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December 30, 2019

Sportsperson of the Decade – King Kohli.

An advance happy new year to all my friends, As we draw close to a terrific year and an interesting and turbulent decade, I was pondering on what to write. As usual, sports was the first thing that came to my mind and I thought who is the person who influenced our thought process the most in this decade? The answer was easy - King Virat Kohli.
I penned a 642-word letter and shot it off to The Hans India. Luckily for me, they obliged and published it in the letters column today (30-12-2019). Yes, they trimmed it! The letter is down to 426 words but no regrets. I am also posting the original letter for readers who want to read the letter as it is without any edits!

When Sachin Tendulkar retired on 16th November 2013, a sense of loss and nostalgia swept the country. Cricket lovers who swore by Sachin’s name made resolutions not to watch cricket any longer. It was as if the light had gone out of their life!

Emerging out of the shadows of the god of cricket was his prodigy, Virat King Kohli. For all his records and achievements, Sachin was not a leader. His record in test cricket speaks for itself, 4 wins in 25 tests as a captain.

As we draw to a close on a very eventful decade, Virat Kohli proved that he is a worthy successor. His work ethic, professionalism, his foresight, hunger for runs and success, ability to think beyond for the team and India, Aggression (sometimes he does go overbroad with his brand of machismo), his down to earth persona and his delightful marriage with Anushka Sharma has won him fans throughout the world. 

Under Sunil Gavaskar’s captaincy, India played well and looked at drawing test matches. It was Sourav Ganguly who gave Indian cricket the self-belief and the first glimpses of the swagger that would become pronounced under the captaincy of Virat Kohli. India now is the team that everybody wants to beat. They are the latest bullies in world cricket - the tag worn by West Indies in the eighties and which was later the domain of the Aussies.

India now has great batsmen, and in a country that was known for its spin wizards has the best fast bowlers in the world. Amazing the way Kohli has moulded this team into a bunch of world-beaters with a self-belief that is so endearing and charming! The only anomaly that Kohl wants to correct is India’s recent inability to win in ICC championships and world cups. I am sure that in the next decade even that anomaly would be rectified.

Some of the amazing world records that Kohli has amassed over the years are interesting to recap. In ODIs, Kohli has the second-highest number of centuries and the highest number of centuries in run chases. He holds the world record for being the fastest batsman to 10,000 and 11,000 runs in ODI cricket, reaching the milestones in 205 and 222 innings respectively.

His batting average in successful run cases in ODIs is a mild boggling 98.93. He almost averages 100 when India wins while batting second!

Virat Kohli is the only cricketer to have an average of 50 plus in all the formats, Tests, ODIs and T20I. That is terrific consistency. He now has 33 wins out of 53 as a test captain and trails Clive Lloyd, 36 wins out of 74, Steve Waugh, 41wins out of 57, Ricky Ponting, 48 wins out of 77 and Graeme Smith, 53 wins out of 109.

Virat Kohli has so far played 401 international matches (Tests, ODIs and T20I) and has scored a mammoth 21,444 runs and is at 8th place among all the players who have played this great game. He has scored 70 centuries and 101 half-centuries and has a staggering average of 57.13 across the formats. And he is only 31 years old and god willing he could play for another 7 to 8 years.

Indeed, Virat Kohli is the king! All others including Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root and Babar Azam are only pretenders! King Kohli sits on the throne and does not look like relinquishing it to anyone in the near future.

What is on the bucket list of the king? Getting to a 100 centuries, as early as possible, win the world championship of test cricket and winning the world cup in the ODIs and T20I. That would be the crowning glory to an illustrious cricketer who has sacrificed a lot and has become a worthy successor to the god of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar. 

December 27, 2019

India's eBook reading habits 2019

Very interesting stat by Amazon. South India reads the most books with Andhra Pradesh being the only south Indian state not making the list. Of course Maharastra, Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh made it too. Guys don't shoot the messenger. Not my research, data as given by Amazon!

Swiggy and Netflix - Me too strategy, complimentary products and Generic competition

Always told my students to watch ads and learn from them. "Watching ads is the most fun one can get with their clothes on". Not my phrase, taken from an ad guru.
The picture is from a TV Ad of Swiggy. The ad urges us to cook some dishes at home and get some from Swiggy. I think Swiggy is taking our criticism that they are weening us away from the so-called healthy home-cooked food a little too seriously.
So if you can't avoid the bandwagon, jump into the gravy train! Swiggy is meeting us halfway. It is telling us to cook at home but spice up our meal with some side dishes, courtesy Swiggy. Reminds me of Kellogg.
Kellog quickly understood that it can't be a substitute for the elephant in the house, the Indian breakfast. So instead of fighting the Indian breakfast, it became me too. Eat whatever you want to (grudgingly accepted by Kellogg) but eat me too. From being I, me and myself, it wants to be me too. Like from a single hero film to a multi starrer!
Similarly, Netflix is pitching itself as a genetic competitor, one who is competing for the same time spent. It is telling us not to try to get hangover by partying on 31st December 2019. But what about the hangover that we get from binge-watching mind-numbing TV soaps, serials and movies. Food for thought. Bring it on marketers, loving it!

September 13, 2019

There is no Free lunch in this world - Swiggy, Zomata and Uber Eats - Food delivery Apps.

There is no free lunch in this world. Food delivery platforms like Swiggy, Uber and Zomata are not really giving any real discounts. Given below is the menu card of Ocean of Bakes a popular bakery at Nizam pet crossroads.

The rates at the bakery are at least 40 or in some cases 50 per cent less than the rates mentioned in the food delivery platform apps. So end of the day the customer is not getting any deal at all. Food delivery apps are simply encashing our inherent impulse behaviour and may I add our laziness to walk, drive and eat at the restaurant and enjoy the ambience.

Add to that cost the additional tax charged as tax (usually at 10%}), delivery charges, tip to the delivery boy and annual gold fees, the customer is ending up paying at least 20% extra! Good for thought. Let us get out and enjoy food as it should be enjoyed at the restaurant itself along with family and friends.

September 10, 2019

Tiger by the Tail - The art and practice of Comparative Advertising, Nagarjuna Cements takes on Lalitha Jewelers

Twins separated at birth. Not by a long chance. This is the MD of Lalitha Jewellers popularly called Gundu Garru. The rags to riches of the MD of Lalitha Jewellers may or may not have appealed to the masses but the claim of low cost, the comparability of the products and the sheer repeating (or brainwashing) of the campaign have had the desired results. Gundu sir has become an advertising icon by his own right.

Now, this guy is the imitating Mr.Kiran of Lalitha Jewellery. He is definitely not the MD of Nagarjuna cement. He is a model and Nagarjuna cement is unabashedly imitating or aping Lalitha Jewellery MD. Right down to the bald pate, rimless spectacles and even the blue t-shirt. imitation is the best form of flattery.

The Nagarjuna advertisement is trying to run down Lalitha Jewellers. I don't understand the logic. Nagarjuna cement and Lalitha Jewelers are in different product categories and Nagarjuna's cement brand promise is different from the brand promise of Lalitha Jewellers. Lalitha Jewellersis about smart buying and long-time investment, whereas Nagarjuna cement is about strength and durability. The persona of Lalitha Jewellersis that of the elder person of the house, whereas the persona of Nagarjuna cement model does not fit with that of a Monagadu (a tough guy) cement a brand persona that Nagarjuna cement has painstakingly built over decades of its existence.

Things to ponder Nagarjuna cement. Time your creative department went into overdrive.

August 21, 2019

exciting new times for tracking TV viewership

For a long time, TV viewership details were a lot of hocus pocus. It was imagination and conjecture. However, technology and cutting the cord by the young netizens has led to some fascinating insights. Many of us are exasperated by the antics of satellite channels who want to charge for every channel separately.

Now we have an option. We can shift to online streaming platforms. Hotstar live streams EPL and PKL, Sony Liv, is streaming India tour of West Indies and Australia tour of England.

The most exciting part is when live sports get streamed on Hotstar a ticker that shows the number of people watching the telecast at the exact point of time.

When India played New Zealand in the cricket world cup, the ticker went crazy, 13.5 million watched the contest that is a whopping 1.3 crore Indians!

However, the finals did not even get a fraction of that viewership. India rules online streaming platforms.

Last Sunday the blue boys of world football Manchester United played the Wolves, and only 65,000 Indians watched the match!

Today when Tamil Thalivars are playing Jaipur Pink Panthers in the Professional Kabbadi League (PKL) a whopping 6.14 lakh people are watching! In India, kabbadi is the second most liked sports, at least in the online platforms. 

Moreover, these are only preliminary matches and imagine what will happen when the PKL season progresses. In future, PKL will challenge Indian cricket and IPL in the popularity charts.

Wish that Sony Liv also gives us ticker details of the number of viewers watching the telecast. Very exciting for marketing professional and marketing teachers and analysts. These are hard dynamic stats getting displayed right in front of our eyes. Wow, I love it.

April 27, 2019

What's in a name - Everything - REMINERO - Purified Bottled Water from HPCL

What’s in a name, everything in marketing, especially brand names. They are the living persona of the products. We swear by them (the brand names) and they add colour and excitement to our life.

Yesterday, I was at a training centre at HPCL, Bangalore and we were served bottled purified water. I took a double turn when I saw the name of the brand. It was “REMINERO”. The name itself was a puzzle, but the name of the manufacturer took my breath away. It was HPCL!!

I often ask my students; would you like to buy a toothpaste named Nirma? Most of them recoil in horror. Some even put up a strange expression as if they had just brushed their teeth with Nirma detergent powder. That is the power of association. Most people might not have noticed but Nirma does have a soap albeit a bath soap called Nima and it comes very close to the word Nirma. Dare I say as close to Nirma as possible but still keeping, a healthy distance.

Similarly, Manikchand Gutkha, famously ventured into atta business and named its brand, what else Manikchand Atta. I am sure most homemakers would not have bought it, atleast initially. A chapatti that gives a healthy high that too laced in nicotine. That would be the mental picture that would have been drawn in the minds of the customers.

The only brand that straddles all the product categories and still does not apparently create any confusion about its core value and promise in the minds of the customers, is TATA. 

Tata is in every imaginable product category, Tata salt, Tata Tele Services, Tata BP Solar, Tata Consultancy services, Tata Steels, Tata Coffee, Tata Chemicals, Tata Sky, and many others. Tata has become synonymous with Indianess and it has become almost like India itself and it permeates itself to any product category. Others are not that lucky.

HPCL entering into purified water business is a puzzle. HPCL is an energy company and it is famous for oil based products like Petrol, diesel, Lubes and LPG.  Why would HPCL want to enter into bottled purified water business? May be it wants to leverage its SCM (Supply Chain Management) muscle and its very impressive retail outlet base.

Having impressive SCM capability and ability to access and control a large base of retail outlets in the form of petrol bunks are definite strengths, but can a public sector giant like HPCL take on nimble, fleet footed, aggressive and hard as nails private players like PEPSICO, Coca-Cola and Parle in a head-on battle. Only time will tell.

And the brand name itself is quite handful, REMINERO. The marketing pundits might have thought that the product sounds like a REMINDER, or RE-MINED or REMAIN from RO process.  Whatever it is, REMINERO is a mouthful and sounds like the name of an Italian man!!! And it is not very easy to pronounce, just like the beauty soap brand of ITC; Fiama di Wills. Fiama Di Wills sounds like the sister of the villainess from the movie 101 Dalmatians, Cruella De Vil. 

April 03, 2019

3M, KFC and HIL, what is in the name - Everything

A key element of Marketing is observation. Why did Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company become 3M and why did Kentucky Fried Chicken become KFC?
First of all, short names are easy to remember and easy to pronounce and stylish too. But the most important reason was 3M moved away from minerals and mining business and did not want to appear like a laid back mining company.
Similarly, KFC did not want to get tied down to a place Kentucky and did want the customers to even utter that dirty five letter word "Fried" hearing which all its customers recoil in disgust. It is as if they have taken a bath in fried oil. So it is KFC.
Just now Dhoni was out pitching for HIL, earlier called Hyderabad Industries limited. So Dhoni stylishly says HIL and a diehard Hyderabadi like me has a small frown. Yes, I would have been happy if Dhoni had said Hyderabad Industries limited.
But as an afterthought that campaign would be a no brainer. How can Chennai captain pitch for Hyderabad? It would be the ultimate sacrilege! What do you guys say!!!???