Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What's in a name? - Part II

We saw some unusual and interesting names found in Dubai & Sharjah in my previous post. In this one lets see the most commonly used names or phrases or terminologies here in this part of the world.

These words go with the name of any company or business. From Stationery to ships or from Laundry to Couture brands. And from eateries to earth moving equipment or from beauty parlor to airlines.

1. Arabian

2. Emirates

3. Middle East, Middle Eastern

4. Gulf, Persian Gulf

5. Falcon (it’s the national bird here)

6. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Qaiwain (or the smaller locales inside these Emirates)

7. Golden

8. Most of the bakers have “Lebanese” tucked on to their name. It is almost like “Bangalore Iyengar bakery” or those “Punjabi Dhaba” back in India.

So if you want to unleash the entrepreneurial virus in this part of the world make note of these little things. These would enable your company / enterprise acquire an authentic flavor.

What's in a name?

Brand names have always been a matter of fascination for me.

Why Levers? Why Procter & Gamble? Why Wal-Mart? Why McDonalds? Why JWT?

* Founded in 1885 by William Hesketh Lever
* William Procter, a candlemaker, and James Gamble, a soapmaker, formed the company known as Procter & Gamble in 1837 (they were brother-in-laws who came together at the insistance of their father-in-law)
* Founded by Sam Walton in 1962
* Began in 1940 with a restaurant opened by siblings Dick and Mac McDonald
* Originally founded by William James Carlton in 1864 and renamed by James Walter Thompson in 1877 to the J. Walter Thompson Company (not many would know about this WJ Carlton bit!!)

Like these every name of a brand / company or commercial establishment has a reason. It signifies something. Some of the names in Dubai & Sharjah found my fancy, particularly of restaurants, internet cafes and billiards parlors.

These are some of those interesting names in Dubai & Sharjah.

1. Traffic Jam restaurant – This place is next to an important junction. It is also a traffic bottleneck. And maybe therefore this name.

2. Decent restaurant – In one of the most congested localities of Sharjah. Next to a big dust bin. May be the owners wanted to stand out of this clutter and wanted some positive energies to flow.

3. Radio restaurant – Another significant name in Sharjah. I told myself maybe they must be only playing radio in the restaurant and hence the name.

4. Airport restaurant – This name is anybodies guess. Yes, you got it right. This is on one of the roads that lead to the Dubai airport.

5. Automatic restaurant & cafĂ© – I wonder what is automatic here. The preparation? How they serve? The billing? The payment?. It’s an unique name but.

6. Public Cook – Must be this restaurants main business comes from bulk orders - marriages and other functions.

7. Daily restaurant – I am wondering why the restaurant is named so. May be they want their patrons to be back on a daily basis?! Let me know a reason if you could cook one.

8. Golden Finger internet parlor – May be the owner is a James Bond fan! He gave a twist to the old 007 classic and made his parlors name Golden finger instead of the original.

9. Blue Door Ladies Salon – This is situated in a building painted white. But I managed to see a blue door that leads to this salon. May be that is why they have named it so.

10. Eject rent-a-car – A tricky name to have for a rent-a-car business. What happens if the car I rented ejects me out in the middle of Sheikh Zayed Express way. When every one around is moving at 120kmph. Scary!

11. Automatic Technical Laundry – These people in Dubai are obsessed with the word “Automatic” & “Technical”. I leave deciphering this name to your imagination.

May be sometime these grow as mammoth as an Apple or Linux or a Virgin and then people who mocked at these names (including me) would run to do case studies on their success or for having them as one of their clients.

God Bless them!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Following up with Emotion – I'mowshun “Any strong feeling”

Sajan says that this commercial is being pulled off air. Hence I wrote a mail to Sajan trying to explain / reason why this is a good commercial and why it shouldn’t be pulled off air.

The reasons why this is being pulled off air (strictly my version)...

1) This not being a good creative (the clients perspective)
2) The product not being hot enough for people to buy (the agency and the Marcom managers perspective)
3) The Marcom manager never involved me in the making of this commercial (the product managers perspective)

On the product not being hot... The onus is finally on the marcom person to sit with his product guys and try and augment the benefits this product could bring forth...

To put it simply, everyone in Tamil Nadu knows that the penetration of TATA Indicom is negligibly small.

So, what they (the client and the account planners / managers) must have done is

1. Have this campaign as a long term recruitment plan (don't tear the duck off for 10,000 golden eggs overnight!! you would get none!!)
2. Supplement this campaign with grassroot level promotions aiming at new recruitments (possibly groups... aiming at corporates, colleges, self help groups, women’s clubs, clubs etc.)
3. Do a member get member aimed at the existing base with an extra incentive or two for the target audience. The returns – Imagine a 1% return on the existing base, you would clearly see how beneficial this promotion would have been.

While I stand firm on saying that this is a result of a good creative brief and a this is indeed a very good creative. I don't want to accept that it is a bad product.

To give you an example of a similair scenario in FMCG…

1) How many of us remember the Evita soap commercials of 1994-95?

2) And how many of us who remember those commercials know that the product was pulled of the market within 12 months of being launched?

3) And how many of those who knew about the product pull-off know that Godrej scrapped the product (to relaunch it recently, if I am not wrong)?

So was it a dull / dud inferior product? NO
Was the communication strategy wrong? I don't think so
Was the product pricing wrong? May be (it was at that point in time .50p more than the regular beauty soaps, the normal weight )

So what could have been wrong?

1. The timing (as the TATA Indicom case is – Low numbers in Tamil Nadu). This is simply because Evita spoke about Vitamin E and moisturizer's when Lux was talking about woman, pampering and aspirations (using film starlets) and Liril was talking about independence, breaking free and emotional benefits. There was no Dove in the market, the market wasn't educated enough.

2. The woman at that time or for that matter those men who used Lux and Liril to look good, were influenced purely by the celebrity who endorsed the product. He or She didn't mind what is good and what is bad for them. And therefore Evita's product promise of Vitamin E etc. was not accepted or rather not considered at all.

The result... The product wouldn't sell and they had to rollback. Had Evita been launched two years later (97 - 98) or had Godrej sustained to keep the product on shelves for those 2 years, this product would have been a viable Indian competition for Dove. Godrej has woken up now and relaunched this product in a cluttered market, only time would tell how this would fare now.

Taking some morals from this story...

Your product managers and Marcom execs should have balls enough to stand by their product and sustain it in the market for a couple of months before reaping its benefits. I must also say that the people in the agency are equally responsible for the growth or otherwise of the brands they handle. Specifically the planning and the account management team.

If the client didn't foresee these stuff when he briefed, the agency must have gone to him and told him about the advantages and disadvantages of the product and suggested a comprehensive 360 degree communication plan rather than a TVC and some press approach.

All these said I still maintain that this is a good product and a very good creative. Unfortunately we lacked a owner to get the product running and win the race

P.S: Thanx a ton Sajan for permitting me to post this online.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Test Of English As Mother Tongue (TOEAMT)

All those who claim English as their mother tongue need to take this exam (like our TOEFL, Test Of English as Foreign Language). Just to make sure they are not mocked at in public by those who have to take TOEFL.


I heard a Radio Jockey (RJ), a native Canadian who works for one of the respected FM radio stations here in Dubai saying something like this “Mr Geoffrey wants to say something to us on the air

Well, I thought the correct usage is “Mr Geoffrey wants to say something to us on air

The irony is that he doesn't seem an Indian migrant. He claims he is authentic Canadian.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Don't control your emotions

Emotion – I'mowshun “Any strong feeling”

When I get emotional, I laugh, cry, get angry, smile, curse, abuse. The list goes on…

Why does one get emotional?

Well, one gets emotional when a particular thing attracts or affects him positively or negatively (Well I don’t know if I have got the definition of why one get emotional but am sure I am kind of right saying this. Correct me otherwise)

So why should one get emotional speaking over a phone? There could be many reasons…

1) I got a 200% hike (what a thought?!!)
2) I spoke to my friend of 25 years after 24 years
3) I won a lottery of $ 10m

Or to simply put it. I got something I was always longing for, which I never expected to happen in the immediate future.

So what happens when my mobile service provider gives me incoming as well as outgoing calls free?

I would get happy, emotional, uncontrollably emotional even if this offer is only restricted to those outgoing calls where I call some one who is a subscriber of the network I patronize within a geographical boundary.

Why? Because I could laugh, cry, get angry, curse, abuse speaking to someone I know without having to spend a pie.

This is precisely the route the new TATA Indicom commercial has taken (Again, this one is also from the kitchen of Sajan. My friend, classmate)


It follows a father who is away from his daughter. The first time the father tries calling her, the daughter speaks fast, asks her dad to control his emotion and keeps the phone down.

The reason. The daughter doesn’t want her father spend too much being a jabberwocky. Outgoing calls are expensive and that too when you are roaming out of your town / base.

This happens the second time too.

In India everyone is very concerned about their mobile bills. And that too if someone is a frequent traveler then he / she must definitely expect a fat bill courtesy the roaming charges.

The third time the father’s driver dials the daughter’s number for him. The driver tells the daughter about the new offer from TATA Indicom, free outgoing and incoming throughout Tamil Nadu between TATA Indicom phones.

This time the daughter asks her father not to control his emotions but keep talking till he could.

The reasons are obvious.

This is again a commercial using celebrities, not one but two this time. Luckily again both are established film stars. Here again the product isn’t hijacked by the celebrities but they play a part magnifying the product benefits.

So ask anyone who saw this commercial what he / she understood.

The answer would be simple “Don’t control your emotions”.

And the product benefit, even a kid would say “A TATA Indicom connection lets you communicate as long as you can***”

*** The voiceover clearly says that this offer is only when the caller and called are both inside Tamil Nadu.

How better and clearer would you want a communication to be?

Second one in a row by Sajan, keep it up buddy. I must also appreciate / congratulate the person who wrote the brief, this must be one of the best briefs that person has ever written.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A good brief for a not so good product – A battle won.

This happened when I was handling one of the big mobile telephony service providers operating in the state of Tamil Nadu in India.

Mobile telephony market was just maturing. The government had just brought about some changes in the regulations. This made the operators offer a more competitive price and an array of products and services. This made the market bleed. The operators saw huge churn of customers every month, growth wasn’t that obvious. The market was reaching its saturation levels. The result was low ARPU but increased usage of the basic service – making and receiving calls.

In order to increase the ARPU the SMS rates were lowered. The client started offering value adds through SMS like cricket scores, astrological predictions etc. But still people weren’t using SMS. We had a problem. I managed to convince the client on doing a small research to find out why the people wouldn’t use SMS services. The results we got from the research were baffling.

Tamil Nadu is the southern most state of India. The people speak Tamil. Most of the mobile users were traders and businessmen who couldn’t even properly read English, leave alone speaking. We found that they mocked at their friends who used SMS to communicate as “Englishkaran” (English man).

So language was a barrier for them not using SMS. I presented our findings to the client. After a couple of weeks the client called us over for a meeting. He said his product team had made the breakthrough. He thought he finally had a winner of a product which was SMS in Tamil.

I wondered how, he showed me how it worked. It was a little complicated. Those were the days when you didn’t have language keypads on mobile phones. So you had to type the transliteration (in English) of what you wanted to communicate in Tamil. When you send the message it would reach the operators server where this message would get converted as a image file and would reach its destination as a picture message.

I too believed that we had a great product that would do well in the market. We had a reasonable budget for this campaign, there was press and BTL. I was so happy when I cracked the brief, it touched the emotional chord of the audience. We had a series of three adverts, which we were sure would win some awards for us.

It was when we finished work and I was supposed to present it to the client when I had some doubts about this product. This doubt stemmed from the research we had done earlier. The research said people hated typing something in English because of two reasons

1) They were shy about their knowledge of the language
2) They didn’t know the language

So how on earth would you expect this guy to transliterate (in English) something he wanted to say in Tamil?

Had he had the knowledge to transliterate something, he could as well use this service in English.

So the product was flawed. It would be a huge failure if were launched. This time around I didn’t have a boss, the one I had quit a couple of weeks ago. So I marched straight to the client, presented the layouts we had for him and then told him why I wouldn’t want to launch this service in Tamil Nadu.

The client was impressed. He was happy that we presented the creative as promised but still told him about the flipside of launching the service. The result some revenues lost for the agency by suggesting that we not do this campaign. The client felt bad having to kill a campaign which could win some awards.

For me personally this was a battle won. I felt that some work I was doing for the brand would be an absolute waste of resources – money and energy. And therefore I wanted the client to scrap the project. The client agreed to what I had to say and appreciated my proposal.

This client still respects me, I have moved a couple of places since, but his respect for me is not gone.

The moral of this story – Respect thy clients business, and he would respect thee

PS: Incidentally some other executive from the north of India wrote a similar brief (after an year of us scrapping our campaign) and his creative team produced a very similar campaign for a vernacular newspaper. This campaign did win some awards nationally (and may be internationally too). But I should acknowledge that there was no way that they would have seen either our brief or our creative. It was pure coincidence.

A good brief for a not so good product – A battle lost

It happened about a couple of years ago when I was handling a consumer durable major back in India. They wanted to launch a new color television – 29”.

The unique selling proposition according to the client – “this is a picture-in-picture television”. Meaning, you could watch more than one channel at the same time.

And this product, was the only one of its kind in the market at that point in time that gave the opportunity to get the audio feed for 3 channels at the same time. One channels audio would be beamed through the televisions speakers, and the other two through two wireless headphone sets that were provided free with the television.

And you could actually see 6 different channels at the same time. So this was a 6PIP with 3 Audio channels.

The moment the client briefed us and demonstrated the product, I had a creative brief in mind. To add to my enthusiasm of having cracked the brief even when the client was briefing, it was a $250,000 campaign including media and production.

My boss was gleefully happy, he would comfortably cruise through his annual targets if this campaign would come through. My branch manager was jumping up and down a couch, like Tom Cruise. Professing his love for this client. I was also happy, dreaming about a fat increment and a reprint of my visiting card.

But before I wrote the brief I had in my mind and set the ball rolling, I wanted to be sure about the product. I wanted to test it out for a while and I also wanted to test the product on a couple of guys from my agency.

The findings weren’t quite encouraging. Being a visual medium, even on the 29” screen if you had 3 different pictures running, one couldn’t concentrate on his picture. So people either let their eyes wander (which happened most of the time) or miss some audio trying to catch-up with a visual in another screen.

The result, it wasn’t a pleasurable experience. It seemed a painful technological innovation to digest.

I went back to my bosses and told them my findings. I wanted to go to the client and say the product wouldn’t work for 2 reasons.

1) The viewer couldn’t simply concentrate on his visuals and sound
2) The cost of this product – I could buy three 25” (there used be a TV of this dimension those days), keep them in three different places and three people could peacefully watch without distractions.

The bosses wouldn’t agree, they were in fact quite pissed off with me. They wanted the money more than the client. I was reminded about the story of the “Goose that laid golden eggs” my father had told me when I was young.

I was too small a fry to be heard. The result, I went ahead to produce what I think one of my best briefs till date. That resulted in a television commercial (big budget, my CD flew places – as usual), a barrage of press adverts, some good number of POS material and all very good quality and very creative. This also resulted in our agency getting a couple of metals in the Abby awards (conducted by the Bombay Adclub) and some in Chennai.

The agency got the monies and awards, the branch head & the CD were there all over. It was a good PR exercise for the agency. But the television didn’t sell, the brand was not doing well. Eventually the account was lost.

We killed the goose with the greed of finding a huge haul of golden eggs, the result we killed the goose and from then we couldn’t even get the one golden egg she laid per day.

My experiments with a creative brief

In my last 7 years of advertising, direct marketing and out of home experimentation, I have written countless briefs for the brands I have handled.

But there are a few that I think are worthy. Out of these few worthy ones, some were really satisfying - Accepted by client, worked upon and have provided fruitful results for the brand. Many have gone to the bin.

And some are those I really didn't want to work on as I knew that they would be a waste of money for the client. This I thought is an interesting segment to look at.

I wanted to see in retrospect as to

1) Why I didn't like to do that work?

2) If I didn't like it, then what did I do?

3) If I did something to express my displeasure, then what happened? Did the campaign go on as expected or did the client and my folks in my agency agreed with my point of view and scrap the campaign.

So for the next two posts a postmortem of situations where I thought I had a good creative brief but the brand didn't fit or the product was not so good and threfore I wanted to scrap the campaign & dump my brief.

Did I manage to pull my briefs back or did I loose my battle & the campaign rolled on?

Let's see over the next two posts.

Using Celebrity... A recent example

A couple of weeks back I happened to see this TVC for TVS Star city a 100cc 4-stroke bike from TVS. At Rs. 29,990 and 109 kmpl of petrol it seemed like any other bike. My curiosity swelled further when I happened to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the latest poster boy of Indian cricket on one of the press ads. In Hindi the headline read “Jitna Dum, Utna Style” loosely translated “Like Power, Like Style”.

Frankly it disappointed me, here you are in the automobile 2-wheeler market. In a very cluttered 4-stroke, 100cc category after 12 years you still talk about power?

How powerful could a 100cc bike be? And that too a 4-stroke engine.

Dhoni cut a sorry figure in that press ad. in a boxing glove in the background. An image of the vehicle in the foreground. What is so special about this bike? Is it about power?
No it is not. Is it about style? May be yes and may be not.

In my opinion, having a stylishly shot Dhoni doesn’t bring the product benefit or differentiators out. For me it reminded me about “Burnout” the burning issue of Indian cricket for which Dhoni is one of the champions. If Dhoni continues doing silly ads like these, he would soon burn out like Saurav.

While I was thinking what the differentiator could be and how this celebrity could have been used better, I got a mail from one of my classmates. Sajan, now a copywriter with the same agency that handles TVS Star City. He told me about a TV commercial he had done for Star City using Surya, an actor in the Tamil film industry. I wasn’t too kicked about it. The reason being the Dhoni ad I had already seen. But I had hope on two things

1) Surya is an actor by profession, so he would do a good job.

2) Sajan is a very talented young man with lots of common sense, so he would definitely know how to handle a commercial with a celebrity. He had done many before.

Sajan didn’t spoil my hope. His is probably one of the powerful ads on TV I have seen in the recent past. Lots of commonsense.

1) Surya the actor had already endorsed TVS Star the elder brother of Star City

2) Surya is fresh after a hit movie where he plays a vengeful hero who has amnesia, he forgets every thing. So to remember things he clicks photographs of whatever he has or sees and has it with him. This film was a major hit and no Tamil would forget this film for another 6 months at least

3) The differentiating proposition of this vehicle is not power (poor 100cc), not price (all 100cc’s cost nearly the same) or the looks (the elder brother had a near similar styling) but it was the alloy wheels the vehicle has. No other 100cc 4-stroke has this feature as I know.

So the commercial goes like this…

A guy sitting on top of his TVS Star City, brimming with pride is ready to roar from a parking lot

Surya in his “vengeful amnesia character” get-up jumps from this guys back, threatens him saying it is his bike this guy is sitting on

The guy frightened argues saying it is his bike. Surya pulls out some photographs shows them one by one to this guy. The last photo is of the wheel. Alas the photo is of a conventional wheel and this bike has an alloy wheel (Establishment of the proposition).

The guy is jubilant, Surya disappointed goes back.

Cut to a TVS showroom where Surya is busy photographing a Star City’s wheels.

Next shot is the parking lot again and the drama where Surya threatens this guy again.

The guy laughs saying he has already once told Surya that this is his bike.

And now the differentiating proposition clearly comes out. Surya takes a picture of the alloy wheel he had taken from the showroom, shows it to the guy (reestablishment of the proposition).

Surya pushes the guy off the bike and gleefully rides it off the parking lot

Cut to super for all the other superfluous details.

Now summing up the positives of the commercial…

1) Unlike other commercials where a celebrity plays himself saying I use this product and so why don’t you, here Surya plays a character he had played in one of the greatest hits of 2006 in the Tamil movie industry. It is a very good usage of a character played by the celebrity which people for remember for long.

2) The celebrity plays a part in the commercial, but more than him it is the character he played dominates. So the product is not dwarfed in the middle, it is seen prominent

3) The proposition that differentiates this bike from others is the alloy wheels and that proposition comes out aplomb.

Good work mate. May you cook more like this in the years to come.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Player burnout – Why is it a farce?

These days cricketers around the world are debating about one thing – Burnout.
I searched the dictionary and found the meaning for burnout – Melt, break, or become otherwise unusable. As far as these cricketers are concerned they think that they might probably become unusable, in the sense that they would become physically weak to play.

The main reason why I think it is stupid and wasting primetime discussing about this is because they are supposed to be professionals. They earn their living playing cricket. So why did you embark on a difficult thing first place knowing that it might burn you off.

If I ever thought, being in the advertising industry would burn me off, I better quit and choose another industry that suits me. Why crib about the industry that feeds you? That feeds you with more than your entire dynasty could eat.

To understand more about why I say this talk about burnout is bull crap, lets see what they do round the year.

But looking at their playing calendar one would see that they play for not more than 130 days.

Assuming one playing day is 8 hrs

They play competitive cricket for 1040 hrs

There are three levels of contacts that are offered to the players based on their value and utility A (Rs. 50 Lakh retainer), B (Rs. 35 Lakh retainer), C (Rs. 20 Lakh retainer).
For ease of understanding lets take C grade.

The yearly retainer is Rs. 20,00,000

For each test they play they get Rs. 2,50,000

For each one day they play they get Rs. 1,60,000

Now, again for ease of understanding let us assume they get paid Rs. 50,000 for each playing day

So for 130 days of cricket they get Rs. 65,00,000 (this is in addition to their retainer fee)

So the total money they make in an year on an average is Rs. 85,00,000.

So their monthly salary for playing cricket is Rs. 7,00,000

Their average salary per hour of play is Rs. 8173 (this is for the 1040 hrs of cricket)

If this is the salary of a C grade player, imagine what a Sachin Tendulkar and a Rahul Dravid must be making for representing the country.

That is not all, they also earn in millions endorsing everything from a completely misfit sandalwood soap to a television channel. Every Brand / Marketing manager you find in India needs a cricketer to endorse his / her brand.

So the cricketers salary per year becomes unimaginably bloated. We must also not forget a few cricketers who run their own business apart from their other sources of income. We would also not forget those who became martyrs by gracefully accepting the Indian tax structure and agreeing to pay taxes for a Ferrari they got as a gift.

Shame on them for shouting that cricket causes burnout.

Let’s now see what an average Indian skilled worker earns.

Let us take the example of a construction worker, an expat Indian in Dubai.

I am taking this example because he earns more than his Indian counterpart, he lives away from home (that’s another farce articulated by the cricketers – living away from their family) and he works under testing conditions.

He works for 8 hrs in the hot 35 degree plus sun.

He works for 300 days under testing conditions (leaving alone those Fridays or holidays)

So he works 2,400 hrs an year

He doesn’t endorse any brand. He doesn’t have his own designer restaurant, gym or a cricket academy. He doesn’t also even dream about his own Ferrari, leave alone importing it free of cost.

But he is the first idiot who runs to buy his ticket for a cricket match in Abu Dhabi.

What does he earn?

A maximum of Rs. 12,500 per month (1,000 – 1,500 Dirhams)

Rs. 1,50,000 per year

Rs. 63 per hour (and that is the maximum mind you and may be I have inflated his salary a bit)

Does he complain about burnout? He is the one who is really susceptible to a burnout, but he doesn’t complain but for an occasional crib.

He lives away from his family for a period of more than 2 years. That is when he would get his free air ticket to visit his family back in India.

How many news channels have shown his face talking about burnout or exploitation?

How many news paper columns are used talking about this man’s plight?

Nobody even cares about this man.

These cricketers who make such a hue and cry over burnouts must learn a thing or two from these measly mortals. If they decide that they are going to burn themselves out by playing cricket, they shouldn’t. Let them tell the board to cancel their contracts, give them a match fee for every appearance. That would bring some sense on their arguments.

I am sure they wouldn’t do that because if they do it then their other businesses may suffer. The brand manager would call a cricketer if and only if he is popular. And to be popular he needs to fail in 10 matches and score in 1. For doing that he needs to play more than 100 days of cricket.

So to sum up there is nothing called burnout as far as professional cricket and cricketers are concerned. It is a farce. And they are doing this for another pay raise, to become richer than now and grab a few more seconds of TV time and a few more column centimeter of press space.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

In pursuit of a corner office

I read an interesting post thanks to Russell Davies about the early bird getting the corner office. He had listed 6 industry captains and when they wake-up with the title “The early bird gets the corner office”. I was impressed and as everyone would I too want a corner office. I decided today that I would get to office early and I hit office by 7.00a today. For doing so I had to wake up by 5.00a. Here I am trying to list down the pros and cons I found in my first day of the new experiment.


1. I beat the Dubai traffic. While it takes about 1.30 to 2 hrs to reach my office normally it took me half an hour this morning.

2. I was the first one to read the newspapers that are made available in my office. Normally it is pretty messy after at least about 5-6 servings.

3. I had nobody but me in the office. So I started working at peace and finished what I should have in the first part early.

4. I must certainly have impressed a few of my clients. I mailed back to their queries unusually early in the day.

5. Being early morning it was not all that hot in Dubai.

6. Had an early breakfast because I had to leave. So I would feel hungry by 12.30p and I wouldn’t miss lunch today. My wife would be happy!!

7. I had to reply to one of my bosses mails. So when he sees the time when this mail was sent he might be impressed. May be I get a good appraisal and a hike soon!!


1. I found it extremely difficult waking up. It is not that I have never seen 5a, but that was when I played serious cricket for going to practice. Now the scene is different and very difficult.

2. I had to listen to some stupid early morning shows in the FM radio here, unusually I preferred the Hindi radio today. The RJ was irritatingly loud and was laughing loud for her own stupid cracks.

3. I had to open the office. Being the first one to reach I had to.

4. I had to pick-up all the newspapers scattered in front of the office, arrange them in the reception. That was before I read it.

5. I felt extremely lonely. I think I would get used to this. The server was making a strange noise, a combination of a bees buzz and a distant pneumatic drill.

6. Finally I had to clean-up my desk. I found it very messy for once, when I entered office today. I had time, so I had to clean my desk. While my colleagues would be happy for me, I have a back pain cleaning the mess.

Summarizing my experimentation being an early bird

I think I would try doing so for a week so and then evaluate. But unfortunately I read Mr Tim Harford who writes “Dear Economist” in FT (thanks again to Russell Davis for making me read Tim). This was about getting to office early (first) and leaving late (last). And I quote him here “I have a word of advice and a word of caution. If you want to play this game, my own research suggests that the competition will become easier to win as the year draws on and your rivals use up their reserves of energy and spousal goodwill. Take it easy at first and only burn the midnight oil once your rivals are getting divorced.
But perhaps you should not play at all. This is a competition likely to be won by whomever is most optimistic about the prospects for a juicy raise. Optimists tend to be disappointed.”
Now, I am reconsidering my decision to hit office early. May be I would get an answer once I am a beer or two down this weekend.