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January 12, 2022

Cdabury Maid ad - Too Clever to do any Good!

Over the years Cadbury has been known for its heart-touching advertisements! There was a time when we used to wait with bated breath for the new Cadbury advertisement! 

Recently Cadbury's creativity has taken a beating and some of the latest advertisements are leaving, much to be desired. The worst of them was the "Do nothing advertisement" where a guy refuses to help an old lady in distress and we are supposed to feel happy and consume a Cadbury after seeing it! 

Now here is a Cadbury Dairy Milk advertisement that provokes a similar thought process. 

A bai (a household help) who is about to put dirty clothes into the washing machine starts berating her owner.

She says "I keep finding things in your clothes.  License, headphones, and other miscellaneous articles. And now this" 

She holds up a Cadbury Dairy milk chocolate, "What would have happened if I had washed your clothes without checking". 

The smug youngster, says with a smile "but, I left it deliberately and it is for you". The advertisement ends with the bai looking at the young man with tear-filled eyes. 

I had almost sleepwalked through the advertisement but was stopped dead in my tracks by my wife's comment, "What nonsense, this is pure tripe. Why can't the guy simply give the CDM directly to the bai? Why this roundabout way of giving her. Why give her as if by accident and that too pretend as if he has forgotten about it". 

I totally agree, the advertisement is too clever for its own sake. Let us keep our advertisements simple and pure. Simplicity always works!

Innovative, Trend-Setting Media Promotions – 2021

"It is not news when a dog bites a man, IT IS NEWS WHEN A MAN BITES A DOG". Originally from the field of journalism, this term has found tremendous traction in the field of marketing, especially in Product Promotions. Promoting products and services has become a headache in the highly fragmented world. The surfeit of media options is leading to overexposure, overstimulation, media fatigue, and Déjà vu. Getting eyeballs is very important, come what may!

Getting customer eyeballs is becoming increasingly expensive with the fragmented media and falling customer attention spans. Attention spans are down to 8 seconds! It has become increasingly difficult to get into the customer's mind! Discussed here are four innovative methods used to get attention from customers in 2021.

1. "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" campaign by GOI: Usually, it is assumed that media innovations are the prerogative of the private sector. But in this case, the innovation came from the government of India. The campaign was, "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav campaign".

As India celebrated its 74th Independence Day, the Honourable Prime Minister of India and GOI came up with a campaign called "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav". The theme was "Let us sing the national anthem together." At that time, COVID-19 was ravaging the country. The event had to have large participation, but at the same time, India could not afford large gatherings. We needed to respect the COVID norms of social distancing.

The solution was breathtakingly simple and absolutely breathtaking. An official website called was developed. Anyone interested in singing the Rastragaan (the national anthem) had to go to the website, get registered, sing the national anthem and record it with their mobile/laptop video.

To help them, the entire national anthem script was available in all the official Indian languages, and one simply had to sing the national anthem in the stipulated time. Once the recording was done, the national anthem had to be submitted.

The minute the song was submitted and accepted, a certificate of participation could be downloaded. All the submitted entries were played at the Red Fort on the 15th of August 2021. The best 100 entries were put up on the official website, (In reality, 262 were put up). The campaign was hugely successful and more than 1.5 crore Indians across the world participated.

2. Ola Scooters' "Friends, Indians, Countrymen, lend us your voice" campaign: After many years, a product category that has caught the imagination of the Indian public is the e-Scooters category, and the company that raked in attention on offer was Ola. 

Ola cashed in on the craze. In August, Ola sent e-mailers to all its customers (existing Ola users). The mail said, "Friends, Indians, Countrymen, lend us your voice".

Yes, the famous words from Mark Anthony’s speech! Written below was a pitch for Ola’s in-built AI-powered Voice Assistant. Ola requested voice samples from across age groups, genders, accents, and even pitches to be used for its Ola scooters.  A wonderful way to engage and keep connected with the present and prospective customers.

3. "Not just a Diwali Ad" Campaign by Cadbury: 2021 was no different from 2020. Covid-19 had the entire world, including India, in its vice-like grip. Everyone was suffering, and the worst hit were the informal sector workers, the small shop owners, and the petty dealers. Faced with little reserves and rapidly falling footfalls, their future looked bleak. The sales were down, and consequently, they had very little cash reserves to spend on advertising.

Cadbury stepped in with a brilliant campaign "Not just a Diwali ad’, which became one of the most talked-about campaigns during Diwali 2021.

Cadbury India gave an opportunity to small local businesses to "hire" one of India’s biggest brand ambassadors, Shahrukh Khan. In 2020, India had about 6.3 crore MSMEs and 12.8 million grocery retailers (source: It is impossible to cover all these stores in a single campaign as multiple locations, languages, and businesses pose insurmountable challenges.

Cadbury used Artificial Intelligence from Rephrase's Tech and deployed Machine Learning to recreate Shahrukh Khan’s voice and face to take the local store’s names in the advertisement. The different versions of the same advertisement with local store names were targeted as per the pin code of the viewer, showing only the nearby stores.

Any small or medium-sized businessman could visit Cadbury India’s website and create their own version of the advertisement and share it on their social media platforms. The local store owners were thrilled to have Shah Rukh Khan endorsing their products, brands, and stores. What a brilliant marketing ploy! Cadbury turned small and medium businessmen into being brand loyalists or even becoming its brand evangelists.

4.  "Cadbury’s Iconic Cricket advertisement (new)" Campaign: If you ask any media/advertising buff to name his or her favourite Indian advertisements, Cadbury's iconic cricket advertisement will undoubtedly be among the top five remembered and loved. Made in 1993, it tells a lovable story of a player hitting the last ball of a match for a six, winning the match and the heart of his girlfriend. It is heartening to think that the advertisement told the story in 60 seconds and it took the makers of Laagan, 3 hours and 40 minutes to tell the same story! Talk about the skill of telling a story in a minute!

But this time, there was a twist in the tail (tale)! Instead of a young man hitting the six, it is a young woman who does the honours. And in a gender twist, it is her boyfriend who dodges the security guard, runs onto the field, and does a no-holds-barred jig (dance). The advertisement was topical and celebrates women achievers in sports and in life. Way to go, Cadbury, 2 out of 4 trending and innovative campaigns were executed by you.




January 02, 2022

Pandemic Celebrates its Second Birthday - Article Published in The Hans India today (02-01-2022)


1st January 2020 was when WHO announced the arrival of the new Corona Virus popularly called Covid 19. Initially dismissed as a joke or simple flu, there were boasts that the hot Indian climate would sound the death knell for the perky virus. One of the chief ministers said (on record) that it was a simple flu and that paracetamol would take care of it.

But the death dance of the Covid pandemic goes on and on, unabated and the death toll keeps climbing. The numbers are staggering: nearly 29 crores have been infected and 54.5 lakhs have succumbed to the deadly disease.

USA leads the tally with 8.5 lakhs deaths, followed by Brazil 6.2 lakhs, India 4.8 lakhs and Russia 3.1 lakh, Mexico 3,0 lakhs and Peru with 2.0 lakh deaths are the other countries with more than 2,00,000 deaths.  Truly a pandemic that ravaged the world!

The lessons learned so far:

1)      Any technological advancement comes with a curse! The speed of travel that meant easy commute also meant that the virus had spread the world at a lightning spread. Any amount of restrictions or lockdowns have at best a limiting factor but could not really stop the virus from spreading.

2)      No country or region has been spared. Every country, poor or rich, irrespective of caste, creed, race, religion, or region, has reported the virus and is still fighting it.

3)   Initially thought of as a virus that will die a quick death, Coronavirus is mutating and thriving. Two years into the pandemic the end is still not in sight.

4)      Some sectors have been affected very badly especially travel, tourism, air travel, realty (real estate) and education have been dealt a severe blow.

5)   Film industry has been brought to its feet and with the theaters shut, ticket prices issue, and with 50% occupancy the film distribution is in utter chaos and if it was not for the OTT coming to the rescue the film industry would have been wiped out. Movie watching would be restricted and already OTT seems to be getting an upper hand as far as reaching the customers is concerned.

6)      The house rental sector is in the doldrums and there are scores of apartments, commercial areas, and houses vacant as the I.T companies have extended work from home facility. This has resulted in IT employees moving to their hometowns and operating from their residences.

7)      The plight of the IT workers who work from home is terrible. They put in long hours of work (in excess of 10 hours), can’t socialize, have huge health-related issues (like obesity and lack of exercise). Families are falling apart as both husband and wife operate in the same house along with their children and too much interaction is leading to friction.

8)      The worst affected are the children. They are forced to stay at home, attend lectures on mobile phones, can’t interact with their friends, and can’t play outside their homes. Houses are becoming prisons! This has resulted in violent behavior, mood swings, reduced attention spans, and consequently the children’s performance in the examination had plummeted down and the failure percentages are going up all the time.

All in all, the two years of the Covid pandemic have been a disaster, and let us hope that we don’t have to witness its 3rd Birthday on the 1st of January 2023! 

December 16, 2021

Washing dirty linen in public – How not to deal with your Human Resources! - Virat Kohli vs BCCI


” Common Sense is not common”, I often comment in my classroom. The unfolding saga of Virat Kohli vs Saurav Ganguly Vs BCCI vs Azharuddin vs Sunil Gavaskar vs every other Indian has left me bemused and perplexed, to say the least.

First let us put things in perspective. Whether we like it or not Virat Kohli is a superstar cricketer. His popularity is phenomenal, only second to Sachin Tendulkar and his records speak for themselves. His captaincy record has been outstanding and his win percentage too has been good. His only blemish, not winning any ICC championships.

But why blame him? Even the great Sachin Tendulkar was not a great captain. We were lucky to have a Dhoni who did so well in ICC championships. But to hound and play the fool with Virat Kohli is not done at all.

First of all, Saurav Ganguly says that he asked Virat Kohli to reconsider his decision to give up T20I captaincy. Immediately Virat Kohli says that there was no such communication to him and that the decision to relieve him of ODI captaincy was conveyed only 90 minutes before the selection committee meeting.

Fine, BCCI. Why can’t you have all these discussions in-camera. Why do you need to wash your dirty linen in public? Then suddenly Rohit Sharma becomes injured and will not play test matches. On cue Virat Kohli says that it is his daughter’s birthday in January 2022 and that he would not play in the ODI series against south Africa.

Katti or tit for tat. BCCI has become the laughing stock of the world. And the comedy has yet not ended, Virat Kohli now says that he is available to play the Odo series against South Africa. One thing that BCCI has to realize is that Virat Kohli is a big draw and a superstar cricketer. It is better to deal with him with butter gloves.

BCCI is known to grovel before superstars. They had to humour Kapil Dev till he reached 432 wickets and had to put up with Sachin Tendulkar till he got 100 international hundreds and played 200 test matches.

I am sure that BCCI will placate Virat Kohli too. Why in the world would BCCI want to kill its golden goose! A goose that lays eggs worth crores of rupees!

November 30, 2021

Heart attack Grill – Anti- Marketing at its best!


In the world that we live in everything is available on a tap. Information is so much in excess that people are jaded and experiences are no longer treasured. Attention spans are incredibly low and are down to 8 seconds for the Generation Z.


So, what should a marketer do? Normal Marketing will not work. What customers want is a shock, that too a 1000-volt shock, that should jolt them, almost to death!


Almost on cue we have Heart attack Grill, a restaurant from Los Vegas, USA. Jon Basso the owner has created a controversy and built a restaurant around and named it Heart attack Grill. Savour some of the unusual things that happen at Heart Attack Grill that would pop our eye-balls out of their sockets,


1)          Name itself a big shocker Heart Attack Grill – Challenges the customers!


2)     The normal offering is a 9,982 Quadruple Bypass burger (almost 4 days calorie requirement for an average man) and French fries cooked in fat, Jon Basso himself says "Don't come here every day of the week; it'll kill you,'" How many owners dare say “don’t come every day to my business/shop””.

3)         The Owner calls himself a doctor, all male employees are called doctors and all female employees are called nurses who dress seductively and appear to be girls out of an adult magazine. The restaurant ambience is that of an hospital!

4)            All the customers have to wear a hospital gown before they start eating food. 

5)            Customers are called patients.

6)            The nurses are loved and are a huge attraction for the customers.


7)            Any one not finishing the food is spanked on the back side with a wooden paddle by the “nurses”.

8)       Payments are strictly cash only. (What is the guarantee that the customer would survive the meal. What if he/she dies before the cheque is realized).


9)       Patrons weighing more than 350 pounds (160 kgs) eat free! They have to stand on a weighing scale that flashes their weight on a huge screen!


10)       Heart Attack Grill’s tag line is "taste worth dying for," 


11)    Nothing healthy is allowed, no lettuce on the Grill's burgers. No Diet Coke, only full-sugared soda is sold.


12)    The nurses wheel out "patients" who are able to down a Quadruple Bypass Burger to their car in a wheelchair.


13)        Diners find themselves surrounded by posters that glorify obesity.


14)        An oversized pill bottle dangles above the bar where the “doctor” mixes drinks and pours beer.


15)     Their biggest, the octuple bypass burger, has 19,900 calories (almost 10 days calorie requirement for an average man) and contains nearly four pounds of fat -filled meat.


16)        Full bottles of wine are served in IV bags, 3.4-ounce shots in pill bottles, and Jello shots in syringes.


17)     Two people considered to be spokespeople of the restaurant died due to obesity-related conditions. The first, Blair River, died at the age of 29 in 2011 after a bout with the flu that had become fatal due to his obesity. River is still pictured in many of the restaurant’s advertisements and décor.


18)      A second spokesperson, John Alleman died at 52 in 2013 after suffering a heart attack on the premises itself. He ate at the restaurant every day,


19)        The ashes of John Alleman and his ashes sit atop the bar, on display.

20)      I am speech less. People are craving for experiences that is out of the world and they are ready to do anything to have that experience including risking their own life whether it is eating at Heart Attack grill or trying out a dish of FUGU fish (a dish that is so dangerous that, one has to sign a document of release before sampling it). Every year more than 100 people die eating the deadly Fugu fish!