Sunday, May 10, 2015

'Lenskartification' of Brands

Last week Lenskart became news for all wrong reasons for their ad promotion message on the lines of Nepal earthquake. Social media did not spare any efforts in putting them on a social media trial - “Haww!! How can a brand be so insensitive about a natural calamity?” Right?
The way I see it, Lenskart just fell out of line in a race with other brands in ’Staying Relevant’ with their communication with their customers. And this small proactive exercise costed them a couple of sleepless nights trying to save their face. Otherwise, what they did is nothing different from what every other brand does. 
It is a norm within brand landscape to look for an opportunity to jump in with their innovative messaging and grab consumer attention. I’m sure every brand must have thought of a strategy to spin off their own stories when the massive earthquake happened. Lenskart just got foot in their mouth while trying to get the first movers advantage. They hence voluntarily invited themselves to become case studies of ‘How-not-to-get-excited-for-everything'.
Earlier there was a time when there were only limited media space you could buy to communicate during premium occasions. Hence brands were forced to choose their battles. A jewellery brand would put in their money only during an Akshaya Tritiya or a Diwali and a fitness brand would promote their discounts only during start of the year. But now thanks to exposure to free media space on digital platforms (social media mostly) , every brand is ready to throw in their hats on every occasion one can think of. That’s the reason we are getting to see a shoe brand or a fitness app brand or an OTC brand floating briefs for viral ideas for as vague as a ’National Catfish Day’ ( Yes, this day exists. #NoJoke). And why would they do something as absurd? Because that’s the norm, silly!
I think all of this has to do with people in the lowest rung management ( like me ) on brands side who has to report efforts in their timesheets. Their glorious reports must have read something like - On Mother’s Day, our brand 'StayLean' promoted a hashtag #MyLeanMom on Twitter, which trended for a good 23 nano seconds. Peer pressure has side effects when self agenda becomes priority over brand’s interest. That’s the reason I feel the copywriter of Lenskart succumbed to pressure and jumped the gun with his/her devastating ad copy.
Brands like Zomato has showed us that we do not necessarily need a formula to become talk of the town. Good content goes viral no matter what. Timing matters, Quality matters, Staying visible matters, but not staying in-your-face. Quality hence should take precedence over frequency of communication. It is always better to choose your battles and try breaking the clutter rather than being omnipresent trying to ’Stay Relevant’ and hence turn off your potential brand champion.
Well, its also true that all this gyaan holds good till another brand goes viral and gets ‘Lenskartified’.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Humko Hindi Nahin Aata hai.. Or Aati hai.. Or whatever

      It was my turn. The directors were as anxious and nervous as I was. My co-actors were already done with their lines. I had practised my lines extremely hard. I had read and re-read my lines several times to avoid faltering. I stood in the middle of the classroom to read out my lines. In front of me stood 3 directors: 1 Tamilian and 2 Marathi people. The classroom went silent. I closed my eyes for a while to become the character – the mean producer – while I heard my own voice speak : “Arey.. Tum toh bade jaldi aa gaye.. Is baat pe tumhe toh medal milna chahiye..”, I finished my line and looked at everyone and at their reaction. There was silence for 2.5 seconds. Then there was a burst of laughter resounding in the classroom. Tarun was literally ROFLing. Chingi guffawed like a Kookaburra. One of the Marathi directors just twitched her eyebrows and smirked. The Tamilian director however did not know what was happening. I waited for this community laughing to die down which eventually did happen after a good 1.5 minutes. I asked Tarun , “Now can you take some pains to explain your ROFLing?”. Tarun said ,” Arey baba.. It is medal milni chahiye and not medal milna chahiye”. Chingi said amidst his guffawing ,”Arey yaar Manav. Tu toh Hindi ki Maa behen ek kar di.. (Hey Manav.. You just unified mom and sister of Hindi)”. I was blinking with a blank mind and still could not fathom what was happening. Sampath came to me and scribbled on the script that I had with necessary changes. He said, “Yaar don’t worry.. This happens.. Now try again”. I wasn’t convinced. I asked, “I’m sorry for the grave mistake, if any. But can someone please explain the logic behind making that distinction so that I don’t unify Hindi’s maa and behen the next time?”. Rosy took the initiative and explained- “Arey Manav, It is simple. See, can you say medal milna hai? No.. You can just say medal milni hai.. Can you say pen meri hai? No.. You can only say pen mera hai..Can you say Yeh chair mera hai? No.. You can only say chair meri hai..”
Me: “Ya right.. I just understood that crime after my dialogue delivery. My question is HOW did you make that distinction?”
Rosy: “Arey yaar.. It’s easy.. It just doesn’t seem right while you are speaking.. Medal does not go with milna.. Medal goes well with milni.. pen does not go well with meri.. It matches well only with mera.. In the same way it doesn’t seem right to match chair with mera.. It has to be meri..”
Me: “Is it a god damn colour-combination to match 2 word items before making a statement? Tell me how in the world did you find out the gender for that god damn non-living thing..”

   My tryst with Hindi took a major hit with the last question that I asked. ‘How do you find out the gender of a non-living thing?’. A million answers for this same question on Google website reveals that this is the same challenge that millions like me are facing. To talk about that fateful day, needless to say, I did not get an answer from anyone for my question. Tarun ROFLed more, Chingi guffawed his breath out but no one answered. Rosy gave me more examples about what feels right while speaking and what doesn’t and which word goes well with which word but did not give me logic behind the feeling of that rightness. Chingi went onto give an awesome explanation which I can never forget. The creator of Hindi would have liplocked Chingi for that explanation for he never would have come up with such an explanation in his lifetime. Chingi said – “Manav yaar.. Look at the curves of the medal.. Do you think it can be a male? No.. It can only be a female.. Take another example.. Hmm.. Bottle.. Look at the curves.. It can only be a female yaar.. Simple.. Try this on 2-3 different items and you will master in this area ”.. I had nothing else to say.. He left me with no choice than to conclude that there was no more meaning left with this life.. He might have said this with the right spirits, but what about my spirit of learning Hindi? It got smashed..It gets smashed every time when I come to a dead end with this limitation of Hindi. Do you even realise how lame it looks when you have to categorize objects into masculine and feminine gender? Medal is a female? Seriously? So what did Miss Medal wear today? Spaghetti? Oh wow!!! It always looks good on Miss Medal.. How’s her health? Did she buy that lipstick she always wanted? Bullcrap..
Who came up with such a rule? Kill them first.. Then kill those people who agreed to that rule and followed it religiously without questioning.
This is not the first time I am facing this problem. It started years ago when I was learning Sanskrit grammar. I always fought with my mom over this rule and even cried over this injustice. I always wanted to tell Panini – Father of Sanskrit – “Look Mr.Panini.. With all due respect to your knowledge on creating such a language, I know that you are not a dumb person.. But please tell me what were you thinking while you were making this rule? Or is it that your assistants wrote it in your thesis papers just to piss around while you were not around? This is taking a toll on the world.” Look at this country. Half of its population is speaking something without knowing why or how they are speaking whatever they are speaking. During my conquest I asked many people for an appropriate answer. All I got were extreme vague answers. The only time when something made sense was when a Tamilian appeared in front of me and uttered as if he was just possessed by Socrates’ spirit. He said – “Pehle Hindi ko Sudharna chahiye.. Phir hum zaroor Sudhrenge..(Hindi has to change.. Only then can we change..)” I looked at Socrates with extreme devotion. Virtually I fell to his feet in  Saashthaanga yoga pose.

     There is one more problem in this ‘object genderification’ (the problem is as cruel as ‘gender objectification’). Gender for objects is different for different Hindi speaking population. Maadu once was asking me to pass her bag.. She said , “Zara mera bag pass karna..(Hey.. Please pass my bag)”..
     Dilly Billy overheard what she said and corrected her, “Arey baba.. Bag MERA nahin hota hai.. Bag MERI hoti hai.. (Hey.. Bag is not male-mine.. Bag is always female-mine..)”.
    “Nahin toh.. Hamare yahaan Bag MERA hi hota hai..(No. Bag is male-mine according to how people in my place speak..)” said an offended Maadu..
     “Arey baba.. Then Tumhaare wahaan galat bolte hai.. Kyun ki Bag hamesha MERI hoti hai..(Oh. Then people in your place speak incorrectly, because Bag is always Female-mine..)” explained the cool Dilly Billy.. Maadu and Dilly Billy gave a cold look to each other and turned their heads away from each other. I was sitting clueless in the middle with that Bag in my hand.
        So now the gender changes with different geographical locations as well. This was getting serious. It was not the limitation with my knowledge. It was a limitation with the people who were speaking that language. Human interactions were getting tense due to a limited and a vaguely defined rule. I wanted to end this confusion once and for all and save the agony that people of this country were facing. I thought I’ll research this language and get to the basics of every rule.

     I started by googling and read many articles on ‘language’. I read on differences between a ‘gender’ and a ‘sex’ and the means to differentiate both in a language. Then I got into varied definitions of various language experts like Zubin, Dixon and Corbett over their definitions of language and the relationship a gender has with a language. I was happy with the way things were getting clearer. I also read about a linguistic theory called ‘Sapir- Whorf hypothesis’ which dealt with the language and the perception of the speaker. On this same theory there was an experiment conducted on Hindi and Thai language speakers. The result for this elaborate experiment also revealed some numbers regarding the Hindi speakers who were gender-markers and the Hindi speakers who were sex-markers. As the details were getting more elaborate, the language experts were close to cracking the secret I was waiting to be cracked for long. After closely analysing the results and explaining them in detail, the experts came to a conclusion that there is ‘nothing wrong’ in calling any object with any gender; it is only a matter of something called a ‘language agreement’ between the speakers, that mattered while speaking a language. This meant that if I along with a few other non-Hindi speakers agree within us that a ‘medal’ is a ‘male’ and use it in our further conversations, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This meant that there was nothing wrong with what I spoke while learning Hindi all along. This meant that the dominant group laughed all along without any reason. This meant that the dominant group decided the gender for all the objects among themselves just to piss around with learners like me. My heart went pitiful for all those people who got victimised and get victimised day-in and day-out by the dominant group by the means of their ‘object genderification’. My research into the basics left me with one final thought :
 “Humko Hindi indeed Kabhi nahin aayega.. Or aayegi.. or whatever..”
All  events appearing in this work are fictitious in nature. Any resemblance are just exaggerated versions of real life incidents

Monday, May 24, 2010


It was around a week ago , I was flipping channels on my Television when suddenly something unusual caught my eyes. It was certainly an unusual thing to watch. The channel is one of the most celebrated ones delivered straight out of the heart of the country, the "New Delhi Television" viz. NDTV. The ones hosting the show were the country's most celebrated reporters, Ms.Barkha Dutt and Mr.Pranay Roy.The show was regarding the performance of the government after the huge naxal menace which costed huge casualties among the innocent civilians.

A poll flashed on the TV screen which said "Is the Congress government worse than the BJP government??" .I felt 'not bad', this channel also knows to criticize the Congress. To my surprise, the majority(45%) went to the people who felt that 'Congress is worse than the BJP' and the other responses included that 'Congress is not worse than BJP' and some others said,'Both are the same.There is no difference' .After a few seconds,another poll flashed on the screen which said "Will there be a change in the Prime Ministership??".I was confused,"Oh Bhai!!!! what is happening to this channel??". Following the responses, the two hosts started discussing about the issue which to my astonishment, included some bashing against the government. I was gazing at the TV screen with eyes wide open. I could not believe my eyes. Ms.Barkha Dutt??? and bashing the Congress government??? I pinched myself to confirm that I wasnt dreaming. After a few minutes, again another poll flashed on the screen which was read out loudly by Barkha, "Will Rahul be the next PM??".

Aha!!!! BINGO!!!! Ms.Barkha Dutt.... Now we are speaking terms!!!!!! Now everything became clear to me. Needless to say, the majority again went for the people who said "Rahul is the fittest man to be the next PM". ufffhhhh... now i was relieved to know that I wasnt dreaming.

That was quite obvious from this channel, who have always been the ardent admirers of the party. Especially for Barkha Dutt, who is such a nonchalant fan of Rahul Gandhi. Follow her on twitter and you will see that half of her articles will not be completed without an admiration for Rahul. The channel has always been against the people who came in the way of the success of the Gandhi family. This time.... Manmohan is becoming the latest casualty and the reporters are milking the opportunity out of the situation. Or else, even for arguments sake,one may think, 'why in the world is Rahul coming into the picture??' The Naxals are on the rampage, there is a huge internal security threat that the country is facing, the government is on a fallout as none of its approaches are working against the Naxals. And suddenly out of the blue, the media portrays this amateur to be the next saviour of the country. When people of likes of Manmohan and Chidambaram are clueless about the situation, how can you even expect someone with almost 'NIL' amount of experience could handle the situation??

And speaking of Rahul Gandhi(Raul Vinci), let us wind our clocks back to periods of mid 1990's when there was a steady rise of a woman politician who was hailed as the heir apparent to the Congress, who was hailed to be the next Indira Gandhi, Mrs.Priyanka Vadra. She was seen everywhere, attending public rallies, campaigning in the elections. She had been the media darling for quite a while, her photo friendly pictures been clicked everywhere. During the early 2000's, suddenly she was pulled out of the picture and there was no Priyanka for quite a long time. And then came the systematic entry of our hero Mr.Rahul Gandhi. Till he was 36, there was no air about him at all. Suddenly, there was Rahul everywhere, Rahul campaigning,Rahul sharing food with the deprived, Rahul , Rahul and Rahul. The first stupid instance when he was started to be projected, was during a huge rally conducted against rising sugarcane prices.Tons and tons of farmers thronged the capital demonstrating against the government. All the opposition parties joined them to protest.The PM was made to interfere into this issue and the one thing he said was, "The price rise will be taken care off!!! And Rahul Gandhi will be heading the commission to tackle the situation". Off all the pundits in the country, our PM could remember only one person and that too.. 'out of the blue'.To his credit, he also became the prime player in bringing the UPA back to power for the second term. Wallah!!!! And our hero is all set to be the next PM already!!!! And when it comes to his credentials and his qualifications to take the top job?? Lets better not talk about it.. I suggest, you better visit the video link of Mr.Subramaniyam Swamy.

Certainly,you like it or not,you can anytime take some expert media management lessons from the Congress. Canvassing a person to be the PM within 5-6 years straight, that too so very convincingly is certainly appreciable.Take any competitive entrance exam and the most important debate you will have to be well-prepared is "Media and its influence on people". This can be the best possible example of media moulding the people's perception. From being a no one a few years back, to being portrayed as a mammoth, the media has gone a long way in carving out public perception.

Have these people forgotten that the only reason why this government is seeing the best of the times is Mr.Manmohan Singh?? The party completely rode over his name to strengthen the party and win elections. And already speculations are rife that this man maybe unwanted for a while now. The man who poured his life out to bring some of the major reforms, is currently kept under consideration as to whether he will have to continue or not. And who is the man who the party thinks can surpass Manmohan Singh?? its Rahul all the way!!!How can one even give any justification for such show of foolishness?? To be honest, for me... this show is nothing less than a bad bad display of tokenism played by the media, a very bad display of the 'family politics' being played by the so called 'secular' group of people.We, as a country are very very popular for a 'bad public memory'. No matter what a leader has done in the past, we so easily tend to forget it and so easily accept him on his present credentials. If still, people can be so blind as to ignore the issue and buy it, I feel that that would be the worst possible disaster posed to the democracy of any country for that matter.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


It was a hot Friday.The mercury had clocked well above 35 degrees.The place was a burning oven .The ceremony was of a high placed importance.The man comes on to the dais to address the convocation,he cannot take the heat,he protests , makes his point and pulls out the robe and then proceeds.The audience is dumbstruck.Some applaud,some does not move a muscle,some are confused and do not know what to do.

This was the instance which took place recently,the much talked about "Barbaric Robe" controversy.Jairam Ramesh, one of the few intelligent people in the cabinet, drew the attention of the entire nation by his tiny act. He made the people to scratch their heads and ponder over the whole issue and say, "Hey,This guy has a point!!!!".

Union Minister Jairam Ramesh take off his convocation gown while addressing at the 7th convocation ceremony of Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) in Bhopal on Friday.

Well,the man definitely has a point. Is it not funny when we dress ourselves like the "Popes and Vicars" while receiving the honorary degree from the university? Do we even know the root cause behind following such an alien ritual? Where is the connection between the degree which I have earned and the attire in which I am receiving my degree?Things would have been different had I completed my degree from a fashion institute,which however is not the case. The only reason we know is that"my father had followed it,so will I,and so will my children". I have been quite a silent admirer of this man for a while now,not because of his works though,but because of his outspoken and a non sycophantic attittude. Though he sparks a controversy, he makes sense.

He might have been receiving mixed responses from various sections of the society. Some applaud and some have breathed fire. I am surprised to see some opposition over the issue who have no religious link to the matter(shashi tharoor had taken a dig over this act). However, this issue has not been blown up into a full scale issue, because this guy is supposed to be from a development oriented party. Had this issue been taken up by a member of sangh family, it would have been dubbed as a communalistic viewpoint. It would have been dubbed as anti developmental viewpoint,had this issue been taken by a commie, and it would have been dubbed as a "plot to send India 25 years back", had this issue been taken up by the YADAVS of UP and Bihar.

Let me not get more political. Coming back to the issue, the ritual of wearing a robe began in the west during medieval period, when the educational institutions were run by the churches. The ritual was taken forward elsewhere and also in India during the European rule. The buck ends just there!!!!!!!!!. Times have changed, scenarios have changed, but our thinking still has stuck onto the rottening past. Ramesh is absolutely right in saying that we are shamelessly following the symbol of slavery.

For that matter, there are still n number of things which we are following with no questions asked. The whole police system in India is still intact, the way it was designed by the Europeans. The whole police system was designed with a mere purpose of 'tax collection'.We did not what to do with them after the Britishers left.Hence we never made any effort in redesigning it to match our ease.The funny ritual of wearing the black gown by the lawyers, the system of addressing the judge as 'your honour' or 'my lord'.I still do not understand the need for wearing that gown.Will the justice not be met in the country if we do not wear those gowns? Coming to the Indian railways,it is said that it is almost impossible to track the blueprint of the entire Indian railway system which was designed by the Britishers. Yet, we just make changes to the existing line, but not make any effort as to redesign it for any ease. There are numerous organisations who protest for numerous funny things, but I have surprisingly seen almost none who have taken this matter seriously.

For that matter, the whole usage of the word 'INDIA' , is very depressing. We have been using this name with 'heels over heads', from time immemorial, the name which was never ours, the name which was gifted to us by uncle Columbus, thanks to his confusion(he had mistaken our land as West Indies,hence the name conferred to us). Any efforts taken over this matter would be dubbed as anti developmental, anti minority and whatever bullshit. I know there are no connections to the issue and the allegations made, but that is how things are handled .

With this regard, we have to appreciate the Americans a lot, who have taken so much efforts to come out of the shadow of English culture almost entirely. Their redesign of the complete orthodox English language is just a simple example. Nowhere in their entire system will you see even the traces of them being under English rule, at any point of time in the history. Be it there political system, their military system, educational system, any system for that matter, gives of a feeling that it is America, which is free from the shadow of slavery.

We copy the Americans in so many different ways, considering it to be cool to copy them. But why do we not take these aspects from them and learn a new way of looking at things. Its truly disappointing the way we have forgotten our identities, our purposes in life. Will we ever wake up to reality and see things in a different way? or continue the 'blind following' throughout the generations to come, is a thing for the time to see.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

For the one lady who strived and struggled till her last breath for the hapiness of possibly anyone who were there in her memory.

For that amazing 'iron-willed' woman who can possibly have no enemies in this world.

For my gorgeous granny,my DODDA, who'd never been 'out of sight' from me, from the time i'd come to this world.

Thank you for being my granny,thank you for being my everything.

Nostalgia strikes and those wonderful
memories with u will haunt me.

Though everything finished in 'whoosh'
of time,will miss u terribly granny ma,
be with me always,in my dreams,
in my feelings,in every decision I take.

May ur soul 'REST IN PEACE'