Thursday, March 24, 2011


“The King’s Speech” won the 83rd Annual Academy Award this year for the ‘Best Picture’. However, instead of the Oscars, those were youngsters of China, India, Brazil, et al that the big movie studios were looking at this time. Today, the success of a film depends on how it does in foreign markets and not on how many Oscars it gets. From Harry Potter to Sherlock Holmes to even Inception; all were declared hits because they did big business outside America. Avatar, the highest grosser of all times, made 3/4th of its money outside US & Canada. The markets with the biggest growth potential are Russia, China India, et al. There seems to be a ‘cinema boom’ in these countries and they are lapping up Hollywood films like nobody’s business. So, for Hollywood movie production houses, the most important task today is to distribute their films in these markets and make the maximum money. The focus is not just on a good script, but also on choosing the right actors and locations that will appeal to the audience of these markets, Success lies in accurately predicting foreign tastes. No more is it important to predict what the jury of the Oscars will like. Money flows into Hollywood when the youngsters of India, Brazil, China & Russia flock to the theaters.


Not just Hollywood, a whole lot of brands are looking eastwards to help increase their market share today. In fact, you need to look at the youngsters of the world to survive – the largest percentage of which resides outside Europe & America. Consider this; the combined population of India and China is about 2.6 billion people, that’s approximately 37% of humanity. China Mobile had 301 million cell phone subscribers in 2007. The estimated population of United States then was 298 million!!

In 2001, Jim O’ Neill, the economist at Goldman Sachs, had coined the term BRIC and predicted that by 2050, these countries would gather so much might that they would overshadow the biggies like USA, Europe and Japan.

He said there was one way these countries would change the world – ‘by shopping!!’ It’s true, as the ‘shoppers’, i.e. the consumers of these nations, have been contributing more to global GDP than other nations. Those are the ‘super consumers’ of these ‘super nations’, who are today deciding the future of many brands – not just Hollywood! The brand, which manages to catch the imagination of these consumers, will survive and thrive.

Last year, an Italian brand tried to do it and managed to get a lot of attention. Diesel launched its “Be Stupid” campaign, which spoke the language that the youth wanted to hear. It said, “Be smart is what your parents & teachers always told you to be, but we are with the stupid, for ‘Stupid’ is the relentless pursuit of a regret free life!”

It came out with a series of advertisements that shocked and inspired and got talked about for their visuals and slogans. The slogans were just what the youth of today loved. “Smart critiques, Stupid creates”, showed the power of a free mind. Another one went thus, “Smart many have the brains, but stupid has the balls.” Their logic was simple – you can’t outsmart stupid. So don’t even try !!

“Be Stupid” was a campaign to build an image of Diesel, as the brand that was ‘brave’ and not scared of taking risks. For the cool consumers – the youngsters – Diesel became the ‘hit’ and the most talked about brand.

This new brand of ‘cool’ consumers is deciding restless endeciding the ways of the world. He is rest less and needs constant gratification. For him, shopping is entertainment, and every brand is doing all it can to keep him engaged & entertained.

TIME magazine even reduced the size of its cover story from 4,500 words (a pattern it had followed for the last 20 years) to 2,800 words to make it more relevant for today’s consumer.

The maximum growth is happening in the BRIC countries & the youth here is actually deciding the future. There are more Chinese youth who own computer phones, digital video cameras and at-home broadband internet than their American counterparts. Nielsen Media Research says that Russia will be the fourth largest consumer market in the world by 2025. India has the largest number of engineers, science graduates & post graduates. India & China will become the highest spenders on entertainment & media.

Yes, it’s true that it’s the BRIC consumer who will rule and if you want to survive, you need to understand them & market to them – for they are a different generation.


It’s not just the consumers of the east who are changing the rules of the game, but it’s also the eastern companies who are taking on the world. Those are the multinationals from China, India, Brazil who are hungry for consumers, hungry for success, hungry to rule and are doing just that.

After Hurricane Katrina hit America, the residents were looking for a tractor that be strong enough & fast enough to the debris. Some of them chose Mahindra 5500. It was priced right & had The sale of Mahindra vehicles in American markets, where big names like Deere & Co. have dominated for years, showed that the ‘old world’ order was changing – and changing fast.

These companies were not scared of risks and doing ‘stupid’ things and today, the world is looking up at them. Till a few years back, Huawei was known as a company that was caught copying designs of Cisco systems. The company spent more than $500 million in R&D & is today cutting sharply into Cisco’s market share across Asia & Latin America. Lenovo of China bought the IBM PC business. Infosys, Tata Consultancy services and Wipro have captured the global technology services market. Brazil’s Embraer has surged past Canada’s Bombardier to become the world’s No.3 aircraft maker and is taking away orders for aircraft that earlier were given to companies like Airbus & Boeing.

When Ranbaxy started marketing in Europe, its sales staff used to be kept waiting for hours before the skeptical Europeans heard their sales pitch. Today Ranbaxy is a top supplier in much of Europe. Its $1-aday AIDS treatment to Africa has got it immense respect, making it a leader in nations like Nigeria & Brazil. The most remarkable is, of course, the Tata group. From cars to steel to hotels, they are leaders everywhere. It’s truly a global force to reckon with.

These companies have taken on the West and launched exciting new products, which are turning into great brands. This companies has fought stiff competition and has mastered the art of producing goods at lowest costs. Look at India itself – from providing cheapest cellular rates to cheapest cars, we have it all here and no Western firm can beat us easily in this game.

The new world order is emerging. South Africa’s SAB Miller is ready to take on Budweiser of USA. The world’s biggest cellular provider would soon be Mexico’s América Móvil. According to Boston Consulting Group, there are 100 emerging multinationals – none of whom is American or European – who in 2005 had a combined $715 billion in revenue, $145 billion in operating profits and a half-trillion dollars in assets. For years, the east looked up to the west, but now it’s time for the west to learn a few things from the east. It’s time to take the new brands of the east more seriously as well as get to know better the new generation of consumers of this part of the world, for they are the future.

Let the old brands beware. Here comes a new brigade of companies, who understand the consumers best; as they are one of them, have understood the rules of the game & are ready to defeat the old players. They are ‘stupid’ and ‘hungry’ just like their consumers and ready to rule.

Steve Jobs in his very famous speech at Stanford had said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition... stay hungry... stay foolish,” and you will succeed. It seems like some companies took his advice very seriously. They dared to dream, dared to do & rewrote history. They dared to turn ‘East’ into the new ‘West’.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


“How to get your roommate to clean the room?”
“How to survive the boring talks of your girlfriend?”
“How to stare at other women, in front of your girlfriend?”

Find all your answers at the “University of Freshology”. These new advertisements of Sprite which ask you to “first drink, then think” are bringing a smile on many faces! The new advertisements take a fresh look at Sprite while keeping the ‘Brand Image’ the same. From the beginning, Sprite has believed in one thought – unlike other innumerable products / brands that promised you impossible benefits, Sprite offered you only freshness. From the time it was launched in India in 1999, with the tagline “Sprite bujhay only pyaas, baki all bakwaas”, it has stuck to its image of being the no-nonsense- just-thirst-quencher brand. This time too, its advertisements are interesting and, well, obviously refreshing.


They are really more powerful than a bomb if handled well. The right words can spark a revolution, can make people even give up their lives for you. Many a time, they even change the world. When Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” she changed the perspectives of a lot of people who thought how helping just one person could change the world? She showed them how – with her words. Martin Luther King spoke about apartheid & its indignities and people cried after they heard his famous speech “I have a dream”. He even told people to speak up when they saw injustice; and for that he said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” In his own humorous way, Woody Allen echoed our anxiety about death when he said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

It’s more often than not that great words make an advertisement more memorable. Sometimes witty, sometimes crisp, sometimes direct, sometimes funny, never boring, but always simple and easy to remember. Consider these, “Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”, or “Because, you’re worth it – L’Oréal”, or “Let your fingers do the walking – Yellow Pages”. These short and very simple sentences defined the whole business, the benefits of buying or using the brand, and stuck to our memory like glue! In fact, some great advertising punch-lines consisted of only two words. Here are some, “Connecting People – Nokia”, “Life’s Good – LG”, “Hello Moto – Motorola”, “Live Unboring – Ikea”, “Intel Inside – Intel”. In fact, it took just two words to unite our country against the British: “Quit India!” Sometimes, even one word did the trick. Budweiser’s “Wassup” tagline made the brand look young and super cool!

Some ad jingles and slogans became so famous and were etched so firmly in people’s memory that they were used to make a point by famous people to prove their point. When Burger King came out with its tagline “Where’s the beef?” indicating that its burgers were beefier and hence better than the competitor’s where you hardly spotted the beef, the three words became a rage. Even some presidential candidates quoted them to show their superiority over their competitors.

“Just Do It” is again one of those very famous taglines that has been used by all of us during our conversations. It not just became a part of our lingo, but catapulted Nike to great heights, making it a Power Brand! A survey showed that 45% of Britons regularly use the line from Guinness commercials, “Good things come to those who wait.” It’s amazing, the impact advertisements have on our lives, our thoughts, and our speech. Some 80% people have claimed to use advertising slogans in their day to day conversations. Time to think which ones do you use most frequently! That’s the power of advertising and “I’m lovin’ it”. After all, its advertising that’s “The Real Thing”.

IBM was the big daddy of computing. Back in 1914, its tagline “Think” became a big hit. Then, a few decades later, came Apple with its tagline “Think Different”, to show the world that the rules of the game were different now and the world of computing had a new Godfather!


A great slogan or tagline comes with no expiry date. It lives on almost forever. “Utterly... butterly...” You know which brand I am referring to. “Thanda matlab...” Again, I don’t need to complete the slogan. A great tagline is sometimes all you need to increase your sales and beat your competitors. After all, with so much choice, the consumer most of the time buys on impulse and those are his emotions many a time that help him decide when he is confused with too many choices. The right combination of words helps create those positive feelings. Onida’s slogan “Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride” made you feel proud about owning it (wish they would bring back the slogan again in their ad campaigns). LIC’s slogan “Jeevan ke saath bhi, jeevan ke baad bhi” gently and in a non-threatening manner told you about the benefits of a life insurance policy.

Words live on, even after the people who spoke them are gone. In fact, sometimes your last words become the image that people remember you with. The last words Karl Marx spoke were “Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” William Wallace, the Scottish Patriot, screamed “Freedom” even as he was tortured to death, according to the film based on his life Braveheart. In fact, some words have made films immortal. From Scarlett O’Hara’s very famous last words in the film Gone with the Wind (“After all, tomorrow is another day”) to Amjad Khan in Sholay (“Kitne aadmi the”), words live on in our memories & remain a part of our daily language forever almost!


Just as words have the power to make fortunes, they can destroy them too. Verbal slips, gaffes can prove to be disastrous. One person who was very famous for this was George Bush. In fact, his gaffes are so famous & so many that they can be published as a book of “Bushisms”. One of his famous gaffes is, “We are concerned about AIDS inside our White House – make no mistake about it.” Take another one – it’s even better than the previous one, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

The one who has a command over his words truly leads. Every word that Gandhi spoke was a treasure house of wisdom. He knew and understood freedom and the power of the mind, and expressed it like no other. He said, “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.” His words broke the spirit of the British. Rabindranath’s words strengthened the spirits of the freedom fighters as they repeated his lines, “Where the mind is without fear and the head held high, ... into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.”

Our greatest heroes gave us the greatest quotes & words of wisdom. Our greatest brands have the best worded slogans and tag lines. If you want to inspire, lead, conquer the world or the markets, the first thing you need to do is develop a masteryover the words you speak. From children, to workers, to consumers, everybody loves “Seedhi baat, no bakwaas!”