Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Of Brews & Board Games

Until yesterday, I’d forgotten how much fun it is to play board games. It’s been years since I played one. I used to love them when I was a kid. I had my own scrabble set, Scotland yard, monopoly and lots of other board games, until I discovered video games and the internet. Then my mother, noticing my disinterest in board games, passed them on to my growing cousins. Actually, her intention in giving those games away was rather selfish that philanthropic. She wanted to make more shelf space available for her doll collection.

Anyway, like I said, I’d forgotten how much fun those games were. Especially on rainy days, when you’re stuck indoors, those board games were a means to kill extra long hours of inactivity and boredom. Yesterday a friend of mine took me to BrewHaHa. Brewhaha is…how do I say it? Well, the way its co-owners Sreeram and Mansur (both products of IIM Ahmedabad) put it is “a community-driven entertainment lounge where there's always something to do. Whether it's one of our 65 specially imported board games designed at group audiences, our fun events or hobby classes, we assure you there's no way you're going to be bored in Koramangala any more. Unless of course you're not at BrewHaHa!” Yup, there’s no way you’ll ever get bored at BrewHaHa, as I discovered.

I am not going into details on BrewHaHa, because what I really mean to relate in this post is the experience I had there. So if you’re looking for intricate details on menu, games and stuff like that, go to the above link. Also you may visit this link – My Coffee Shop Dreams by my friend and fellow blogger – Dhivya. Although, I suggest that going there with a bunch of friends is a better way to discover what brews there.

Ok, so this friend took me to BrewHaHa at Koramangala. The first thing that struck me was that the place had a warmer welcoming ambiance. Not like one of those flashy, loud cafés or their clones which make me feel like I am being gawked at. Not like places that serve your bill before serving what you ordered. Those places make me feel really alien. I felt instantly comfy at BrewHaHa. My friend immediately pounced at the menu and started ordering, while I looked around a little more. The colours were earthy, the lighting was warm and the furniture was inviting (Bean bags, cushy carpets, fluffy pillows…you get the idea). Next was a shocker, a guy with a french beard came up and shook my hand and introduced himself to me (very cordially) as Sreeram, I was thinking ‘Sweet…how many guys do that? That’s going to be a real winner with the customers’. Sreeram, who my friend knew pretty well, chatted up with us for a while and offered to teach and to play a board game with us after we had feasted. So, like he promised, he came over to our table again after a while with a friend of his and we started playing a board game. The game was a real riot, Sreeram actually cheated on my suggesting it and we had a great laugh at my poor friend who became the Bakra. The objective of the game (I don’t remember the name) was not to win but to make sure your opponents don’t win. I can’t remember when I’d last laughed that hard. My eyes were watering and my tummy hurt. After a while it started raining like hell, so being stranded, we started playing another game. This one was called ‘Coda’. It’s a game that’s pretty much like poker, but instead of cards there are white and black plastic blocks with numbers on them. Wow…I must say this was a damn gripping game. I didn’t know how time passed by during the 3 rounds we played.

In short, my experience at BrewHaHa was fabulous. Next time my friends want to meet up at a café or some place like that. I am definitely suggesting BrewHaHa. It’s not expensive, it serves delicious food and beverages, it’s got great board games and the atmosphere is perfect for a gathering of friends. Oh…and most importantly, you can’t walk out of BrewHaHa without making, at least a couple, new friends. I made two…Sreeram and Vinu. What more do you need? The baseline under BrewHaHa’s logo says ‘We take your fun seriously’, and I believe they mean it. So next time you and your buddies want to have some serious fun…head to BrewHaHa.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thunder Trails - Masinagudi

I am not much of a biker, though I own one of the most muscular 2 wheel beasts available in India – The Royal Enfield Thunderbird. I have in fact done a few thousand kilometers of riding in the past. It’s a real pleasure to ride out to the outskirts. When you’re cruising on long, smooth stretches of tarmac, laid back in the amply spacious saddle of a Thunderbird, it’s a pleasure to listen to the whizzing wind and the precisely timed rhythmic thumping of the brute’s 350cc engine. They collide in a passionate entanglement and create soul stirring music.

My most recent ride was from Bangalore to Masinagudi with a bunch of road crazy rubber burners from the Ad fraternity. There were six of us in total and 3 bikes. 2 Thunderbirds and 1 all time favourite Yamaha RX100. We decided to start out early and swore to meet up at town hall at 6.00 am for kick off. But, as is in most cases, we had a black goat in our midst who partied away the night before and landed up at the kick off point 3 hours late. So, in actuality, we hit the road to Masinagudi at 9.00 am on Saturday morning.

The road leading to Mysore is very well laid. Though, at the starting point we had a lot of problems with traffic. Being a weekend every motorist in the city seemed to be heading out. You can imagine how our frustration would have heightened and how much we would have cursed the black goat for delaying our departure. Anyway, by the time we got on to Mysore road, all traffic had cleared out and the only thing between us and Masinagudi was a long stretch of smooth 6 lane highway. The road is absolutely well laid and is a pleasure for biking. The only problems on this heavenly stretch were cabbies. They drive like maniacs, breaking every road rule.

We made a lot of pit-stops on the way and hence our journey was longer than estimated. Nevertheless, we were in it for the pleasure of the ride and enjoyed it thoroughly. Our first halt was Café Coffee Day on Mysore road were we had a leisurely brunch. Next stop was for beer and refreshments on a roadside dabha before hitting Gundalpet. From thereon we only made minor stops to empty our bladders and to smoke. From Gundalpet we entered the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary. This part of the ride I thouroughly enjoyed. The road leading to Bandipur was the worst stretch we had to deal with. There are more potholes than road. But once you reach Bandipur the roads become tamer. The highlight of riding through Bandipur is that you are actually riding through pristine forest. To the right and left of the road you will see thick forest. I was lucky to come upon wild elephants while riding through. I also caught fleeting glimpses of deer and monkeys. The ride through Bandipur took us to Mudhumallai.

Mudhumallai falls into Tamil Nadu limits, hence we had actually done a cross border ride. The ride through Mudhumalai brought us face to face with more tourists. The place was brimming with people. It looked like the forest housed more people than animals. We stopped here for supplies (read booze), then proceeded on to our camping site.

We stayed in tents in a small, well maintained resort called Jungle hut – one of the oldest and most well maintained resorts in Masinagudi. It’s owned by the Mathias family. Jungle Hut is set up on a small clearing in the forest at the foothills of the Nilgiris. The place even has a nice little swimming pool to cool off in during the daytime. The food is absolutely delicious. For more details on Jungle Hut click the link.

We arrived at Jungle Hut at about 5.20 pm, exhausted and famished. We quickly ransacked what was left of the yummy lunch buffet and headed off to check the tents. Once in the tents we unpacked our gear and headed off to wade in the pool. The water was too inviting for us to avoid. As the day grew darker, we settled around one of the tents for a yakaroo session and a couple of drinks. It was loads of fun sitting there in a clearing in the forest just talking and drinking. We occasionally spotted a few wild hare’s bobbing around from bush to bush. It was quite a mesmerizing experience. Beneath our feet there was wild grass and above us a clear star studded night. I even spotted a shooting star. After joking and lazing about there for a while we headed to the bar and then eventually to the buffet hall. Dinner was even more scrumptious than our late lunch. Done with dinner we headed back to out tents, sat around for a while and then headed off to our designated tents to kill the remaining hours of the night.

One little incident that happened before we settled down put some of us in the group at unrest. While we had been at the tents, talking and drinking, we had noticed this security guy come around the camp every 15 minutes, whipping the darkness with his bright torch beam. Out of curiosity we approached him and enquired about his strange ritual. To which he answered “Nothing to fear sir, it’s just a routine watch that we keep. Animals don’t come through the fence, except once in a while a few black bears do cross over to feast on leftovers.” That was very reassuring to hear.

The night was pleasantly cool. We slept like babies. But we couldn’t stretch our slumber hours beyond 8.00 am the next morning. Reluctantly each of us crawled out of our tents which by now had become little boiling pots. We came crawling out like ants running out of a flooding anthill. After we’d done our toilet routines we headed to the pool to chill off a little. A brief beer session and breakfast followed.

It was time to leave this Shangri-La and head back to the concrete jungle. We made better time on the road on our return. The ride through Bandipur fascinated me again. On the whole, the ride back was quite pleasant and leisurely. We stopped outside Mysore at a place called ‘Fishland’ for late lunch. The food was mouthwatering. We devoured some ‘Neer Dosas’, ‘Crab Fry’ and ‘Prawn Curry’. After that it was an almost not stop ride to Bangalore. We reached around 10.30 pm and headed our own ways.

It was an awesome experience for me, riding into the jungle with fellow biking enthusiasts, experiencing the thrills of the road and coming face to face with the wild. Masinagudi is a wonderful weekend getaway about 240Kms from Bangalore. I’d love to do the trip again. But this time around I’d like to do a road trip till Bandipur and then a trek from there to Ooty, which I heard is an awesome experience. I hope at least this time we’ll have a couple of women in the group.
For more pictures click link.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Under Ki Baat 2

Some time back I had posted a blog about how careless and tasteless people are when it comes to their undergarments. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a quick link Under Ki Baat. I’d like to show you a comment I got on that blog.

Manish said...
bang on...i handle an under garment client ... any thots on how we can make the men and women more conscious about their under ke brands:-)

I had no answer to his question then. I had just gone out and raised an issue to which I had no solution at all. But recently I came across an ad on TV that set me thinking. It was bold, it was quite wild, the brand wasn’t a very popular one but after the Ad I am pretty sure it’s being talked about by a lot of people. In fact, the other day a colleague of mine had sent me a link to the worst Ads poll by NDTV. To my surprise this undergarment brand’s Ad was one of them. When quizzed about it, the public reacted or rather acted out in genuine horror and labeled the Ad vulgar. Come on people, this is the land of the Kamasutra. What’s the harm in talking about a little sex? The Ad in question here is ‘Amul Macho’. The tagline says ‘crafted for fantasies’. If you haven’t had a chance to feast your eyes on this latest 30 second thriller, then here’s a gist of what it’s all about. This interesting post has been written by a true fan of the Ad TVC Hots & Nots.

Personally I think this is one of the most interesting ads that I’ve seen till date. Maybe it’s corny, but it does its job. I am sure that if you’ve seen it once, you’ll never forget it or the brand ever. That anyways is besides the point that I am trying to make here. I am not here to talk about what makes effective advertising. I am not here to tell you what works for a brand. I am here to tell you that it’s about time someone raised the standards when it comes to undergarments. Undergarments are just as important as any other piece of cloth on your body. Thus, I believe that a good label on an undergarment is essential. That’s exactly what this Ad does for me. The way I read the message in this ad, undergarments are a major turn on for the opposite sex. Hence it is utterly important that you choose them as carefully as you would choose your jeans.

We’ve come a long way from the days when our forefathers used torn off pieces of cloth to make ‘langotis’. We live in a world were there is no dearth of fashionable and chic undergarment labels. Even so we undertake that once in a year or twice in a year trip to a wholesale market like Tirpur to buy undergarments in bulk. Why? Why do people still think it’s a crime to spend a couple of extra bucks on a good brand of underwear? What’s with this whole mentality?

The ‘Amul Macho’ Ad has finally spoken up and stirred up a storm. Its high time more undergarment brands started doing a bit of bold advertising.

After pondering Manish’s question for some time, I had closely scrutinized several undergarment TVC’s. The segment is still very much in the low involvement purchase category. In actuality it has to be high involvement. I think Ads like ‘Amul Macho’ (of course this ad is not for the metro male), and in the recent past, VIP (where a flimsy pantie flys off to join a VIP Frenchie on the clothes line) and Hanez (Tagless comfort) are good examples of how we can raise the standards in this category.

Taking a poke at people, black humour, sexual humour and hints, even downright nastiness are things that I really think can work for this category. We need to use bolder means to create awareness in this segment. Yesterday was all about being macho, today is all about being sexy and desired. A self aware male or female would always dress sexy outside and inside. So, I say we’ve got to make people self aware about their sexuality. That’s how I think we can make people more conscious and careful about the choice of their under ke brands.

Monday, April 30, 2007

What’s in a name?

Pop Quiz!

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say…


I am sure you would have thought detergent, ayurvedic face cream and anti-septic lotion.

That’s what we’ve all associated these brands to, it’s been hammered in our heads for years now. Over the years these brand names and many more like them have become synonymous with the product itself. Need more examples? Think Xerox, Post-its, Scissors etc.

Over the last few years we’ve seen almost every company expanding its product line. For example Pond’s, which we all used to associate with talcum powder, broke into the personal care and cosmetics market with every possible product imaginable. They even have certified beauty salons. Likewise we’ve seen the Will’s ‘made for each other’ cigarette brand extend its product line to fashion.

When companies decide to go into such product line extensions, they have the option of doing it in two different ways. One, keep the same brand name across all their product offerings. Two, create a new brand name for each of its products. The former is called blanket branding or family branding, a single brand or company name which is used to identify a range of products. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

When different products of the same company have different brand names the risk of one product’s credibility rubbing off on the other is very low or even non-existent. Supposing a new product from a company was to be a failure in the market, it really wouldn’t affect the credibility of another product of the same company. Manufacturers could pull out unsuccessful brands without damaging their other successful brands. But incase of blanket branding or family branding the risk of generalizing product credibility (regardless of product category) is very high.

There are some companies that have pulled of blanket branding across various product categories very successfully. To name a few, kingfisher, Virgin etc.

And there are those that have (in my personal opinion) fallen or are falling flat on their faces. There are two particular brands I’d like to take as bad examples of blanket or family branding.

Parachute as we all know has been the leader in the coconut hair oil segment for donkey’s years. Especially in the south, oiling one’s hair is more auspicious than hygienic. Oil baths are a weekend ritual that almost everyone follows religiously and without question. In the recent past Parachute revamped its image of being a traditional brand to a more chic brand. You might have spotted the Asin Ad for nariyal tel or more recently the Yuvraj Ad for parachute styling creams taking the free running fad route. I must say they look pretty cool and are doing wonders in making Parachute a more fashionable brand. But parachute made an even bolder move. They brought out a string of after shower products like hair gels etc. under the same brand, i.e. Parachute. The Ads look great but the name Parachute just doesn’t sound right for such products. In my personal opinion I would rather pick up a styling gel that’s called Set Wet than Parachute. Gel’s are all about styling and so I think they need to have stylish names. Parachute just won’t do. Period.

The other brand that I want to talk about is Kamasutra…yup, the condom brand name who’s very mention makes most Indians squeamish. Recently I came across these nice black teaser hoardings with pink and red typos. The message on one such hoarding read “She wears Kamasutra while studying.” That really got my grey cells working overtime, and while I was eagerly waiting for the revealer, I came across another hoarding with the same kind of art treatment. This one read “My boss used my Kamasutra.” Imagine my curiosity. A few days later I came across the revealer and was totally blown. The ads were for a range of Deos and perfumes that Kamasutra has launched. I really don’t know what Kamasutra’s game plan is. If their plan is to make Kamasutra a household name, and to spread the message that condoms are not a taboo thing, then I guess it’s a good effort. But personally I can’t see myself telling my mom to add Kamasutra to the monthly grocery list. I think it’s just a bad example of blanket branding.

It’s not just product association, in case of a blanket brand, which is a problem, it also becomes extremely difficult to market. For instance, a couple of years ago I worked on a launch campaign of a vodka brand. The client wanted to give it the same brand name as all his other products (theme park, food grains, transport etc). The client would have nothing else, and we gave up after several unsuccessful attempts to convince him. The whole launch exercise became a Herculean task, taking into consideration the rules and regulations on alcohol advertising in India. A Mischief Vodka or a Smirnoff has so much more possibilities to explore when it came to advertising.

Well, I am no Philip Kotler and all that I might have said here might be absolute nonsense, but this is how I feel about these two brands and their extended family of products. If you’d like to dispute my views on these two brands and straighten out my thinking, you are most welcome as always.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What the F**k am I doing in Advertising?

Thinking back now, I am totally stumped as to why I chose advertising. And to top it all up I chose to be a writer. What was it that made me take such a suicidal decision? Why couldn’t I have just taken up engineering and gone on to be a marine engineer like my brother? Why couldn’t I have chosen to become a physiotherapist like my cousin? Why didn’t I just take up a BPO profession and earn a fat pay like my sister? Or I could have even followed in my dad’s footsteps and become a sales person. Of the millions of career options I had, I had to go and pick advertising. Well, guess what…I screwed up. Now there’s no turning back.

There’s at least one minute in every day that I regret having chosen the field I am in now. It’s been almost six long years, of waiting and hoping that things will get better, almost six long rigorous years of stretching my patience to unimaginable limits. But now I feel I am at the edge. I am hanging on by a finger over a bottomless trench. I am in a situation where I can neither pull myself up nor let go and fall.

My problem with advertising is not the pay or the inhuman amount of work. If left to myself I am just fine with it. My problem is with the whole machine-like work culture it’s heading towards. Agencies are no longer places that people covet to be part of. They are no longer places where gods and goddesses create new brands and ideas that change the face of humanity forever. They are just factories churning out precisely detailed pieces of communication that are written, designed and approved by clients. Over the years clients have become the creators and we simply their tools. The Indian advertising industry has reached maturity and is ready to die.

I find it so difficult to write when I am told…”we need a headline of five words and it has to have the words ‘Price’, ‘offer’ and ‘business’.” What am I supposed to do in a situation like this? How can I claim that I am a creative writer when all I do is fill in the blanks? To tell you the truth, I feel absolutely cheated. My dreams have crumbled before my very eyes. Advertising as an industry has failed to provide me the satisfaction I sought. In recent years, we have seen many veterans from various departments of the advertising world, walk out of the industry forever. Why? Their patience ran out, their thirst for good work could never be quenched. They realized that advertising had become an ever obedient slave to its master - the client.

Is there no way we can recreate the charm that advertising used to have years before? Are we spineless yesmen to the client? Are we just people who spare client’s time and money by saving him the effort of learning Photoshop, Coreldraw and Grammar? What does creative really mean in today’s agency? Oh yes, you might question me about the thousands of wonderful work you see in the archives and magazines like that. Well brother, wake up and smell the coffee, have you ever seen any of those actually in the papers or on TV? Other than a few of them, all are scam work. The real work is mundane, boring and most often so powerfully uninspiring that over certain duration of time it could make a creative person lose the ability to think laterally. You get so tuned, you become a one track mind.

This maybe the only reason why employee retention in the advertising industry is either really low or even non-existent. People jump agencies before you can say 3. People jump with hopes of working on better brands, of working with more open minded clients. But this seldom happens. The grass always seems greener on the other side.

What do we do? How do we boost the morale of the creative lot? How do we bring back the glory days when clients knew that agency people know their work? How do we tell the fat man in the MD’s chair to keep his personal fixation on blondes restricted to his bedroom and not let it loose in his company’s corporate communication?

Many in the industry today feel that advertising is a service. That we provide communication services. Pardon me for thinking otherwise, I for one think we are creators, and that we should be treated with the same respect and reverence that used to be given to artists like Michael Angelo, Piccaso and their likes.

Do you think that day will ever come again when we will draw ‘Ahs’ and ‘oohs’ in a crowd, when we mention our profession? Well, till that day arrives, I am still going to be hanging on with my finger over that bottomless trench, because I don’t know what else to do.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the author are solely his own and are not meant to intentionally displease or hurt the personal opinions of any person or organisation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Little Miss Panic

Consider the following two incidents

Incident Uno

It’s 10.00AM on Monday and Dhivya walks into the office. She goes straight to her comp, switches it on, logs on to her numerous mail accounts, checks her schedule for the day, sips her coffee and then heads to the creative department for a brief chit chat session. After a ‘hi’ here and a ‘hello’ there, the topic turns to work, that’s when Vijay, the visualiser, tells Dhivya, “Hey! That reminds me, that 100cc ad you wanted me to transfer to the studio this morning…the file got corrupted, and…”

Even before he could finish what he was saying Dhivya erupts, “Aaaagh!!!!! That ad was supposed to reach the publication by 12 noon. What the hell Vijay? How could you not get the bugs in your comp rectified? You always do this to me man. Besides all the bull shit I have to endure to get work done from you guys, now I have to listen to some major crap from the publication too. You guys always let me down. Oh my god! Its TOI, you know how they are, they’re gonna castrate me. They’ll talk to my boss. I am finished here. Now, I’ll have to look for another job and I’ll never be able to…”

“Woo! Hey! Hey! Hold your horses…let me finish what I am saying. Yes, the file got corrupted so I re-created it and sent it to the studio. I just wanted you to take a look and see if it’s exactly how you presented to the client. That’s all. Jesus! You’re such a compulsive panicker,” retorted Vijay.

“Oh. Hee hee! So everything’s fine. God you gave me such a scare…uh let me go send an important mail to my client”, with that Dhivya sheepishly vanishes from the scene.

Incident Dos

It’s 10.30PM, same Monday, Dhivya’s at home, cozily settled with a book. That’s when her phone decides to sing.


“Hello…hi Ravi, what’s up?

“Hey. I was just driving through your neighbourhood. Listen, this friend I was supposed to go to a movie with, ditched me. So I got 2 tickets to that new flick you so badly wanted to go see. Wanna go? I can pick you in five.

“Oh no! you got tickets to that movie? Oh sure I wanna go…but wait, I can’t go tonight…I got this really big pimple on my nose and I reeeeeaaaally can’t be seen sporting it in public….oh god! I reeeeeeaaaally wanna see that movie man. Sniff, sniff, why do these things happen to me? God! I hate this…What do I do? What do I do? Waaaah…I so badly wanna go.”

“Hey chill yaar, why are you making such a big fuss about a lousy pimple? People will think nothing of it. You’re not a starlet for people to notice everything and anything about you all the time. Besides you’ll only have to be seen in the light a few minutes. I’ll whisk you into the movie hall quickly so that no one will notice the pimple in the darkness”

“You always make fun of me. You never take things seriously. No! I’ll see it with Ram another time. You can go see it alone or throw away the tickets for all I care…bye…sniff.”

“What the…Dhivya…hey...”


A baffled Ravi…drives back home not knowing what hit him.

That’s little miss panic for you. I work with her, and often watch her panic for both the silliest and serious matters of life. She’s a real panic pot. I must say it’s quite a sight for the onlooker, but what do you think is going on through her mind when she’s having a panic attack?

Some people just panic about anything and everything. I think it’s a way of curbing a high dose of adrenaline rushing through their veins. A means to clear the traffic of thoughts honking at a four cross signal in their minds. It’s perfectly normal. Many times Dhivya has asked me “You get such a kick out of watching me panic don’t you?” Well, the truth is yes and no.

To an extent it’s comical and who wouldn’t like a nice laugh. It actually helps relax my mind and focus more clearly after watching such a comical display. But I don’t enjoy it all the time either. I am not saying you should never panic. But pick where to panic. If you panic for everything, people will never think you capable of handling responsibility. Part of being in the advertising industry is about being able to handle chaos. There’s always chaos, everyday. By panicking, you’re not gonna make the world stop spinning. And neither is the world gonna end if you don’t.

Panic when you see an accident on the road…not when it happens on the movie screen.

But I guess for compulsive panickers it is really hard. And probably I don’t really understand how they feel. But hey, I always tell Dhivya to go ahead and do her thing if it helps chill her.

That said I’d also like to add one last thing little miss panic…’Sorry for laughing at you when you panic and sorry for the exaggerated mimic act I keep doing of you panicking’…:)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Homemaker Man

I’ve got this couple - Michael & Reena, who live next door. At first glance you’d notice nothing strange about them. They come across as the average young couple. Childless and very much in love with each other. But, watch them closely day in and day out and you’ll catch exactly what I am talking about.

Every morning you’ll see Reena come out of the house at about 8.30. She’d be wearing formal attire. No prizes for guessing she’s a working woman. Well, that’s nothing odd in our society. In recent years women have really challenged men at the workplace, and proven just as competitive as any man in every field. So, Reena is a working woman with a regular 9 to 5 grind. Michael on the other hand (and this is the odd part) can be seen watering and trimming their lovely little garden from 9 to about 11. Then, around 12 noon you can see Michael bringing out freshly washed linen to the drying lines. Shortly after that Michael can be seen driving off and returning in about an hour’s duration with brimming paper bags. At about 4 in the evening Michael clears the dried linen from the lines and takes them indoor. Following that you’ll find him sitting at their cute little tea table out in the garden, reading the paper and sipping chai. Reena arrives shortly, joins Michael in the garden, the couple sit around chatting over chai for an hour and then they head in for the night.

At first, I thought this was a temporary arrangement. My thoughts ranged from
‘Michael must have recently quit his job and looking for a better option’.
‘Maybe Michael is a novelist’
Or even ‘Michael must be working for one of those fancy work-from-home companies’
I never even came close to the truth of the matter while pondering.

Michael is actually a new age husband. A ‘revolutionary’, if I may term him that. Michael is a ‘House husband’. Don’t laugh. There is nothing to laugh about. If you spoke to Michael you’d be convinced that being a homemaker is what he enjoys best. And Reena (who loves him unconditionally) is absolutely fine with the arrangement. From a very early age, Michael showed no signs of fighting it out in the outside world. Being the bread winner to him seemed a drab. He always wanted to be the homemaker. And this position he enjoys thoroughly. He devotes as much attention to making sure the house is squeaky clean just as any other man would to make his presentation flawless. And on the other hand Reena displays all the attributes of an enterprising young woman. She is ruthlessly ambitious when it comes to her job. It’s a fine arrangement for this couple. Both doing their part even though the roles are reversed.

I don’t know what to think of this situation. I know a lot of people in my locality who think Michael is a pansy. But I for one, having known the man, know that he is anything but pansy. Like I said, he’s a military general when it comes to running the house.

Is it wrong for a man to differ from the pre-ordained societal role? Why should man always be the provider? In a world were women want equality in everything, why can’t a man do a woman’s job? What really is a man’s job and what is a woman’s job? Who makes these dumb rules anyway?

I don’t know the answers but I have no problem with accepting Michael as a man. He does exactly what he likes to do and thoroughly enjoys doing it. Reena has no complaints. She’s actually been freed from her pre-ordained societal role to pursue her interests. So, what actually is wrong with this situation? Nothing. But I guess it will take decades, or even centuries, before the Indian society accepts role reversals. It’s becoming quite common in other parts of the world, but it’s still not widely accepted.

This might be a very controversial topic for a blog. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying I like to be like Michael. I enjoy my work and I would definitely like to be the bread winner of my family. But, if Michael likes to be a homemaker, I have nothing against him. Then why should society feel any different?

Disclaimer: All characters in this blog are fictitious and any resemblance to any one alive or dead is purely accidental.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The most powerful Ad medium of them all!

Zak walked into the café 45 minutes after the designated hour. Rahul, Susan and Megs looked up and sang in unison “here comes mr. fashionably late”. Rahul quipped “he’s so fashionably late that he’s still wearing last year’s fashion”.

“Hi guys” Zak blurted coming closer. “Wow zak that’s a sexy shirt” Megs yelled. “Yeah man, where did you get it from? How much did you pay for it? Is it still available? Is this the only colour?” the group quizzed Zak for the next half an hour on his new acquisition. Zak became a walking, talking and most accepted medium of promotion for that half an hour.

Believe it, all of us are Ad mediums. Everything we do, everything we say, every move is watched closely and aped. If you vouch for a new shampoo being the best for dandruff relief there will be a loyal fan following for that shampoo among your friends. If a friend of yours tells you that a certain restaurant serves the best pasta in town, you’d definitely try it out and if you like it you will in turn pass on the information to another friend and the virus will just spread on and on and on. Man (and of course woman) is the most penetrating Ad medium of them all.

The advertising world has definitely realized this. But seem to restrict creative use of the human medium to sports stars, film stars and celebrities of various fields. While the usage of a popular celebrity in an ad is unarguably effective, the use of common man (which is more penetrating) to endorse products and brands still remains untapped. Is there a way in which advertisers could possibly tap this medium? Yes, it is possible but several problems remain. As of now this medium is unorthodox and thus does not come with a set of terms and conditions of usage. For instance, Nike could give out hundred pairs of their latest running shoes to athletes in schools and colleges for free and just ask them to wear them whenever they are on the field. They could even pay them a small fee as an encouragement. But what would stop the athletes from wearing Reebok track pants or Adidas t-shirt along with the Nike shoes? Thus the problem of overshadowing across product categories and brands is inevitable.

Is there no way to formalize communication through this medium? Will formalizing this medium mean that each and every one of us will end up with everything free? Would it spell disaster for traditional media? Is it possible to use this medium without destroying its credibility?
Well I don’t have all the answers. But what I am positive about is that humans are indeed the most powerful Ad medium of them all. If only we could find the answers to the few questions I’ve asked above, and to the thousands that will stem from probing deeper into the subject, we will have found ourselves a truly innovative and powerful medium. I am hoping to get some in-depth takes on this subject from my brothers and sisters in the ad fraternity. Till then, carry on advertising…err…flaunting. India Search