Have Mobile, Will Go to Town

Cellular services are thriving, but like several other services and products, the claims in the advertising are not mirrored in actual performance.

When I entered advertising in the Eighties, cola was the happening category. Agency creative types would give an arm and a leg to work on a cola or a soft drinks account. Captions resonated in young people’s minds, won awards for the agency that created them and quickly made it to the editorial as newspapers and magazines adapted the lines and made them their own. In all fairness many of the other categories, dominated as they were by multinational style advertising, had boring and predictable ads. Thankfully people still watched these ads as there was only one channel and usually half a programme to watch. This was before the days of oongli cricket as the remote control had not yet made its diabolical presence felt. And if my memory serves me right, there was research to suggest that people found the commercials more entertaining than the programmes themselves, which was perhaps an indication of how sad the programmes were at that point in time.

Having said that it would be remiss of me not to mention some of the pathbreaking ads of the Eighties, some of which I can still recall and which I still show my students today, some of whom were born after these ads were made. Ads for Vimal, the ‘I love you Rasna’ ads, the ‘Lalitaji’ commercials, ‘Give me Red’ for Eveready, ‘Hamara Bajaj’ and the commercial of the Cadbury’s girl in the cricket field to name just a few, kept our collars up even if our wallets were thin. And yet, when I show these ads today they seem hardly as exciting as they were when I first saw them. It was for nothing that Bill Bernbach said “Today’s smartest advertising style is tomorrow’s corn.”

Variety, the spice of life

Perhaps the greatest shot in the arm not only for the Indian economy but for Indian advertising was liberalisation when foreign brands came in quest of the ‘great Indian middle class’. Some flourished while others floundered but advertise they did, with varying shades of creativity. And yet the greatest revolution, to my mind at least, has been the ‘mobile revolution’ as India took to mobiles the way a young Sachin Tendulkar took to cricket nearly three decades ago. Young India goes to sleep with its mobile and old India has sleepless nights about the next generation’s addiction for mobile phones. But one industry that has not lost any sleep about the phenomenal growth of the mobile services industry is advertising.

Mobile service companies are advertising-dependent, to put it mildly. Companies are in cut-throat competition with each other in the prepaid and postpaid categories, have mindboggling schemes and sexy advertising. The target audience is young, irreverent, has a sense of humour and is completely relaxed as it spends its parents’ money! Mobile services is a brilliant advertising category that can entertain, beat the clutter, make you smile and even win your agency awards. What more can anyone ask for?

Of course, there is a slightly discordant note that I must bring up (I think it is my horoscope that prevents me from seeing the brighter side of things) and that is about how far removed from the truth this advertising often is. Every mobile service ad talks about phenomenal coverage. The pug follows the little girl wherever she goes, signifying the depth and width of the coverage. It is a completely different matter that my colleagues in Mumbai are extremely fit as they have to run out every time their mobile phone rings, as you can’t hear a word inside the office! Of course, the fact that I do not run much is evident from my middle!

One of the most recalled commercials for Airtel is one in which the grandfather who is in the village and the grandson who is in the train play chess. Forget connectivity on a moving train in distant lands; as an Airtel customer I can vouch for how dismal the coverage is in not-so-distant places such as Mumbai for I have hell when I go there and even in Bangalore where I live and work. Coverage is the last thing the brand should speak about, for it is like a red rag to disgruntled consumers such as us.

In fact, the advertising for mobile services reminds me of a competition that most management schools have called ‘mad ads’ where students are asked to do advertising for an imaginary product or service. Mobile services are definitely there and thriving, but they are like several other service products in the country whose actual performance has no relevance to the advertising that they portray. Make no mistake, mobile services advertising in the country is by and large brilliant, entertaining, and clutter-breaking. Why ask needless questions like “is what they are saying true” and “how good is the actual coverage?”

Withdrawal symptoms after IPL

The IPL is over and for a few days I had withdrawal symptoms as I would mechanically go and sit in front of the TV at 8 p.m. I miss the hysterics of Danny Morrison; Navjot Singh Sidhu’s profound wisdom that would fill an entire calling card; the show of legs as the cheerleaders danced to Kannada and Tamil songs; the wistful gaze of an heir apparent on a largely disinterested young star; and the elusive smiles of Preity Zinta as her team discovered new depths; the missed sitters that made me think ‘S***, I could have caught that’; the multiple teams on 12 points; the strategic breaks where the commentators were hard pressed to say anything remotely strategic; the haunting images of Lalit Modi with some pretty woman or the other… A weaker man might have been driven to drink! But thankfully, the ads for mobile services continue to entertain even if Lalit Modi or Shashi Tharoor refuse to. So let me talk about the mobile services ads that I like and that are current.

Show me your tattoo and I will show you mine

Have you seen the one where a lady with South Indian features is chopping vegetables on a kitchen table, Suprabhatham is playing in the background and her pretty daughter approaches her reluctantly and says, “I want to show you something”? The mother looks up, one suspects with dread, God knows what today’s youngsters can show and lo and behold, she displays a huge and grotesque tattoo on her lower back. I stared aghast at the tattoo as I thought her mother would and imagine my surprise when the mother says in her pronounced Madrasi accent, “very nice”. It was for “my song” and asks people to listen to what they would like to listen. I am sure lots of people with grown-up children like me love this commercial for Tata Docomo, as they would of the young man who goes for an interview and says exactly the wrong things and yet gets a job! Tata Docomo has been a game changer in the mobile category and its pricing has turned the market on its head. But its success in no small measure is due to the advertising.

Not far behind are the Airtel ads for night time calling featuring Sharman Joshi (I finally figured out his name, after all, South Indian names are a problem for North Indians too) where he speaks to his girlfriend’s brother and advises him on what to study before he gets to speak to the girl or when he makes the shopkeeper speak to his mom and bargain on the sari price and butters up his professor on thermodynamics thanks to the Net… So what if Airtel has call drops and you can’t hear, at least, they have interesting commercials. And what about Idea Cellular and its whacky commercials that feature crazy contests with Abhishek, his fat attendant and the dumb blonde? The whackier the contest, the more I liked the commercial. And what about Vodafone and the Zoozoos? I know that I am going to upset a few people, including my colleague who is a fervent admirer of the advertising, when I say that the current advertising is not as endearing as the earlier edition. Is it more in your face? More strident? More tailored to suit the brand IPL? I don’t know, but I have seen better from the same brand.

And finally it is not only advertising

I have a sneaking suspicion that the mobile brands are taking the easy way out and focusing on creativity and advertising that is manageable. What about customer service and engagement? Let me give you an example as recent as yesterday. My wife received a mail from her personal relationship manager whose name I shall not mention saying “thank you” and that she was “special” and how she was her personal relationship manager. There was a small problem though; the mail started with “Dear Sir/Madam,” and went on to say all those glowing things. My wife being the difficult customer that she is wrote back:

“Thank you for your mail (here she had addressed the relationship manager by name). If I am such a valued customer, I am surprised that your database does not tell you whether I am a male or a female.



I think it is time mobile service companies realised that there is more to life than advertising. Advertising is fun. It is glamorous. It is sexy even, like the tattoo ad. But the boring stuff is what customers bond with and that is customer experience and service.

Is anyone listening or are they too busy making ads?

Join the discussion at Third Umpire On Branding

More Summertime Safety Tips for Your Dog

Summertime is a time of year we all look forward to.

Swimming in the pool or lake, a cookout with friends in the backyard and for some of us doing long overdue household repairs is just a few of the things we look forward to doing.

Whatever activities you are planning keep the safety of your dog in mind.

Most of us have a preconceived idea that dogs are born swimmers. In most of our minds we seem to think that puppies were born to doggie paddle.

Not so!

Dogs have to learn to swim just as people do; they were not born as ducks.

Many a dog (and cat) has drowned in pools because they had never been in water before and could not swim and secondly because there was no way for them to get out of the pool and they drowned trying to stay afloat.

If you have a pool be certain your dog cannot fall into it.

If your dog is a swimmer make certain there is a means for your pet to get out of the pool by itself.

Either teach your dog to use the steps or have a ramp installed by the stairs for your pet to use.

There are many manufacturers that make such ramps if you cannot build one yourself.

Pool chemicals are another source of danger for your dog. Some of the chemicals are very corrosive and can burn your dog’s paw pads or skin.

As unappetizing as they seem to us, to a curious dog a lick or two could prove interesting and also be fatal.

Keep all chemicals on a shelf high up so “curious George” cannot get into them. This includes such things as anti freeze, windshield cleaner, products used in the garden, and bug sprays.

If you are using a liquid fertilizer on the grass or garden or spraying the grass for critters make certain your dog does not wander on the wet lawn or garden.

Dogs use their tongues as towel to clean off wet paws and the products you are using are toxic. Keep your dog in until things have dried off.

Should you dog get some of the product on its paws wash them with a detergent such as “Dawn” to remove the residue and oils.

If you are having problems with slugs and snails be very cautious using commercial bait traps as there is something in the chemicals that dogs love and they will eat them.

This is also true for certain fertilizers used for such flowers as roses. Even if the product is worked into the ground the dog’s nose knows where it is and will try to dig it up and consume some.

Summer is also the time for fleas, ticks and mosquitoes be certain you are using a flea and tick preventative on your dog and that your pet is current on its heartworm medication.

Hot weather can mean death to a dog if left in a car even for a short time in the summer. The heat especially affects snubbed-nosed dogs like Pugs and Pekinese.

Do not walk your dog in the middle of the day, heat exhaustion is possible and burned paw pads could result.

Just try walking barefoot on a hot sidewalk, yourself.

Make certain your pet; if it is outside has accessibility to shade and plenty of water.

Should your dog show signs of heat exhaustion quickly wet it down with a hose, do not use ice water or cold water.

Dogs do not sweat; panting is their body’s air conditioning system.

Do it your-selfer’s need to be cautious too, around the family dog.

All the solvents and glues that you use for those exciting projects can be toxic to your dog.

Keep everything off the floor and should you spill something, wipe it up immediately. For some reason that ever-ready nose is always leading a dog into what could be serious trouble.

If you are planning on using your backyard for fun and games this summer it would be wise to make certain that all gates leading to the yard have quick acting spring latches on them.

Many a curious dog has left home because a visiting guest “forgot” to close the gate.

A spring lock can be easily attached to any gate and will be worth all the time it took if it means keeping your dog in and safe.

These are just a few tips to keep your dog safe and make your summer one that you both will remember.

An ounce of prevention is really worth the time that it takes to protect the health and safety of your precious dog.

Top Family Dog Breeds

Many families beyond the country accomplish the accommodation to get a dog for the ancestors every year. Abounding of them do their appointment and aces an adapted brand for the ancestors based on the brand attitude and the ages of the accouchement in the family. Unfortunately, abounding added families accomplish adverse choices and end up re-homing, giving away, or abandoning their pets. Before any altercation apropos accepting a dog takes place, the parents in the abode charge to set down some arena rules and apperceive adequate breeds to consider.

1. Aureate Retriever

A abiding admired on the “most accepted breeds” list, this blazon of dog is accomplished for families that adore lots of time accepting alive and accomplishing alfresco activities. The brand was originally developed to retrieve birds on hunting expeditions but anon accepted its account as a loyal ancestors companion. One downside of the brand is its mountains of fur. While admirable if maintained, the dog will crave circadian abrasion and ability afford a lot.

2. West Highland Terrier

The West Highland Terrier, or Westie, is a baby white terrier that is antic and loveable. Like all terriers, and absolutely all dogs, this brand requires some exercise to accumulate him happy. Westies are acceptable watch dogs and loyal friends. These little guys are abundant for earlier accouchement but accept been accepted not to abide adventitious abusage from adolescent children. For this reason, they are not about recommended for houses with accouchement beneath the age of ten. Like the aureate retriever, the Westie needs some admonishment to accumulate his covering mat and coil free.

3. Cairn Terrier

A accessory of the West Highland Terrier, these are boxy little dogs. This dog is actual addicted of humans and will do able-bodied in any alive ambiance as continued as there are humans around. Just like its accessory the West Highland Terrier, this brand needs exercise to break happy. The Cairn Terrier is accessible in a array of colors including cream, wheaten, red, sandy, grey, or brindle in a aggregate of these colors.

4. Irish Setter

The Irish Setter is accession dog that was originally bred to coursing birds. Accepting a bird dog, they can be excitable. Their admirable red covering makes them accepted and admired by abounding families. The dog breed, on the whole, is consistently acquisitive to please. The red covering that makes the dog so accepted charge to be brushed and akin or it will attending beneath than its best.

5. Schnauzer

Another terrier, Schnauzers are abounding of personality and are accessible in three sizes. The bigger Schnauzer admeasurement ability not be adapted for a ancestors with baby accouchement as the dog is absolutely large. The two abate accessible sizes are bigger for families. The Schnauzer is a admirable ancestors pet that is both acquisitive to amuse and loves to accumulate the ancestors safe. Like all dogs, the Schnauzer does crave circadian exercise. In addition, Schnauzers charge to be clean-cut or their covering will get matted. There is a brand accepted cut that abounding humans accept for their pets.

6. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Weighing in at about 25 pounds, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a accepted ancestors pet. These dogs are chunky with abbreviate cape and crave circadian exercise. Fortunately, they adulation romps with kids. These dogs are best for humans with accouchement over the age of five. Some of them accept a addiction to be absolute or careful as they were originally bred for herding animals. Apparently, the brand sometimes thinks that accouchement charge to be herded.

7. Labrador Retriever

Another accepted choice, the Labrador Retriever is abundant for families that do a lot, decidedly activities that absorb water. These dogs frequently accept amaranthine action that is abundant for befitting up with abundant kids. While originally developed to retrieve birds on hunting trips, the lab is a loyal and adherent ancestors member. Their beneath hair frequently makes them a bigger best for families with little time to do their own hair, let abandoned that of the dog. Labs are accessible in three accepted colors.

8. Poodle

Another baptize dog, the poodle is an able and affable dog that craves animal companionship. These dogs are happiest if they are accustomed to run and play. A additional on poodles is that they are actual low shed. Unfortunately, they accept to be abrupt because their hair so infrequently avalanche out. These dogs appear in a array of sizes to clothing any need.

9. Bichon Frise

Frequently akin a affection brawl as a puppy, these blithe dogs are affectionate and obedient. They are a absurd accession to any home. They adulation to participate in annihilation as able-bodied as investigate. These dogs are aswell accepted for accepting awfully ablaze and able to escape from a array of situations. To accumulate their fur searching its best, the Bichon Frise needs to be clean-cut regularly.

10. Airedale

Yet accession terrier, the Airedale is a athletic dog that understands the accent of his or her job of attention the family. While a alive defender, the Airedale is aswell a abundant ancestors friend. These dogs are about accommodating to play at any time.

11. Basset Hound

These low to the arena dogs may attending sad all the time with their bent eyes, but they’re absolutely added than accommodating to accompany in any fun and amateur that may be about at the time. As a hound, they may be accepted to howl.

12. Beagle

The advocate fits in absolutely able-bodied with alive families. The dog alone requires a nice bed in which to beddy-bye and affluence of play time to be happy. The brand can fit in with appealing abundant any family.

13. Shih Tzu

These little guys were originally bred as accompaniment animals for royalty. Despite this, the dog is just accomplished with accepting bedraggled while arena with the kids and yet will still authority still for a tea affair in the afternoon. These dogs adulation people.

14. Boxer

Despite their alarming face, Boxers are usually sweet, affable dogs. They get their name from their addiction to angle on their rear legs while play angry and use their foreground paws for boxing. These dogs are accustomed guardians that are acutely loyal. It is important to agenda that Boxers about adopt the aggregation of humans to added dogs. The brand will do able-bodied in a quiet home or with an alive family.

15. Collie

The Collie originally became a ancestors pet with the admission of “Lassie”. To this day, the dog is advised to be one of the best ancestors pets available. The brand has a lot of fur that needs aliment so it ability not be the best dog for a ancestors with no time to besom the dog. The dogs are about able and patient.

16. Boston Terrier

Yet accession terrier, these baby atramentous and white dogs adulation to accomplish their families laugh. These dogs adopt abrupt periods of action and again adulation annihilation added than to coil up on the daybed to advice you apprehend a book or watch TV. These dogs are acquiescent and loyal while accepting a acceptable watch dog and loyal ancestors pet. These dogs may be ideal for beneath alive families.

17. Newfoundland

These affable giants may dribble a bit too abundant for some humans but they accept fabricated a absurd alive teddy buck for abundant families. Because of their size, families with actual baby accouchement ability wish to delay for the kids to get a bit bigger. These dogs are accomplished swimmers and accept been accepted to jump in afterwards ancestors associates in trouble. Families that reside with baptize may be able to blow a little easier with one of these guys continuing guard.

18. Pomeranian

These creamy fur assurance attending just like baby foxes. They about counterbalance in about 5 pounds and are an ambrosial breed. These dogs advance on animal accompaniment and crave actual little space. Pomeranians are ideal for families with earlier children.

19. Pug

Not at all standoffish, the pug is a loving, affectionate, amenable breed. Pugs adulation accepting allotment of the ancestors and will acquiescently antic with accouchement or coil up on your lap for a nap.

20. Whippet

Whippets are quiet, baby dogs that resemble a actual baby adaptation of a greyhound. They tend to accost strangers with a kiss and adulation children. These dogs are actual fast and adulation to hunt things so they should be kept on a bridle if out on a airing and the backyard needs to be defended as well.