Monday, May 24, 2010

3G v/s SoniaG - Yes Madam, We Can!

So the much acclaimed 3G Spectrum bidding has concluded and is expected to give the Govt. exchequer a whopping Rs. 68,000 crores approx. which is close to more than 2 times than what was estimated in the Budget 2010. As A Raja, the Telecom Minister was all smiles for all right reasons and 'otherwise', the Congress camp was in a spot of bother. If Pranab Mukherjee looked numb like always, P Chidambaram's pleasant and calm face had turned stern, something which would have scared the Maoists and Naxalites as well. Normally a quiet S M Krishna was looking as serious and brutal as Kamsa. Though the UPA as a whole was exuberant over the 3G Spectrum revenue, the Congress faction had a subtle, yet evident uneasiness on their face.

The Congress is now weary of one pertinent point - Will the popularity of 3G impact the Brand Value of Sonia'G? The Prime Minister took note of this issue and summoned an emergency meeting of all Congress Ministers late in the evening at the PMO (Prime Minister's Office). The possible effects of 3G overshadowing Sonia'G were discussed at length. A Ten-Point Programme has been worked out and would soo be implemented. Sources from the PMO who requested anonymity to avoid possible animosity with the Ministers shared the minutes of the meeting -

1. The total earnings through 3G bids will be showed at 10% of actuals. That way, revenue to Govt. Exchequer could also be shown less and hence, prices of essential commodities could be hiked. This suggestion had come from the mastermind of Murli Deora, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister who sees this as an opportunity to hike fuel prices. When countered by the Prime Minister, he justified his stand by saying that if fuel prices are hiked, public attention can be diverted from 3G to price-hike. He also assured that there won't be disruption from the opposition camp of BJP and Communists as they would anyways 'Walk-Out' from the Parliament.

2. 3G Spectrum will not be publicized on news channels, websites etc. Now along with opposition leaders, even the Press & Media are banned from entering the premises of the Ministry of IT & Telecommunications. A Raja's official residence will be deployed with additional CRPF forces to curb media entry into the premises. This point was put forward by the Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

3. Afzal Guru's files will make rounds from various bureaucrat's tables to New Delhi Govt. every alternate day. This idea which will attract huge attention from the BJP and Sangha Parivar was mooted by the Law Minister Veerappa Moily which made him eligible for a pat on the back by state-mate S M Krishna. If tables are further fallen short of, President Pratibha Patil in a fax-message has promised to lend her table as well. Files containing various Bills which are earlier passed to her from the Parliament will be shifted to Govt. archives.

4. Lalit Modi-Shashi Tharoor controversy will be raked up as well. Support for this is sought from Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, both from NCP which is a party to the UPA. If the NCP supremos refuse their support, Praful Patel will be accused of negligence and corruption which led to the AI plane crash in Mangalore last week and Sharad Pawar will be charged with conspiring with rich middlemen for hoarding essential commodities thereby leading to inflation.

5. A lot of arrests will be made and links will be established to various Bomb Blasts.

6. Some forgotten cases like Madhumita Shukla murder case, Lakkubhai Pathak cheating case, JMM suitcase scam, Fodder scam, Coffin scam, Stock Market scam etc. will be reopened or files will be moved bringing nation-wide attention.

7. Sanjay Dutt has been promised a ticket in the next election if he too is willing to be a part to reinvestigate the 1993 Bomb Blasts. Mahesh Bhatt's son's help will also be sought to prick the George Coleman Hadley case. Mohd. Azharuddin has been asked to lead these 2 projects.

8. Some petty fights in Australia will be showcased as 'Racist attacks' and Home Minister will visit Australia and keep India updated about the 'sorry state of affairs'. However, PM has cautioned that this ploy should not in any way impact India's Uranium business with Australia.

9. If all this falls short of the agenda, more dossiers will be exchanged with Pakistan.

10. Rahul Gandhi has volunteered to contribute in his very own way. He has already scheduled his 'Stay at Dalit homes' for the next 6 months.

As the meeting concluded and the Ministers came out of the PMO, they were greeted by angry sloganeering by the rest of the UPA allies. The Prime Minister in his usual inimitable style pacified the protestors by saying "Ghar ki BAHU-BETIYON ka sammaan rakhna hamaara dharm hai!!!!"

Common Man.

[The above is a fiction intended for some fun and humour. The author loves all politicians and plays politics himself]

Photo courtesy -

Friday, May 14, 2010

Whacked in West Indies.... Backed by Bachchan!!

So now you know how tough it is to negotiate BOUNCERS. The Indian T20 squad failed to negotiate them even after spending 45 nights in PUBS. If the IPL, thanks to Modi and Tharoor got murkier day by day and hour by hour (or Tweet by Tweet), the T20 World Championships, for Indian fans got duskier match by match. Like Anil Kumble pointed out, we had lost when M S Dhoni said after losing to West Indies in the post-match presentation, "We will play Sri Lanka and go home", though there was still a chance to make it into the Semi-Finals. One had to know Permutation & Combination in-depth to know about that chance though.

'Consistently managing NOT to rise for a BIG OCCASION' can be a research topic on Indian Team. Zaheer 'Tweeted' about 'Improvement' after every game, but during match, it appeared as if he had talked about improvement in leaking runs. Rohit Sharma 'Tweeted' about him knowing 'What this team is made up of', but to some extent we got to know what Rohit is made up of after the match against Australia. Yuvraj seemed to have been confused by a dual role - Cricketer and a Celebrity. Pitch might seem like a ramp, every cheer-girl looks like Preity Zinta. And we expect him to perform amidst this misery!

Meanwhile, the debate over post-IPL parties have reached Twitter, Facebook Wall and even BCCI Headquarters. Probably the first time an Indian Captain has honestly admitted something. But why hold it a reason for poor performance? Were the players dragged to the parties or did they go on their own will?

Amitabh Bachchan has blogged in support of Team India. I find it a futile exercise to extend 'Moral support' to the Team. Even after prominent losses, our players have found 'Moral support' only in partying than in identifying problem areas are taking corrective action. Our only comprehensive performance in the series was against the South Africans. We couldn't even get the Afghanistani's ALL OUT!
Waiting eagerly for Gary Kirsten's revelations. I have never been able to find out why most 'revelations' happen in crisis! Anyways... would be fun to know some of the pot bellies of the Indian Team :)

Common Man

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beware of Branding Bandwagon

One of the most recent cum lucrative concept that has emerged in Marketing is Brand Management. While the traditional concepts like Sales & Business Development, New Product Development, Distribution Management will always hold the key in any business, Brand Management too is now a front-runner.

Ancient marketers believed in two simple fundas - Quality and Service. Several yesteryear brands like Bajaj Chetak, Ambassador, Maruti 800 (then the Common Man's car), Gwalior Suitings, Surf (which was successfully countered by Nirma), Godrej cupboards believed and flourished with these 2 very fundas. The guys sitting on the top of these companies (Karsanbhai Patel of Nirma, Rajiv Bajaj of Bajaj, A V Birla of the Birla Group) had a product with quality which appealed to their target audience, complemented by equally superior service and a customary TV Ad (and a Newspaper/Radio ad) The concept of Branding was invisible or of least significance. The only concept of today which was even present yesterday was Advertising to some extent. Again, non-conventional advertising hardly existed, TV Channels weren't in tones like today, promotional activities were unheard of. Ad Gurus and Brand Gurus hadn't incarnated as yet. The only time an organization co-branded itself with something unrelated is Godrej sponsoring the popular TV Serial 'Buniyaad'. Sports was sports then and not an entertainment industry like today, hence, no scope for strategic breaks or cheer-lead the product during matches.

But today, situation is totally different. Logos, colours, fonts, packaging, punchlines keeps changing every third day. Bolly Biggies, Cricketers endorse almost everything from Cars to FMCG to Insurance to Laptops. It gives an impression that marketing activities like Advertising, Sales Promotion, Brand Launching are primary and Products, Services and Sales are linked to it (Although I feel Sales is Primary and Marketing acitivity is just a supporting activity) A V Birla probably would have been in tears to see his son Kumaramangalam signing for the costliest TV Ad (costliest then, not sure about it now) [Here is the link -] Ardeshir Godrej, whose signature is also the logo (textual logo) of the Godrej Group wouldn't have in his wildest dreams ever thought that the red coloured font/signature would one fine day be a multi-coloured one. Rahul Bajaj wasn't too impressed with son Rajiv's decision to take a 'strategic time-out' from scooter manufacturing, which the latter felt is essential to revamp the brand image of Bajaj Auto to a motor-cycle manufacturer from 2-wheeler manufacturer.

Branding can be a success, logos, punchlines, Brand Endorsers, colours will mean something only under 2 conditions -

1. Deliver what you promise or commit - One cannot have Anil Kumble endorse a Brand because of his integrity and then sideline Corporate Governance, Ethics, Integrity (simply put together as 'Values') Mind you, Anil isn't a replacement for 'Values', he is only the torch-bearer of 'Values'. Mind you, just before the scandal broke, Satyam had won a Corporate Governance Award. Could Tata Nano have been a success, if it had 'Common Man' as it's mascot but made available at a price-point between Rs. 3-4 Lakhs? It's the delivery as promised, which made it a success ("A Promise is a promise" as Ratan Tata said while launching it for the first time)

2. Quality of output - You better be a powerhouse of intellects if you claim yourself to be powered by intellects. When you promise fun, provide it, come what may! Wonder La has to be a 'fun' experience, it cannot cut down on that 'fun' by cutting down on water-games with power shortage in Bangalore as an excuse.

'Walk the talk' to make your Branding activity a thumbs up. Sales is a revenue generator, if it fails, all Branding and Advertising efforts are reduced to a fruitless activity EOD. This is why the above 2 conditions are to be fulfilled under rapidly growing competition and dynamic marketing environment of today.

Happy Branding and Happy Selling!!

Common Man.