Friday, April 27, 2007

Trillion dollars vs lead poisoning

With the rupee having broken the 41 mark to the dollar, my exporter cousin is biting his nails while the rest of us rejoice at India becoming the 12th nation in the world to be a trillion dollar economy. Even as the Govt has lowered its estimate of annualised GDP growth down to 8.5%, there is a strong sense of 'future' everywhere - especially in the media and entertainment, telecom, money and travel spaces. We remain a country of contrasts, with more corruption and less discipline than we ought to have. Healthcare and education are still floundering even as copious money flows into infrastructure which shouldn't be a bad thing except for that fact that less than half of that actually makes its way into projects - the rest is quickly gobbled up by graft.

I am not a fan of the SEZ, and hope good sense prevails. Why is there this constant need to compare ourselves or try to copy China? State directed capitalism may work in the short run, but do we really want to poison off the next generation in doing so? 34% of Chinese children are reported to have higher than normal levels of lead in their blood. Lead is a cheap ingredient into most of the Chinese manufacturing units, its effluent resulting in alarmingly high levels of pollution. There are villages where all the kids have black and blue fingers, being slowly poisoned to death.

I met a British gentleman yesterday whose chose to come here to work rather than China, because he believed that we had more humanity. That was a nice thing to hear. Trillion dollars worth of money goes well with a billion minds that never say die, and a billion hearts that still seem to care. Mera Bharat Mahan!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tarot says

I found this interesting widget on Meenakshi's blog. Her tarot card says she is the World. Here's mine. Go check out yours. While I wait for that unexpected help, water and guiding light....(didn't even know I was thirsty!) Though I think it's true I'm not the only dreamer, having just crossed paths with someone who sounds like he might dream along with me!

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To everything there is a season...

..and a time for every purpose under heaven...
a time to plant, a time to reap...a time to rend, a time to sew.

I guess you all the know the full lyrics of this song.

This year we decided to plant a little, to take awards more seriously even though our big sister frowns upon this. So far we have won five: Two golds for branded entertainment - for Idea and ITC; two silvers for Bindaas Bol - best use of TV and cause marketing; and agency of the year at the Indy's.

Here is a picture:

Kunal and Himanka are missing from it, they weren't here when we clicked, but are here anyway. Seems like it's time to reap.

And then I hear about a friend gone astray - a kind soul who couldn't say no when he needed to, not to others and more important not even to himself. So for his organisation, it became a time to rend. But I hope that wherever he goes he will learn to sew up the tears in his moral fibre.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Media agencies didn't win enough media awards

I didn’t keep an actual tally – but it sure felt like the creative agencies – JWT, Contract, Rediff Y&R, etc walked away with most of the media awards. Among the media agencies, Mindshare got four and the rest of us – Madison, Lintas, Lodestar and Starcom got two each. I think Maxus and OMS got an award each.

But it was good fun. The sands were hot and the weather was hotter, but drinks flowed freely, and the under 30’s had a whale of a time. Akanksha and Hardik went parasailing, Sharad and Deepa went jetskiing, Venky and his gang of girls caught up with old friends from other agencies, and we all agreed that next year we should send in a larger contingent. With a hooter.

Goafest is a good idea. It goes beyond awards, and in doing so, sends out a subtle message. I hope it lives.

Divine discontent

When I was growing up at Ogilvy Benson and Mather in the eighties, the agency mantra coined by David Ogilvy himself was ‘divine discontent’.

The second half of the Goafest Advertising Conclave yesterday morning expressed a great deal of that. Rifts between business partners were exposed. Pent up pressures found unlikely outlets. Media agencies got pelted at by both creative agencies and media houses, and its leaders (us) came away rather bemused. Speaker after speaker expressed negativity and angst against the advertising industry, eventually concluding that it didn’t even act like an industry in the first place. Harish Bijoor, the suave and intelligent moderator, tried to draw up a way forward action plan nevertheless.

In other words, there was a lot of discontent, but much of it wasn’t divine, so I am a little worried. I hope that the ‘builders’ among us will prevail over the ‘scavengers’ and raiders’. What is needed is ‘discontinuous social value addition’ as succinctly described by Uday Kumar, CEO of Star News, and the ability to act as ‘change agents’ and not just commission agents, as Meenakshi Madhvani so aptly put it.

As Shanta Kumar of Saatchi and Saatchi said, some years ago holidays were about going home to grandma in native place. Now it means taking grandma away for a holiday. That’s the kind of paradigm shift we are all looking for, and whether it lies in re-integration of services or not, we sure have to find new ways to operate because we seem to be seriously pissing off our business partners in the media houses and the creative agencies.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Horseshit, and how to clean it up

It was a fairly lacklustre start to the Goafest Advertising Conclave. I got the impression that there were more journalists than senior media and advertising people in the room. If it weren't for Pratham Raj Sinha (CEO of the Anand Bazar Patrika Group) and his enlightening speech, we would all have come away thinking that the even the tip of the iceberg wasn't touched.

Taking the advertising industry from Rs 15000 crores to Rs 50000 crores may be no mean feat. But as Dr Sinha opined, our industry seems bent on playing a 'zero sum' game, with egos and factions taking precedence over a common agenda of progress and growth. Unless drastic steps are taken by its associations, and clear thought leadership emerges, we may not make it. I liked his analogy of the 17th century London city council fearing that they had such a problem of horses defecating in the streets, that within a short time the streets of London would be steeped in horse manure.

But how do we clean up the horseshit? Hopefully the panelists tomorrow will shed some light. In the meantime, I am going to bed pondering over the more encouraging words of Martin Sorell delivered by videotape - that Indian advertising has been growing at twice the rate of our GDP growth, and that we should not doubt our abilities so much. So true. Four hundred years later, the streets of London are still pretty clean, aren't they? Lesson : replace the horses, the horseshit will go.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Writing for the Goafest

I will be blogging for the Business Standard at the Goafest on the media side of the business. So watch out for my posts here and at from 19th to 21st.

Meanwhile here is an article written for the festival concept which appeared in Financial Express last week.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Yesterday we did jury duty for the Goafest Media Awards. The Cannes rule of discarding patriotic votes was introduced - ie a juror cannot vote for work submitted by his unit or group company unit. So we had a good time all through the day while deciding on what was patriotic and what wasn't as we journeyed through over 100 entries. It was great fun. Ten media heads from competing agencies finding a common voice in praising or despairing of the country's best media work.

One of the entries featured the national anthem. CD stood up first, I quickly followed, and then the whole group. To me, it was the most impactful moment of the entire day. Ten vociferous jocular judges found three minutes to stand silently at attention in unison and respect for their national song. We didn't approve the entry, but no guesses for who won the patriotic vote at that moment.

I love being an Indian in India, I truly do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

By public demand

Here is the link to my personal DNA, Svety and Shaswati. Don't say you weren't warned.

My Personal Dna Report

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Being cruel to be kind

A doctor knows this well. Vets know it better. Bosses and parents know it best.

It isn't easy being cruel in order to be kind, to mete out a bitter medicine today in order to enable a better mind or body or value system tomorrow.'s got to be done. As I look back on my own life, the people who made me what I am often did the most unpleasant things to me, things I appreciated and got a chance to thank them for only much later. Some of them died before I could show them how much healthier their medicine made me, but they know - every day they show me that they know. Sometimes, they still send down a bitter pill or two. Which I swallow most gratefully.

Rashmi, this post is for you. Read it again in 20 year's time.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hello again!

Starting today, I have decided to use this address for my blog, and will no longer be posting at blogsource. Eighteen months and 106 posts later, I find that I need a site that is better connected, and can provide me with statistics, something blogsource has stopped for over a month., my blog URL, will now point here. All my earlier posts are still at for posterity.

And this is not an April Fool joke.

Drop in here occasionally and leave a comment if you like.