Wish Karo, Dish Karo

Have you seen Shah Rukh Khan on TV sitting on a terrace in a couch, hair flowing back in the wind, asking the world why they are content with their current cable connection, and aren’t switching to DishTV immediately?

Remember what he’s been telling us lately? “Aasman me live Dish TV…”


So, in India the only airline which offers in-flight television is Kingfisher, and what I see there is no live TV. No sir.

KF’s in-flight entertainment list contains NDTV Good Times, a Hindi movie (on air premiere), a channel showing Star One or Star World, an animation channel, an English soap, maybe one or two visual channels and some ten radio channels while the screen shows a map or information screen.

And none of those channels are showing anything “live”, that is what the people down there on the ground are able to see through their cables, Dish TVs, Tata Skys, Big TVs etc. It is programming that is pre-set for the flight. And what is worse? The content repeats. For each flight that flies in a day, the content is identical.

How do I know this? At times I have to fly Kingfisher twice or thrice in a day, and I find the same Friends/Khichdi/Sarabhai vs Sarabhai episode running on the Star entertainment channel, or the same feature on the NDTV Good Times channel, the same “premiere” movie, the same cartoon film. So the entertainment is entertaining in the first flight, but in subsequent flights during the day, it gets stale.

Anyways, the point is why advertise something (and give the public guilt over it), when it is obviously not true? Why lose credibility?

Earn it, Cadbury’s!

Cadbury’s relaunched their premium chocolate bars, Bournville recently. With new rich packaging and a new format, reminiscent of their other premium range, Temptations, Bournville looked promising.

But then, advertising happened.

Take a look at the following two print ads for the brand:
And then, this TV spot:
Link courtesy aFaqs!

All this has left me befuddled. With such finishing and the obvious amount of money spent on the campaign, what is the level of thought and creativity that’s gone behind it?

The positioning is simple: You don’t buy a Bournville, you earn it. So far so good. Shall we see what the “creative” has done with the idea?

In the first one, “Booker, Oscars, Nobel, Bournville… Hope you get the drift”, it took me a while to understand that they are trying to hook on to the “earn it like an award” idea. Oh right, Bournville is such an earnable thing as a Nobel Prize or a Booker.! And then “hope you get the drift”. No I don’t. You have to do better than that. Preposterous at its worst, unimaginative at its best.

Then I saw the TV ad, where a reporter tells us that the way to eat it is to break the bar (trying to own the sound), smell it (like wine) and then tells us of the “legend of Bournville”, again that “you earn it”, which according to him is British mumbo-jumbo. Then he proceeds to eat it without having earnt it, and gets lifted off by a giant bird, reinforcing the idea that “you dare not eat it without earning it first”. Hence, we know the agency is short of ideas.

And in the end, you have “The food of the gods and other top management”. Had it just been “The food of the gods” it’d still have been okay. A bent enough headline, though dated. But “… other top management”? What does that mean? It doesn’t add to the “earn it” idea, neither is it funny.

Neither of the three ads have been able to give me any impression that Bournville is a premium product or that the advertising is smart,or at least clever.

To Cadbury’s: you earn your place in the consumer’s mind and in the advertising world, and this time you haven’t. Sorry.

Microsoft says “I’m a PC” and well… thanks Microsoft :-)

When Microsoft released ads answering the “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” ads from Apple, the blogosphere is bound to write about it.

Chandoo has also done that. And while reading his post, I wrote the following myself.

Stuff I appreciate about the ads: it fights the idea of stereotyping users, though that is not the intent of the Mac ads. It’s a good strategy – take the strength of the competitor’s communication and turn it around as their weakness. It celebrates diversity – that the hardware I use does not define me. And ofcourse PC (the x86 PC architecture to be precise), being the open systems format, is the perfect “mascot” for that diversity.

And that’s where it does not fit in with M$. It does not work. Why? Mac-vs-PC works because Apple OWNS Mac – the software as well as the hardware. PC is not OWNED by anyone. IBM invented it, and it’s been since taken over by the open market. Even Intel can’t claim to own the PC market. There are many more players who define PC – there’s HP, Dell, AMD.

And Microsoft does not run on just PCs anymore. After Intel entering Macs, Windows also is aiming for people owning Macs.

So why is Microsoft spending so much money on promoting a franchise which it does not own nor which comprises its entire target market?

Note that none of the people say “I’m Windows” or “I’m a Windows user”, nor would it fit if they did.

I guess if they are serious, specialized PC users, they’d NOT be using Windows, let alone Vista. How many of these “PeeCees” were Linux users, how many were BSD users? How many use XP (remember the ad ends with a Vista graphic)?

Next, since the ad celebrates diversity so much, does Microsoft support the idea? Is its software or UI that customizable? The idea that the computer you use should not define who you are or what you look like – shouldn’t it be carried forward in the goods delivered? Why does M$ software (Vista) hog so much of resources that it does not let the real software which DOES define what us PC users are work properly?

Just making smart ads isn’t going to get M$ back in the good books of computer users. Making software that works properly would.

In the end, if you’d remove the last screen mentioning Microsoft, the ads make a stronger case for the x86+OSS systems (read Linux/BSD on PC) rather than Windows/Vista.

Being a devout x86+OSS (rather x64+OSS) user myself, all I have to say is “Thanks Microsoft ;)”.

Samsung phone ad

While listening to a song ‘roo-ba-roo’ from Rang De Basanti on iTunes/HP laptop/iBall headphones, I hear a sound from the left and wonder who’s standing next to me. And then I realise that it’s a part of the track.

And then I remember the Aamir Khan spot for Samsung mobile phones – the one where he jumps around while listening to something on the headphones. And I wonder why Samsung, their agency and Aamir Khan (the perfectionist) is intent on selling a ‘feature’ that has been around for like decades now, and is dependent on the track rather than the hardware playing it. 3D surround sound effect on headphones in songs has been around since the times of Shaalimar (remember ‘mera pyaar shaalimar’?) and has been used to good effect by the likes of R. D. Burman, A. R. Rahman, Jatin Lalit to good effect. Those who are connoisseurs of good music and understand and use sound equipment have enjoyed surround sound ever since the mono recording system gave way to stereophonic.

Heck, I can remember some tracks from some 10 years ago where the sound appeared to come from inside my head when I’d play them on a portable tape player and headphones.

So do you think that a Sony Ericsson Walkman phone or an Apple iPod would not give you the surround sound experience that Samsung claims to give? Or that the said Samsung phone would give these effects on even a flatly recorded track? Maybe a K. L. Saigal song?

I like the wheel on the phone Aamir models though.


Which do you think makes a better connect with you, or whom would you buy from?

We are your only choice
The only company selling blah-blah with blah-blah technology.
We are the only option if you want blah-blah on your blah-blah.
(In other words, if you want blah-blah and not choose us, you’re doomed. Where will you go, eh?)


We appreciate your choice
We are equipped with blah-blah on our blah-blah, but we appreciate that you have a choice of going to other people but have chosen us.
We appreciate that you have chosen us amongst many others who are giving similar (not the same) offerings.
(In other words, we are better, because you chose us; The blah-blah on the offering might be just one of the reasons you did.)

Frankfinn & doing your own thing?

See here, this:


A TV spot for Frankfinn air-hostess training institute. Well-made, well-executed, but it’s a surprise everytime the ad ends, because apart from the last vignette there is nothing to indicate that it is talking about an air-hostess training institute.

Why are you talking about girls being themselves, not caring about the world, about their individuality, in an ad for an institute training girls for the stereotypical female profession?

Plus the brands that have been using the air-hostess aspiration on Indian television lately have been all the stereotypical female ones: fairness creams etc.

In my opinion, the entire spot fails to connect with the brand being advertised.

My take is that this ad will build recall, but not for the brand, but just for itself. I don’t think that is what any marketer wants for her communication, or does she?


For the last six months, I have been seeing TV spots by this one advertiser: V-Guard, who claims that this is a name you can trust.

Pretty tall claim for someone about whom I don’t know anything – not what they make, not what they sell, not where they are from, not who the chairman/CEO is, not even an idea of the broad sector or field they are in. Since their ads have been on TV, they have not talked about any of these things once. All I see is “V-Guard: the name you can trust”. Yeah, you wish.

Pretty clumsy way to be bit by the “build the brand, not sell the product” bug.

Most popular

So you’re the biggest, friendliest, most exotic, most democratic, most aristocratic company selling the nicest, brightest, darkest, blackest, tastiest, nastiest, most effective, most stylish product in the fastest, loudest, most innovative, most unobtrusive, most traditional way. But are you the most popular company?

Well, I came across an advertisement of one company which claimed to be the most popular in its category. And if I’m not mistaken, the category is not a niche one either.

So how come if you’re the most popular company in your category, you need to advertise, and advertise that you’re the most popular, while I already know your competitor and I read your name for the first time in that advertisement of yours.

Bottomline is: do you think long and hard enough before framing and publishing your marketing communication? Does it make sense to you? Would it make sense to anyone who’s reading it? Don’t give me the faff about TG here – if your message is out there, it will be read, analyzed, criticized and ripped apart by anyone who sees it. Are you prepared for that?

Yes the public are idiots

I love Tata Sky. They keep making ads that I can keep writing about.

First they claimed to revolutionize home entertainment, never mind that what they are providing is just improved signal fidelity on what the local cable guy anyway has been providing us for decades now, with an ad depicting people throwing out every home entertainment device they had (including television sets??!!??). Then they thought that a man dressed in grass along with a Hrithik Roshan was a funny way to depict the public’s affinity with cricket. Then it was the cartoons trying to bundle a Tata Sky box with a television set in an unbreakable bond. Never mind that those who threw out their TVs after seeing the first spot are still wondering where the picture appears on the new Tata Sky box they bought. Then it was the education campaign with the little Einstein spots – which was cute and made a good connect. And somewhere in between were the nice, simple and classy endorsements by the likes of Boman Irani and Kiron Kher – remember them standing on a stage in front of curtains reading a feedback letter in a microphone? Then came the 1500 /1499 kasamm se ad, which was hilarious and made an instant connect.

I thought they were improving. Then suddenly, we hear a jingle – “inke saath rahne ka raaz…” in an ad targetting family with choice-led togetherness (!!??!!) And after boring us with that irritating ad in a variety of lengths, they are back with the education focus. After that lengthy intro, let me describe the ad to you.

A kid who is happy to see bubbles, a ferris wheel and to get quite a handful of lollipops comes to share his glee with his father. In each case, the father connects the kid’s activity with some facet of education – like “colors batao…”, “ginke batao…”, “shape batao…”. Every time the kid gets a little disappointed and sad, and finally breaks out into tears.

A voiceover tells us all that kids should have fun in order to learn. Ergo, we should all take a Tata Sky to let our kids learn while having fun.

But I thought learning how to count was more fun if I was counting real soap bubbles rather than counting with a badly-designed interface with numbers in comic sans! 🙂 And learning about shapes was more fun and done better with seeing shapes in real life. And that making the child learn in the real world is preferable to binding your child to the “idiot-box”.

And anyways, the child in the ad was not crying because he found this way of learning wrong, but because he did not want to learn while he was having fun. So what are the odds that he would like to “learn” with the television? The “solution” proposed by the ad is not really a solution, it just transfers the problem from outdoors to indoors.

Thanks to Tata Sky for reminding us that the public are idiots…