On the right track

Saw the new Fastrack TVC on air -  Shut up and Move On, but I didn’t see it there first. Fastrack is a brand whose communication i try to follow, simply because i feel that somewhere they’ve got the pulse right.  Of course by doing that, they also end up making customers who don’t fall in their TG demographics (me, for example :D ), but thats fine so long as they keep their TG is happy.

So when i read here that a new campaign was on, i googled for the new TVC. Couldn’t find it, and then suddenly remembered that Fastrack is also on Twitter, and knowing the way they’ve been updating, I was sure I’d find a link, and i did. And that’s what’s cool about Fastrack. Not only do they get their communication right, they also experiment extremely well on platforms like Orkut, Facebook and Twitter, which means, unlike the usual lip service that’s done regularly by brands, this one’s actually interested in social media. Even their website seems to be on a wordpress platform.

A search for fastrack on Orkut would throw up quite a few pages with dozens of fan clubs, the largest one having more than 23000 members. Facebook has a few pages and at least 2 fairly large groups. Around 70 followers on Twitter. Just goes to show how well it can work when a good product is also a brand that is willing to have a conversation with its customers.

Even their regular communication smacks of attitude. I remeber a print ad that had a ‘No conditions apply’ with the image of a bull sitting on a closet between ‘no’ and ‘conditions’. Liked it so much that i checked the sale out, and thats how i bought my first Fastrack watch. So Fastrack’s brand manager, take a bow :)

Coming back to this ad, it is apparently targeted at singles between 15-25, and has an underlying theme of the generation’s penchant for instant gratification and variety seeking. While they have weaved in Fastrack quite well into a good storyline, i really didn’t like this one as well as say, this, but i think that’s more a problem with the basic premise rather than execution. The basic premise being the promotion of superficiality, especially in relationships. Yup, it perhaps is just another sign that I’m really not the TG ;)

until next, don’t SUMO , have your say

PS. Meanwhile, the other blog celebrated 5 years of existence yesterday :)

Panchvi Pass

They asked him about his new fad. He said it was a 55, a concept/story told in 55 words, no more no less. They said, okay when would he stop. He said, soon. Actually, it was just a quirky race, to complete fifty five 55s before his blog turned 5. That day would be tomorrow.

Until next time, ab tak pachpan :)

China Pearl

When in Koramangala, and in the mood for Chinese food that doesnt land you in a financial crisis, think China Pearl. For the third week in a row, a restaurant refused to take reservations. The times, they really are a changin’ :|

To get there, when coming from the MG road side, take a left at Forum, keep going straight, and take a right turn after you see a park on the right side. No, not a software park, just a normal old fashioned park. Geez!! Its a one way, the same road that has GK Vale among other things, that also include a truckload of restaurants – Chung Wah, Filling Station and so on….. Here’s a map.

We reached there around 9, and had to wait for about ten minutes. Since Bangalore ain’t so cool anymore, we skipped the soup and had fried chicken momos for starters. That, along with the spicy sauce meant we started well. :)

We ordered a Teriyaki Chicken. thought it sounds a bit like what Harbhajan said a while back, its actually only fillets of chicken in teriyaki sauce. It also has mushrooms. Its a dry dish, and is quite well made. The only snag was that we got it at least 10 minutes before the rest of the main course. Thankfully, it didn’t get too cold. The rest of the main course was made up of a Drunken Chicken and Chicken Malaysian Noodles. Although the former led to a discussion between us on how exactly they got the chicken into such a condition, it’s chicken in rice wine, and is extremely tasty. Its a unique flavour, and definitely worth a try. If you are fine with thin noodles, the place has a lot of options. I’d have taken a Chow Mein, but we already had a gravy dish. The Malaysian Noodles is something we’ve had before and didn’t disappoint.

The quantity is more than ample for two people, and reasonably priced. All the above cost us less than Rs.600. The service is usually good, but somehow the waiter this time didn’t quite fancy us, I guess. But China Pearl is a regular haunt and we’ll be back.

China Pearl, 5th Cross, 6th Block, Koramangala. Ph-25501735, 41105060

Menu and photos at Zomato

Update September 2011: From the time we’ve been in Bangalore, this is one place where there is always a crowd waiting outside on weekend nights. We’ve visited several time since this review, and it has always delivered. Koramangala is famous for restaurants that disappear by the time you take a U-turn and come back. China Pearl continues to thrive, and that’s why being here is a very happy feeling. The exalted company adds to the pleasure. :)

Who let the dog out?

When Vodafone took over Hutch, many were concerned about the pug. But this put everyone’s concerns to rest. However, a lot of communication after that was dogged about its non – pugness. But suddenly, in the middle of perhaps the biggest media event in oh, okay a couple of months – IPL, the pug decided to make its return with what possibly might be regarded as a CSR initiative – to tackle Alzheimer’s? Of course, it could also be a CCR inititaive. Don’t worry, you’re not out of jargon touch, I just made that up – Customer Care Response :D . Now that’s really making the most out of now. No, the hatred is not so much for the ad as it is for the frequency. In fact, the music is extremely good.

My queries – even though the pug’s popularity reached dizzying heights (so much so that the only thing missing was a Bharat Ratna) how important is it in the Hutch communication plan? More importantly, is it okay to use it on and off? Would that kind of random usage amount to inconsistency in communication?

On a larger plane, if media in general keeps getting fragmented, how relevant would consistency be across platforms/media. Would it be better to have a core idea with different manifestations across media or would the idea be dictated by the medium? Like i wrote a while back, going by the current trend (in India) the former seems to be the strong favourite.

But if the audience differ across media, isn’t it better to communicate something that’s contextually more relevant, even if it means sacrificing consistency? Does the audience really have time to sit and analyse that the communication i saw on the net differs from the one on tv with respect to tone/ objective/ any other parameter. I really don’t think so, especially since the internet will force brands to give up control.

And that brings me back to Hutch – on the same media, targeting the same audience, with no contextual crutch, perhaps consistency is important.

until next time, a pugilist for the cause of giving up control :)

GeneRations

The lights went out, followed immediately by the drone of the apartment’s generator. Now there’d be sound and smoke,but yes, there would be light too. It would get the lamps in the apartment compound going, and he could study. Anyway, it was better than in his house, in the slum next to the apartment.

until next time, let there be light

IPL – Can we have some cricket please?

Notice, that its not a break from cricket. Mine is almost a contrarian stance from the cricket pundits as well as a section of the players and viewers who feel there’s too much of cricket on TV. To me, the latest form makes me feel as though I’m watching an NBA playoff (i don’t, still.. ;) )- celebrities, entertainment, and a game that a lot of people are passionate about. Also, its a testament to the times we live in, similar to what’s happening on the web. Tests- Journals, ODI – Blogs, Twenty20 – Twitter… dwindling attention spans….

The campaigns did their job, maybe thanks to the media avalanche, and although there were concerns that the ‘karmayudh’ was a rip off from an old Fox TVC, it didn’t gather enough momentum to dislodge the creative+media strategy, nor did the internet ban (Internet Prohibited League, anyone?) Meanwhile, many teams created websites and TVCs. SRK created controversies and a music video. Airtel has created an Indian Fantasy League and a facebook app for it, although it does strange things to my facebook page layout. In addition to the Bollywood team owners, Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan were seen endorsing teams. And, as a result of all this and many other things, which I’ve not been able to catalogue, like the names and phone numbers of the cheerleaders, the viewership just skyrocketed.

So, what’s the problem? The problem, I feel, is that I’m reminded of the way Bollywood functions now. The satellite rights, the mobile rights, the overseas rights are all sold before the script is heard, and the movie is declared a hit even before the audience decides whether its right for them. So, whether its a hit or a flop, its a hit anyway financially. In between all this left, right and centre hitting, the public is a mere spectator. Yes, that is their role, I agree, but being the end audience it feels very undemocratic. The connect is that HypePL, at least it seems, has gone so overboard in making sure its sponsors are pleased that it doesn’t spare a thought for the user who is viewing primarily for the cricket. So, by pushing that ad in, if the bowler so much as hesitates in his run up, you’re spoling the experience for the user. And brands which are doing it beware, you might be getting eyeballs, but each eyeball is a negative equity score. I already hate that irresponsible girl who can’t remember to get her damn tie, or keeps her socks in the right place. With lesser frequency, I might have loved it. More on that tomorrow. Hutch (yeah, no publicity for your new brand name), Hyundai (iRRITATING), go look up the word ‘overkill’

until next time, Let TVCs not kill the cricket star, sign up here

Desi Onion

Quite a while back, after several months of ‘The Onion’ fandom, I wanted to start a similar site for India. Well, if not a site, at least a blog. In fact i even squatted on the blogspot url – ‘pyaaz’. Well, I’m happy to announce that the site has been launched…..by someone else.

A tweet from Sanjukta alerted me on the site – Career Pigeon, which seems to be a part of TechTribe, a career networking portal, make that techie career. The site is definitely inspired by the Onion, but it makes quite a decent effort to adapt the content to the Indian workplace scenario.  The site also has the latest Amul creative (wonder if they took permissions for that), Amul being a good example of how good creatives can still rule.

What is funny (no pun intended) though is that the TT homepage has no links to this. In fact, considering the fact that job portals – old and new are grasping at any straws for differentiation, and this seems to be a good engagement device, I’d have thought that TT would’ve at least communicated this, if not hyped it much. And its not as though this is the first edition, it is the second. I agree with WOMM in general, but a little bit of seeding does help. To be fair, maybe they did send a mailer to the TT database, which I’m not part of.

until next time, hope it has a safe flight

Reach out

Last week, I read an article that gave the ‘share of the pie’ picture of different media in India. As expected, print is still king, though TV is fast catching up. Internet is still fighting to touch 2%. Meanwhile, something else i read quite sometime back says how an online video ad gives an 84% recall as against a 54% for the same ad on TV. So, why wouldn’t brands be more digital than TV?

I might be over simplifying it by putting it that way, but the power of the medium seems to be only measured by its reach. And that’s when the marketing gurus (including self proclaimed ones) are crying themselves hoarse saying that engagement is the key (at least until we get the new term). So, then, is everyone trying for a balance? Similar to Nikhil‘s comment on a post a while back, are marketers using offline for reach and online for stickiness? You wish. Thats generalisation, but there are too few examples for me to not generalise.

While it is claimed that it is the lack of broadband penetration that is preventing the web from manifesting its true potential, I think, from a marketing standpoint, its also the mindset. If engagement was the mindset, don’t television and radio also offer some opportunities, at least some, if not the multitude that the internet provides? Interactivity still means SMS contest, without context.

So, its all pointing to the fact that different media are used with a simple logic – x numbers of my TG can be reached through that medium. And what do we do after reaching them – Why, show them our ad, what else? And until that midset changes, would it really matter if our broadband penetration suddenly zoomed?

until next time, reach out, engagement in?

The Journey

And they walked on, through the twists and turns of joys and sorrows and mundane experiences. They were happy, they knew that such was life. The only sadness was that through the twists and turns, they lost sight of who they were when they started out, and now there was no time to go back.

until next time, keeping track

Indijoe

No, not the one on Airport Road- the one made famous by what I consider is the one of the best value-for-money lunch buffet in the city. They have recently opened an outlet on Old Madras Road. To reach there, go down OM road towards KR Puram. After crossing Big Bazaar (on your right), you’ll see RMZ Infinity on the right, would be difficult to miss it with the Mc Donalds M neon. That’s where you’ll find the new Joe. :) Among other things in the same complex/mall(?), there’s a food court, a Subway, a CCD, Beijing Bites, Pathankot, Hakka (Mainland China).

Though we called for reservations, we were told that they don’t take reservations on weekends, which seems to be becoming a trend these days. Anyway, with all those options above (and I’m sure I’ve missed a couple) that drive would be worthwhile, i guess.

We got there by around 7.45 and the place was about 75% full. The IPL could explain the crowd at this relatively early hour. You could either sit inside or on the lawn /road facing vernadah. We chose the outside since it was surprisingly more quiet (again thanks to a raucous IPL cheering crowd inside). The ambience inside is a replica of the other Indijoe, and the menu seems to be a truncated version of the same.

We ordered a non veg combo and a chicken satellite sizzler. The non veg combo consisted of chicken pyramids (er, mini samosa like ;) ), chicken tenders, mozzarella in carrozza (the taste was worth the spelling), dynabites (these guys know their branding – bread pakoras :D ) and spicy chicken wings. The non veg combo is a good way of having a little bit of a lot of things. It actually gives you a feel that you have eaten a lot, and tasty things at that. Dont mistake the red sauce they serve alongside for the normal tomato variety, this one is special, if you are the spicy type. They also give a mustard based sauce, that made me change my impression of mustard in general. The different stuff on the platter also gives you an excuse to try the different sauces one finds at Indijoe – tabasco, worcestershire, and something called HP sauce (wonder if its a tribute to a similar sounding organisation’s office nearby ;) )

The chicken satellite sizzler has grilled boneless chicken with mushroom sauce, with sauteed mushroom garnished with cheese and fresh cream. Yes, and fries. The stuff was good, except that the mushroom was almost charred. We would give the benefit of the doubt to the cook, since the match was evenly poised around that time. I’m sure he didn’t mean it. The good part is that even with all the above, it didn’t give us a bloated feeling, so we decided to plod ahead with a ‘Chocolate Decadence’, that, according to the menu was a four storey high chocolate avalanche. In looks, it lived upto its name, but the secret is that its a lot of fluff :) Though it was quite good, it’s no match for those monstrosities one gets at Frescoes. Now, thats chocolate.

The service is quite good. We got the food very fast. But i think he didnt expect us to have the dessert, so he’d already got the bill made. Indijoe, I’ve always felt, is the least snobbish of the BJN array of eateries, and this one lives up to that image. All of the above cost us about Rs.600. If you don’t mind the longish ride (for anyone not around Indiranagar and its surroundings) a visit would be worth it.

Indijoe, RMZ Infinity, Old Madras Road. Ph-41113377/3553