Ageism


This post is sparked by the controversy around Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Also read in the paper today how Virat Kohli is standing by him.

Why is age so important? Why do we believe that just because a person is old, he is not capable. In the context of Dhoni, is it really because he has supposedly become old so his reflexes are dimmed? Is it not possible that he was having a bad day that day? Of course the conversation about his age has been on for a while. Every time he fails with the bat, knives are out. But the moment he scores big, people start talking about how his experience pulled the team through. His reflexes behind the stumps are as sharp as ever. I don’t know how many of you watch the matches regularly, but next time when he is keeping wickets, watch him carefully. You will see it on his face. The brain is constantly ticking. His match awareness shows through. Now is it age or experience? Yes sports is a very physical and fitness is paramount but as you grow older, you learn to balance the two. Experience and fitness. He is lucky that he had Virat supporting him.

But look beyond sports. Ageism has become a concept. Except for India and few other countries, age has become a big factor. The population is old and therefore ageism has become a burning issue.

Traditionally, One has always believed that up to a certain age, a person is considered productive. After that he or she becomes a liability and has to be looked at in a patronising way. To be suffered till he retires. Retire by itself is a concept. Who decided that 58 or 65 or whatever is the age to retire? Of course one argument would be that place needs to be made for new people joining the work force. Hmm shouldn’t you create more jobs for these new people?

Driven by this thinking, there was a time when people would mentally switch off from work and wait for their retirement. It was almost like giving up on life.

But that mindset has changed dramatically. People want to stay productive lot longer. They want to work longer. They keep themselves fit and agile. Physically and mentally. But the problem is, the traditional myopic view hasn’t changed. All employers still follow the rule of defining when the person will not be productive. Hiring is done accordingly.

There are many things that go against older people. “He will be too set in his ways”. “He won’t be in tune with the latest”. “He will be a technological challenged person”. “Health will be an issue”. “He will be slow and will get left behind in the fast moving world”

Start ups started by 20 somethings tend to hire a younger lot. With. Belief that it is the young who is hungry to make a mark and will fit in to the start up culture better.

If you ask me, it is a lot of bullshit.

Couple of decades back, people used to get married at a much younger age so everything used to happen much earlier. By 40-45, a person would have done everything he or she was meant to do in life. After that it was just a matter of time.

But that’s not the case anymore. People marry late, have a focus on what all they want to do in life. Kids happen late. So the responsibilities start late.

Back in the old days, by the time a person retires, his kids had kids. But now the kids are more often than not, still pursuing higher education.

This is the realisation that has made people look for ways to stay fit, stay connected with modern trends. They want to be productive lot longer.

But the world around them wants to scream in their ears that they are old! (Perhaps the world thinks that because of age the person might be going deaf). It is hell bent on putting them to pasture. To sideline. To tell their life is over.

Experience has stopped counting for much. You see, the pace has changed, the way of working has changed and the experience of 20+ years is not going to be relevant. What will this old person know about Digital?! How will he have insight into the millennials and Gen Z minds?!

No issues with that. Everyone takes time to change but Change does happen.

Experience does count. In a rush to do many things at the same time, things are faltering. Lack of experience is showing. A Hardik Pandya will take time to mature. He will need someone experienced to manage the maturing process. That is where experience counts. Managing the process to be successful.

We see 10 things this, 10 things that of people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or whoever. Notice these things have been tested over a period of time and have proven to be successful. Yes they all started young but if we talk about them now, we talk about what they learnt over a period of time.

In India, with its young population, ageism perhaps won’t be a big topic but over a period of time (after all the population will age too), ageism will become a topic of heated discussion.

Perhaps we should learn from the ‘experience’ of other ageing nations? 🙂

At this point of time, driven by a certain arrogance of youth, this post might sound like a venting of an old man but we all grow old and we all know what Karma is 🙂

Those were the days


First up, I would like to thank my friend Ashu Sabharwal for sending me a link to songs from a different era. It was a trip down memory lane. The days of listening to western songs on “Forces Request” on AIR. 7 or perhaps 8 songs in one hour with endless dedications interrupting.

The title of the post is from a song by Mary Hopkins in 1968.

“Those were the days”, we all reminisce once we cross an age when we have teenage kids. We try very hard to tell them how our lives were as exciting if not more as compared to their lives now. We are trying to compete because deep inside, we are jealous. Jealous of their lives in this new age where it is very easy to be spontaneous and impulsive. More importantly, it is perfectly fine to give in to an impulse.

“Those were the days” is not actually us thinking about the wonderful childhood. It is more about realising how dull it was compared to the lives kids have today. Yeah yeah we all can rationalise that by saying we didn’t have kind of stress that exists today.

Today when the kids argue with us, we are not upset that they are arguing with us. We are upset that we were not as strong willed or confident when we were kids. We never dared to voice our opinion or discontent.

“Those were the days” we tell our kids when we studied so much and spent endless hours with our books. The truth is that we didn’t have anything else to do! Today the kids don’t need to spend that much of time because their awareness due to technology is way more than ours used to be.

“Those were the days” is our way of holding on to our youth in our memories. It’s probably our “go-to” place to escape our current lives full of stress.

Heart of hearts, we wish we were born couple of decades later to maximise everything that this world has to offer. We want TARDIS. Travel back in time to relive our lives. Ain’t gonna happen. 

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…

Idea stretched too far


So the new airtel campaign is out. Wonder what people think of the new communication. My two pennies worth… I think it is stretched (as the title of the post says). Har ek friend jaroori hota hai was so fresh… had an insight into the users (the youth)… was stemming from the users.

But the new TVC surely lacks an insight unless the insight is “internet hai toh friendship hai” and if it is so… Bleh! as the young generation says. This TVC is all about what airtel internet offers and not what the users want.. I mean sure they want all of that stuff but they are getting that already right? Else the handsets would not have had Facebook button and preloaded social apps.

I think everybody will probably like the song but will they connect with the communication and with the brand… umm I don’t know…


So yet another in a series of communication by liquor brands trying hard to connect with the

audience by saying something thought-provoking and profond (supposedly). And seriously, do the liquor brands really believe that this surrogate crap will make the people feel that the brand is not about drinking yourself silly, but about a social consciousness or whatever.

Johnny Walker – Keep Walking

Seagram’s Royal Stag – Make it Large
and Now Smirnoff  – I Choose to be a Hero

the underlying message to all the communication is consume me and I will consume you.

You can make it Large if you have Royal Stag. And a sports person endorsed the brand?? And the Indian Cricket team Captain also endorses another liquor brand. And now this –  I choose to be a hero by having Smirnoff.


Surrogate is fine if it stays in the fun area or something ridiculous as mineral water or glasses and stuff. But I do not think they have any business propagating any kind of philosophy… specially to the young (as all communication seems to reflect, except perhaps Johnny Walker).

Automobile Communication – It is all so easy and so shallow


So youth is the new consumer for every possible category including the automobiles. All the new compact cars that are being launched are supposedly addressing this new consumer.

Toyota Liva TVC had ticked all the boxes as far as communication to the youth is concerned. Of course the communication left many confused – was it a commercial for a car or for a mobile phone with a host of apps.

And the latest from Hyundai Eon. Must have been one very complicated brief and then even more complicated creative thinking to come up with the big idea to address youth – We got to have a song with kickass lyrics which address the mindset of youth (I want it now). Then take the car for a spin and have people admire it (traditional stuff when it comes to automobile or bikes communication – seen it so many times in past couple of decades… Hero Honda or rather Hero Motocorp was a master at it). Now comes the most crucial piece.. which would have been laboured over by the planning, servicing and the client – The “kind” of people and situations to connote youth. And we have an award-winning commercial which so connects with the youth.

Seriously?

Somehow all the brands… whether it is Hyundai Eon or Toyota Live (I wont include Honda Brio in this because I could not understand the commercial) or Nokia think that the youth of today is extremely shallow. In my past posts I have written enough about it  but still when i see commercials like the one under discussion… it gets me here again..

I have a very young team working with me whose average age is probably 23/24. I look at them and then I look at all these TVCs and it makes me wonder… is this bunch of young an exception or all the brands are getting it wrong. This young crowd is materialistic.. sure.. but the fact is that they are working and are very committed at what they do (probably lot more than me at their age). It is the money that they earn by working hard and smart is the money that is then spent on gadgets and all the accessories. And they want the best.. because they can afford the best and the communication under discussion is sheer wall paper for them.

The breath of fresh air is the commercial for BPTP ( a real estate company in Delhi/NCR). Unfortunately (and they missed a trick here) it is not available on youtube so I can’t give the link. But readers who live in Delhi/NCR would have seen it playing in mulitplexes. Will briefly describe it.

A working girl comes home for holiday. Her grandmother exhorts her to settle down (In India it means get married) because she is 26 now. The girl takes out her phone and tells her granny she has settled and should she show the photographs. There is a shocked look on granny’s face… her parents too (that she got married and didn’t even tell them). But what she shows are the interiors of a house that she has bought! The granny.. not to be outdone.. says that she meant marriage and the girl turns around and says “For security? Oh there is a watchmen for the complex!”

To my mind they have completely done it! broken so many stereotypes in one communication – 26-year-old buying a house and that too a girl (age and gender). Where typically most real estate communication does not address either. And then to top it all… the age-old notion that is set for girls in this country about marriage.

Tackily executed (sure looks very low-budget handy cam kind of commercial) but great on idea.

There is another one and I cant remember if it is Chevrolet Beat or Spark but it is on air currently about a woman doctor who suddenly realizes that it is Raksha Bandhan and drives over to tie rakhi to her brother… again breaks the stereotype of automobile advertising – car driving around for no reason at all (mostly by guys).

I think most brands need to go back to the drawing board and let go of shallow thinking if they really want to communicate and be part of young people’s lives.

Some links to view:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgAFK95qlm4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTH01RVAfy0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xih8sVbI9ww

Being young is not as easy as it looks


Hell! of course no! and it took Nokia so many years to realize this!! And when they finally did… hmm are they really connecting with the youth with communication full of stereotypes (or the imagery that strategy planner and creative thought is the perfect imagery that will get the youth flocking back to the brand). The youth have moved on and the brands don’t need to tell them that it is not easy (specially in the tripe way). Have already written about how tough it is to be young so wont get into it.

But brands… specially a brand like Nokia don’t need to be shallow… dig deeper… only then you can connect with the young..

Check the link.. which Nokia thinks will link them with the youth

http://www.afaqs.com/advertising/creative_showcase/index.html?id=30449&media=TV&type=Indian

Check out the link below when Nokia used to rock and was deeply connected with the changing youth and their engagement with their handset

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHz-vgxWJ04