Age Compression

It is interesting how the real life and reel life always collide. I mean we all know that cinema or a lot of serials (not the saans bahu crap) are a reflection of the popular culture and they show the trends or in many cases suss out the trend in its infancy and push it forward.

So why am I talking about this? Couple of days back there was an episode of Boston Legal (have become a big fan of the serial) about this very sexually overt doll for 6 year olds and it described this whole age compression theory of how toy manufacturers propagate the kids to look at toys which really are not meant for their age. It did make me wonder about how right that theory is. When NFS (Need For Speed) mentions 12+ or 15+ or 18+ on the jacket, it, in a very subliminal way, is provoking the kids. Now Boston Legal episodes are obviously a rerun since this particular episode is from 2007 season… so whats the connection.

It is what happened at Modern School in New Delhi last week. The kind of language that was used by 6th graders during the bullying. Extremely sexual and violent…

So where do 11-year-old kids learn this from… Environment and access brought about by the digital connect. As parents, we like to believe that we are monitoring our kids to make sure that they are brought up in the right way. Sure we are… but somewhere some parents are not doing it right and those kids become a big influence on others around them. Ever seen a guy jumping the red light with his kids in the car? Ever seen a guy making his young child sit with him in the driver’s seat and manage the steering wheel? That really is the beginning of the end actually..

Digital connect has also led to the end of innocence. There will be millions who will turn around and tell me that internet has also led to a lot of awareness and how the kids of today are so well-informed and how they check what the kids do on the net… Really? do you??

We are so clueless today about what is happening with our kids. We live in a state of denial and yet when you look around, you see kids doing stuff which we as kids didn’t even know. Sure some of it is good and has led to kids being geniuses but like all things in life, it’s the taboo that titillate and tempts and makes the kids want to experience and catches their attention…

That episode of Boston Legal in 2007 was reflecting what was happening in US back then. And it resonates with what is happening in this country now and where we are headed.

I don’t know if there is a solution to this or will we also go through the cycle of degradation before getting back on our feet…

Only time will tell if the foundation of our culture is strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the western decadence that led to moral corruption of the west.. I think the foundation will collapse. For the simple reason that what we project as a strong value foundation is so hollow.. tolerance and value system that has not been followed by people of this country ever.. these are just nice sounding words…

Age compression is here to stay and we in our busy lives do not have the time or we even know how to manage this turbulence…

Anything is possible

Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue
Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Two quotes from Don Draper of Mad Men to start this post and to make a point:


“People want to be told what to do so badly that they will listen to anyone”


“What you call love was invented by guys like me… to sell nylons”


The more I see of the advertising today, am increasingly getting convinced that agencies (and the client) and still living their lives in the Madison Avenue of the 60’s. You can sell anything as long as you play on the fear or insecurity of the people. Or play on their lack of self belief…


When growing up, there are brands that tell you how you can be more intelligent than the rest… taller than the rest… sharper than the rest.. (wonder what happens if theoretically everyone was to consume these brands! how will the comparison happen??)


As you grow older, there are writing instruments that tell you how you can write the perfect paper in double-quick time etc.


And then the fun starts… If you had not consumed the stuff that would make you intelligent and taller and sharper while growing up.. do not lose hope… There is a chewing gum I think which will make the big idea pop up in your head… there is a carbonated drink… gulp it down and you are ready to conquer all your fears… A cola which makes you do crazy stunts… And now the latest Josh Cola – Pepsi Atom! Seriously… if one were to consume all of this… why worry if at birth your IQ was bordering around stupid!


And not to forget.. all the deos (my pet peeve) who can get the girls fawning over you… or if only you can learn the art of picking up a fallen book (remember to wear Raymonds)… attracting the girls is a breeze…


And things don’t end there.. If for some reason you did not take care of your skin while you were young… there are miracles waiting for you beyond the 30… Forever young they will keep you…


Of course I have been part of this profession for more than 20 years but some of the stuff I see now.. makes me question what we do… A decade and half back… Pepsi used to be fun.. as my advertising guru used to say… the communication was a surrogate for actual consumption of the drink… there was a an irreverence about it because after all.. cola or any carbonated drink is completely irreverent.. don’t get philosophical…


Same thing with alcohol advertising – Johnny Walker keep walking or Teacher’s achievement awards or many such initiatives… seriously? And yeah.. that reminds me.. this weekend Bacardi Breezer had a fun-filled evening for the families in our complex… The problem with that… Kids were taking part in all the fun… and 12/13 year olds talking about how they wish they could have a breezer! Way to go Bacardi… catch them young


But enough… advertising will not change because consumers and their insecurities wont and as long as there are enough insecure people on this planet…




The Circus is Over…

Quite a few of my blog readers had asked me as to how come I was not writing about  Lokpal controversy and the fast by Anna Hazare. My answer to that was – It’s a waste of time… there is nothing to write about.

So why am I writing now? Because  circus is over. A circus where everyone was a clown… including the thousands who were holding protests across the country… on the streets, in their neighbourhood, at the Ramlila ground and everywhere else. I bet most didn’t know what they were protesting for.

They were there because it was cool to be associated with a movement. It was  cool to be seen there. It made for a whole lot of status updates on facebook and tweets by the twits.

And we are living in a delusion that something will come out of this whole fight against corruption. A bill that has waited to get passed for so many decades… we expect that it will get passed and Lokpal will come into existence?? Dream on people… The 500 hundred odd people who control the destiny of this country are steeped in corruption and they are surely not going to let anything happen to all the scams they run.. day in and day out. Political parties win elections on the basis of corruption… not by people’s will.

We are a country or scamsters… hustlers… everyone is out to make a quick buck or get things done to their satisfaction. Ever wondered how someone builds a billion dollar monstrosity for his residence and there is not one question raised about where did the money come from? The cream of Corporate India would soon be operating from the confines of Tihar Jail.. Not because suddenly we as a nation developed a conscience but because they did not either grease enough palms or did not use enough grease.

Hazare and his supporters think that they have won some kind of battle. What they don’t realise is that they have been outmaneuvered. The political class has pretended to give in and killed all the drama that was happening. And it will be business as usual very soon. The media will move on to newer stories… we will move on with our lives and money will keep getting transferred into the Swiss Bank accounts

Unlike the revolts, rebellions and uprisings in the Middle East and Africa, our country is different. We are not an oppressed lot or being ruled by a dictator. Under the constant opium spread into our blood stream by all the good things that are happening around us… Per Capita Income is rising… economy is growing faster than most economies in the world and blah blah blah.. we really have no strong reason to revolt. If there is corruption… it is there because we have encouraged it. We want our driving licences, we want to cut corners, we want our deal to go through, we want to sell our property by doing half cash half cheque deal…. I could go on… but we are responsible for the monster called corruption.. So we will not do anything to stop it because we still want all the aforesaid things.

Past couple of weeks… people on the streets and all the celebrities jumping up and down… it was all about few mins of fame for being associated with a cause. Most didn’t really know what the cause was…

Nothing is ever gonna happen…

Reclaim your life

Since yesterday I been switching on the tv at 5.30 am in the morning to watch The Ashes (for the cricketically challenged population, it’s the series between Australia & England) and caught the Tata Safari Dicor commercial. It’s not a new one but one done year and half back… “what would you remember when you look back on your life”… Enough probably has been written about the campaign right from the first commercial in 2005. But this commercial linked with the conversation I was having with a friend yesterday. It was about the fact that when we grow old and we look back on our lives… what would we remember? would it be the many deals that made us a success in our professional life… would it be about how much money we made? would it be about how we manipulated at work to rise the corporate ladder? would it be about how many lives we trampled on to reach the top? We both agreed that nope we wont remember any of this… what we would remember would be the moments of joy which were not about professional success and would almost always be centered around the people in our lives… our family… our mother… our father… our wives… our children… our friends (that one friend who made a difference and not 589 people on facebook)… So then why do we chase everything that will not be remembered?

We chase them because we are driven. Driven by what society marks as success symbols. A degree… a job… a car… a house (make that the ‘right address’)… club membership… frequent flyer miles… business class… We are smothered by communication that tells us that if we don’t have any of this, we have not made it. Communication creates the pressure right from the time children become aware and follow what is going on around them. THE PRESSURE TO BELONG. But the point is… belong to what? the environment which promotes spend spend spend…. acquire acquire acquire…

Getting ahead is not about being a better human being. Getting ahead is about how much you got as compared to people around you. You must have the next big thing. The 3D LED TV… iPhone… connected lifestyle… how many followers do you have on twitter… Statistics about how many people would read this blog… Success is not a measure of what difference you have made to lives of people but what all you have…

Brands of today have a larger role to play. In the world of product parity, discounts and freebies, the product would always sell but empathy for the brand and thereby the ability of the brand to step out of the discounts and freebies and be bought for what it stands for would go further and stay lot longer in the consumer’s mind.

The brand should be bought for its beliefs and not the capriciousness it promotes. Of course in some cases… like Tata Safari… it has not been bought because users were reclaiming their lives but it was big and controlled the road.

“Reclaim your life” is a powerful statement and it should be continued because we are moving towards times when we would be craving to reclaim the innocence that has been lost… craving to reclaim the inner beliefs and values which we have let go.

There have been stray thoughts in the past and some new ones which are indicative of the changing Brand view…

AirTel back in 2002/03 about communicate… Asian Paints – “har ghar kuch kehta hai”… powerful communication. They evoked emotions which were not about “buy me now” but went deep into our sub conscious.

Idea Cellular with its continuing communication specially about language not being a barrier, is sending out a message… but is anybody listening in the flood of all the apps that can be used and the handsets peddling out ‘facebook key’?

Tata Tea with its Jago Re raised the consciousness to vote and while it probably did not make a difference in the current Bihar election but the return of Nitish Kumar is a sign that people are fed up of goonda raj…

Any brand which says that it is about pure technology edge or functionality has a very myopic view. Sure they will sell and will keep adding to the top line and bottom line but wont last because the world 5 years from now is going to look for reclaiming the life and it surely wont look at the brands which perpetuated all the reasons why the life was lost in the first place…

Brand evangelism is not a term which sounds good in advertising strategy presentation… it is what every brand needs to aim for. And evangelism is not rooted in the functionality of the product but a bond between the consumer and the brand. Would suggest reading ‘The Primal Brand” by Pat Hanlon.

And a coincidence… while watching cricket, I switched to VH1 classics and The Cranberries song – Zombies was on… and in the context of this blog sounded so apt. It’s just  that the battlefield has shifted…

Another head hangs lowly,
Child is slowly taken.
And the violence caused such silence,
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it’s not me, it’s not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are crying…

The first link is worth a watch again

Money is Everything

Ramalinga Raju is the founder and former Chair...
Image via Wikipedia

So Ramalinga Raju is out on bail. I don’t think it would surprise anyone. What would though surprise everyone is that it took him a year and half to come out. And read in the paper that the so-called jail he was in, he was far more comfortable than I am in my rented apartment! The doctors at the hospital where he was being treated, were not letting him go back to the jail saying he requires constant monitoring and they cant send him back to jail.. but the moment his bail application is through.. they are giving him permission to leave the hospital.

Now surely all of this has not happened because Raju is such a nice guy and a complete philanthropist and a do gooder of humanity… Nope.. he is out because he had tons of money.. in spite of going bankrupt (the bankruptcy money was public money) and he was a philanthropist to a few… grease the cogs well enough and get the machinery to move whichever way you want.

In one of my posts last year I had mentioned that sooner than later he will be out. Not only that.. now the case will keep dragging on and soon everyone will forget everything about Satyam. Money and Connection.. works every time…

I wont be surprised if 5 years from now, he would be pursued by various political parties. They would want him as their candidate in election… but that’s India for you. All you need is money and you can own anything that you want… because everything and everyone has a price…

Another Independence day gone by

So yesterday was another Independence day… Another day of meaningless words uttered by the Prime Minister of India from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Another day of people on social networking sites talking about Happy Independence Day… There were many who wished me too for my birthday (wonder if it is good thing or a bad thing that I was born on this day)… another day or commercial establishments running fraud sales… another day of watching patriotic movies on tv… another day of media talking about the meaning of independence and what all has India achieved.. or not achieved…

Now till the next Independence Day (or even Republic Day), we will be back to business as usual… Politicians would be back to pushing the country down the drain.. shops would move on to rakshabandhan sale, followed by Dussera, Diwali and Christmas and New Year.

For a generation which never actually realized what it took to gain Independence (and sometimes I wonder if we are really independent), it is very hard to understand the relevance apart from the speil given my commercial establishments and brands or posting messages on facebook.

When “freedom to be” is curtailed by moral and cultural dogmas… When “freedom to be” is controlled by the political and beauraucratic set ups… when “freedom to be” is held to ransom on the streets in the garb of development… when “freedom to be” is cut down to size by the whole education system… when “freedom to be” is controlled  by just perhaps 1% of the country’s population… where is the freedom.

It’s a Matrix that we are living in… when collectively through various media mouthpieces we are told that we are far better off than our previous generation and examples are peddled of the state of well being.

I must confess that I am also living the Matrix life and believe everything that is told to me… living in a state of denial.. of things that are wrong and what needs to be done to correct things that are so wrong… It is not really my problem is it? Sure I will crib and fret but will I do anything about it? Nope I wont… why should I when others are not doing anything about it.

Now I am no fan of Mahatma Gandhi. But watched the movie Gandhi all over again yesterday and realized that for all his faults, the Man had it in him to move the nation as one and shake the foundations of the Imperialistic Britishers.

He did that because he believed in himself and the power of the people. How many of us can stand by our convictions in this day and age? No one I would imagine… and that includes me too. Saw the Bharati ad which is doing the rounds on facebook and how people are getting orgasmic over it… left me utterly cold… Probably I have become a cynic… probably my faith in the Matrix is waning… Probably I am searching for a white rabbit who would take me to Morpheus… and salvation.

Wipe that Smile

Barkha Dutt in one of her columns in newspaper mentioned that the smile needs to be wiped off Rathore’s face. After 19 years in court, the case culminated in a 6 months sentence for the molester. Yes that smile definitely needs to be wiped off his face. My heart goes out to Ruchika’s father who sees that smile splashed across newspapers almost everyday.

But that smile is not just Rathore’s smile. It is the smile of every single offender who has connections in the power corridors and can get away with anything. It is the kind of smile that every SS and Gestapo officer had on his face when he was sending yet another jew into hell.

It is a symbol of what this country of ours has become. Soren was in jail for various offenses. He probably has many more cases pending against him and yet there is every likelihood that he will become the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. Where is the the election commission? Where is the rule which says that criminals cannot fight elections or be allowed to hold power in the political system.

Jessica Lall’s murderer was allowed to roam free. Nitish Kataria’s murderer can do what he wants. Guy takes Audi for a test drive and snuffs out one life and the leaves the other life hanging in balance and their kids who will question themselves all their life as to whose fault it really was and yet is able to claim bail within hours of his arrest. And even if he gets convicted after another 20 years, his sentence would at the max be 2 years!

The unfortunate part is that these events are only of news value to media. Get hyped for couple of days and then go on the back burner till the next anniversary happens. The Rajdeeps, the Arnabs will scream, shout and rant for a day, get the eyeballs, get the brands advertising on their channel and move on to the next big story. Does anyone really care what happens to the victims? Nope… nobody cares. The people who should care are actually the people who are not with the common man but with the likes of Rathore who has the sickening smile on his face.