Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Mug List

If a Bucket List is stuff you want to do before you die, then I guess you could call what you want to do before you hit middle age, a Mug List. And, despite the shy protestations of my lady friends, I am old enough to make mine.

I have no real logic as to how I arrived at the list, except that it might be imbecelic to attempt any of these endeavors a few years from now.

  1. I want to have that step-cut I was prohibited from having as a teen.
  2. I want to, just one last time, ride a bicycle without a headlight, after sunset.
  3. I want to get into my size 30 Levi’s 501s and sing a karaoke without my voice going up an octave.
  4. I want to see 3 continuous shows of A Few Good Men at Rex on a Sunday. And NOT complain of migraine.
  5. I want to call up Venky who was my mate at IIM, Bangalore and return the 250 bucks I owe him.
  6. Ok, add Eswar, Ashok, and T.P. George to that list.
  7. I want to apologize to Sonia for not turning up for dinner at her home 12 years ago. I never called to explain my whimsical absence.
  8. I want read the entire collection of Hardy Boys again.
  9. I want to understand Salman Rushdie’s fiction.
  10. Finally, I want to go back to all the parties where I stood tongue tied, with the repartees I have thought of since.

There I’ve done it. I already feel younger. I am going to start on this list now.

But not before I send this note to the folks upstairs: “Dear Mrs. Kumar, in the days to come if you hear a poor rendition of Song Sung Blue do not shtock my ceiling with a mop handle. It’s just a man trying to age gracefully.”

Posted by Thomas

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Even metal Gods need a design agency

Design and branding has surely come a long way. Metallica’s latest album Death Magnetic’s cover art has been designed by award-winning design agency Turner Duckworth, San Francisco.

Gone are the days of underground artists, record company art department or artists themselves envisioning album covers. Serious branding is in now.

Metallica were looking for an agency who could give life to Death Magnetic. And guess how Turner Duckworth landed the account. Drummer Lars Ulrich’s kid and agency founder David Turner’s kid go to the same school and the daddies became buddies. So, Lars checked out David’s agency and the rest is history.

Here’s the cover. Awesome isn’t it?

The magnetic coffin on the cover has a tweaked Metallica logo which the band proposes to use from now on. And the partnership seemed to have worked. Half a million copies of the album have been sold in 3 days. And is No.1 on the Billboard 200.

Posted by Murali.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thomas speaks on Humankind


A free world

The 2 way economy (buyer and a seller) has given way to a new 3 way economy. A world where so much is available for free.

The most common of the economies built around free is the three-party system. Here a third party pays to participate in a market created by a free exchange between the first two parties. Sound complicated? You're probably experiencing it right now. It's the basis of virtually all media.

In the traditional media model, a publisher provides a product free (or nearly free) to consumers, and advertisers pay to ride along. Radio is "free to air," and so is much of television. Likewise, newspaper and magazine publishers don't charge readers anything close to the actual cost of creating, printing, and distributing their products. They're not selling papers and magazines to readers, they're selling readers to advertisers. It's a three-way market.


Posted by Monica

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Check this blog out!

Guys! There’s some cool stuff to be read at

Posted by Thomas

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My first time

This is about my first ad.
I hope you’re still reading.
I became a copywriter when I was 11 years past the age at which the Election Commission considers you an adult. I know, I know, I should’ve done it earlier, but it took me that long to decide where to cast my career vote.
So here I was in Mudra - Bangalore, crouched in a corner, hand held out for assignment droppings. And come, they didn’t.
So I spent my time copying the great Volkswagen ads onto my scribbling pad, just to get a feel of how they would’ve looked on Bob Levenson’s, before they adorned the Hall of Fame. When, in walks Karthik, the account head, cursing my community, “F***ing copywriter b********!”
I turned around in panic. I was alone on the floor.
“Not you” Karthik assures me.“Who are you?”
“Trainee writer” I offer.“Balki said I could sit here.”
“And where is Balki?”
“In Mumbai, doing the UNDERLINE YOUR PRESENCE campaign for Van Heusen”.
Karthik sits down, rearranges his frown and sighs. “There is this ad to be done for IBM. I had briefed Kavita and Sharmila. Now they’ve both let me down. Sharmila says she’s just joined a week ago so she’s still in the soak cycle.”
“And Kavita's washed out too?“ I ask clumsily clinging to the metaphor.
“She’s dried. Tumbled out. Quit. Because she doesn’t want to share the assignments with Sharmila. It’s just some posters for the IIMs. I guess I’ll have to do them myself.”
“I studied there.” I confess.
“What? And what are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you to brief me.
Karthik grabs my limp hands. “IBM is back in India after 15 years. Just give me a poster that tells these grads that it’s a great career option.” Then he throws an IBM newsletter on my table. “You’ll find all the info you need in it. Can I see something in two days? “
“Tomorrow morning” I said dramatically.
“You do that, I’ll take you to Koshy’s.” says Karthik humorously.
That’s my problem. I over commit.
But it makes me anxious; the only state in which I do any work.
So that’s good.
I look at the newsletter. It’s titled THINK. I remember back at my engineering college there was an IBM 1620. It came with one accessory that was hung on the wall. A little IBM designed plate that read THINK. Their slogan since they started making computers. (Before this they made meat slicers.). And, evidently, IBM did THINK. Because they had 5 Nobel laureates on their rolls. Suddenly it was all coming together. This is one company that had an interesting history And a dynamic present. Obviously the future could not be any behind. (Metaphors mixed, oops.)
I got it. I am going to give Karthik not one poster, but three. Two teasers followed by the final one. Writing the teasers was a breeze. The problem was the final one.
Then I remembered a line I had written for our institute T shirt: “I THINK, THEREFORE IIM”. It wasn’t used because the student’s rep didn’t get it. (Yes, not all IIM grads have heard Descartes’ original line.)
I leapt at the opportunity. “I THINK, THEREFORE IBM”, I wrote.
Morning came, and Karthik couldn’t believe it. A writer chasing him with work to see. He did like my lines. But more the fact that I had lines, I suspected. Anyway he asked Santosh, a kindhearted art guy to make the layouts, which, in those pre-Mac days, took at least 24 hours. So I had my nails for nutrition.
When I saw the bromides, I remember thinking “My lines! In print! They look good.”

The next afternoon when I came back from lunch. I saw these messages on my soft board.

I still have these yellow post-its, only they’ve yellowed further in 16 years. Mike Klein (then head of IBM India) actually had these posters framed for his room.
Karthik’s enthusiasm for my work helped my career get the impetus it badly needed. Today he is in Singapore heading, among other things, the GLOBAL BRAND FORUM. (Google it, you’ll learn a lot.) Thanks Karthik.
Balki gave a me a pat on my back. And lots of work.
Simply put, my first ad came to me rather easily. It was the ones that followed that threw me. But that’s another post, for another day.
Karthik did take me to Koshy’s. Where I had the first steak of my life.

Posted by Thomas

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

TV News interrupted by scientists on a cleaning spree!

On September 4 the 10 p.m. television news on TV 9 suffered an interruption while the broadcast was on. A bunch of white coated scientists barged into the newsroom armed with vacuum cleaners and mops. As a flabbergasted newsreader looked on they proceeded to “clean” up the newsroom. When she tried to get on with the proceedings, a young scientist tried to clean her teeth with an electric toothbrush. Viewers looked on anxiously. The phones of the channel were ringing off the hook. “What was going on?”

Then came the answer.
It was part of a campaign for the launch of Godrej Eon XLCD TVs. The benefit? Cleaner images! Wow! What an impactful, original way to launch a TV that gives you cleaner images.

Conceived by Orchard Advertising Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, the campaign has got widespread coverage in media.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A note from Fred Senn

JUICING THE ORANGE by Pat Fallon and Fred Senn, is a book that captures the exciting first 25 years of Fallon Worldwide. For people who started their careers in the 90s, Fallon was the agency that seemed to signify advertising heaven. So when this book came out I was one of the first to grab a copy.

Page after page, I found insider accounts on how some of the iconic campaigns of our times were developed. Since then I have read the book over and over again. One lesson I learnt is this: whether you are in Minneapolis or Indira Nagar, the fracas (while creating an ad campaign) is the same. We just need to find the stamina to go as far as these guys do.

Two weeks ago I got a mail from Fred Senn.

It's reprinted below.

Date:Tue, 12 Aug 2008 16:17:42 -0500
To:Thomas Xavier thomas@orchardindia.com

Thomas...... I liked
your website - and I learned more about you and your firm.

Our best to you.
Fred Senn

OK, time to juice the orange, at Orchard.

Posted by Thomas

“The Subtle Art of Persuasion”

A large part of an account manager’s job is to get things done through others. But in a typical agency environment the account manager may not have formal authority over everyone important to getting the job done. Moreover, we tend to do most of our work through informal means--hallway conversations, casual meetings or while chatting on the mobile.

We are constantly trying to ‘persuade’ our colleagues, bosses, and especially our clients to listen and to comply with our point of view. So how do we excel at ‘the art of persuasion’?

Persuasion works by appealing predictably to deeply rooted human needs and human drives. Knowing these needs and desires allows us to press the right buttons to ‘persuade’ people to concede, comply, or change.

As it is commonly believed, ‘Persuasion’ is not a dark art that you are born with. It can be taught. That eminent publication that is the ‘Harvard Business Review’ says that ‘Science of Persuasion’ is governed by basic principles that can be taught, learned or applied.

The 6 Effective Persuasion Principles as explained in HBR are:

  1. If you want to influence people, win friends - Uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise
  2. People repay in kind - Give what you receive
  3. People follow the lead of similar others - Use peer power whenever possible
  4. People align with their clear commitments - So make their commitments active, public and voluntary
  5. People defer to experts - Expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident
  6. People want more of what they have less of - Highlight unique benefits and exclusive information
For more details on this, log on to HBR Case Study.ppt

Masterly persuaders excel at flexibility: They know there isn't one best way to sway an audience--any principle or a combination of the above might work, depending on the circumstances. All these principles are not rocket science. This is about how people evaluate and form decisions. And finally, it is sound business sense to learn and practice the science of persuasion!

Posted by Harish

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A niggling thought...

Ever wondered why Facebook is so popular amongst hundreds of social networking sites?

It seems like some other people have similar thoughts; in fact a group of students at Stanford University have turned their attention towards a unique course ‘The Psychology of Facebook’ that blends popular culture with the more time-worn principles of psychology. This is the brainchild of Professor B J Fogg, a pioneering persuasion psychologist. He stresses that, Facebook’s success lies in getting users to do the work for them with friends persuading friends to post pictures, comments, or upload applications.

Read on at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7357934.stm

This link validates the power of persuasion.

Posted by Monica

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Flogos - How to advertise in the sky

A new medium that's becoming popular...logos made out of foam...
No one's used it yet in India. And yes they are environment friendly, they are like gentle soap bubbles and burst on their own after couple of hours of releasing them.

Check it out...

Posted by Anantha