Archive for March, 2008

Spacing Out

Posted in Brand, India, Internet, Social networking with tags on March 18, 2008 by manuscrypts

So, MySpace is planning a formal launch in April. I had written about them earlier, when they were doing the Campus Star thing with Channel V. Maybe the idea was to get in the seed users from the audience category they expect/want. This is also a case of going after Youngistan then 🙂 But this is a neat way of doing beta testing.

Not a bad start then, because they have apparently got some 62000 users registered on IndiHub, which is a community they’d created. From what i saw, it mainly had to do with the music scene, and what has been called ‘Indian programs’. The site does have quite some Indian bands’ videos and songs. I checked Thermal and a Quarter, which is a popular Bangalore band, and it already has over 200 comments. I also happened to check for Galeej gurus, another well known Bangalore band, and found them too, though with lesser comments. Similar with Motherjane.

With Orkut and Facebook having a major presence already, MySpace will have to find radically different ways of reaching out to their core audience, and college/other music bands definitely fit the bill. If they take over this space, which currently has no owners, they could swing a good and loyal audience their way. The other good part is, it is a good way to become a part of college fests. eg. If Galeej Gurus are going to play at IIM-B’s fest, (and they’re going to know that well in advance), MySpace can actually have communication at the venue saying visit Galeej Gurus at My Space, blog about your experience at IIM-B, connect with other fans, find out where they’re playing next and so on, instead of going about the ‘online partner’ logo way. The idea is obvious- build communities around stuff which evoke passion. The brand then becomes very contextual, relevant, and therefore something which one would immediately want to asssociate with.

I wonder if they’re also planning the same trick with a more mass commodity – Bollywood, because in the videos’ space, i saw an exlusive interview with Ranvir Sheorey, and a Mithya trailer. This can be another great community builder. Imagine the movies’ trailers having a mention of MySpace in the same ‘Galeej Gurus’ fashion above. Exclusive interviews, trailers, chats with actors, more importantly actresses :D, downloads of wallpapers, ringtones etc – in essence, a Bollywood Hungama in a social networking milieu. Do this for every major movie that releases, actually the non major ones too, after all, its Bollywood and I’m waiting to see how Himesh’s Karzz will turn out to be (hope that numerology funda in the end doesnt turn out to be a preview)

I wonder if this is what they are planning. If so, social networking in India will be fun because this is a good answer to Facebook’s applications, and while junta will flock to this latest offering purely because of the novelty factor and snob appeal, its important to build users and communities right, so they dont flock towards the next entrant.

until next time, this is my space 🙂

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Dotty

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags on March 17, 2008 by manuscrypts

There was this nice game we used to play as kids – join the dots. The context? Unless you’ve been living in a cave without a cable connection, the new Airtel ad should be coming out of your ears by now. No, not the ‘Having a ball at the border’ one, the new one where Papa is getting laid, sorry, getting the tracks laid, and the daughter just can’t do without his help in joining the dots.

So papa dearest excuses himself and concentrates on the task at hand, going dotty. Its a wonderful insight on why Indian Railways is the way it is. This is what they do when they’re supposed to lay the damn rails. I have a few questions – why can’t mommy help? Why does poor daddy, who is anyway having to work at night, get to do child care also? What kind of stupid dad asks a young daughter to go to the balcony alone? Unless the kid is an astronomer’s reincarnation (with full knowledge of her previous birth), how the h*** did she manage to understand the exact stars her daddy was talking about? Most importantly, what the h*** was this ad trying to say?

Kuch bandhan atoot hote hain, you can bet they weren’t talking about the damn rails!!

until next time, dotted for extra pleasure? 😀

There’s a little bit of social networking in….

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , on March 14, 2008 by manuscrypts

For all those who’ve been good and watching TV, the source of that one should be a lollipop. There are some 4-5 ads of AOL doing the rounds, which you really couldn’t have missed. What’s the context? Well, i read here, that AOL is buying out Bebo for $850 million. Oops, I should’ve told you to hold on to something. Bebo is UK’s #2 social networking site (after Facebook) with a claimed base of 40 million users. Put this in perspective with the eyes  that popped when Desi Martini was picked up for $10 million. I really woudnt be able to offer any intelligence on the valuation, so lets stick to the core competency of this blog – brand +internet.

Now, Indian online entities have picked up this strange habit of using the reach of TV to sell the concept of email. Remember rediff’s infamous Hoohaa ad, followed by the unlimited ones. Zapak has also been a big TV advertiser. Indiatimes has been making me suspect if i have jaundice for sometime now. Strange, because, while i understand the reach of TV, I’ve never seen the big guys ever do TV (or have i missed something). Its only the locals + AOL who have been eating up TVC time. And except for rediff, I have never used any of them for my email use. (and that was before the ad) I’m quite happy with yahoo and gmail. More importantly, I’ve seen their advertising in the place where it matters – the web. Context, anyone?

So, I’m guessing, that AOL with those ‘young’ attitude ads was looking at reaching out to the youth audience (isn’t that who everyone’s after?) by showcasing its features in a fun way. While e-mail is the one of the best utlities to use as a carrot, I’ve a different idea for them. Bring Bebo here, lets have a solid ‘fatal fourway’ match with Orkut, Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo. If we include Big Adda, Minglebox, Yaari etc, its a royal rumble. Meanwhile, what AOL has to do is rope in Kareena Kapoor as brand evangelist.

Did i just catch a ‘Huh?’ from you? Okay, for those of you who look down on Bollywood gossip, Bebo happens to be Kareena’s (quite well known) nickname. Kareena would anyway make a good icon (for the guys because she’s hot, for the girls because she’s smart). Add to that her name connection and the Bollywood effect, and i think we might have some fun here. Imagine weaving in hits like ‘Jab we met’ (in her filmi life) and things like the Shahid Kapur mouth to mouth resuscitation MMS, the Saif gossip being exclusive content on the site, do you need to do extra things to get hits?

Meanwhile, to increase this weekend’s productivity, you can read a very neat post on SEO and SEM right here.

until next time, anyone expressing Aitraaz? 😀

Add Sense

Posted in Brand, Internet with tags , on March 13, 2008 by manuscrypts

Read a very nice article today on rediff, about Google’s nine innovation rules. Coming from Marissa Mayer, VP of search products and user experience, it underlines why Google’s offering always strike a chord with the audience. While I’m one of those who’re becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Google and its (non) privacy, and its journey away from ” Don’t be evil”, it still manages to get my attention, inspite of all the old enemies (eg. Yahoo with Flickr, del.icio.us, Answers etc)and new upstarts (eg.Facebook) at various boundaries of its kingdom.

More than random preaching on innovative practices one hears during sermons, she manages to link innovation to simple philosophies that should ideally be practised by all workplaces which consider itself to be ‘innovation practitioners’. The 20% time for pet projects, the sharing network between employees, the treatment of data as apolitical, the idea generation processes all speak of a system which thrives on experimenting and trying out new things, and that, i guess is the reason why Google has reached where it is in such a small timeframe.

Meanwhile, i was also influenced by the very first principle, ‘innovation, not instant perfection’. Its a difficult lesson to learn, especially for perfectionists (and wannabes 🙂 ), but it just might be a better way in the long run.

until next time, go ogle

Kkyunki Everyone is Doing It

Posted in Brand, India, Internet with tags , , on March 12, 2008 by manuscrypts

So if I’m a good brand manager, I should be doing a viral too, that seems to be the rationale behind virals these days. I’d written about it a few days back.

What provoked this post was the latest viral from (nah, you go see it and come back, then we’ll talk). Ok, lazybones, i know you didnt click, now how is the damn viral supposed to work if you don’t!!!

Anyway, Bingo and i share a dislike for the same thing, the thing which has joined the elite club that until now only had Bollywood and Cricket – Balaji Productions. I got to know of this viral through a mail from Ekta Kopper with a subject line ‘Kyunki is Bache ka Baap kaun hai”. And before you do my character assassination mentally, I dont like oats, wild or otherwise. But it was still a neat hook 🙂

And thus it was that i landed up at this c2w creation, which is a spoof on any of the gazillion soaps from Ek Tha Kapoor, complete with a five digit episode number, bahus and a tulsi lookalike. (damn, i let it slip that i watch the soaps :|) . The good part is that the spoof is done well, and the funda of the flavor (achaari masti) has a synergy with that of the TVC – i.e. best way to confirm pregnancy, but…..

It has a predictable ending albeit a cute one, but more importantly, does it make the viral cut? Only time will tell. I admit its way more VFM than shooting a 30 lakh TVC, but then they’re doing a TVC anyway. Meanwhile, full marks to the Bingo guys for trying. Even their ‘Mad Angles’ TVCs actually broke the clutter, me thinks. Also, they’re genuine in their web efforts (this was an earlier one- http://www.bingeonbingo.com/login/login.asp)

until next time, what’s the programme now? 😉

Coke and Bull

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags on March 11, 2008 by manuscrypts

At the risk of being questioned about what i had for breakfast or about my recent smoking habits, i have decided to post this absurdity.

Saw the new Coke ad yesterday featuring HR (no, not the unfriendly department kind or the topi kind, but the Roshan kind). According to agencyfaqs, research stated that a lot of youngsters, after their regular nightlife go to street food joints, thats true for most cities, and since coke goes with most food, that right there, was the thought behind the ad. Fair enough. The line now is ‘Jashn mana le’ as opposed to ‘Piyo Sir, Uthake’ (er, something like that).

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Meanwhile thats not the absurdity i was talking about. Since HR and Ash are both citizens of Cokistan, how much fun would it be to do an MTV style spoof on the song ‘Jashn -e-bahaar’ from Joe Tha Akbar (copy error, ignore), with a video to match, and use it as a brand ad for Coke?

For those who have concluded that I’ve lost it, wonder what you’d have thought if i shared the other idea that also involved Celina Jaitley, the brand ambassador for Jashn, an ethnic Indian wear brand.

until next time, I’ve not been on coke!!

Virginity

Posted in Brand, India with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2008 by manuscrypts

In this great land where virginity does command a premium, Richard Branson does a tango with Tata Teleservices to offer Virgin mobile to the ever growing Indian mobile subscriber population. The mechanics of the partnership has been explained quite well here. For the lazybums, Virgin is globally a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) i.e. it buys spectrum time from operators and then sells it under its own brand name. Thats not allowed in India, so Branson said Tata. Its good for Tata Indicom because even with  (or should i say specially because of) Kajol aunty, the youth haven’t quite taken to Chindicom.

Virgin has launched with a dhamaka offer of paying 10p/minute to the customer for the incoming call, which can be used to avail of other Virgin services. Many publications here had a frontpage takeover with a red ‘Zara Hatke’. An offer, they say, will make the competition see red. Me thinks maybe those Eveready guys should get into OEM services for Virgin batteries. Gimme red? 😉

Now that we have the facts out of the way, lets get back to the scope of the blog. The weekend also saw a liberal splashing of the new TVC. Though it reminded me of an old forward, it was done extremely well, and was definitely ‘zara hatke’. It had spunk, a positioning that steered well clear of the regular mobile service provider brand ads and an execution that will easily grab eyeballs. Can’t seem to find the TVC anywhere, so lemme know in case you guys suddenly discover it on you tube or someplace else. They’ve also (in association with Channel V) shot the short movie Andaaz Apna Very Hatke. If you are a Neha Dhupia fan, you can read about her special appearance in it here. Branson and Dhupia almost got themselves a Richard Gere-Shilpa Shetty there.

While the Indian mobile market is already in a highly developed state in terms of at least number of players, i think there’s still room left for clever positioning and lots of ground to cover on services being offered. Virgin Mobile interests me because of two of its other partnerships in India

¡ a minority stake in Fever 104 FM (with HT in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai). At this point only Big has entities in these two hot but diverse entertainment platforms. This is tiny in comparison, but i think, relevant.

¡ the venture with Studio 18 and UTV Software in publishing, TV, gaming and film. The potential of the last two items on a mobile platform is phenomenal.

If they are able to evolve some kind of synergy on multiple platforms, we’d have some really fun Virgin services.

until next time, lets talk about virgin territories 🙂