Archive for January, 2010

Oh Yes They Did

January 21, 2010 5 comments

Rohit Sharma

For one of the world’s most renowned pizza joint that rule 55 countries including USA, it will be hell of a task to tell everyone that, “Hey, We aren’t that good!”

But that’s exactly what Domino’s Pizza has been telling everyone since last month.

In a not so traditional form of advertising, Domino’s has launched an almost 5 minute ad that focuses on an array of bitter complaints from customers, shows Twitter and Facebook users criticizing the pizzas (customers said Domino’s pies were even worse than microwave pizza and “totally void of flavor) and the company President admitting to their mistakes.

( New Domino’s Pizza – Oh Yes We Did. )

The company that reported net income of US$17.8 million in US, in October last year, is in no mood to take criticism down low – the chain decided to start refurbishing its recipe about 18 months ago. But for a 50 year old company, how ingenious would it be to wash its dirty linen in public saying what we’ve been feeding you for years is just crap? The ad boasts of company’s confidence of staying as the pizza king but moving the focus from speed and reliability to their deteriorating hold on taste seems indigestible.

Nirvana, here

January 20, 2010 1 comment

Rohit Sharma

Had enough of social networking? Commit a virtual suicide. Go absolutely off from your networks like Twitter and Facebook with Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, a natty service that will wash out your online presence from these life consuming sites. Ever since its December 09 launch, 83,481 friends have been unfriended and 284,622 tweets have been removed.

All you have to do is, become fed up of the social networking world, go to the website, hand in your log in details and click on Commit – the service will conk off your tweets, Facebook friends, connections on LinkedIn. Left will be the remainders – a profile with no info or data – only your profile picture stays with a suicide message that you’ve written. Not much different than manual deletion except for the long Q&A procedure and no permanent removal from social space- users after suicide will never be able to resurrect the same profile.

Final words or Testimonials range from morbid good riddance, “Together we stand, divided we fall,” “I regret nothing,” and disparages, “I told you so, you damned fools!”

Facebook has raised objections to their trimming number of users and warned the founders of Suicide Machine citing privacy infringement. It even went ahead and blocked Suicide Machine from accessing its website but to no avail as the tool continues to push people off the hill.

Hard Times

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma

The third largest newspaper in US, The New York Times may soon begin charging for their online content. It’s likely that they will use a metered system, which will allow viewers to read a certain number of articles for free before paying.

The Times have tried something similar before with TimesSelect that operated from 2005 to 2007. The system charged US$50 per year or US$8 per month for access to certain areas of the site, but failed horribly and it was taken down. To make up for the blunder, The Times opened its archives from 1987 to the present, for free.

Last year, New York Times Co. posted a steep first-quarter loss of US$74.5 million. Their weekday circulations also fell 7.3% the same year.

Readership will continue to fall if such plans are thought of. Would you pay to read news online?

Jugular Vain

January 18, 2010 3 comments

Rohit Sharma


Jug Suraiya in his column has said that the highly ambitious TOI campaign ‘Aman Ki Asha’ is not merely an attempt to bring India and Pakistan closer but also ignite bonds between publications Hindustan Times and Times. On one end as Pakistani media speculates over the success of the campaign, Suraiya moves beyond Times’ “novel agenda” and takes a dig at the rival.

Shortly after the article came out, Vir Sanghvi Tweeted– “Sad to see Jug Suraiya reduced to corporate stooge in todays Times….thought he was better than that…”

Read Suraiya’s article here. 

All smoke, No fire

January 11, 2010 3 comments

Emanuel Joute & Manish Sharma

Another year, another plan that’s likely to go up in smoke. According to a report by the Indian Express, the Union Health Ministry has said that the pictorial warnings on tobacco products have not been making the desired impact. So now it seems the Ministry is considering replacing them with new hard-hitting images. These pictures could be of a bent cigarette depicting impotency, a person wearing an oxygen mask, a picture showing mouth cancer and that of a heart affected by smoking. But will this drive home the point?

The initial response to the pictorial warnings, implemented from 31 May 2009, was tepid. And it kind of fizzled out in due course. The ministry said that the chest X-ray image that currently adorns cigarette packs was perceived by many as a “man wearing a black coat” and not “affected lungs”. And it’s business as usual for the many roadside cigarette vendors. Similarly, the ban on smoking public places that was enforced during the tenure of ex-health minister A. Ramadoss has little or no meaning now. Many pubs/cafes/bars/ restaurants flout the rule, with no policing in place. Even otherwise, smokers can be seen puffing their dose of nicotine at places they find deem fit.

If the government is hell bent on taming the sales of tobacco, it should have stricter policies and not fly-by-night ideas. Its attempt to ban smoking on screen has not produced the desired results. Even the ban on surrogate advertising did not seem to work. Liquor moghul Vijay Mallya has very cleverly named his outfit as ‘Royal Challengers’, thus extracting every ounce of mileage for the liquor brand that was earlier owned by Shaw Wallace but now falls under the ambit of Bangalore baron. The ‘Red & White’ bravery awards too strengthen the positioning of the brand further. The company that enjoys monopoly in the cigarette market also runs a clothing brand to exploit the lifestyle theme for its tobacco entity more than a meaningful brand extension tactic.

In short, if the government really thinks of banning the sale of tobacco products than nothing short of an actual ‘ban’ can work, ever. By posting an ugly image, the government might assist though unknowingly in boosting the sale.

Cigarette smoking is an addiction rather than a habit. And, like any addiction, kink plays a greater role in satiating the urge. A smoker may be smoking more out of a desire to belong to a cult rather than the need to inhale tobacco. Thus, the ‘herd mentality’ to belong to a particular tribe to present a particular image to one’s own self works behind the seemingly simple exercise of lighting a cigarette. Any pictorial representation indicating a heart affected by smoking might actually work the opposite ways and trigger the stimuli for smoking as people resort to smoking as an anti-depressant too. Moreover, human behaviour works on a ‘wishful thinking’ theory whereby most human beings tend to display overconfidence in their own abilities on most occasions. Thus, they are able to distance themselves from the object like ugly warnings of a mouth infested with cancer or a bent cigarette indicating impotency and make their mind believe that this may never happen to them.

The government needs to come up with some ‘out of the box’ ideas to dissuade people from smoking. This may include among other things a steep tax on retailers or may be even abandoning the sale in a packet altogether, thereby making it inconvenience for smokers to easily access their quota at one particular time. Else, any flaccid plan would just be another one of those “bent” attempts.

Sex and the Scandal

January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma

It’s definitely not a Happy New Year for Tiger Woods as January first began with one of his biggest advertising client AT&T dropping him off after his adultery case. The fallout with many other brands surrounding Woods’ now very public romps has significantly brought down his status as a sports celebrity who previously earned an estimated US$110 million annually in endorsements. Back home, ND Tiwari, 87, on the eve of his life and career has grossed the title of a “dirty old man” (as Hindustan Times call him). After ruling Andhra, Tiwari’s ruling YouTube with lacs and lacs views to the blurry pictures of his “sexual transgressions”.
What do Tiwari and Woods share in common apart from their powerful positions? Amongst other things, perils of mismanagement of image, timely but worthless public apology, merciless chops of media gossip and a nonchalant love for women. Woods’ damage is done and he is paying (including monetary wounds) for it heavily. Tiwari has quit and probably will not be able to recover his image in the years left to him, just like Bangaru Laxman who is nowhere to be seen. Mr Ex-Governor’s case is more violent as the blot is so deep and malignant that it’ll be tough for the clean-slate-Congress to lessen the impact as of now.
It was in many ways a sloppy fall for Tiwari- the man known for his uprightness and white kurtas that symbolizes the purity and integrity of an Indian politician. Just before the sex scandal, few months ago, Tiwari was dragged to Delhi High Court in a paternity case. I don’t even think his administration has been a great success by far- at least in the wake of with Telengana tamasha. Years back, Bill Clinton survived the sex scandal because he came clean later, if not very soon. Tiwari is confusing everyone with his stance by staunchly denying his involvement but also apologising to the country. What is the need to apologize when he’s done no wrong?

Politicians are forgiving creatures- BJP took Modi back, Congress reassigned Vilasrao Deshmukh and R R Patil and in sometime Tiwari might just pave his way back into active politics. Even with the oozing of damaging information, he may not come out clean on the issue because the punishment is a mere “wait”, for few months or maybe a year.

The oozing is vulgar and noxious. “ND Tiwari sex scandal clip” is amongst the top Google searches in India. ABN Channel that ran the lewd clips of Tiwari in bed with three women quoted Radhika, a woman from Uttarakhand, as saying that she sent the young women to the Raj Bhavan on Tiwari’s request through his aide. The woman said she had to expose the governor as he failed to provide her an iron ore mining license in Andhra Pradesh. Tiwari is also accused of abusing young girls and arranged the filming of his dirty secrets in order to blackmail girls.
On being asked his opinion on the journalism that is going in the bedrooms of politicians, Tiwari laughs and says, “Well, how can I support otherwise no one can have a private life”.
Perhaps, “sex life” is the functioning word here.