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Archive for February, 2010

Budget Poll

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

These deadly recalls‎

February 25, 2010 1 comment

Geetanjali Kalra

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. Pic source: nydailynews.com

2010, the beginning of a promising decade, did not begin on a very good note for major car manufacturers across the globe. The year saw several car manufactures resorting to the most unprecedented thing in the past two months by recalling their highest selling brands. What began with Japanese auto major Honda recalling 8,532 units of its sedan ‘City’ in India due to defective power window switch, as part of a global recall initiative, was then followed by Volkswagen recalling 193,620 vehicles in Brazil because of a lubrication problem with the rear wheels. It was Toyota motors then recalling 4,36,000 hybrid vehicles worldwide, including the newly launched 2010 Prius model. The latest to join the recalling bandwagon is the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki which is recalling about one lakh units of its flagship export model ‘A-Star’ to replace a faulty fuel pump part, in cars manufactured before August 2009.

What can this really be attributed to? In a bid to maintain their leadership position and to take competition head on, companies are hastily launching models in each product category. This in turn leads to specifics being ignored and the quality of ‘quality control’ taking a hit. Not to say that harried customers too are looking in the opposite direction for their next car purchase.

Also read Total Recall.

Like only blondes aren’t dumb!

February 23, 2010 1 comment

Rohit Sharma

Pic source: Ibnlive.in.com

Amongst HT City’s creative line of front page columnists introduced recently, one is a Ms Lara Dutta (Ex- Miss Universe and an “actress”). Her entire column speaks about her three New Year resolutions that she wants us to be aware of. First- awareness about her body and what she eats (not to forget Dutta’s a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador). “Like when I have stuffed another spoonful of low fat yogurt with a chocolate sprinkles into my mouth, I can hear voice in my head say ‘what are you doing’?”

After she finishes conversations with her own head, Dutta tells us that she needs to be committed to learning to drive. But the word commitment scares her, “I hate committing to anything if I know there is possibility that I might abandon it before completion… I guess this is the military background in me.” Somewhere Kelly Dorjee is guzzling down Smirnoff and crying himself to sleep.

Third, Dutta wants to concentrate on writing for the HT supplement for the next 10 months, “But it’s opened a Pandora Box”… for her or us, she doesn’t clear.

The article is titled ‘A New Start’ and subtitle reads ‘New Columnist Lara Dutta promises to bare her soul’ and below it is a life-size picture of Dutta… with her bare legs. You know what’s in store for next 10 months!

Quote of the week

February 19, 2010 1 comment

pic: outlookindia.com

“There would be some security lapse here and there but everybody would be safe.”

-IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi at Commonwealth Shooting Championships

 For more hilarious gaffes at the event read this.

From Bikini to Burqa

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma

If Disney can do it, so can Mattel. Disney brought in a black leading lady as its princess in “The princess & the frog”, Mattel, now hopes to reach out to Muslim girls worldwide through its ‘Burqa Barbie’. The idea is novel- the doll went undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s (auctioneer) for Save The Children, a few months back, when Barbie celebrated its 50th anniversary.

A "western" Barbie

But why burqa? After the launch, there were swarms of online protests when people questioned Mattel’s choice of a symbol of oppression. President of the National Organization for Women NY said, “Women are forced to wear the burqa or risk being murdered. Mattel should be ashamed. Making a profit by selling a doll that is clearly wearing a symbol of violence is not acceptable and there should be a public outcry to take this doll off the market.”

Someone in an interview to dailymail.co.uk made fun of the new doll saying, “The message with Barbie for women is you can be whatever you want to be… I have a Barbie in a wheelchair that was only out for six weeks.”

Mattel which reported a 3% slump in the worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand clearly seem to be desperate.

American writer, Phyllis Chesler said, “Will clean-cut Ken now come (pun intended) with four burqa’ed Barbie doll wives?”

In the name of Khan

February 11, 2010 3 comments

Manish Sharma

Shah Rukh Khan, the self proclaimed Badshah of Bollywood, finally got what he wanted. His latest offering My Name is Khan (MNIK) has created a monstrous hype before its scheduled release date, February 12th, 2010.

No amount of marketing gimmick would have generated the round-the-clock buzz on newspapers, TV channels, blogosphere, twitteratis and not to forget the age-old word-of-mouth flurry. The stand-off with Shiv Sena, another publicity hungry political outfit that thrives on controversy and rabble rousing passion seems to have paid off nicely. So much so, the mammoth marketing budget — touted to be around Rs 25 crore — now appears to be unwarranted and has gone unnoticed by many. Such is the power of PR.

When news channels flashed the story of his detention and subsequent questioning at the US Airport on Independence Day last year, it was evident that King Khan (as he prefers to be addressed) was trying to plug in his movie. However, turning a one-off skirmish into a strategic masterstroke would have been difficult had the issue of eschewing Pakistani players not came into being.

The decision to keep Pakistani players off the auction block was a business decision and not a political one. Pakistani players did not play in the last season that was held in South Africa and no one created a hullabaloo then. But, SRK smelled an opportunity to stir up the debate and deliberately attracted the ire of Shiv Sena, it seems. Just a day after the joint press conference of the owners of various teams, who staunchly denied any political motive behind their decision to steer clear of the neighbours, SRK played his tacit move. With his deliberate remark terming the whole incident as ‘unfortunate’, he very cleverly set up the media for the long haul. Shiv Sena, smarting under the setback of Raj’s growing clout and its own diminishing aura, found the moment opportune to shoot back to limelight.

The incident proved that though Aamir Khan is a savvier marketer, Shah Rukh knows how to manipulate the media too well.

Total Recall

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Manish Sharma

Toyota is facing a lot of flak these days for its tardy crisis management. The company sent the auto sector into a tizzy over its decision to recall nearly 8 million cars and trucks, including its leading sedans Camry and Corolla besides its much hyped hybrid model Prius, across continents.  Read more here.

Are media rounds important?

February 10, 2010 2 comments

Emanuel Joute

Today, the business of Public Relations is extremely competitive. PR executives need to have an edge that makes them stand out from the crowd. Apart from the usual qualification demands, most would agree having a good relationship with a journalist is key. This brings us to the question if media rounds are important at all.

There are usually two standard responses to that.

1) Yes, it’s a relationship-building process.

2) No, it’s a waste of time. They can be contacted over phone or emails.

A dipstick among journos from leading dailies across five metros shows that 80% of them favour media rounds. Here are some interesting takes.

a)      If it is meeting for the first time, media rounds are better. Subsequently, phone would do.

b)      They go and watch movies.

c)      A must at initial level, and regular intervals after that.

d)      No, unless they are bearing gifts.

e)      I find it pointless and annoying.

What do you guys say?

Thai flavoured marketing

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma

Cabbages & Condoms. Pic courtesy- travelpod.com
Cabbages & Condoms. Pic courtesy- travelpod.com

How many reach out to public with a relevant social message and a marketing agenda cleverly packed together? Miles away in Bangkok, Thailand,  Mechai Viravaidya runs an amazing restaurant chain, ‘Cabbages and Condoms’, which gives “information about safe sex in a funny, palatable manner!” The Times of India Crest carried an interesting piece, written by journalist Sharif D Rangnekar, about this restaurant with many flavours! Read it here.

The sainik to panic

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma

Shiv Sena is at its shenanigans again with Mumbai civic polls around the corner, raging up the ‘marathi manoos’ debate once again. But this time, Balasaheb’s drama hasn’t had the expected start – major ally RSS-BJP have refused to play the puppet to Sena and frittered away the undemocratic idea.

Leading publications have ruminated over the significant move by RSS-BJP. Read today’s editorials of – Hindustan Times, The Times of India and The Indian Express.