Thursday, June 29, 2006

Great Idea, Great Execution... I love it

While I don't understand the language I could relate to the action perfectly. I was reminded of my childhood days when I played tennis ball cricket in our streets.

Though I didn't have the luxury of calling out for the stars and getting them play with us like these kids do, I did most of the other things the kids here do, like...

1. Fighting with the opposing captain (kid) to select the team with the best of the resources available among us.

2. Fight for the boundaries and wickets, cry foul when you don't get what you wanted.

3. And most importantly... pull off, with your stumps, bat and ball when your mother calls you in, leaving the other players high and dry...

I love this commercial. Amazingly planned and superbly executed. Great work, I would have loved to do myself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I am reading this book now...

Impulse controls my reading habit more than anything else. Whenever I notice someone having / reading a book, if the title is enticing enough I keep note of the title. Whenever possible I don’t forget to try grab the book (physical or on the net) and take a look at contents page. I then move on to the back cover or the inlay to read about the author. After this exercise if the book still interests me I go on to the tried and tested to take a sneak peak on to a couple of pages of the book before I order online.

This time I noticed a book in the hands of Greg Chappell, the Indian cricket coach. This book attracted my attention for two reasons. One, the name of the book and its cover design. It had a photograph of a very attractive man with magnetic eyes. Two, I wanted to see what made Mr Chappell read this book.

Cut to amazon, I did my initial two pages reading. I also got an additional information that a 15 CD audio book edition was available, as read by the legendary Ben Kingsley. This interested me further. While I have placed an order for both the book and the audio book, I surfed the net and found a place where the book was available for reading, free of cost. I have finished more than half of this great book in 2 days. I’m sure I would finish reading in the next couple of days.

The book I’m reading “Autobiography of a yogi” by Paramahamsa Yogananda. Believe me this book is not about religion or meditation. It is an experience reading this book. Here are a few excerpts from the book, some golden words we could apply/use in almost all contexts of life.

The first one reminded me of my school and college days…

"FAITH in God can produce any miracle except one—passing an examination without study."

"In shallow men the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion. In oceanic minds the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle."

"What a person imagines he hears, and what the speaker has really implied, may be poles apart,"

"Try to feel the thoughts behind the confusion of men's verbiage."

These are some lines from the book that made me sit up and think. This book is full of these. Overall it is a wonderful book to own and more importantly read.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A good brief…

I saw this movie Munnabhai MBBS again, in Hindi. This is probably the 20th time I’m watching this movie in any language. It was fantastic as usual. But this time I looked at it in a different perspective, as a creative product from an agency.

So I had a question for myself…

What would the brief have been for this creative product?

The answer I had

"There are human beings and there are doctors

And here we have, a humane doctor who is not qualified…"

(almost all of us think doctors (medicos) are somewhat superhuman, if not explicitly at least within ourselves, subconsciously)

Supporting this proposition (I cooked) is one dialogue in this movie, almost towards the end of it…

“You might not be a doctor, but you showed people how to live”

Most of us should be agreeing that the moral of any story (the proposition) comes towards the end (of any story / movie). I hope I am justified, let me know your views.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Football crazy cabbie

I was pleasantly surprised when this cabbie joined me and Francis discussing about Germany 2006. Francis was telling me about an article in one of the Indian portals. It carried a story about Vikash Dhorasoo, the man of Indian origin from Mauritius whose parents migrated to France long ago (It is a wee bit confusing!!). As the conversation moved on, I told Francis that I was feeling sad about the French drawing their game with Switzerland, I thought the French would easily win.

The cabbie quietly slipped into the conversation with one comment “Sir, Brazil will win this time too”. I considered it a regular smart ass comment about the football world cup. Ask anyone, they know about three teams for sure – Brazil, for whatever reasons. Germany, for they are the hosts. And Saudi Arabia, because they are our neighbors. But this man proved me wrong with his subsequent comments. He knows the game, in and out.

“Sir, this year it is either Brazil or Portugal. You know why?”.

Francis and me meekly nodded our head indicating we don’t.

“Because both have a Brazilian coach. And you know the man coaching Portugal has already won the cup with Brazil. I forgot his name…”

“It is Felipe Scolari” said Francis

“No I forgot the name but he is a good coach, even their captain is a good player. His name is…”

“Figo” said Francis

“Yes, he is a brilliant player and they have a couple of good forwards. The Brazilian coach, he is also good. He has a long name a passenger told me his name yesterday. I forgot that name it has 3 names, a very long one and difficult too”

“Carlos Alberto Parraira” Said me

“May be, I forgot. Today I wouldn’t drive in the evening, you know why?”

One dead nod of no from us

“Because Saudi is playing their first match. Against Senegal, it would be a good match because they are also a good team. But Saudi beat Australia 3-0 in the qualifiers to go to Germany. Did you see Australia winning 3-1? Then it is quite natural Saudi would also win comfortably. They have got some good players you know?”

Another nod signifying you have enlightened us buddy

“So I am going to park my cab in front of this shop there in Sheik Zayed, they have a big two side TV. You can watch it from both the sides, they show the match. All the big people watch from inside the shop. We sit outside and watch the match, it is good fun. I am not going to miss this match”

This is probably the first time I am seeing a cabbie so intelligent, committed to watching a game of football armed with abundance of game knowledge.

It was pleasure riding your cab buddy. God bless.

Ps: Saudi has just drawn their game with Tunisia. It is a 2 – 2 at fulltime, my cabbie friend would have been disappointed.

Very urban spam

I saw this in front of me in one of the taxi I traveled in Dubai (this faces the passenger seat). It is a small screen supported by a DVD full of spam. This has a volume control which would enable one to listen to the spam according to his / her decibel specifications but not so surprisingly this doesn't have a mechanism to have it switched off.

What you see are three parts of this spam. Two static spams on the sides and one dynamic DVD spam screen in the middle.

You could call it the 3-in-1 Spam effect.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

King of Clay

It is 1 - 6, 6 - 1, 6 - 4, 7 - 6 (7 - 4) for Rafael Nadal in four sets. With this famous win, Nadal has extended his winning streak on clay to 60.

It was a wonderful game of tennis. Federer fought well to force Nadal into the fourth set tie-break, but couldn't hold on to the mini break he had in the tie-break.

I would have loved if my favorite Roger Federer had won the French Open this year. But I had to be content watching a fantastic tennis match, befitting a final.

Another memorable Roland Garros moment.

Time for a doctor...

Am down with a viral flu. Pretty bad, having to sleep inside 2 thick blankets in this hot 40+° Dubai summer heat.

Wish me well.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

365 days of the Dubai air

With today I complete an year in Dubai. It has been a good year overall, hope it continues to be.

It's time for a beer. Cheers!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Good idea, great execution

This is one of my favourites. This won a Lion at Cannes a couple of years ago. Brilliant execution.

A grand opening and half a dozen goals

It is 4 - 2 for Germany. But for the Costa Rican goalkeeper's splendid efforts it could have been half a dozen for Germany. A good beginning to what promises to be a great world cup.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Guy Goma on a Friday night show

This is how famous one could get. This is a friday night show with Jonathan Ross.

God bless Congo.

Guy Goma interview on GMTV breakfast show

Second time lucky. But this time he is interviewed as Guy Goma in this GMTV breakfast show.

What a way to get famous!!

One more on Interviews

Meet Mr Guy Goma, he went to BBC for a job interview as a Data support cleanser. But was lucky ending up commenting on the Apple (Vs.) Apple case. It was a case of mistaken identity when this Guy was picked up for another guy, Guy Kewney, an IT expert.

While he wasn't too comfortable answering the questions asked, he managed. But this Guy managed really well to become an instant celebrity.

Check out... The BBC story

Anirudhha is getting photo savvy

My 8 month old son is getting savvy of facing the camera. While I am not a great fan of mobile phone cameras, I tried clicking a few pictures impromptu, yesterday night and this is how Mr Anirudhha had to react.

It is amazing seeing the kid grow. God bless.

How mobile savvy is the UAE?

Come 10th of this month I am completing an year in Dubai. I was chatting up with someone who has been here for the last 18 years. The discussion was about mobile telephony, this man was proud to say that UAE is one of the most evolved markets as far as mobile telephony goes. According to this friend, people here exploit the technology available to the fullest and they have a great deal of understanding about things.

Having had the opportunity to work with a couple of mobile telephony service provider brands back in India, I have my own opinion about this market. I thought it would be better if I had my opinion validated. So I started doing a dip-stick on this market, its expectations from the mobile service providers and more importantly the level of understanding the subscribers have about mobile telephony.

I have also tried checking some secondary data sources like a recent interview among people here about mobile phones (instruments) which appeared in a leading lifestyle magazine here and some reports I found on the net. I have also used some of my own understanding about this market.

Why this study / post now?

UAE is getting a second operator in the next couple of months. So I wanted to see how prepared this place is in welcoming a new operator, what do the people expect, what the operators have to offer now and what they must focus on for their better future.

All this said, there are still some people in the UAE who believe that we are moving from monopoly to Du-poly situation with the launch of the new operator Du. This is mainly due to the reason that Du also belongs to the government, Etisalat and Du have reached an agreement already – they wouldn’t compete on cost.

Do let me know your comments / feedbacks.

Special thanks due to Vinay M for helping me collate responses for the research.

The United Arab Emirates market

It is a monopoly as of now. Etisalat, the sole operator in town has been in business for 30 years now. It was established initially in 1976 (the Federal Act 1 of 1991 made this industry a monopoly). UAE is one of the first countries to introduce mobile telephony way back in 1982. Digital GSM service is operational since September 1994. People would be surprised to know that Etisalat is the second largest revenue generator for the government after the oil sector. Though Etisalat is a government owned company it is very active pitching for business in the neighboring countries including Saudi, Pakistan etc.

So here we are talking about a government controlled monolith, in monopoly.

Mobile penetration

The global standards say that the developed countries have about 34% mobile penetration and in the developing countries the penetration is about 5%.

In UAE the mobile penetration is at 79% compared to a 30% fixed line penetration. This figures would show us how dynamic the UAE market is and its wealth & its ever increasing expatriate population.

In Dubai the usage / penetration is at 90% and Abu Dhabi follows next with 62.5%. Both these centers combined contribute to 74% of the total penetration of the country.

Despite these very high penetration figures the market grows by a conservative 10% an year. This 10% could be mainly attributed to the SMS and MMS services. The market is also known for its frequency of changing handsets (that would be a good study by itself).

The offering

Etisalat offers both prepaid and postpaid services. With WASEL being its very popular prepaid offering. In my estimate (due to lack of support) the skew towards prepaid is about 8:2. This could be mainly attributed to the cost of the postpaid connection, you are supposed to pay a deposit of about $140.

By December 2003 there was a reduction is the cost of international calls, notably to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen. Reduced tariffs have increased revenue, rather than reduced it, since consumers make more and longer calls.

The target audience

Mainly the expatriate population and not to forget the local population. This ranges from a construction laborer to a CEO of a multinational company. It is a very disparate crowd and therefore their expectations differ as per their usage.

Awareness among the users

Recently, in one of the leading publications I saw an article. They had spoken to a few people. All these people looked educated, having a decent job. The question posed was simple “What do you use your mobile phone for?”

And you would see below the kind of response from the people (in the order of importance)

1. Receive / Make calls
2. Send SMS
3. Set Alarm (Check out the BBC report on a Nokia commissioned survey)
4. Take pictures
5. Check time (Check out the BBC report on a Nokia commissioned survey)
6. Listen to Radio / MP3 (Check out the BBC report on a Nokia commissioned survey)
7. Send MMS
8. Connect to the web

Looking at this survey I decided to do a dipstick survey. I decided my survey would be from a service provider’s perspective and ask people about the mobile service usage based questions.

I contacted 15 young men & women with a questionnaire. Here’s what they had to say.

1. All of them have a mobile connection
2. All of them have a postpaid connection.
a. 7 said they have a Wasel (that is the name for the prepaid subscription plan).
b. 8 said they have a Etisalat connection
3. Next question asked was “What is GSM?”
a. 3 of them had said it was “Global System for Mobile communication”.
b. The other 12 had an interesting answer, GSM according to them is a type of mobile phone connection where you get a monthly bill and you pay it month on month. You also get a international roaming with this connection. Interesting!!
4. Three functions you use your mobile phone for frequently. (Services provided by Etisalat, in the order of importance)
a. Incoming
b. SMS
c. Outgoing
5. Do you know about anyother service provider in Dubai? (the reason being an impending launch of another service provider Du)
a. 3 said they knows Du is getting launched shortly
b. The others had no idea
6. What would make you switch to another operator from Etisalat? (in the order of importance)
a. Reduced call charges – International & local
b. Low rentals (the annual subscription)
c. Free international roaming
d. Good network
e. Good customer care
7. Are you okay with switching operators at the risk of loosing your existing phone number?
a. All 15 said yes they will
8. Have you switched numbers at least once? (have you changed your mobile connection ever?)
a. 8 said they have
b. 7 have not changed their numbers

Making sense of the numbers shown above.

UAE has an extremely high mobile penetration level. Mobile phones are more or less commodities here. Some people also have the tendency of changing numbers, the reason being getting a fancy number, a shift in jobs or just for the fun of it. You have an amazing skew towards prepaid connections. This is because of the high deposit / rental factor required for the postpaid connections. Postpaid is seen as a rich man’s connection.

The most important thing is the ignorance of people about their connection. A majority of them don’t seem to know what the prepaid offering of Etisalat is called – Wasel. Even this awareness doesn’t hold Etisalat in good ground as we move on to GSM.

The majority here seem to confuse technology with the offering. For many GSM is the postpaid offering from Etisalat. Even educated, high ranking men and women don’t know what GSM is in reality. Not that they should know the expansion for this acronym, but they should at least know that this a technology that enables you to speak. At least people back in India know this. Another thing to add here is Etisalat’s recent decision to enable full international roaming for its prepaid customers. People don’t seem to know this, they are all under the impression that roaming is available only for the GSM customers (that is the postpaid according to them).

On the usage part, we could clearly see that incoming calls are most preferred. This could be attributed to the high call costs and the amount of expatriate population living here in the UAE. SMS seems to be the next preference, but how many of the expat population are SMS savvy? Outgoing is for emergency situations because it is presumed a costly proposition.

Nobody knows that another operator is coming to town, Du is being launched shortly. But when prompted about this, almost all of the people interviewed say they would want to shift. The reasons that would prompt this decision of theirs is call costs, annual rental and the network (Thursday’s and Friday’s are the most congested days when there is a mad rush of international outgoing calls)

Some learning for the mobile service providers in UAE

1. When your customers crib about costs, it is not necessary that you need to reduce costs. You can create a feeling of reduction by making them feel that you offer more value for their money. Services like Cricket Scores through SMS, Football WC results and score updates, Dial-a-cab, Dial-a-flower, Dial-your-water services make a huge difference. These are some services for which the operator ties up with someone, makes money from this person and offer the services free of charge to the customer

2. There is a reduction in call charges past 10p everyday and on Fridays, but how many people know this? Communicate, may be an SMS to the people on Fridays at least only to those who seem to cough-up monies on making expensive international calls would do wonders.

3. Educate people about your offering. Let people know what your prepaid and postpaid offerings are and what the difference is. Let people know that your company works on a GSM plank and everyone is a GSM user. This should do wonders in a market like this where everyone has a misconception that GSM is postpaid, it would make a definite difference and create a sense of belonging when these guys know they also have a GSM connection. At least for starters.

4. Create more of Emotional loyalty and not the Behavioral loyalty (that’s what you have now). This comes out clearly from our interviews, people are sticking with Etisalat because it is the only player in the market. They would move the moment they have another option. But this option can’t be yet another Etisalat with a different brand name and identity. It has to differentiate itself by the product they offer, the Value Added Services, the packaging and more importantly in pricing (at least visibly)

5. Use the wealth of data you have to increase usage. You know who makes long ISD calls and who is an SMS freak. Offer them some add-ons, make them feel important and this would increase usage.

6. Remember visibility shouldn’t be limited to eyes, you need to take that to heart.

7. This is a service industry, beef your customers service centers up. Get people who understand the problems of your subscribers (at least the common complaints). Make sure all the complaints are addressed promptly.

8. Communicate about your offering clearly. When a person buys a prepaid card or a postpaid connection give him a welcome pack. This should explain him whatever he wanted to know about the connection, facilities and tariff etc.

9. For heavens sake make them use their mobiles for more than setting alarms, checking time and receiving an odd incoming call and make a call or send an SMS once in a blue moon. For a mobile phone’s primary use is not setting alarms and checking time, these need to stop with being value added services from the equipment.

10. As we could see, today a mobile is not just a phone. It is a watch, alarm clock, music player, camera and many more dimensions. It would be adding value if we provide the customer with services that supplement this kind of usage like a music server (like an iTune or a mobile radio station), simple software like the ones used for managing daily expenses etc.

The existing operator here doesn’t seem to have time. They have to react fast, otherwise the watch, clock, MP3 manufacturers are going to suffer a lot. More than that, the existing operators ARPU is going to take a nosedive soon with lots of people leaving out of the network and low usage among those remaining.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Why don't they teach these people some basics before they start giving interviews?

I was checking one of my daily favorites, the agencyfaqs website (Indian advertsing, media & marketing). I found yet another SMART advertising professional. This person is reported to be moving from one BIG agency to another, from being an Account Director to becoming a Director – Client Services.

I was intrigued by the way this person has answered a simple question. The challenges and the headway this person made working on a particular account (a well known brand) in one of this person's previous assignments.

The answer was funny. This made me wonder about this person's wisdom, the abilities of this particular persons handling clients, problem solving capabilities and even this persons understanding of the basics of advertising and branding.

Now over to that intersting answer “Here the challenge was to up the image of “The client” in India and differentiate the brand from the other brands in the market. This was achieved by roping in “A big superstar actor” as the brand ambassador.”

Can somebody try explain me how a brand image is “upped” just by using a celebrity? While one can attempt to try and explain this with some difficulty, the differentiation bit baffles me. May be this person was referring to the exclusivity clause they had as part of the contract with this celebrity and that is the only BIG differentiation I could think of.

This person is badly in need of a good lecture / sermon / coaching on “Brand” first and then on “Brand Image”, “Positioning” and “Differentiation”. This would stand to save the agency this person has joined or is going to join and more than anything save a client and his/her brand(s).

Till then god save this agency and their clients…

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Aspirations – How dreams take shape

I had the opportunity of reading Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchy (again after 8 years of college). It is very interesting, more interesting than it was during college. I tried applying the theory to my life till date, on my progression.

From the dreams of a little boy to the practical family man to the aged head of a family trying to shepherd things, it is one full circle.

I found 6 distinct sections in anyone’s life in a pyramid structure. When I tried placing myself in the pyramid, I find I am in the fifth step. Let us see what these 6 steps are.

Not that I have discovered something new, but it seems interesting and may be we could use it on brands we are working on. Try map out where where the brand is placed on the pyramid and tackle its needs and wants as the pyramid would dictate us.

This seems interesting, the only problem - this is a fairly long post. If you do manage to take some timeout and read this, let me know your feedback, it would be invaluable and I would be grateful.

1) The age of Innocence

This is the time in life when everything around you impresses you, from the street side bougainvillea tree to the wiper blade of your uncle's car . Often you feel like floating on air and you wouldn't be worried about anything in life.

There is absolutely nothing called a cause – effect theory now. You are happy enjoying the all little pleasures in life.

I want to become a train driver!

That was my first aspiration in life. I was all of 3 when I decided I would become one. I was fascinated by the way they stood in the first compartment of a train, the engine. Their blue color bandana and uniform. They operate the horn of the train, I had heard. I wanted to drive my train all around India, meet and carry different kinds of people in my train. And more than anything operate the whistle whenever I felt like.

I want to become a doctor!

When I was 5 I had my first memorable fall. I had to have 4 sutures near my left eye. It was awfully painful. It was a Monday afternoon, I had come home for lunch from my school and I had this fall. My mother couldn’t control her emotions, she was inconsolable, weeping. My father was away at work. So it was my grandfather who took me to the doctor. But I was a brave boy, I didn’t cry, I didn’t growl. But when the doctor was working on my injury I couldn’t tolerate the pain. The pain turned into anger. The person who bore my brunt was my grandfather. I swore I would become a doctor and prick my grandfather with an injection, like how the doctor was doing to me then.

My grandfather took that seriously and began motivating me to become a doctor. My father gifted me a doctors play set. My grandfather had a vision for me – serve the needy and poor. I felt like I had already become a doctor.

I want to be a policeman…

Two years of dreaming doctor came to an end when the people in my colony caught a thief. He was bound to an electric post and was given a severe dressing down by the locals before the police arrived. This policeman incidentally was my father’s student at college. I loved his khaki uniform, starched to perfection. The elegant whistle chord. The stars on his shoulders. The pistol that hung from his belt. And more than anything the bike he rode – A Royal Enfield Bullet, Standard 350. I tried walking like him. I had a haircut like him and I did everything to make sure I looked like him. I wanted to become a policeman.

2) The age of Ignorance

This is an age where your life is driven by what others do. Most of the time is spent being a copy cat. You want to be everything what the boy / girl next door wants to become and is doing. From wanting to join swimming classes to pestering your father to take you to the same restaurant where your classmate went last week.

Most of the time is spent taking all “Word of mouth” at face value.

The engineer in me

I was in my 10th class when I decided I would become an engineer. What engineer god knows, but I wanted to join an engineering college and become an engineer. This was mainly due to peer pressure. It was a custom those days when half the class said they want to become doctors and the other half engineers. I tried asking myself “why do I want to become an engineer?”. The answer was simple Rama wants to become a doctor, Abdul wants to become a doctor, Rajkumar wants to become an engineer and therefore I would want to become an engineer.

3) The age of Adventure

The physiological developments start to take shape. The first love, smoke, drink and all the other little vices get started now. One becomes more careless and even a little arrogant. The mind wavers around, you want to be a hero and you want to do every possible thing to be known a hero. Street fights, fling with many women (read classmates), trying to watch x rated movies when your parents are not at home are common symptoms.

The motto being “I am fearless, I can face anything”.

“The world at my foot” attitude is prevalent.

How about becoming a musician?

Within one year of my engineer dreams I was fed up or maybe I understood the world better. I had realized I wouldn’t become an engineer, given my low marks in my 10th class. And the pressure of the 12th class made me resolute that I wouldn’t become an engineer. I was learning music for the last 5-6 years. I was from a musical family – my mother being a good singer and a Veena player, my father was a music critic writing for major newspapers (that was his hobby) and my sister, also an accomplished singer and she could also play the Veena. I was a bits and pieces musician. I would suddenly be a regular to vocal music classes. The next month I would want to learn playing the violin and then the flute. I would also experiment with the Veena we had at home, when nobody was there.

But some respectable people in the music circles acknowledged my musical abilities. But they also thought I was a crank to learn Carnatic music and also be part of a pop band. It was sacrilege for the puritans. I wanted to be a professional musician. Earn through music. I was serious about this and even grew my hair to look like a modern day musician. Then, it took me exactly 365 days to know the value of money. I was about to finish my schooling. I had to go to college, finish it and start earning for myself and my family. I suddenly felt like a very responsible man, how long would my father feed me. I must feed him someday, he is getting old.

The charted accountant

I had already joined my Bsc in Physics, when this option came to my notice. Those days we had an entrance exam post 12th class. Clearing this exam one could directly take the CA – Inter. Peer pressure again, I decided to take this exam. I had seen a couple of my seniors fail this exam twice or more times. So I wanted to clear this in my first attempt. This was an ego issue for me. I eventually passed the entrance test in my first attempt. I was among the 5 or 10 people who did pass. While everyone decided to take things seriously and take the inter in the next term, I had other ideas. So my dream of becoming a CA came to an end.

I want to play for India!

I was a decent cricket player and still think am one. So during my first year college there came the question – cricket practice or CA classes. I decided on the former. I was serious in my resolve of making it big in cricket. I wanted to represent my university and then the state and eventually the country.

I wouldn’t even represent my college in the first year, same old politics. In the second year I did represent my college but missed out on the zonal squad. The third year, everyone said I would definitely get an university color, but unfortunately I was down with chicken pox. My dreams were shattered. I was already in my third year of college. So I decided I would forget serious cricket and look at my future. Now I wanted to become a software professional. That is where the money was and still is.

4) The age of Realization

One starts understanding life, trying to find his / her foot on something. Money and future become a matter of concern. You try imagining yourself in your seniors / elders shoes.

“My cousin joined Infosys and went to Boston and even I should”.

Will I? Or will I not? Becomes the buzzword.

A soft dream

My dreams of becoming a software professional were shattered within the first 8 months of joining my Msc. I felt like I had gone back to the kindergarten, I had a bunch of nerds around me. I couldn’t stand them and the Msc in computer science. But time rolled fast, I swore that I would definitely not take-up a software job come what may.

Advertsing, management, show business

I had a family friend who was working for a place called BBDO. He said it was an advertising agency. And he was in client servicing. He was a serious advertising guy and he told me about who an Account Executive is and what he does. I was impressed and I wanted to join advertising.

The qualification this guy suggested me was a management degree. So I joined my MBA. I also started reading about advertising – “Ogilvy on advertising” was one of the first books I tried. I finished my MBA training with BBDO and Y&R.

But unfortunately for me advertising in India was faced with an year of recession. I was offered a job with BBDO, but in media planning. I refused because I was resolute to join client servicing and no other department. I could only land a job with a small advertising agency. But I was fixated on advertising and that too client servicing.

Cinema production and direction

The small agency I joined also had strong connections with the film industry. They were also producing a serial for a regional television channel. I was put in charge of this division. My interest in films and television swelled as I started learning about this medium. I was doing well for myself. At one point, I was in two minds to make this my career. At the same time, I also had an offer from JWT, so I consulted a good friend of mine who happens to be one of the goliath's of the Tamil film industry.

But for this person’s advice I would have decided on cinema and television as my career. He took me through some examples in the industry and explained me how the industry functioned. He didn’t ask me to wipe my mind clear of this field but advised me to earn experience and money taking up what seemed my first love – advertising. Advertising according to him was no different from cinema and television. It was all another facet of showbiz. So he asked me to learn more about the business and then comeback to films sometime. I took his advice and joined JWT.

5) Age of Consolidation

Here you have gotten into something you always wanted to. You have found a foothold and now you try and spread your wings. You want to be recognized by the people around you. Everything you do is dictated by this one thought.

Profit and loss accounts on everything you do becomes the order of the day.

My journey in advertising

It was in JWT I realized the importance of visibility and proaction. I had to use these qualities all around – within the agency and with the client. An year and a half later was when Y&R called me for handling a big consumer durable account. I felt happy because it was one of the most happening verticals at that point in time in India and there were more monies for me.

Two years there and I got smitten by the direct marketing bug. So in came OgilvyOne. After two fantastic years in OgilvyOne & Ogilvy Activation and setting-up my family I needed to consolidate further, so I moved to Dubai.

And now I am looking to find my feet on to Account Planning.

Maybe this would be the final step of consolidation I am looking at before I move to the next level on the pyramid.

6) Age of Retrospection

This according to me would be the last journey for anyone. This is after one earns enough of monies and respect, after he is seen as a champion of sorts by the world (or whenever he realizes he is seen a champion). This would differ from person to person depending on what his needs and wants are and also based on his movement across the other segments of the pyramid.

The smart Chinese are everywhere.

It was a bit ironic when I found a carton of apples at a restaurant in Dubai. It was a packet of apples, Fuji apples to be precise. The irony was that it was Fuji apples grown in China. I was shocked and surfed the net to find more information, here’s what I got to know.

“Fuji apple is an apple cultivar developed by growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Morioka, Japan in the late 1930's and brought to market in 1962. It is a cross between the two American apple varieties, the Red Delicious and old Virginia Ralls Genet (sometimes cited as "Rawls Jennet") apples.

Outside of Japan, the popularity of Fuji apples continues to grow. Fuji apples account for 80% of China's 20 million tons grown annually.”

I am waiting to see Chicken Tikka made in China. I’m sure that would happen soon or it’s already happening somewhere.

God bless China!