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March 30, 2011

5 Ws and 1 H of communication

In journalism and in reporting the Five W's and one H is a concept in news style, research, and these are regarded as basics in information-gathering.

The "Five W's" and one H were memorialized by Rudyard Kipling in his "Just So Stories" in which a poem accompanying the tale of "The Elephant's Child" opens with:
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

It is a formula for getting the "full" story or report on something. The maxim of the Five W's and one H is that for a report to be considered complete it must answer a checklist of six questions, each of which starts with the letter W:

Who is it about? (The person or the persons involved in the story are very important. Readers are very interested in the human element and a story without a human interest is as tasty as an Indian curry without the famous Indian masala!)

What happened (what's the story. What really happened? The story has to be told clearly and lucidly. The story should have a logical flows and the ending should be lingering)

Where did it take place? (The location of the story too very important. Did the story take place in a local area, in the state, or in the same country? Many stories are read only if there is a local interest. Yes stories are also read which are not local in nature but the event has to be so important that boundaries are no longer significant. For example the earthquake and the Tsunami of Japan is a gripping read for any person in the world.

Students being deported from a country will not attract much attention. But Indian students being deported from USA will grab headlines as it concerns the Indians and they being departed from the land of opportunities or God’s own country makes the story even more gripping.

When did it take place? (When is the issue of immediacy. The story has to be told and told as soon as possible. News stories lose their charm once the news becomes dated. Yes the same new can be used again if there are further developments or of the story keeps continuing).

Why did it happen? (Why is the motive or why the story has to be told. Why explains the story and makes it logical. In one of the Sherlock Holmes story Sherlock is placidly sitting and smoking his cigar at the scene of the crime. The scene of the crime is a palatial building where a murder has been committed. There is plenty of hustle and bustle around him. Detectives are everywhere. They are looking for foot prints, finger prints or any other clues. In short they are busy as bees.

This irritates Dr.Watson, Sherlock's trusted deputy. He says “Sherlock why don’t you do something?” Sherlock replies “Why should I do anything the murder has been solved” “Solved” gapes Watson “how” “Why didn’t the dog bark?” says Sherlock. This opens a new process of thinking. Sherlock rightly argues that the pet dog never barked when the murder was being committed. His deduction which is later proved is that the pet dog will only bark at strangers and as it did no bark it means that somebody known to the dog or somebody from the house has committed the murder.

How did it happen? (How is the modus operandi. The modus operandi is critical as it tells the reader how the entire story unfolded and how it was planned and executed. How become very important for the police as the modus operandi is like a signature tune and many criminals tend to repeat their modus operandi. A repeated modus operandi make it easier for the police to nab the concerned criminals.

March 18, 2011

More Management concepts

Having faith:  It is important to have faith. In one self, in the boss and in the organization. There are two types of people.  The believers in god are called theists and the non believers are atheists.  

Once a non believer was climbing a mountain in the Alps. He was a very virile young man who believed that his own efforts are enough to achieve anything in the world. He kept climbing and climbing. By the evening he had doubt of reaching the summit and started to descend. It was very cold and it had became pitch dark and our man was almost freezing. He kept descending. Finally for the first time in his life he was faced with a difficult choice. To descend further to stay put.

For the first time in his life he prayed god. “Oh god save me”. There was no response. He tried again and again. Finally a voice beckoned him “Son I heard you. I will help you. But you will have to trust me”. The man said “Sure god”. God said “Let go of the rope and I will save you”. The man said “How can I let go of the rope. I would die if do it”. God said again “Let go of the rope I will save you”. The man refused to listen to God and hung on to the rope grimly.

The night was cold, dark and freezing. The next day morning our man was found frozen to death five feet from the ground. It was an abject lesson in keeping faith. Keep faith and you would be rewarded.

Hara-kiri: Seppuku ("stomach-cutting") is a form of Japanese ritualistic suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai warriors. Seppuku was used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies and likely suffer torture. It was also given as a capital punishment for samurai who had committed serious offenses, or performed for other reasons that had brought shame to them.

Hara-kiri is used popularly in management as a term that denotes self inflicted defeat or failure. For example the company had committed Hara-kiri by its strategy that was doomed to fail by entering into a foreign market in which it had no knowledge or information.

The Sword of Damocles:  is an object in a Greek legend which is designed to illustrate the perils of being in a position of power. The term is often used in popular culture to talk about an imminent threat or peril, with the idiom “the Sword of Damocles” along with the related concept of “hanging by a thread.”
In management used as a paradigm of a person who is in power but who is only hanging in there, sitting in the hot seat. One mistake and his head would be chopped off.

Doubting Thomas is a term that is used to describe someone who will refuse to believe something without direct, physical, personal evidence; a skeptic who has a questioning attitude, or some degree of doubt regarding claims that are elsewhere taken for granted. In management parlance a person who is a self appointed doubter of any new concept. Generally tolerated Doubting Thomases should not be allowed to overpower all the discussions with their overt negativism. 

March 14, 2011

Product Adaptations - factors to be considered - Part II

9. Differences in cultural standards and difficulty of using the product:  An American company was marketing automatic shavers in Japan. The American company quickly realized that the Japanese hand is much smaller than the American hand and retooled the automatic shaver to fit the hand of the Japanese (17).

Six yard saree had always remained the final frontier as a dress for the women from the western world. It was the exotic Indian dress that the western women always liked and admired but were wary of - the saree is difficult to drape. They were always apprehensive about the saree; they would never know when it would slip off their body. They need not worry any longer. Zipped sarees (18) are now available. They can be worn as easily as jeans and they snugly fit the body. Is it said that Madonna wears the zipped sarees and likes them a lot.

Same is the case with the dhoti for the men and children. It is now possible to buy zipped dhotis (19) and appear to be like an Indian. Body piercing and tattooing is like the coming of age ceremony akin to an initiation process into the world of adulthood. Customers bear the pain. It is painful but the tattoo has to be worn to show that the person is an adult.

One fashion that is never going out of business is to have the name of the loved one pieced at various places. But a problem arises - what happens when one changes a partner? In steps the Indian art of Mehendi (20). Mehendi can be branded in America as temporary tattoo. Intricate designs can be made and the wearer could wear the names of the loved one with pride. The temporary tattoo would fade off and it could be replaced with a new one. If the tattoo is not liked it reversal process is very painful and expensive. But Mehendi being temporary the wearer need not worry about the permanency of the design or the name.

10. Availability of other products, Greater or lesser product integration:  Products need accessories to make them work better. For example American made printers and copiers will have to be adaptable to use locally available paper and toners.

11. Availability of materials, Change in product structure and fuel: In most countries cars mostly run on petrol. But in India because of governmental policies diesel is cheaper than petrol. Cars imported to India should have the option of using diesel as a fuel (21) or should develop diesel models to be competitive. Same is the case with generator sets that are imported to India. In india kerosene is a cheap fuel and a generator that can run on kerosene (22) will be a big hit.

12. Power availability and resizing of product: Radios exported into Africa need to be resized. Power supply is erratic in Africa and batteries are not easily available. Thus it is imperative that radios sold in Africa be provided with a self winding mechanism (23) so that the users can enjoy their service for longer time.

13. Product redesign or invention: MacDonald the fast food giant is a master of product adaptation. They had to make the adaptation of completely dropping the hamburgers (24) in the Middle Eastern countries where the word Pork is hated.

Mac Donald serves beef, mutton or Chicken that too only halal meat (25) respecting the local sentiments. Similarly in India Mac Donald faced huge problems. Pork and beef are disliked. Muslims do not like pork and Hindus do not like beef. Thus in India Mac Donald serves mutton or chicken only (26), no beef and no pork. It also serves vegetarian burgers. It has named its vegetarian burger as Mac Aloo Tikki (27) a very popular version of its Mac Donald burger.

Product Adaptations - factors to be considered - Part I

The following factors have to be considered which may necessitate design changes when dapting products for foreign markets. The factors are: 

1. Environment factors: FMCG products in India have to be rugged and face the vagaries of nature and rough transport and not so good storage capacities. This has led to the introduction of liquid chocolate (8) in India. Similarly in India people drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right hand side. Indian cars exported USA will have to be left hand drive (9) as driving in USA is on the right side of the road.

2. Product specifications: 110 volts and 220 volts (10). Exporters should be careful in exporting or importing products from other countries as these products may not work or might be severely damaged if suitable technical adaptations are not made.

3. Level of literacy: Remotes have to graphic and pictorial (11) in low level literacy countries. Level of literacy also can mean remaking and simplification of the product. The Television remote needs to have to be the commands in the local language (12).

4. Level of Income: A low priced functional color TV (13) or a functional mobile high in feature but low in price (14) is the need in poor countries. Customers demand acceptable quality and cheap products, In India 80 percent of mobile phones are priced below US $ 40.

5. Level of interest rates: Investment in high quality products and services might not be financially desirable. Banks entering into countries that have high interest rates will have to re work their portfolio and products to meet the local conditions and tastes.

6. Level of maintenance: Most countries might not have the expertise that is needed to provide the level of maintenance that is needed for the product to work optimally. The company has to produce a product that is so rugged that hardly needs any maintenance.

7. Climatic differences: Products used in plain lands and high lands have to be adapted to face the climatic conditions of coastal places and also the travel by the sea. In one case the Indian electric poles (15) had rusted by the time they reached the port of destination.

8. Isolation:  Some products have been in isolation for so long that they have developed peculiar standards. First these market have to be standardized before new products can be introduced. It is said that Indian Air force pilots getting trained in Russia would be asked to switch on and off switches of their fighter planes for many days before they were allowed to fly. Why? Russian off position of the switch would be the on position in India and vice versa (16). If this training is not given the Indian pilots would leave the plane on the tarmac with the engine in the on condition!

March 13, 2011

Product Adaptations - examples

There are many places in the world where water is not available but there are few places in the world where coca-cola is not available. So it comes across as  a surprise that Coca-cola company was caught napping when it found out that its name ‘Coca-Cola (1)' was translated in Mandarin as ‘bite the wax tadpole’. Its illustrious competitor Pepsi did not fare any better. Pepsi’s slogan ‘Come alive with the Pepsi generation (2)’ was translated as ‘brings your ancestors back from their graves’

Pepsi also found that its sales people had innocently put up a poster of Pepsi on a wall. The poster said ‘wish you were here (3)’.  The idea was that the poster had to be put up all the franchisee locations. But the location where the poster was put up was the local cemetery. These are cases where communication adoption has to be attempted.

An exporter had sent its baby food packets to Africa. The product did not do well at all. The reason – like all baby food products the package had a picture of a baby. This triggered the Africans. They have never seen a baby food package. They thought that package had meat of the babies and not food for the babies (4). A case of mistaken communications or mis-communication. Similarly the  Chevrolet Nova automobile was introduced in Latin America as 'no va'. Nova in spanish means 'won't go (5)'.

A lady had gone to Japan and found a local sign that was very cute and artistic. She had the sign printed on her Tee shirt and wore it. The Japanese that she met gave her suggestive giggles.Many guffawed and gave her a huge smile and a knowing leer. The lady was non plussed.  She brushed it aside as locals being overtly friendly. Her friend exclaimed in horror when she saw the T-shirt ‘Do you know what your tee shirt is saying. In Japanese it is saying Fresh milk sold me (6)!”

A product that is perfectly good for one market may have to be adapted for another. There can be many reasons for this. Physical conditions may be different. Functional requirements may vary from market to market.

In some cases cultural factors are very important. For example, Mattel Toys of USA wanted to sell their Barbie Doll in Japan. But the Japanese did not buy the American favorite doll. Later the firm introduced a modified Barbie – slightly oriental eyes and a more girlish figure (7).

There are certain items, generally ethnic products, which sell in the foreign markets, precisely because these are foreign. Indian handicrafts or handloom fabrics are examples of such products. There are also specialty items which have become so famous that they are automatically demanded by the foreign consumers, for instance, Darjeeling tea, Scotch whisky, French perfumes or Danish cheese. For such items, no change in the product itself is required for marketing in overseas, though changes in packaging may often be called for.

Many items however may require some adaptation for making the suitable to the foreign markets. Some obvious examples of product adaptation are differences in voltages (110 or 220) and right hand or left hand drive. Adaptation may pertain to size, functions, materials, design style, color, tastes and standards. Sometimes this could be done easily and at low cost but at times it may cost the company heavily.

Paying the Price - Restaurtant business

Hotels and restaurants are known for their ambiance and excellent service. It is said that the waiters at a five star hotel are always hovering in the background and would come to the guest as a soon as the guest raises his face and looks at the waiter. That is the level of service. The chefs of a five star hotel can customize the dish to the taste of the diner. 

The trickiest part of a visit to a restaurant is to order the food. The host and the guests are given the menu cards. The problem is that the guest too can see the prices. The guests get shocked with the prices and try to minimize the order so that the host does not have to pay a heavy bill.

A solution to the above problem could be very simple. The waiter finds out who is the host and gives him the menu with the prices. The guests are given the menu without the prices. They can order anything that they wish without bothering about the price.

A wag from the hotel industry came out with a interesting tidbit. According to him this practice is already prevailing in France. He provided a very interesting twist in the tail. In France when a couple comes to a restaurant they are given two different menus. The lady is given the menu with double the price and the man is given the menu with the real prices. The lady is very impressed with the money that the man spent on her!

New innovations are being tried out in the restaurant business. A British restaurant for the first time has allowed its clients to have the meal and allowed them to fix the price for the meal that they consumed. Contrary to popular belief that the clients will not pay a proper price, the clients paid little more than 10% than the regular price. That is the reward for being innovative.

The way of thinking about customers too has changed. The BART railway system is the life line of travel in and around the Bay area of California. The cafeterias that dot the BART railway stations have tuned their services to the arrival and departures of the BART services. The cafeterias keep showing the train timings. The impending arrival of the next service is loudly announced. This activates the travelers who finish off their coffee and rush to the platform. That is value added service to the customer!

March 10, 2011

Jokes on Indian advertisements and Brands

Bombay Dyeing?: One day a friend of mine questioned me “why is Bombay dying”. I launched into a class of sociology. I spoke about over population, the limited land mass and unchecked development. My bewildered friend snarled at me “because Gwalior is shooting”. The joke was on me Bombay Dyeing is a textile company in India and so is Gwalior suiting. He was punning on the fact that sales of Bombay Dyeing are down and those of Gwalior suiting are going up.  

Palmolive da Jawoob Nahi: A visitor to an echo cliff was conducting an experiment. He shouted Sakura and the echo came back Konica. Encouraged with the response he said Binaca and the echo came back – Cibaca (Konica and Cibaca are the changed names of the original brands Sakura and Binaca). The visibly excited visitor said “Palmolive”. There was no response. Why? One needs to know the advertisement of Palmolive to know the answer. 

Palmolive at that time was airing a commercial that featured the Indian cricket’s greatest player Kapil Dev. After using the shaving cream Kapil says in Punjabi “Palmolive da Jawoob Nani”. It means no answer to Palmolive. That is way the echo cliff dare not respond to the word Palmolive.

You just can’t beat a Bajaj: Once there was a boxing tournament being held. All the corporate honchos were facing up to each other. To every one’s surprise quite old Rahul Bajaj was scoring telling victories over his fit and young CEOs. One spectator not believing his eyes asked his neighbor as what could be the reason. “You just can’t beat a Bajaj” was the answer. Bajaj Automobile at that time was using the punch line ‘you just can’t beat a Bajaj’. 

Brooke Bond:  James Bond once proposed to Brooke Shields the film star. Even though James Bond was rich, handsome and sexy, Brooke Shields refused to marry James Bond. Why? she did not want to be called Brooke Bond (the brand of Coffee and Tea in India). 

Hindustan Lever:  What will you call a person who is leaving India forever? Hindustan Lever (Leaver). And what would you call a person who leaves India, but doesn't travel much?  Hindustan Lever Ltd. 

March 09, 2011

Cricket advertisements that caught the Eye (Part - II)

Weather report:  one of the most exciting things on the television is when the dapper Ravi Shastri explain the pitch and the weather condition. Thus it is not surprising that the weather report is a plug for Berger paints – the paint that claims that it can withstand any type of extreme weather conditions.

Slow motion replays: BPL (British Physical Laboratories) sponsored this feature. Whenever the ball is shown in slow motion the logo of BPL rotates in a ball. Whenever the slow motion or the super slow mo is on, it is a plug for BPL – in pursuit of excellence. The field chosen, audio-visual equipment.

Toyota: The innovative campaign was noticed by the author on the channel nine of Australia. All the spectators in the stadium are given banners with the logo of Toyota (the logo resembles the earth but for the uninitiated it looks like the letter O). The spectators are encouraged to write their caption on the banner. As the graffiti is funny it gets the attention of the television cameras. Toyota gets free mileage. The cost incurred is a piddling amount spent in the supply of banner and writing material.

Today pens: This campaign was inspired by the Toyota campaign. Today Pens has used the same strategy. The cricket world cup of 1999 was awash with the banners of today’s pens. The banners which the spectators warped around themselves had the colors of the Indian flag (of course with the Ashoka Charka missing). The wording can be anything as long as the message starts or ends or with the word Today. One that comes to the mind immediately is India will win – Today.

4, 6, 9: Pepsi and many other companies used this clever ploy. The placard that the spectators wave to the cameras has the company and brand names printed on them. A company can get lots of free airtime. Of course Pepsi stood the strategy on its head by its commercial. The Pepsi commercial had a delighted Shah Rukh Khan waving a placard which says 6. Delighted at a very good shot Shah Rukh Khan reverses the card and 6 becomes 9. Ye Dil Maange More.

Pepsi over: As soon as the over is completed the sign or the crawlie appears at the bottom of the screen “Pepsi over”. It can interpreted that the company is saying your stock of Pepsi is exhausted. It could also be inferred that Pepsi is sponsoring that particular over and that as the over is up it is time for a Pepsi. Akin to a break being Pepsi break or a break could be a Kit-Kat break.

Hit the board: the concept again came from Australia. The idea is to hit the advertising board placed at the boundary line and get money. In India MRF tyres used this concept.  There was a prize for any player who could hit the board placed at the boundary line. Adequate publicity was given for the scheme and it was mentioned by the commentators.  

Cricket advertisements that caught the Eye (Part - I)

 Nothing official about it - Pepsi: The trendsetter in the tongue in cheek or below the line campaigns. Popularly called ambush marketing this was one campaign that gained enormous popularity and finally it led to a regulation preventing this from happening once again. This campaign had Pepsi saying “nothing official about it”. This campaign became the talk of the town.

Youngsters or the generation Xers made the campaign their own and it symbolized the mood at that particular point of time. At that particular time everything official was portrayed as old, boring and outdated. Unofficial was new, exciting and trendy. Unofficial is the rebel and all things that are anti establishment  are attractive to the youngsters or generation Xers. By using the campaign “Nothing official about it” Pepsi got more mileage for its campaign than the official sponsor Coca Cola. This campaign was done in the 1996 world cup.

Hands Free comfort – VIP: This very entertaining advertisement of VIP garments makes the point very dramatically. Tight under garments make the wearer very uncomfortable and they tend to scratch themselves. That means lots of hand gesturing. The umpire gesticulates once a wide ball is bowled. The crawlie immediately appears which says “Hands free comfort” If one uses VIP one can experience hands free comfort. Whenever we watched the umpire makes hand gestures we were reminded of the advertisement and the campaign.

Coolest one - Kelvinator: This one was from the Kelvinator Company. Kelvinator was the refrigerator that kept all the things at their coolest best. Kelvinator was the sponsor of the spectacular catches. It was saying you need the coolest mind and the coolest hands to hold the spectacular catches. It was quit natural that Kelvinator sponsored the spectacular catches.

IBP Red – Aaj Ka Sikhar: IBP Red was the company that made lubricating oil for the vehicles. IBP Red Sikhar was the most menacing bowler who took the most wickets. The connection – Aaj Ka Sikar is the hunter just like IBP Red lubricating oil that hunts the rust and keeps the engine going on and  on.

Close Shave – Godrej:  Whenever there is a case of a batsman escaping from a  close run out or a catch being spilled or LBW (leg before wicket)  decision being turned down the graphic immediately comes on – Godrej close shave. That is the closest that a batsman got to getting out. As close a shave that you can get from Godrej shaving cream.

Wide country wide Finance:  Whenever there is a wide declared – on the screen there is a caption – Wide – country wide finance. The car financing company was cleverly associating itself with the word wide to denote it very large base of offices in the world. Whenever the television viewer sees a  wide being signaled he immediately remembers country wide finance. A sure way to gain top of the mind awareness.

March 08, 2011

Cricket and advertising

Money has started to rule the game of cricket from the 1990 onwards. The love of the lucre was so much that the passing way of Mark Mascarehans (the CEO of World Tel) was mourned by the Indian cricket team by wearing of black badges but not the passing away of the then speaker G.M.C.Balayogi. 

Dollars have taken over cricket. The domination of the Indian sub continent especially India is because 90% of the funds that come to world cricket are because of the sponsorships that cricket is able to generate from the Indian corporate companies. The rule of money has become so powerful that it led to an unofficial test match being played between India and South Africa flouting blatantly the authority of ICC (International cricket council).

The recent incident of the racial slur that Harbhajan was alleged to have directed at Andrew Symonds also had to be solved to the satisfaction of BCCI (Board of Control of Cricket in India). If India does not tour any country that country’s cricket board will become bankrupt. The Pakistani cricket board also realizes this fact. When Pakistani matches were rescheduled from that country to venues in India for the present cricket world cup there was hardly any murmur of protest from the Pakistani cricket board.  

Cricket means mega bucks for the corporates and the advertising agencies. Cricket is the most watched game in India and crores of people watch the game. But the problem is sponsoring or taking the advertisement spots has become very costly. Even if one advertises there is no guarantee that one’s advertisements would stand out in the clutter. So how do we make sure that our products stand out in the clutter and remain etched in the black box of the customer that is politely called the ‘mind’?  

But luckily for the sponsors cricket is a very advertising friendly game. There is time between the balls and between the overs. There is at least a break between the innings. Added bonus is there is time when one batsman gets out. The game is leisurely and does not have the frantic pace of football. This can lead to discussions when the commentators can subtly pitch for the products they  endorse.

There are many innovations that have been introduced in cricket. The corporates have innovated the concept of a third innings. Third innings is the discussion that is conducted between the innings break.  Packages from the game are nicely presented to the audience. The terminology also has changed. Sixer has become maximum and that became DLF maximum. For the innovative person there are lots of ways and means of making his products and services get registered in the minds of the customer.

Cricket Fans - The Fickle Gods

Eden Gardens, Kolkata, India
Fans - the word that excites the cricket players through the world. It is said that playing cricket before 1,00,000 fans in Eden Gardens, Kolkata is an experience so exhilarating that even the great Vivian Richards cites it as high light of his career. 

Fans enlighten the procedure and motivate the players to perform better by their continuous chanting, waving of flags, Mexican wave and clapping. The fans adore the team that they support and are ready to give life and limb. But they are fickle gods. They support the team as long as the team is doing well. The minute the team is not performing to their expectations the adoration turns to anger and violence.

We have had instances of Irate Ranchi fans stoning the house of the captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The Pakistani captain suffered the same fate. Recently in Bangladesh the West Indies cricket team bus was mistakenly stoned by irritated fans. The fans thought the bus was carrying the Bangladeshi cricket team! There was also an instance of a fan slapping Greg Chappel the then Indian cricket coach for not selecting a player that he (the fan) liked.

One interesting point to note is that the huge craze and the fan following exists mostly in the Indian sub continent and it is in the Indian sub continent that the fans change their moods easily and turn violent. The entire Kolkata crowd erupted in anger when India started losing to Sri Lanka in the 1996 cricket world cup.

The match had to be forfeited and the image of a sobbing Vinod Kambli walking away from the field left even the most stone heated person’s eyes misty with tears. Check out the famous cricket fans from around the world.

Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary also called as Sudhir Kumar Gautam) is a avid die hard cricket supporter of the Indian cricket team. He first came into lime light by showing up at every match played in India. His entire body was painted in the national colors.

Chaudhary is a devoted fan of Sachin Tendulkar and it has been said Tendulkar provides him with tickets for the all the matches. He has become a celebrity has is seen waving the national flag in the live telecast of the cricket matches. By April 2010 he is reportedly attended nearly 150 matches, often travelling by bicycle.

Chaudhry Abdul Jalil also called Chacha Cricket (uncle cricket) is one of Pakistan's most ardent and famous cricket fans

Jalil is regularly seen as a spectator at cricket matches involving Pakistan. He is easily recognized by his white beard, his full green shalwar kameez dress and his white cap decorated with a sequined star and crescent moon. He is always sporting a Pakistani flag.

Jalil was working in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He gained popularity by regularly attending cricket matches held in Sharjah wearing a green dress with a white star and crescent on it. As he became more famous, the Pakistan Cricket Board hired him and currently sponsors him to travel around the world following the Pakistan team.

The Barmy Army is a group of English cricket fans which arranges touring parties for some of its members to follow the English cricket team on overseas tours. The name is also applied to followers of the team who join in with match day activities in the crowd, but do not necessarily travel as part of an organized tour.

Barmy army name was given by the Australian media during the 1994-1995 Test series in Australia. The Barmy Army claims it wants to "make watching cricket more fun and much more popular". The group uses flags, banners, songs and chants to encourage the team and crowd participation in their activities.

Australian Fans
Carribean Fans
On the other hand  the fans in Australia are more laid back. For the Australians watching a cricket match is more like attending a carnival. They booze, enjoy themselves and tan below the sun. The slogans and captions written on banners by the Australians are very interesting and thought provoking. The fans in the Caribbean Islands come to a party when they watch a cricket match. There is continuous chanting, dancing and of course lots of boozing.

March 07, 2011

India and cricket - made for each other


Indians have taken to cricket like a duck takes to water. This was one sport that was invented for Indians. It’s leisurely way of progress, it’s funny rules and interpretation of the rules, the way the game is played and the way the game can suddenly change, the emphasis of individual brilliance and the beauty that there might not be a result even after five days of play was right up the street of the Indians. The game of cricket was proving the Karma theory right. “Do your duty without expecting the results. The result would be taken care off”.
Thus it is not surprising that Indians who take many a injustice lying down which are being inflicted upon them stoically react wit alacrity and fury once the holy grail of cricket is touched. The instant branding of Mike Denniss as “Denniss the Menace” vouches for the fact. Mike Dennis was the Match adjudicator who had handed out heavy fines for the Indian cricket players for their concerted appealing during their tour of South Africa.

The interest created by the betting scandal, or in Sachin’s back or his feet proves the fact that for Indians cricket is no longer a game. It is a religion. If cricket is a religion then Sachin is the god! It does not come as a great surprise that one of the biggest blockbuster hits of Indian film history 'lagaan' is a masala movie that has village simpletons playing cricket. Quite naturally the village simpletons win against the suave and sophisticated Englishmen. The movie Lagaan was nominated for the Oscars. The members of the Motion pictures association of America found the movie to be too long, the sport too strange to digest and the songs and dance too funny! A cocktail of concoctions that they simply could not digest.

The author can remember bygone days when he along with his father would tune breathlessly late in the night or early in the morning to catch the squeaky sounds emanating from the radio to catch the cricket commentary coming from the Caribbean Islands. The excitement of G. R. Vishnwanth cracking an exquisite square drive or a delicate late cut was something that is etched in my mind. 

I also remember watching live a match between Sri Lanka and India that was played in Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium at Hyderabad. All I remember is the roaring of the crowds and the banana peels that they threw at each other. I do not remember any cricket action. We were seated very high in the gallery and could hardly catch any action. We also did not have a radio. There was no way we could know the score. But the experience was exhilarating.

The way we watch cricket also has changed. The game has changed and how! The boisterous crowds, the flamboyant players, media savvy cricket managers, the game has transformed itself. One day cricket introduced colored clothing. Once sniggered as pyjama cricket one day cricket was the fore runner of the hugely popular 20/20 cricket. The way we watched cricket also has also undergone metamorphosis. 14 to 20 cameras slow motion replays, cameras panning the crowds, the venue being marketed as a tourist destination, you have it all.

March 06, 2011

India and cricket

Why does a grownup man become soft and mushy when India is on the threshold of a win in cricket? Why is that even the tough to crack soldiers rejoice India’s victory over its famed neighbor in cricket as if it is a win in a war. Why that is there is a hushed silence whenever Sachin is on his way to a century? Why do we mourn Sachin's dismissal in the nervous nineties as if it is a national disaster?

Welcome to cricket. The game that is full of idiosyncrasies that the British had left for the Indians. In which other game do you find China man, short leg, long leg or many other queer words that puzzle many people?

During the 2003 world cup I was working in Ethiopia. Ethiopians do not play cricket all. They love football and especially the English Premier League. The Indians in Bahirdar had a contract with a local hotelier to show all the matches featuring India. The Indians flocking to the hotel made the local Ethiopians very curious. They would make a beeline to the hotel and would sit facing the Indians. They never could understand how anyone could watch a game that is so slow (mind you we were watching one day cricket and not test cricket). If we were watching five day cricket the local Ethiopians would have been bored to death. They had branded the Indians as mad hatters. They could never understand how sane men could watch a game where there were no goals at all. 

The game is so laid back that in the 30s and 40s that once the watching royalty remarked to his friend who returned after being run out "why did you have to run like that? You could have asked your servant to run for you and you could have just played the shots”. 

The Americans have dismissed the game of cricket as a sort of a joke. For a nation which is always on the move and prides itself on the idea of timeliness and practicality the game of cricket was a tattoo. It was unfathomable to an American that one had to watch a game for five day without having a result. One can’t really blame the Americans. They have made changes to many sports to make them spectator friendly entertaining and exciting. 

The rugged action of the American football is a silent endorser of the rough and tumble, body crunching and bone crushing contact sports that the Americans love. Slam, bang and bones have to break!

The most loved game of all – Ice hockey. Ice hockey allows pushing, punching and hitting the opponents as long as the violence is not severe enough!. The other most popular game basketball has the players dunking the ball (Slamming the basket ball into the net like the smash in volleyball).

Funnily there are traces of cricket in America. Base ball has runs, innings and many other commonalities like the OUT (the player going out of the game). This shows that the English have taken the game of cricket to America but somewhere down the line the game got morphed into baseball.

Dos and donts of door to door selling and Sugging (trying to market in guise of market research)

Yesterday a girl student apprehensively asked me “sir would a career in sales mean always doing the beat?” For the uninitiated doing the beat means going from one house to another. Popularly referred to as door to door selling it is in the worst nightmare for any budding sales person.

I was thrown rudely back to my own sales days. I was a bag holding salesman. I have not done the beat but have experience of doing an extensive door to door campaign for a multinational giant who wanted to introduce chips and other snack items. It was in the mid eighties and I was surprised to see the reception that I received.

To put things in perspective the nice response could be because I was not marketing any product or service and I was only doing market research. My appearance as an obedient student also would have helped. It is said that sales people wear shoes with thick leather at the fore leg. The minute the door is opened the foot is thrust inside and the door can’t be banged shut again.

Jokes apart this is not done at all. But it is a lesson in perseverance that one needs to have to do the beat. Mind you doing the beat is tough and the following tips might help.

Dress well: Make it a point to dress well. Dress and address are important. The way we dress and the way we talk create a powerful impression in the mind of the customer.

Manners:  are very important. Greet the customer with respect. Once the calling bell is answered step away from the door and respectively greet the person with warmth. Treat women with extra care. Preferably visit the house early in the morning or late in the evening. Try to fix up an appointment with the owner and his wife at a time that is convenient to them.

Do not attempt to sit unless asked. Remain standing and try to conduct your business. Do not appear to be over smart. Much time will not be given. Do not ask for personal information like telephone numbers, income, religious affiliations, e-mail IDs and others.

Demonstrate the product or service and try to be respectful at all times. When dealing with woman and girls being extra cautious would be helpful. If the segment where you are trying to do door to door sales or market research is predominantly middle class it is better to have a lady and gent enumerator work together. Fluency in the local language is a mandatory requirement.

Identity cards: In the modern world every one is a suspect. It is better to have one’s identity card and an introduction from the college, institution or the company. Getting permission from an apartment complex is getting tougher and tougher. So always fix an appointment with the apartment owners’ association or the president before the process of door to door marketing is initiated.

Do not Sugg: Sugging in market research means "selling under the guise of research". This behavior occurs when a product marketer pretends to be a market researcher conducting a survey when in reality he is trying to sell the product.

Generally considered unethical, this tactic is prohibited or strongly disapproved by trade groups and most reputed companies. Do research for research purpose. Do not sully the fair name of market research by trying to Sugg.