across as someone who is under prepared, superficial. #RaGa needs to be ready with the stats and sources and needs to be comfortable with the subject of his speech. His speech on return from his holiday helped neither the cause of the farmers he purportedly stood for nor his own cause.
  • Plank & Promise
    In his much ridiculed interview with Arnab #RaGa mentioned his priorities over and over and over again regardless of what the question was.
    i. Changing a system that is “unfair” to people everyday
    ii. Empowering women
    iii. Democratization and decentralization of power
    iv. Right to information
    All noble causes to espouse yet he failed to impress the millions that watched glued to their screens.
    Brand #RaGa doesn’t need a new plank or promise. What is required is a visible, tangible action and delivery on the above. The opportunity to start is available right at home. Puppet organisations like NSUI and Youth Congress do not count. The changes have to be in the Big Boys League!
  • Propagate – Paint the Picture
    Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither can brand #RaGa be. The brand values of “Change”, “Empowerment” and “Transparency” need to be codified. People at large need to understand these terms from the perspective of Brand #RaGa.
  • Participation
    This is a connected world. Brands are conceived behind closed doors by a small group of individuals and decision makers however they evolve and breathed life into by millions who interact with it. Brand #RaGa needs to involve the people (few as they maybe) who have faith in it. Give them a stake in the brand. A lot can be learnt from the success of participative politics in India. An old congress war cry of “Swaraj” is now appropriated by someone else. Brand #RaGa needs to allow itself to break free from its manicured, protected image.

Those are A Brand View Story’s two cents. We hope we see Brand #RaGa adopt some of these P’s and rise up to the challenge. Old wine new bottle or re-branding or re-launch call it what you may but this tale is far from over.

As they say, time only will tell!


Brand Supernovas

Brand SupernovasHow many times have brands or companies simply be-dazzled you with their products, communication, pace of innovation, service delivery etc and then suddenly dropped off the planet?

Not often, but I bet most of us would come up with an example or two.

Got thinking on similar lines and tried racking my brains to come up with a list my own. Funny thing with lists though is that you want the number of items on it to reach a nice round figure. What I figured was; whatever number that you can get to without stretching the core thought is probably the right number to have on the list. I am sure you nodded your head to that one.

Before I started writing this post I looked up the term “Supernova” in the dictionary

su·per·no·va (so͞o′pər-nō′və)

A rare celestial phenomenon involving the explosion of a star and resulting in an extremely bright, short-lived object that emits vast amounts of energy. Depending on the type of supernova, the explosion may completely destroy the star, or the stellar core may survive to become a neutron star.

I have for the purpose of this post highlighted what I believe are the operative parts.

Before I go on to cite examples let me establish the basic premise which is, a successful brand is the coming together of a great product or service and communication that resonates with the consumer leading to a distinctive identity, a marked preference and a position of leadership. Now, that’s an elevator pitch definition of brand success that covers most if not all bases.

Now brands fade for a variety of reasons and hundreds go into oblivion every day. Mostly because they didn’t deliver on the promise that they made. Reasons could be they stopped being relevant or they got complacent or they were poorly managed etc. The very opposite at one time or the other must have got them to the top. It is however important to make a distinction between brand supernovas and brand fads.

Brand supernovas are the ones that seemed to have got it right. Well atleast for a while.

Now for the examples. Here are brands that shot up high and lit up the horizon while they were at it. Almost all these brands had a great product/service idea that went down extremely well with consumers, customers and investors. Not all of them spent big bucks on advertising and communication but they sure captured more than a fair share of imagination – to the extent that nobody imagined them going bust.

Napster_LogoNapster: A pioneer in more ways than one. Based on a brilliant insight and a sound technology Napster shot to fame towards the end of the last millennium. It is said that Napster at its peak had over 80Mn registered users, a number to die for even in today’s socially hyper-connected world. Legal troubles signaled the beginning of the end. While the brand attempted a comeback, the magic didn’t simply happen. What Napster did was permanently alter how record labels perceived and carried out their business.

 IridiumEverywhereLogoIridium: You had seen this kind of stuff only in James Bond movies before and these folks made it happen for real. Well almost! This service and technology was not only introduced ahead of its time but also prematurely. The “Everywhere” promise the brand made could not be delivered effectively for the lack of satellite arrangements. An out of the world investment (pun intended) in putting all those satellites meant an extremely highly priced service to the end users but more than that the fact that it didn’t work as promised took the wind out of Iridiums sails. They had to close shop but not before they had captured the world’s attention and imagination.

Kingfisher_AirlinesKingfisher Airlines: An example from closer home. Their acquisition of Air Deccan established them as one of the leaders of the airlines industry in India. Their promise of a “good time” had people queuing up. The Branson’esque flamboyance of the owner helped the airline get more than its fair share of attention. They took a leaf out of PanAm by leading an explicit but unstated promise of stewardesses who were good enough to walk the ramp as models. The airline eventually was grounded as it ran up debts way beyond its ability to pay. The Kingfisher wasn’t flying anymore! It can be argued that the entire fiasco did not have a positive impact on the original brand of beer by the same name and on the holding company.

Coming back, the three brands did have a great product/service that gave them a distinct identity and a position of leadership. However, mismanagement in some form or the other led to the brands fading away but not before they had lit up the sky!

The Art of Electioneering

Art of Electioneering

“Where absolute superiority is not attainable, you must produce a relative one at the decisive point by making skillful use of what you have.”

Karl von Clausewitz, On War 1832

As I write this post I am aware that hundreds like me are analyzing what the world’s largest democracy has witnessed and trying to put in perspective.  As the election juggernaut rolled through the country under intense media attention the various angles to the 2014 elections in India have been explored, analysed and have been discussed threadbare.

One of the things that has bubbled up to the top and been referred to often with an accusatory tone is how India’s PM designate was a well marketed product.  There is little doubt that what has just concluded is a milestone election in India’s history. One that introduced several elements into the Art of Electioneering.  For sure there will be cases made out this election that students of business, social and political science will delve into across universities. I have in a previous post talked about how the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) captured the imagination of millions in Delhi. What the creators of the Modi campaign have achieved is far bigger and far reaching in its impact.

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

SunTzu, The Art of War

In hindsight what has been executed and arguably to perfection have been text book strategies.  Be it SunTzu, Porter or Aaker or Prahalad what the strategy cell of Bhartiya Janata Party has done is research, organize, propagate and execute or as I call it the ROPE trick.  For the purpose of this discussion I shall attempt a retro-fit of my observations of the campaign to popular models in marketing strategy.

Customer MotivationsAlong the lines of the adage “Customer First” we’ll take a look at how the BJP campaign tested on understand the drivers for this election and the needs of the voters i.e. Customer Motivation.

The marketing brains behind the BJP campaign ticked these boxes well and proper. They clearly identified the mood of an electorate that was young and aspirational.  From an Indian perspective, we have as marketers devoted hours cracking the code and allocated millions of rupees trying to win the youth over. The BJP campaign identified the Youth as mainstream.  As per the 2011 census 65% of India’s population is below 35 with a median age of 29 putting an eligible workforce (15-64) at a whopping 430 million, higher than the entire population of the USA!


The strategists at the BJP HQ caught on to this early in the day and having identified their target segment distilled their motivations.  So what were the motivators they identified? Speaking of the high level motivators (since each has contributing factors and dimensions), a strong yearning for growth and opportunities, a need re-assert pride, a secure environment and a decisive leadership were what were chosen as the pegs of the campaign.

The campaign planners were also smart enough to place their communication not just on traditional media but where the Youth were on the internet constantly communicating with each other using a variety of social networking tools from BBM to Instagram to Pintrest to Google Hangouts! This enabled BJP to speak to them at an individual level as well as a collective, influential mass. More importantly, this was not just at the time of the campaign.  The social leg of the BJP campaign started a couple of years ago with senior leaders writing blogs, active on twitter etc.  The buzz around BJP was atleast 3X their nearest competitor in the sociosphere the AAP.

Several articles have been and will get written regarding the extensive use of digital media by the BJP in election 2014.  The use of technological wizardry with the 3D rallies or the beat and booth level mass outreach mobile screens carrying their leaders message the campaign exploited every possible touch-point.

So was it just a media and technology blitzkrieg based on consumer (read voter) understanding or was it more?

Here’s where I would introduce another text book model to which in perspectives will answer what the BJP went about doing. This is about understanding your competition better than anyone else. The BJP used this understanding at every step of the way and in all their communication verbal, written or visual to attack them.  Again in hindsight, the way the numbers panned out they seemed to have done it well.

 Competitor Actions

The strategy cell of the BJP along with their campaign creators seemed to have blended their understanding of the voter and the ruling Congress to create the perfect potion that cast a spell over the electorate.  The silence of the Prime Minister, the reactive nature of the Congress campaign, the disconnect of their leadership all became weapons in the BJP campaign arsenal.

The respective campaign taglines represented the middle of the road, motherhood tenor of the congress versus the more exhortative call for action from the BJP. Much again has been written and talked about this having been a “Presidential style” election.  The author disagrees. Granted that this was an election of personalities like never before, but to say that this was the first is incorrect atleast as far as the past four or five elections are concerned. The BJP always has portrayed a leader whether it was the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with the slogan “Ab ki baari Atal Behari” during the 1998-99 elections or L.K. Advani with “Majboot Neta Nirnayak Sarkar”.  Even in the past whether declared or not the contenders for the top post were always clear.

Endnote: The victory of the Bhartiya Janta Party in these elections was a result of a very well thought out strategy and smartly integrated ground realities.  It was a journey that began well in time. Yes the leader himself had a role to play, but the magic was him resonating with the youth of this country. Voicing their aspirations and promising a better future. Clichéd and overused as it maybe it goes without saying that with great power comes great responsibility.  The burden of the mandate will now be on the BJP it is for them to perform to their promise. The nation hopes for deliverance.

Lost In Translation: Do Unrelated Brand Extensions Erode Brand Value In The Long Term?

Lost in translationIts election time in India.  Starting April 07, the world’s biggest democracy shall go in for a marathon round of voting that would be spread over a month.  The election jamboree has several contestants and in the fray are people from different walks of life.  The noteworthy ones though are the contestants who have been in the public consciousness but for totally different reasons.  If celebrities be considered individuals who are brands that they are courtesy their achievements/fame in their original profession.  Their foray into politics therefore, is akin to a brand extension.

Now as marketers we are familiar with extensions and have seen many such examples. It is the author’s humble opinion that brand extensions into un-related categories are detrimental to the brand.  Now I do not have empirical evidence to back this but more often than not, the brand attributes that made the brand successful in its space would not resonate with consumers in an un-related space.  Yes there have been brave attempts at looking at a core set of values and carrying forward those elements that are relevant to the spaces related or otherwise that the brand is being carried into.Marketoonist

Since there is a constant back and forth amongst marketers regarding brands as people and people as brands (also the starting point of the current discussion), it would only be fair to look at things through Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism

Just to refresh the model suggests that there are six facets to brand identity. As with individuals there is what gets projected and communicated and there is what gets received and understood.Kapferers Brand Identity Prism

  1. Physique: The brand in Its physical/tangible form eg. colour, packaging, product form etc.
  2. Personality:  How the brand projects itself. Fun, young etc.
  3. Culture: A set of values that feed the brand.
  4. Relationship: the brand has with its consumers or stakeholders i.e. aspirational, inspiring, motivating, ostentatious etc
  5. Reflection: An image a brand creates regarding who its typical user would be. Example Blackberry with QWERTY phones for executives.
  6. Self-image: What the brand does to its consumer’s image of self. For example, ladies hand bags from fashion brands perhaps project “I can afford it” for a bulk of their consumers.

Coming back, the contestants in this election range from the “have-beens” to the “could not have beens”.  Movie stars, sports persons and business icons they are all there.  If one were to critically assess any one of them with respect to the brand that they have built in terms of elements 2 through 6 listed above with the assumption that physique is something they cannot easily change, most would find diminished relevance of their established identity in the new space.

Yes there have people who have translated their success in one field into success in another but the examples are few and far between.

I will defend my case with two examples one a business brand that made an extension into an unrelated field, another an individual.  Both brands that attained dizzying heights forayed into an unrelated spaces and ended up eroding if not decimating brand value in the final analysis.

Exhibit#1 The individual: Amitabh Bachchan arguably India’s biggest movie star and an icon for millions of Indians across generations.   The Big B as he is popularly referred to made according to him one of the biggest mistakes in life when he chose to enter politics.  A super-star he contested elections from Allahabad, UP, India and dislodged a stalwart.  What followed were years of turmoil as he got embroiled in allegations of corruption that tarnished his image.   It took Amitabh Bachchan the brand over a decade to rise from the ashes, a deed that not all can perform.

Exhibit#2 Kingfisher:  Originally a beer brand it was extended to an airlines.  The brand attempted to translate “the good times” value to the service industry.  From offering a low-fares to the concept of premium economy the brand threw everything including the kitchen sink at the customers.  Perhaps one of the better executed transitions only from a process standpoint. The change in logo from a perched Kingfisher to a flying one, the launch and the initial follow through were commendable.  However, the ambitions were all consuming.  The brand and the business were unable to reduce the revenues vs expenses gap and finally the airline operations that commenced sometime in 2004-05 came to a grinding halt in 2012-13.  There is sure to have been damage of the episode on Kingfisher the beer brand, pretty sure some enthusiasts would be out there collecting the before and after data for Kingfisher.

Sleeping with the Enemy: When Partners Kill Your Brand Experience

SwteThis is an observation that stems from a personal experience, you could consider it a rant if you please.

I had accumulated quite a few reward points on my credit card. I am the type of customer the credit card industry would call a deadbeat. With our anniversary and wifey’s birthday falling in the same week, I decided to use some of these points and order something nice.

I set off on my journey through the credit card provider’s website hoping to come across a catalogue from which I could choose and order. I discovered soon enough that things have changed on the rewards program side of the credit card industry too. I did mention I have “accumulated” these points over time. The last I had ordered was exactly like I mentioned, a catalogue of items from which you simply picked up stuff and ordered.

The newly organized (at least for me) rewards program offered dozens of vouchers that you could procure and subsequently shop with. For lazy folk such as yours truly (I am sure the women folk out there would have labelled me that the moment I said I wanted to get something for my anniversary and wife’s birthday from a reward point catalogue!) going to malls and shopping is not a preferred option.

The other option of course was to do online shopping using the reward points accumulated. This could be done at a “partner online site” which I did. I picked a couple of items and checked out having paid with my reward points. I promptly received an email promising delivery within 10 days. Reasonable I thought since I had 12 days to go for the anniversary.

All leader sites at least the ones that I have shopped with progress your order through various stages from receipt to order being placed to vendor to staging to shipping and ultimately deliver.  What’s more they send e-mails and SMS informing you of progress.

None of that happened in this case.  Anxious whether the gift would indeed reach in time for the birthday if not the anniversary I placed a call to the customer care who had no new information to offer save the standard “Your order is being processed Sir”.  I specifically asked whether they’d able to ship at all and was willing to change my order to some other product that could be. Assurances were given and accepted. Cutting to the chase, despite repeated calls to the customer care centre, emails and tweets no information was shared and one fine day after 30 days of placing the order I got a quiet message on twitter saying they couldn’t execute my order.

The tale of woe doesn’t end, now I am forced to utilize the considerable amount of money again with the same online shopping portal, since they (as stated) do not have a process to refund cash against the points nor can they reverse/re-instate my points to the credit card provider.


Now for the brand angle. Here’s a service provider who is supposedly treating me “nice” by rewarding my use of their service.  By logical extension of the premise the reward experience is owned by the primary brand which is the credit card provider. The role of executing/making tangible the reward experience is performed by the secondary brand i.e. the online shopping site.  Since the primary brand has pre-chosen with whom I get to shop, the responsibility of the experience is theirs.

A bad service rendered by the secondary brand as is a reflection on the primary brand. This is no different from the normal course where brands chose partners for delivering their services either through retailers, franchisees etc. The brand is responsible.

Outsourcing is good but brands, more importantly the people running them should be aware that outsourcing a process does not transfer the accountability of the process. Regardless of which part of the operations the outsourced process lies in there is no absolution!

A brand that does not or cannot provide top notch products and services to its direct consumers will invariably falter, more so with indirect consumers/customers. Therefore killing your brand!

A simple mantra so that you don’t end up sleeping with your enemy is being accountable.  NO ESCAPE!

No Escape

Need: Before entering into partnerships, one must be absolutely certain that the service or component of your service that is being outsourced to a partner brand is not a core capability. The value add of another brand is significantly higher than what you could achieve alone.

Objective: It is necessary to have a clear idea of what we are going to achieve by virtue of entering such a partnership. Common sense? Yes. Do we all think this through? Doubtful.

Evaluate: The worst mistake one can make is hop on to the first train that comes in.  Age old wisdom requires us to compare the offering and relative strengths of the suitors. Again something that tends to be overlooked.

Select: We tend to go for the familiar. Give the job to someone who already works with us. They are looking to expand, have some competence and a great relationship already exists so why not continue it. Strategic partnering is about the strategy and not the partnering per se.  The basis of selection should be basis congruence and competence only.  Relationship at best can have a weight but cannot be the guiding factor.

Communicate expectations: We know what we need, what we need to achieve. Now communicating it in a clear, unambiguous and unequivocal manner is necessary.

Agreed deliverables:  It is important for the partner to see it from your perspective. Agreement should be the outcome of having shared and communicated rather than just a contractual obligation.

Processes: Having done all the hard work, processes and their metrics should be defined and measured. As they say you cannot analyse what you don’t measure.

Evaluate periodically: Corollary to the above you cannot improve unless you have analysed.

 The above is applicable regardless of you choosing a vendor, an agency or a strategic partner. Better safe than sorry!

Building Brands Brick by Brick…Literally!

Building BrandsI was tuned into one of the local FM stations in Delhi as I was driving this morning and I encountered a virtual traffic jam. I changed at least three FM stations trying to catch a song and ran into the radio spots of popular developers in the Delhi NCR.  Which is what set me thinking.

We (at least those of us living in the top eight metros) are surrounded today by communication/messages from Real Estate as an industry.  Be it television, print, radio, digital or outdoor they are everywhere.  According to a recent report 22% of the AdEx comes  the real estate industry  Given that the you and me of the world are their TG and we seem to be getting exposed to all this communication someone somewhere must be doing their job right. Or is it?

What really is getting communicated to me is that there are lots of choices if I really were to buy property in and around Delhi. The choices indeed span taste and size of pocket. Which at most basis the textbook stages of building brand equity would fall in the awareness category. Push comes to shove, one might even be able to mention the names of a few builders (some brand managers would feel happy ticking of their ToM targets) hence there is some amount of brand recognition that the communication is delivering. Now comes the tricky part. The part that deals with creating a preference for the brand and then extending it into loyalty. Textbook!

The question in my mind though is whether this cookie-cutter approach works for brands in the real estate space? What really goes into building a brand in the real estate space? What role does the brand have to play in the process/decision of purchase?

For the sake of this discussion we shall look at those who set out to buy with the intention of inhabiting it or at best are looking for a secure investment. For the middle class, buying a house is not a simple decision. Unlike most other purchase decisions brands are not competing with other brands.  They are competing with the process of purchase itself.  If we were to take a look at what is competition for the brands whilst vying for consumer attention, the list would be long and for anyone who has gone through it, tiring. Starting from the point of realization i.e. “Yes!  I/we need to buy a house” through the journey of information seeking, comparison, evaluation etc. the brand of the product which in this case is the house comes in very late into the equation. After going through the usual Where, What, When, How Big, How Much, What else do I get rigmarole the brand often is incidental.

So is there no point building brands in real estate? No, that is neither the import nor the message. The point is brand managers and agencies involved do not seem to be creating communication that is built on a complete understanding of the role of the brand.  Most communication is dimensioned on price or the location or the amenities provided etc.

Brands in the real estate are in my opinion, built on one of the fundamental gauges of brand strength, trust. Here is a category where the past performance and future promise hold equal importance. The future is aspiration while the past is assurance.  Every project that is completed is living testimony to how the brand fared on its time, cost and quality commitments. Every brick that gets laid is literally building the brand. Some of the better brands do talk about this but it usually is a passing mention and easy to miss.

For a sector that is the 2nd highest spender on media/advertising there was not a single real estate brand in the Top 100 of the Brand Equity Most Trusted Brands in India.  In fact basis another report the first real estate brand appears at 516 in a list of Top 1200 brands! Of the ones that do appear, not all are into housing.

It is in building and communicating trust that real estate brands need to invest. Basis evidence they sure have a long way to go. Or should I say several floors to the top!

The WIN-SEE Code: Cracking Audiences with Laughter

Laughter they say is the best medicine. Certainly so, as far as the GEC space is concerned. Indian television over the years has invariably found success in its flirtations with comedy as a genre. Again with no specific research to back my claim would like to move forward on the basic premise that light-hearted (at times meaningless as well) comedy has a cut through across age and demographics.

From the Doordarshan days of Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi and Ulta Pulta or the Sajid Khans and Shekhar Sumans of the world as cable television started out or more recently, the stand-up comedy phenomenon. Comedy has delivered well in the fiction and non-fiction/reality formats.

The inaugural season of Comedy Nights with Kapil a weekend show launched mid-2013 on Colors (An Indian GEC part of Viacom) has been seeing phenomenal success.

Recently released numbers for Wk3 2014 indicate that the show rated at 11 TVM in terms of viewership. By all means a staggering achievement given the fact that India has approximately 145Mn households that have Cable & Satellite out of which this programming would appeal to households that speak and understand Hindi. Couple that with a following of just under 6Mn on Facebook and 14Mn page-views on YouTube and we are talking of a brand that would stand tall amongst the best!

So here’s my theory of what the underlying factors of this success are, the WIN-SEE code (if you indulge me)

·     Witty: One of the key traits of the shows anchor is his earthy wit. Repartee is perhaps the best representation of the kind of humor that works in a family or a friend’s kind of an environment. The show is purported to have brought back television viewing as a family activity. The show is conversation currency.

·  Irreverent:  The content of the show is constantly pushing further the envelope with regard to its treatment of established institutions and norms. Even the audiences are not spared when it comes to comments on their profession, physical appearance etc.

·   Naughty: Humour across the world has always been ridden with innuendos. The characters of the show are overtly flirtatious and suggestive. Strangely enough they have been able to get away and redefine what acceptable conversation in Indian households is. Perhaps, the over the top approach softens the crude content. Albeit the writers of the show thus far have been able to walk that fine line.

WinSeeCodeStar Quotient: Celebrities have invariably formed a part of successful shows. The difference in approach of this show has been that the host does not spare the guests. The show has given access to the witty, irreverent and naughty side of its guests, a clear differentiator. Celebs and ratings of course form a self-propagating virtuous cycle and the show’s success has made it the choice destination for PR.

·    Egalitarian:  The show has no pretensions. The humor is basic bordering slap-stick. While the intellectuals get their high with the quick repartee and satire the masses are served a dollop of “nautanki” with men dressed as women, buffoonery etc. Every gets a fair dose of what they need and everyone is happy. The show cuts across ages as well. My yet to turn 2 year old who has just about started speaking knows the show and even its characters by name!

·      Empathetically engaging: The basic construct of the show is the clichéd North Indian household. The lazy flirtatious male and his aspirations monetary and romantic. The oppressed wife, the bossy granny and the interfering aunt and irritating neighbours. There are constant references to the challenges of running a household such as inflation, corruption etc.

4RsAll of the above make it one neat entertainment package that has hit a home-run as far as the 4 R’s of media are concerned Relevance, Reach, Ratings and Revenues.

Success they say is its own enemy and has begun to take its toll on the show with key characters deciding to chart their own course.

What remains to be seen is how effectively they crack the WIN-SEE code!

As Good As It Gets: Branding for Life!

POLIO ERASEWell this post is a departure from the previous ones. This one is a tribute. Read in the newspapers yesterday that no new case of Polio has been reported in India since January 2011. 3 years since a case has been reported! What it means is that Polio myelitis has been eradicated from India! Considering the fact that over half of the world’s polio cases came from India as recently 2009 this is nothing short of a miracle! Considering the challenges involved in a country like India that has rudimentary infrastructure, corrupt officials with little or no scruples a teeming population to contend with (1.2bn and counting) this is a great display of positive intent, collaborative effort and systematic execution. Alongside all this the National Polio Eradication Programme is a good example of marketing.  Awareness creation, information dissemination, use of ambassadors, innovative distribution mechanisms, activations, media utilization the boxes get ticked on the entire list. Let’s talk some numbers to fathom this. India is a country where

  • A baby is born every two seconds
  • 14% of the population is under the age of 6 (~175Mn children needed to be immunized on a regular basis)
  • 70% of the population resides in rural areas

Primary Health Centers, Anganvadis, Baalvadis, Door-door, School-school, in trains you name it and distribution of the drops has been turned into a reality. “Polio Ravivar” (Polio Sunday) with the “Do Boon Zindagi Ke” (Two Drops of Life) campaign perhaps is the most widely recalled, recognized and effective campaigns anywhere in the world.

There was no dearth of innovations either

So here’s saying a big thank you as a citizen and as a father.