Thursday, June 16, 2011
What makes this song so entertaining? Is it Salman or is it the lyrics or both? Probably both. The words were as important as Bhai’s unique style in making it such a big hit. Mind it, the language you speak can change the fortunes of your brand, your company and your movie!


Language has the power to attract and this new language has taken everyone in its grip & its here to stay. From Bollywood to the business world, from babes to brands, everybody is using it. Hinglish is the language of today. It’s trendy, young and happening and it’s keeping the cash registers ringing for all who use it. Today’s most popular songs – from “Munni darling” to “Pappu can’t dance saala” to “My name is Shiela” and the current craze “...Character dheela hai” – have Hinglish lyrics. It makes the songs catchy and very entertaining and the audiences love them.

Not just Bollywood, smart businessmen the world over have realized that it’s this “street English” that works like magic to attract the consumers, so much so that even foreign brands are speaking it. Pepsi now says “Youngistaan ka wow!” Cadbury says it is not just a chocolate but “meetha” to be had after meals (a typical Indian custom). Domino’s for years has been asking “Hungry kya.” Lehar says “Control nahi hota,” and they all have successfully managed to connect to their customers! The verdict: The one who speaks the language the customer loves, rules.


Kitne aadmi ko text karna hai?” Wondering which company’s tagline this is? Not Airtel, Aircell, Vodafone or even Idea. It’s the tagline of Rogers, Canada’s leading telecommunications company. Foreign brands too are using Hinglish to reach out to the Indian consumer in foreign lands. Bell Canada called on its consumers to “Put some bang in your Bhangra” as it celebrated Baisakhi with them in Canada. Across the border in America, McDonald’s sent small cards to various Indian households asking them to taste its ice-creams and shakes, with a tagline, “Taste ki baat hai.” And the Indian- American population loved it.

Wells Fargo used Hinglish too, on its hoardings in America to reach out. “Safalta aapki, solutions hamare” was the tagline plastered on various billboards.

Hinglish today is a global language and even the Brits have accepted it. Demos, an influential British think-tank, came out with a report stating language blends like Hinglish were the way forward, adding, “With non-native English speakers set to top two billion in as little as five years, Britain’s influence, relationships and access to markets across the globe are at risk unless we change our outmoded attitude to language.” It’s no more the Queen’s English; rather, to survive, one needs to master “The Queen’s Hinglish,” the new language of the new culture. This is the new law of survival. This is the way to reach out to your customers.


A famous Indian proverb says, “If you live in the river, you should make friends with the crocodile.” The one who adjusts best, wins. The one who understands not just the local language, but the local culture and way of life too, beats competitors. When Whirlpool launched its washing machines in India, it realized they were not suitable for washing saris. It immediately redesigned them to suit local preferences. KFC today has a vegetarian thali. An outlet that gained popularity because of its fried chicken, has removed chicken from some of its dishes to suit local tastes. Smuckers Foods of Canada has a ‘Golden Temple’ brand of atta, for the brand name – leaving the political incorrectness of it aside – plays a big role in motivating NRIs to reach out for it.

Intelligence is not measured by IQ scores, but by one’s ability to adapt. The most intelligent species are those that have found ways to adapt, and no one has adapted better than humans, who have learnt to adapt to almost any situation, any climate – so have some of the most successful brands. Nokia made dust resistant keypads for the Indian market. Sony built dust resistant TVs for India. HLL understood the rural consumer and introduced shampoos in sachets priced at Re.1, which became big money spinners for the company. Subway serves no beef in India.

The biggest of global brands with the best of products had to think local and even change some of their best strategies to succeed in foreign lands. The ‘Dell Dude’, a know-it-all, speak-fearlessly-to-strangers, kind of character was used by Dell on American TV – and he was a big hit. But this cool guy was not featured in Japanese ads for they would not appreciate a character like that.

Unilever launched coconut ice-creams with fruits in Bangkok to suit the Thai palette. Wall’s ensured that its ice-creams tasted different in Asia; no wonder in 2000, its share of the Asian market was 41% as compared to 15% of Nestle’s. Disneyland realized that if it had to make money in Hong Kong, it had to lower its prices, change its decor and settings to suit local tastes. Starbucks is making sure its outlets blend with the culture of the place and look less foreign. Just because it worked in one place is no guarantee that it will work everywhere, and brands should be ready to discard even their best ideas if they don’t match the local market’s choices.

Maxwell House Coffee was one of the first to realize that it pays to understand local culture. It was one of the first to pitch its coffee directly to the Jewish consumers. Nine years back, it noticed that sales of coffee fell drastically among Jews during ‘Passover’, a Jewish festival. It quickly hired an Orthodox rabbi who declared coffee was a berry (a fruit) and hence was totally acceptable to be had during the 8 days of Passover. It even came out with a booklet, ‘Passover Haggadah, Brought to you by Maxwell House’. This instantly made Maxwell an integral part of the Jewish community and its traditions. Today, anybody who wants to get instructions of how to celebrate Passover reaches out for Maxwell’s booklet, which can be picked up for free from the ‘Passover aisle’ or the ‘coffee aisle’. The very same coffee aisle which some years ago no Jew looked at during Passover, adapted and survived.

The ‘Dirt is good’ campaign of Unilever started in UK, but the company took extra efforts to ensure that the campaign was adapted to suit the local cultures of different countries; and it become a hit the world over. ‘Daag ache hai’ was just as loved by everybody in India.

Nike, Coca Cola and many other MNC’s entered India with their best global advertising campaigns. None worked and succeeded like the ‘Bleed Blue’ or the ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’ campaigns, which instantly made the brands a part of the local culture.

Similarly, Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign succeeded in the West, but failed in China and Japan, where traditional views of feminine beauty still hold strong. Wizard of Oz, the wonderful children’s book has been translated into 40 different languages but adapted to suit local cultures. The Tin Woodman was replaced by a snake to suit the Indian culture; in the Russian version of the book, a man-eating Ogre was introduced.

Motorola launched a phone for the young in India and named it Moto-Yuva, and its key feature was a Hinglish T9. With SMS catching up, the company ensured its brand was in-sync with the language of the youth. Brands that adjusted, stayed; others vanished. Bollywood has adjusted too. More than 30 films released this year have Hinglish titles. ‘Always Kabhi Kabhi’, ‘Bhindi Bazaar Inc’ to ‘Short Term Shaadi’, all are riding on the popularity of Hinglish to make their films sound young, trendy and interesting. It’s the title (much like the tag line in advertising) that matters too – not just the stars.

It’s said the wise are like water, which moulds itself according to the pitcher. Shakespeare never hesitated to modify theEnglish language and coined almost 1600 new English words, borrowing freely from French, German, Latin etc to help him describe better and make his narratives more engrossing and effective. Even though a lot is being debated about whether Hinglish is good – for eventually it distorts both Hindi and English – but as marketers, we need to know the pulse of the audience; and he loves this language. So do not hesitate to change and adapt to make your marketing plans more effective... Even Shakespeare did it and no one questioned him!

Adapt to the local language, the culture, to sell your goods and ideas; and if anyone points a finger, well, sing in Hinglish, “Shakespeare kare to OK, maine karoo to saala character dheela hai!” Change your language, adapt your products and you will not only survive, but lead!


Thursday, June 2, 2011
I’s summer once again and time to enjoy nimboo pani, mangoes, long summer holidays, trips to cool places to beat the heat. But it seems the one thing that people love the world over is going out for a good movie. Yet, in 2009, the number of films released in theaters in USA dropped by 12%... Then came the biggest hit of all times – Avatar. Ticket sales zoomed. The number of people rushing to theaters increased to crazy levels. Reason? Well everyone wanted the catch the 3D version. Despite tickets of the 3D version being priced higher, 75% of Avatar’s revenues came from them. After all, it was the only 3D movie running at that time and people just couldn’t get enough. Avatar grossed $760 million, and Fox Studios, made all other production houses sit up and rethink. Fox had shown how to revive a business.

Movie theaters are today are filled with 3D versions of films. From ‘Cars 2’, to ‘Happy Feat 2’, to Steven Spielberg’s much awaited ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, all are getting ready with their 3D versions this year for your increased viewing pleasure, and also for increased box-office collections (hopefully!)It takes 3 to increase profits!


An ‘Avatar’, according to the Hindu mythology, is a descent of a deity from heaven to earth with the specific purpose of bringing back righteousness (dharma) to the social and cosmic order. Avatar, the movie, couldn’t have been more appropriately named. It’s helping a lot of businesses survive, and proving to be an ‘Avatar’ for them.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the most awaited gadget exhibition of the world. This year, almost every big brand had – yes, you guessed it – a 3D version of its gadget! Chris Yewdall, the CEO of DDD Group, which is the 3D consumer technology licensing group, said “...the market for 3D devices is rapidly expanding into other segments including PCs, tablets, and smart phones.” According to research, a growth of 132% is expected in 2012 with more than 100 million 3D TVs selling in 2014. Not surprising that from Samsung to Lenovo to HP, all have entered into partnerships with DDD. Toshiba is ready with its 3D laptop, Sony and Samsung with their 3D TVs, Nintendo with its 3DS video game. From 3D photo frames to 3D cameras, to 3D mobile phones, there seems to be a sudden boom in 3D devices. The best part is that most of them do not require you to wear the bulky 3D glasses to enjoy the 3D effects.

The battle between competitors now seems to have shifted to the 3rd dimension! 3D is now being marketed as the “novel” additional feature to lure customers away from competitors. Future growth in market share depends on the 3!


If marketers are there, advertises cannot be far behind. On May 27, 2011, Arla Foods-owned brand ‘Anchor’ decided to celebrate its 125th birthday with the launch of the first ever 3D cinema ad. It knew this was a sure shot way of grabbing headlines! When it comes to special occasions, 3D seems to fit the bill, for another company too went 3D to celebrate its 125th birthday.

On May 11, 2011, Coca Cola too completed its 125 years; and to mark the occasion, it covered its head quarters, a 26-story high building (402 ft) with canvass and projected 3D images showcasing its 125 years in the business. It ‘opened happiness’ in 3D!

This is not the first time that advertisers have experimented with 3D. In 2010, in June, the Sun newspaper became the first newspaper in UK to publish in 3D. It had a 3D page 3, a 3D editorial, and even 3D ads. It asked its readers to keep their 3D glasses (provided free with the edition) handy for viewing future editions with amazing 3D pictures of the Football World Cup. Last year, again in June, Shiyan Evening News brought out China’s first 3D Newspaper. Not to be left behind, in June last year too, India experimented with 3D too, with Mid Day launching special editions with 3D ads, followed by Rajasthan Patrika and Dainik Bhaskar. An expensive but interesting innovation; if used intelligently, it can be the tool for brands to help break the clutter and stand distinctly apart from competitors.

One medium that has been doing this very successfully is the billboard. Recently, Vodafone captured the attention of the passers-by with its adorable Zoozoos bursting out of billboards (in 3D) announcing the launch of its 3G services. For years, numerous 3D innovations on hoardings have attracted consumers and helped brands break the clutter. But the question is, for the other mediums too, is 3 their route to success?

For the manufacturing industry, it seems things will never be the same again, thanks to 3D. Soon, printers will be available that will print in 3D – or in other words, will allow you to manufacture and create things in the comfort of your home. From jewelry, to customized football shoes , to mobile phone covers to almost anything. This new technology is going to transform the whole business of manufacturing. Earlier, these printers were used to make prototypes. Today, more than 20% of the output of 3D printers is the final product. The future, as many see it, would have consumers downloading a design the same way as they download music, customizing it to suit their tastes and pressing “” to get the product of their own choice right in their homes! Who needs a factory now, to manufacture – just a printer will do!


‘3’ seems to have a mystical magic attached to it. Be it movies or real life, having 3 people in a relationship makes for the most intriguing of stories. Be it the royal triangle of Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Camilla or be it some of our greatest romantic films. If there is a triangle, the effect is magical.

Hollywood (with its ‘Gone With The Wind’ and ‘Casablanca’) to Bollywood (with its ‘Silsila’ and ‘Saagar’) viewers have been glued to the screens on the promise of 3. Triangles have an irresistible and mysterious charm.

Be it love triangles or the Bermuda Triangle, which for years became the source of supernatural stories, with popular folklore blaming paranormal activity to be responsible for the alleged disappearing of several aircraft and ships in that part of the North Atlantic Ocean. The Bermuda Triangle mystery was one story everyone wanted to believe. It was as fictitious as the love triangle of the movie Titanic, yet they both succeeded in intriguing the viewers and making lots of money.


In fact it is the ‘rule of 3’ which has a lot of significance. According to an old saying about running of businesses, “the first generation starts a business. The second generation runs it. The third generation ruins it!” So, if your business can successfully survive the 3rd generation, chances are it will live, for that means you have planned well. After all, only about 13% of businesses make it successfully past the third generation!

The rule of 3 applies not just to business, but art too. Every budding artist or photographer is told of this rule, which basically says that one must breakdown an image, a composition or a blank canvass into ‘thirds’, both horizontally and vertically to make a grid with 9 parts. The theory states that your focal points of the composition should be placed in the intersection or along the lines of the grid. This makes the photo/composition most balanced & beautiful. For professionals, the ‘rule of thirds’ becomes second nature & all their compositions follow it. It’s said that this rule is derived from the ‘Golden Ratio’. In fact, Mario Livio has written a complete book that shows how the Golden Ratio and “PHI” have influenced our lives. The book is titled “The story of PHI, the world’s most astonishing number”. He says that even Mother Nature follows this rule. It is this that determines how a sunflower’s seeds grow, or determine the path a hawk takes while diving for its prey. It even determines how the spirals in a spiral galaxy are laid out.

Beauty too is defined by this rule of 3, for it provides symmetry to things; and it’s said that symmetry is what makes things beautiful. Be it a face, a body or a building. One reason that the Mona Lisa has remained so irresistible for decades is because it’s composed of around 3 different rectangles. Vinci was an expert in geometry & the Golden Ratio can be seen in all his paintings. Our most famous ancient architectural wonders, from the Taj Mahal to the Pyramids, have all followed this rule of 3 to bring symmetry & hence beauty to the structures.

There is definitely something about 3. Look at your palm, each of your fingers are divided into 3 sections. Your body too follows the Golden Ratio; and it’s God’s most beautiful creation.

Be it business or movies, art or advertising, 3 is the magic number to remember. Two maybe is good company but three is not just a crowd – it could be your mantra to success. If you want to dance your way to success, remember, it takes 3 to tango!