Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Humankind Workshop -Srilanka

I think I speak for both of us when I say our trip to Srilanka can be described in two ways; Before Pavlova and After Pavlova. If you don’t know what Pavlova is, you should kill yourself or pray the kind people at Orchard send you for a humankind workshop to Srilanka.

Day 1:

We start on a high tension note with me arriving really late and being told by our Jet Airways attendant that the flight is full! Much stress, screeching, disbelief and running later we are tucked into our blankets and on our way to the Chennai airport.

Chennai airport is decidedly easier.

We while away time Looking For Cookie Man and never finding it, salivating in the duty free section and taking pictures of our feet due to lack of scenery. link: Read more.
There is no lack of scenery here. The airport is large, clean and welcoming. The guards are large, clean (?) and not so welcoming. There is an ominous presence of the army, young boys flaunting guns and tough faces.

On the ride to the hotel we try and ignore the uncomfortable bits and concentrate on the scenery, the terrible-but-terribly-funny- somewhat-surreal advertising and the cleanliness! Jetwing is brilliant. There are flowers on our bed. And an endless stretch of sea. And a BATHTUB! (I think they put us in the honeymoon suite, but we’re not too keen to bring this to their notice)

Are You Bhuwan?
The evening starts off with Arrack and Margaritas in Shweta’s case. Very sinful feet massage. And hoppers. We also meet a whole bunch of people with difficult to pronounce names and warm smiles.

The hosts are kind enough to play Bollywood for the rowdy Indian crowd, over and over and over again. Our Phillipino counterparts manage a cute bhangra.

A horrible resident then demands that we stop the music or his kids will die of bleeding ear drums.
We curse him and retire.

Day 2:
Linda Locke likes us in our seats nice and early at nine. We manage it (by missing breakfast).

We start off on a great note with Ken. Funny and brilliant he keeps us laughing as Linda then introduces us to Mark. My stomach growls. Meanwhile Linda and Mark Blears give us a short spiel on Understanding The Clients Problem.

From here Mark takes us through a really interesting forty minutes where we see how advertising has moved from being interruption to involvement. He shows us a particularly interesting film where a brand speaks as a human being on a date. The brand talks loudly, screams, seeks attention and finally offers a free holiday to win back a disappointed friend. Obviously nothing works. People refuse to stay loyal to brands that don’t engage them.

My growling stomach is silenced with a coffee break.

We gorge and find ourselves meeting Richard Dale, some interesting accessories and HUMANKIND! Humankind as we do not know it. We start off with simple stuff..like problems and demystifying them.Surprisingly The Times Of India campaign finds its place in the Human kind map. With an extensive campaign and Amitabh Bacchan they’ve managed to involve India and the rest of the world. Now I’m really mystified.

Things are made simpler with the Earthhour. A very well executed campaign that makes you wish you’d thought of it.

Lunch and gossip later, we’re taken through a session that makes me and Shweta miss our servicing team dearly. The session is on What is a good (Humankind brief) and how to write one.

Apparently briefs can be made very interesting.

Mark tells us how he once briefed his young insensitive unmarried team on detergents meant for housewives. He says he made them live on a budget for a week, wear only whites, pick up his kids from school, cook meals and then wash those dirty whites with the detergent in question.I’m suddenly thankful our servicing team is not so experimentative.

We are then introduced to our teams. My team gets to work on Tide. Shweta’s on Mc Donald’s.

Richard Dale then ends the day with a brief and effective piece on applying humankind.

Shweta and I end ours in the swimming pool.

Day 3:
We make it for breakfast.
Mark Blears tells us about KISS.
Keep It Simple Stupid!

We then meet Trevor Kennedy. Trevor is a kind man. He does not talk. He lets us watch and JUDGE! We’re bombarded (rather sweetly, I thought) with many many commercials which we rate on the 7+ scale. There is not much talk, but we feel nice and important in the end.

Linda then tells us about the Do Good Era. And some cutting edge stuff. Like Halo 3. I have a confession to make here. I’ve never got the ad. I always feel stupid when I see it.

But Glass Of Milk is great! Speaks worlds about my mental age.

We have another heavy-duty hopper-filled yumilicious lunch. I think I can sneak in here that srilankan food is a combination of my favourite kinds of food. Keralite and Tamil. I’m loving and it and Shweta’s plate proves she agrees.

After lunch we’re introduced to John Borzi.

John Bozri’s is a truly incredible lecture. He tells us everything from What To Do With Those Long Things Hanging Down Your Sides (I mean hands!!!) to what kind of brain we possess.

Shweta and me both turn out to be two reds and a yellow. Emotional and creative. How fancy!

5:30 onwards we are allowed to work on ideas. My team ideates in the swimming pool and over some beach volleyball. Guilt eats my insides when I see Shweta looking hassled and working over hard. In two more days we’ll be making our presentations based on Humankind.

Later my team burns the midnight oil and agrees on absolutely nothing. We however work out an interesting thought that Linda, my team’s mentor is destined to bomb the following day over lunch.

Shweta’s team meanwhile is sweating it out over the target audience. Do mothers decide for kids or do kids make their parents decide for them?

Day 4:
More John Borzi. Today we learn about showmanship! A dimpled fellow from Thailand wants to know if it’s O.K to take off your pants during presentation.

John is inclined to agree. All is good, if it has a valid reason.

I wonder what would make a man take off his pants during a presentation. Bipasha Basu?

After a coffee break we all make our own presentations on random topics based on John’s presentation module. I get to sell whisper to pregnant women.

After lunch we all break to meet our teams. I might as well explain our briefs here. Tide has a problem. It’s been known for whiteness, somewhere along the line it’s lost it’s ground because it’s been pitching itself on cleanliness just like every other brand. However whiteness is a better proposition that other brand are inching in on now.How should tide regain its old glory?

Mc Donald’s meanwhile has been losing its favourite customer. The happy meal is not exciting anymore. We need to put happy back in the happy meal. Somewhere along the line Mc Donald’s had lost it’s happiness quotient, becoming over involved with the toy. How do we put the happiness back?

Every team breaks their heads till no less than four o clock.
Somehow I don’t find myself complaining.

Day 5:
I don’t want to say anything here. Except I beat up my teammate while masquerading as a housewife. I don’t believe he’ll ever forgive me.
But Shweta won!
Cruel world.

The next day Ranil takes us for a fantastic lunch at The Cricket Club where we eat Pavlova like it is our last meal on earth. The world is a nice place again. (After I mentally block out Shweta clicking pictures with her spanking new Canon Powershot A590 IS Digital Camera).

Posted by Meera

No comments: